Before becoming a software developer, I had no clue what this job required or what did a developer did through the day. Many years later, I have a pretty good idea about the workload and can share some advice on what the ideal workspace for someone that writes code is.

First of all, let’s get something clear, software developers do not write code all day, it isn’t the same as writing a blog post or anything else. Working as a software developer is something like 20% code writing and 80 problem-solving. This 80% involves thinking about a problem or a new feature. Sometimes this is a back and forth exercise where the input of other developers or other collaborators might be needed. It isn’t until you have a pretty good understanding that what can be done that you actually get to write software. And because of this, a quiet place with little or no distractions is needed to be productive.

A quiet and distraction-free place

Image credit: https://stackoverflow.blog/

A quiet place is preferred and often required if you want to focus on a problem and a solution. Many companies have resourced to open office spaces with the idea that this sparks collaboration and communication between employees. I can tell you from experience working for years at an open plan office, it doesn’t work for thinking, focusing, or getting things done. When you walk into an open plan office the first time you’ll notice is people wearing headphones, and if you look closely, many of them will be wearing noise-canceling headphones. Software developers need a quiet place to work, private offices, a spacious cubicle, or a desk at home are ideal places for this type of work.

A distraction-free work area is also important, this isn’t to minimize or avoid collaboration, the idea is to not let co-workers or other people or situations have access to a software developer unless there are a clear need and an intention to do it. And don’t worry, people can still just chat or hang out at times when walking on a hallway or via an electronic communication channel.

A comfortable chair and a good size desk

Image credit: Autonomous.ai

While it is OK to use any coffee shop chair or your couch at home, any longer-term seating setup needs to include an ergonomic chair and a stand-up desk preferably. Anyone who spent hours in front of a computer screen will benefit from a good ergonomic chair and a stand-up desk. The right size desk should fit at least two large computer monitors and a laptop, this is a very common setup for software developers.

If you are looking for a good quality desk and chair at a reasonable price I recommend the Autonomous.ai standing desk and chair. I’ve owned both for a while, and I’m pleased with it.

When working from home

If you are a remote worker, having a quiet and distraction-free place is also necessary. This isn’t difficult to achieve, most people working from home will enjoy from a quiet home during working hours as kids go to school and spouses will be at an office, or working at home and focus on their own tasks.

If you work from home and don’t have a spare room or office to work from, find a quiet corner away from the front door and the kitchen (which tends to be a place for families to hang out). Your bedroom might be the perfect place for it, that is if your partner allows it and you are disciplined about working and non-working hours.

When working from a coffee shop or other public space

Ideally, you’ll find a place with comfortable seats, good internet connection, and great coffee and reasonably priced snacks. This isn’t always possible, but if you spend enough time to find the right place(s), you’ll be surprised at how accommodating public spaces can be for you to get stuff done. You’ll need to be prepared to work at these places and to do it successfully I recommend you read this blog post which includes tips and advice about working successfully at coffee shops, etc.

Conclusion

The ideal workspace for software developers continue to be a private office and having the option to work remotely whenever needed. This gives the software developer both a quiet place and a chance to work the hours that are more convenient for her/him. The private office can only help so much avoiding distractions, the best thing to avoid distractions is to form a culture of independence where people collaborate when necessary, without interrupting a co-worker, especially if it isn’t without a purpose

The advice above is by no means a recommendation to isolate software developers. However, to do their job and do it well, software developers need the time and space to focus and work on hard problems and to create solutions. Software developers will always be able to interact with others whether in person or online when needed to collaborate or just to socialize. What’s important here is to have that quiet place when you need it.

 

In response to those companies, hiring managers, interviewers who keep asking the same question:

Where can I find great developers?

A developer becomes a “great developer” when the company, team, resources, projects, recognition, etc., are compatible with that person. Under that logic, I believe any programmer can be great if they desire to do so and find the environment and motivation to thrive.

Most technical interviews fail to find the right people because interviewers and hiring managers usually go at it with an “idea” of what a “great developer” looks like to them. In most cases, everyone ends up hiring people who don’t work out and miss out on people who could have become the “great developers” there were looking for in the first place.