Some people tend to think that our work as Software Engineers is all about coding. I can’t disagree more.

In our daily work, we are involved in many situations that may affect other people around us and that’s why I believe caring should be a major part of our work.

We continuously iterate on our code to make it better (admit it or not, you care for your code), can we incorporate caring in our daily work even when it’s not related to the code we write? How can we be more active when it relates to caring?

Caring is “Feeling or showing concern for or kindness to others” (Merriam Webster). We have a lot of opportunities to show we care in our day to day life, we just need to pay attention to them.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

In many cases someone else will have to read the code we write so the fact we can understand what is going on is not enough. Consider this quote from the book “Clean Code”:

“Clean code always looks like it was written by someone
who cares” — Micheal Feathers

Caring about others (and your future self) is crucial for your code to be useful over time.

Another aspect of caring in our daily work is considering the fact that your work is part of a bigger project. This means that if you care about the success of the project, you need to make sure you document your work and share your knowledge when needed, so other people can support what you did. Same goes the other way around when you’ll need to support what your teammates did. Caring about the project will create common ownership among all of the team and not just individuals.

Development projects usually involve people with different functions: from QA, to UX designers, Backend devs, Frontend devs, Product managers etc. We can also assume that your team may be constructed of different seniority levels within the same functions.

By caring about other people even if we are not responsible for their part of the work, we can improve the velocity of the greater team and reduce friction. Sometimes it means doing a little extra work that may not be “in our court” like helping the QA or the UX Designer. Sometimes it means explaining what you did another time so it’s clear and sometimes it is providing feedback or talking to someone having a bad day.

Being proactive by asking, commenting and sharing your opinion and interest will take your caring to the next level and will encourage others to do the same.

On top of our work, we are all part of developer communities.
Contributing back to the community is the ultimate form of caring since it doesn’t necessarily benefit you.

One great way to show you care is to contribute to open source projects.
Using your free time in order to provide others with a way to get things done easily and quickly without expecting anything in return means caring.

Contributing to OSS can come in many forms.
You encountered an issue? Try to find the time to submit a PR. If you don’t have the time, open an issue, let everyone know that you found something.
You loved a feature? reach out, tell people you love it. There are many communication channels nowadays (from discord, to twitter to even GitHub discussions) so you can reach out to almost anyone.

I got into open-source by showing I care and answering open issues in Testing-Library. I have to admit, it felt really good. The small appreciation from someone you helped, means a lot.

Caring takes work. You need to be proactive and mindful to show you care, but I promise you, it is definitely worth it. It will make you and everyone around you better at what you do.

Last but not least,
I hope everyone’s feeling well and keeping themselves safe!
If you have any questions, I’m here and also on Twitter. Feel free to ask or comment, I’d love to hear your feedback or help with any dilemmas you have :)

Thanks,
Matan.

Frontend Engineer | Creating better software, one word at a time | Matan.io