Software Development- What's it like at your company?

I work for a computer software company and I work in the software development department. I was very satisfied about this opportunity in the beginning because they provided me with 2 weeks of training.The company is really good (dental and health benefits, go to work anytime, nobody monitoring me, I get to work at my own pace most of the time, free drinks in the kitchen, and so on). In addition, we are allowed to ask questions but things started that bother me a little:

After working for a couple months: it appears like the norm is to work alone and not talk to anyone. Everyone in the company uses a corporate software like MSN to communicate with other employees. The office is dead quiet 90% of the time and there are times where I question my work and wonder if I am doing it correctly. It is suggested to solve things alone and not ask for assistance unless I am really stuck. I started at the same time with another employee and that employee ask tons of questions everyday...after their probation review...i noticed that person all of a sudden changed SIGNIFICANTLY...sat at the cubicle and 0 questions asked since then...the manager must have said something...

Is it like this at any company? -to work alone silently for 7-8 hours straight?

Comments

  • ptilsenptilsen Member Posts: 2,835 ■■■■■■■■■■
    That seems pretty excessive. While a lot of IT work, especially programming, is generally to be done independently and silently, what you're describing seems extreme. I think it can definitely be healthy to bounce ideas off one another, and in our office there are frequent group and individual discussions of what we're working on.

    Now I have a client who develops web applications (more akin to the software development you're doing), and their office tends to be much quieter than mine, but not as quiet as yours. I will overhear periodic discussions and they will have occasional meetings within the teams. That said, that company and my own use a lot of IM and email communication for items that are not either very brief or very pressing. I think the challenge is finding a good balance between email, IM, phone, in-person, and the more static systems (e.g. LoB applications, bulletin boards/forums, social media-like implementations). What you are describing doesn't sound very balanced. It might even be more efficient, but it doesn't sound like a positive work environment.
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  • NetworkVeteranNetworkVeteran Member Posts: 2,338 ■■■■■■■■□□
    After working for a couple months: it appears like the norm is to work alone and not talk to anyone. Everyone in the company uses a corporate software like MSN to communicate with other employees. The office is dead quiet 90% of the time and there are times where I question my work and wonder if I am doing it correctly. It is suggested to solve things alone and not ask for assistance unless I am really stuck. I started at the same time with another employee and that employee ask tons of questions everyday...after their probation review...i noticed that person all of a sudden changed SIGNIFICANTLY...sat at the cubicle and 0 questions asked since then...the manager must have said something... Is it like this at any company? -to work alone silently for 7-8 hours straight?

    Yes and no. At most companies, employees are welcome to go to lunch together so it's really only working silently for 3-4 hours straight, and at the start of a project there are functional specification review meetings where you get the opportunity to get lots of feedback from others. If you make a friend, you could often trade personal reviews before opening up to a wider audience. You also often have "watercooler" conversations once or twice each day, further breaking up the monotony.
    I started at the same time with another employee and that employee ask tons of questions everyday...

    That is problematic, if a junior engineer is taking too much time away from senior engineers. Junior engineers are usually paid much less and are expected to channel simple work away from experienced engineers, not vice-versa.
  • baseball1988baseball1988 Member Posts: 119
    ptilsen wrote: »
    That seems pretty excessive. While a lot of IT work, especially programming, is generally to be done independently and silently, what you're describing seems extreme. I think it can definitely be healthy to bounce ideas off one another, and in our office there are frequent group and individual discussions of what we're working on.

    Now I have a client who develops web applications (more akin to the software development you're doing), and their office tends to be much quieter than mine, but not as quiet as yours. I will overhear periodic discussions and they will have occasional meetings within the teams. That said, that company and my own use a lot of IM and email communication for items that are not either very brief or very pressing. I think the challenge is finding a good balance between email, IM, phone, in-person, and the more static systems (e.g. LoB applications, bulletin boards/forums, social media-like implementations). What you are describing doesn't sound very balanced. It might even be more efficient, but it doesn't sound like a positive work environment.

    I might have over exaggerated on my first post. There are discussions in-person once in a while but most of the time is working alone. Usually 9-11am is super quiet then you will hear some employees talking about lunch around 11:45am. After lunch around 1:30PM to 4PM is dead quiet. Sometimes I am afraid to walk over to my colleagues desk and clarify something. Everyone has their own independent project(s) to work on. Sometimes there are 2-3 days straight where I don't even see my manager or don't even speak to my colleague at all. We just say "hello" then they are back at their desk unless you really need help.

    Yes and no. At most companies, employees are welcome to go to lunch together so it's really only working silently for 3-4 hours straight, and at the start of a project there are functional specification review meetings where you get the opportunity to get lots of feedback from others. If you make a friend, you could often trade personal reviews before opening up to a wider audience. You also often have "watercooler" conversations once or twice each day, further breaking up the monotony.

