Servicey

How to Feed and Care for Your Developer

The view from the Fog Creek office. (joelonsoftware.com)

Fog Creek Software has a fish tank embedded in one wall. The fish are pretty and colorful, but not neon; it looked like there might have been an eel in there too. They wandered around their dark blue and green environs, their movements accompanied by the soft white noise of the pump, imparting a sense of calm.

The offices of the developers of Fog Creek look sort of like fish tanks, because they have sliding glass doors to make them more soundproof. The compartments look airtight, as if you could fill the whole thing up with water. Founder Joel Spolsky has been preaching for years that developers should have private offices. It’s better for their temperament, and it reduces distractions and makes them more productive, he argues. Mr. Spolsky himself has a closed-door corner office, with a view of the Financial District in one direction and Fog Creek’s airy lunch room in the other.

Fog Creek has a motto: “What if programmers were treated like rock stars?” Betabeat had a chance to glimpse the office of the esteemed New York company last night during a class, “How to Hire Developers in a Competitive Market,” taught by two employees of Fog Creek’s uppity younger cousin, Stack Exchange. The message at the end of the night: developers are choosy, peculiar, brilliant and needy. But their needs are actually pretty simple. Read More