Community building for developers
If you have a common interest with a group of people, building a community sounds like a reasonable idea. When it comes to the implementation, it’s definitely harder than it sounds. So, how to do it properly if you really want a community of developers? Let me show you the key things to consider.
There are plenty of ways to give value to people. Make content about the exact problems in your field, and provide a solution for it. List jobs in a social media group. Make conversations, organize an event around an interesting topic in your profession. Give something to people, and make them stay in your circle, because you provide something to them, which they didn’t have before.
Organize events, both online and offline — that’s the easiest way to forge a community of introverted and extroverted people. For example, if one Friday afternoon a Call Of Duty LAN party takes place, go to a joint board game next week coupled with some pizza. Adapt to circumstances. Have an ugly sweater day during winter, then have an outdoor meeting in summer. Don’t leave them alone in their comfort zone. They think it’s good there until they realize how great it is to be out of it.
Stay around, be the part of the group
Even the boss is a member of the team, just like the newly joined, junior developer. It is important to have positions at work, but there is no need for bossing around in a community. People are looking for a partner, not a dictator. Don’t be the dude who arrives last and leaves first. The more you speak with your audience, the more they’re likely to feel a personal connection between you and your community. Tell your ideas to them, ask them about their problems in specific scenarios, and speak with them about anything connected to the core idea of the community.
If you have issues with a project, sit down and discuss it. Nothing is more constructive than an honest conversation and well-articulated feedback. Lay down the rules. For example, every Friday afternoon, people working on the same project shall meet for half an hour and discuss what they liked and what they didn’t during the week. Most problems can be solved if we dare to talk about them. Look for rules that are good to follow and not just mandatory to follow.
Jokes don’t kill the vibe
The people who’re likely to be a part of a profession-related community happen to be the people who’re also looking for fun. Everyone loves a great joke, especially if the joke is about their profession. With developers, it has more layers than it seems, because an awfully small amount of people can understand their jokes about programming. Share your funny thoughts with your community. They’re not going to laugh at you.
If you got to know the people working next to you, you also need to know what makes them smile. Forced joke is the worst joke, remember that. But you can figure something out for that too. For example, have a “meme of the day” that is always submitted by a different developer and get the day started with that.
From a community perspective, this may sound weird, but it’s worth its salt. Music playing all day, being through 3 meetings already, everyone in the dining room is loud and “AAAAARRRGHH”. Have you ever wished that no one would talk to you, just for a little bit? Everyone has such days and moments. What if you gave them that opportunity? Imagine a room with comfortable beanbags, some small tables, dim light and: SILENCE. Whoever crosses the threshold is forbidden to speak. Anyone can enter, rest for 10 minutes, recharge physically, mentally and continue the project with renewed vigor. It will come in handy in many situations if there is such an opportunity — especially for an introverted individual. But what has this got to do with the community? Sometimes we don’t want to have company but desire to have a little healthy solitude. In addition: did you know that sometimes it’s good to listen to silence together? We advise not to choose the smallest room, because there will be some who will use it more than the coffee machine.
Cigarettes, coffee, microwave, vending machine
What do they have in common? The fact that each results in a situation where conversation can easily develop, so it is important to support these activities. We’ve heard an office love story recalled: “Remember when we used to wait for an available microwave together?” If love can evolve in such situations, friendships can too, but good working relationships can be built for sure. Smokers should have a bench, a table, and an ashtray. Honor the caffeine-lovers with a delicious coffee, have enough microwaves, but not too much. Cherry on top if you place some snack vending machines, which is also an excellent site for a short chat or to borrow some coins.
The community as a tempting offer
If you’re looking for a new employee, it is an important aspect that not only the salary matters, especially not in the programming profession. Many of the young developers are motivated to build their careers in addition to a high salary. They would like to work on exciting projects, in a pleasant environment with a friendly team. Much of what’s described in the article can be intriguing if you include it in your job offer, but it can also be a positive presage if a job seeker sees that the company is trying to build a community. For many, it is more sympathetic to have an XBOX, pinball, table football, ping-pong table in the office.
This does not mean that they would like to play during work-time, but that they know that they have the opportunity to relax with their co-workers during breaks or after work. Every first sentence of one of our programming friends after lunch was: “I’ll beat you in ping-pong and then we’ll work hard until 5, okay?” Usually he won, and then worked with as much focus as anyone around him. You need to find a common language with young developers and a good way to do it is to give them the opportunity to have fun and trust them that it’s going to benefit the project.
Who let the dogs in?
You. But we prefer to let go of the idea of the office animal. It will probably be the job of one person to take care of them and probably they will be bothered by the whole thing. Instead allow office workers to bring their puppy to their workplace. It’s going to be at the expense of work on the first few days, but after a short period of time when it’s not new, it will simply feel good to see them crawling around all day, sometimes asking for a caress. This has an excellent effect on both the owner and the colleagues. We didn’t just come up with it, it really works. Make a common calendar where everyone can mark when they want to bring their pet, since you have to maximize the number of dogs. The important rule is to only let socially developed dogs in who are having fun with humans and other dogs as well.
Just as the whole program can shut down because of a small bug during programming, so do little things matter in the community of colleagues. There are many details that may seem insignificant, yet they are a very important building block of everyday office life. If you put a couple of chairs and armchairs in the hallway, you will notice that the staff are happy to sit down and have a chat there. Furthermore, if cyclists can take a shower, they’ll be happy to get to work on 2 wheels. For those who don’t bring lunch from home but go to nearby restaurants, how good it would be for them to list these eateries and score them with colleagues. A good post-work community program can be developing an internal, “where do we eat today?” system. Look for such little things in your own office because there’s something you can make even better for sure.
Opponents but not enemies
Everyone loves healthy competition. There is always a competition that brings people together, you just have to look for it. It doesn’t have to be related to the profession, the point is to be interesting and challenging. If you have no idea, ask your colleagues what kind of competition they would join. It could be from a “who’s least likely to be late” or “the office’s best FIFA player” to a simple Kahoot! quiz. Talk with them about it, don’t figure it out alone. They also take it more seriously if they have already taken part in the planning, plus it is likely that more people will take part in it, as the will of the majority will win over the theme of the competition. And don’t forget the reward! Don’t give money, figure something out. An additional day off, a lunch invitation or some creative and more personal award.
You have a chat interface where you talk about projects right? But why do you talk only about projects? Most development companies use Discord or Slack, because it is easy to create channels and servers there. This is a great opportunity for community building as well. Create more channels that aren’t about work, but are related to your company’s everyday life. For example: “programming memories”, “where to eat today”, “community games online / offline”, “out-of-office programs”, “this is a must see”.
Try what you learned
Now, you know the magic rules about community building for developers.
We hope that we helped you out with this and started a huge brainstorming in your mind.
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