    That is problematic, if a junior engineer is taking too much time away from senior engineers. Junior engineers are usually paid much less and are expected to channel simple work away from experienced engineers, not vice-versa.

    According to your post, it appears like this is nothing unusual and people work for for hours without saying anything. I switched from technical support (talk to colleagues almost every 15-20 minutes) to software development (talk to colleagues once a day or even every 2-3 days). I understand what you mean by using up senior employee's valuable time. Sometimes I find it a lot faster to ask than spend hours configuring something on my own. I don't mean by asking them to fix it for me 100% but giving me pointers and tips can help me a lot.
  • NetworkVeteranNetworkVeteran Member Posts: 2,338 ■■■■■■■■□□
    I understand what you mean by using up senior employee's valuable time. Sometimes I find it a lot faster to ask than spend hours configuring something on my own. I don't mean by asking them to fix it for me 100% but giving me pointers and tips can help me a lot.

    It's a fine line, but one approach that rubbed me wrong was a junior engineer who "popped in" a few times a day to spend "a few minutes" bouncing ideas off me. The net affect was disrupting my train of thought and troubleshooting process. I began wearing head phones, and when he didn't take a hint, had to raise it as an issue that helping him was affecting deadlines for important projects. Another engineer, who I was always happy to help, once a week or so asked me if I could set aside 30 minutes to discuss a few things. This allowed me to schedule a convenient time, understand and discuss what he was working on in-depth, and those sessions really only took those 15-45 minutes and no more. It also made it very easy to account for the time. He also made a point to mention it during his status updates so my assistance wasn't hidden "under the table". :)
  • NobylspoonNobylspoon Member Posts: 620 ■■■□□□□□□□
    At my company it really depends on the project team. I've been on some projects that handled most team meetings via conference call from our desks even though we were all in the building together. On other projects, we all met a couple times a week for a face to face to make sure everyone is on the same page and to go over any action items.
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  • petedudepetedude Member Posts: 1,510
    And for some people, this would almost be a perfect environment. :D

    In a building full of techies, I'm actually not entirely surprised. Programming takes a lot of concentration for most folks, and most programmers I've known have been quiet, almost introverted people.
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  • zenhoundzenhound Member Posts: 93 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Sounds like heaven to me. As long as I knew what was expected of me and had something to work on that would be my ideal environment.
  • the_Grinchthe_Grinch Member Posts: 4,164 ■■■■■■■■■■
    Why not try to foster a new environment? Don't be annoying about it, but start talking to people. Sometimes you need someone to shake things up a bit to get the office gelling. But be sure to read the indicators to see if someone doesn't want to be bothered though.
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  • techdudeheretechdudehere Member Posts: 164
    I don't have much software development experience (almost all of it was volunteer at that), but I found that people sometimes get stuck in a certain way of thinking. If you have the luxury of leaving a particular problem alone for a day and working on something else, the answer will sometimes just come to you. It would be cool if your company did something like on "House" where once a week people put an issue on a whiteboard and had a mixed group to shout out suggestions. In that way, no one is hand holding per say but they are providing either big picture support or giving ideas to get past a specific issue. The last coding I ever did was when the company began to get much more formal about the process, but it sounds like the company you work for is still kind of taking a very basic approach to the process. Be thankful you are not micromanaged and constrained by a much more formal set of processes.
  • Alif_Sadida_EkinAlif_Sadida_Ekin Member Posts: 341 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I work for a software company and I can tell you it's nothing like the OP's company. Sure we have the same perks and more such as free snacks, sodas, beer, and alcohol (yes you read that right). We work in shorts and t-shirts and can pretty much come and go as we please and even work from home if we need to as long as the work is getting done. However, we are not a "dead quite" office like the OP. My colleagues and I are constantly talking to each other to bounce off ideas, ask for help, complain about users and such :) Sometimes I'll walk into the office and see someone flying a remote control helicopter around or another one sneaking around with a nerf gun shooting his friend. It sounds like we're slacking off, but in reality I work with some of the most talented software engineers in the industry and a lot of work actually does get done. Of course you will have the occasional person plug in with their headphones if they can't be bothered. Even I will do this when I'm in my "development mode" and I need to start hammering out my projects or support cases.

    I don't think I could work in the environment the OP was describing. It would drive me nuts. I enjoy a relaxed atmosphere where I can chat and get help from my team mates without fear of disrupting the rest of the office.
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  • jyotirmaysamantajyotirmaysamanta Member Posts: 1 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I work for a software development company that outsource. Outsourcing is basically of three types i.e. onshore, nearshore and offshore. Depending on the requirements you have you can go for either of them. Our clients are majorly from USA who delegate their software development task to us because they do not have a proper IT team that can accomplish their requirement of software development or may be they are not skilled enough to do the development. People hire us for their particular task and pay accordingly. 
     
     
     
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