- Biscuits (nice to have)
- Flexible hours
- The odd pot plant!
It shouldn't be a problem to provide a friendly, safe, healthy environment. I've worked in places that provide basic tea/coffee/milk facilities, and also in some where they think they're saving money by making the employees provide their own. I think that's a false economy – the value of better moral surely outweighs the insignificant cost. If you're lucky, throw in some bickies (cream assorted would be nice!), or one of those fancy coffee machines.
On the other hand, if you have those things and then management takes them away – don't expect any productivity improvements!
You don't realise how useful flexible hours are until you have kids. Not everyone lives close to their place of work, so the option of working from home, or doing that extra work at home instead of the office means you're more likely to be around home – just so the kids and spouse remember you live there too!
Finally, the physical location of your team is also important. Having a space where all your team can sit in close proximity really helps with communication, team identity, and ideally reduces outside interruptions.. There are few things more distracting than a non-team co-worker with a particularly loud, carrying voice - especially in a large open-plan office.
Martin Fowler posted recently on his thoughts on the ideal team room
I'm wanting to change the hosting provider that I use to host the Australian Carnivorous Plant Society's website. I've been with with SeekDotNet since 2006, but would like some more modern features and the ability to pay using the society's PayPal account (instead of using my own personal credit card for which I then need to get reimbursed :-( )
I'm currently paying $US8.75/month for:
- ASP.NET 3.5
- IIS 6
- 1.5 GB disk (only using 70MB!)
- SQL 2005 (100 MB max)
- 30GB bandwidth
I would like to pay using PayPal for roughly the same price and have:
- ASP.NET 4
- IIS 7/7.5
- At least 1GB disk space
- SQL 2008/2008 R2 (at least 100 MB!)
- Protect you from politics and other stuff
- Set appropriate boundaries
- Honest and courageous
As Rob said, I want my manager to "go into bat for me". They should be my advocate, saying "Dave, what can I do to help you do your job?". They're off dealing with all the other stuff so that you can get on with your job.
Likewise I think you want a manager that keeps you informed of things that are relevant, so that you aren't left out of the loop.
I mention "Honesty and courage" in that they need to have the guts to tell the "big" bosses the truth. The last thing you need is the CEO being told "everything is fine, yes we'll make the deadline" if that's not correct – everyone loses when that happens.
Continuing my thoughts on what makes a great workplace..
Whilst there are always times when you can't avoid some tedious or annoying tasks, for the most part I want to be working on stuff that I find engaging.
I've also found that there's nothing like working on something that is appreciated by the end users.
It's been a few years since I've been able to update the Vista Sidebar Gadget that I wrote which displays the radar images from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. It's worth noting that while the sidebar doesn't exist in Windows 7, you can still add gadgets to your desktop.
I'm now hosting the source code on Google Code, and I've released a minor update to reflect some changes to radar locations:
- Sydney (Terry Hills)
- Norfolk Island
- Emerald (QLD)
- Bairnsdale (VIC)
- Perth (Serpantine)
I've had a few reports of a memory leak when people run the gadget for extended periods of time. I think this may be an unfortunate side-effect of the way the gadget uses HTML. Maybe re-writing the gadget using WPF or Silverlight might help with that.
The gadget can be downloaded from the Windows Live Gallery from here (currently 1.1 but hopefully 1.2 will be approved shortly), or go to the Downloads page of the Google Code site.