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May 21, 2024

Beginner’s Guide to Caring for Your Developer

Christy Leach

Beginner’s Guide to Caring for Your Developer

🎉 Congratulations on your acquisition of a website or other type code developer! 🎉

There are some things you need to know, to give them the best care possible.  After all, a happy developer is a productive developer!

In this article, I will cover habitat, diet and nutrition, and common health issues.  Though the tone of the topic is a bit humorous, the intent is earnest, and the subject of mental health in particular is a serious one.  As a developer myself, having worked with many, and having read content by many more, I have the experience and knowledge of how common and difficult mental illness is amongst our cohort.

Computer geeks seem to have a greater-than-usual occurrence of high intelligence paired with depression, anxiety, ADHD, autism, and other neurodivergence.  It feels like a trade-off sometimes… for example, the hyperfocus of ADHD or autism can produce an excellent mental flow-state for doing clever things with code and electronics, which can make up for the other, miserable, side of the coin.  I’m not sure I would choose the combination on purpose, but it is what it is.  Now, on to the guide!

I’m Having Enrichment Time In My Enclosure

Let’s begin with a proper habitat.  Like most creatures, developers need both comfort and mental stimulation to thrive in their environment.  A comfortable chair, perhaps an adjustable-height desk for the times when they wish to stand as they work, and, most importantly, as many large monitors as they desire.  Two or more at the very least!  A developer must have a dozen or more windows open at all times to maintain an adequate level of available references and tangential information.

Fidget toys are an essential addition to the developer’s workspace.  The neurodivergent brain can be easily distractible, and having a toy to occupy your hands helps the rest of your brain focus on what you want it to.  When I was around 10, I was often chided for playing with a toy while my parents were talking to me, until I realized that it actually helped me pay attention to what they were saying.  I explained this to them, and they seemed skeptical at first, but accepted it, thankfully!

Music can be an excellent addition to your developer’s enclosure.  Whether it’s playing on speakers for all the devs in the room, or individually in their headphones, a solid playlist of electronic, dubstep, or high fantasy orchestral music is an excellent brain-flow motivator.

Another element of a comfortable habitat for your developers is a dim lighting setup.  While most offices are equipped with bright fluorescent or LED lights overhead, the harsh glare and sometimes audible buzzing can be distressing for most of us.  Don’t be surprised if you startle your developers by turning on the overhead lights and they hiss their displeasure like a vampire!  We aren’t vampires, of course………. Certainly not, that would be silly.

Kibble or Canned?

Diet and nutrition can be a tricky subject… developers tend to insist that they thrive on only energy drinks, pizza, and snacks, but it may be a good idea to have fresh fruits and vegetables available to them, just in case they get the urge to have a vitamin or two.  Try offering a sandwich occasionally, and make sure to have plenty of water with flavorings within reach at all times.  It’s normal for a developer to get into a groove and forget to eat or drink for hours at a time, so it’s good to have easily accessible healthy snacks and water around.

Common Health Concerns

The stereotype of nerds never going outside exists for a reason… but what you can do is provide your developers with physical exercise opportunities like mini nerf guns (with lots and lots of darts on hand), paper airplane making supplies, or large whiteboards they would be forced to stand up to use while they brainstorm and diagram their plans.

In all seriousness… mental illness is a serious issue that disproportionately affects developer type people, which can impact our happiness, our homelife and relationships, and even our ability to do our jobs.  No matter how smart we are, no matter how much we usually enjoy what we do… messed up brain chemicals and abnormal wiring can’t always be fixed with “just try harder.”  A critical consideration for taking care of your developers is the ability to take mental health sick days, being flexible where possible – in regard to strict requirements, and simple human compassion.  A well-treated developer will do their very best for you and appreciate having a fantastic place for an unusual brain like theirs to work.

It has been my personal experience, through periods of mental difficulty like this, that Creative Energy is one of those ideal places for me and other odd developers like me to work and thrive.  I am deeply grateful for the working relationship I have built with the owners and other coworkers over the years, and I’m proud to be a Jackalope.