Why you want code monkeys who tinker in their own time

This post is a modified version (in other words, shameless rip-off!) of an interesting post on seo-chicks.com. It talked about why companies should expect their SEO specialists to moonlight in their own time, and the benefits of this. You should go and read the original article as it’s really good.

But as I read it, I saw a parallel with how big software companies like my own employer should view their developers…

There are many reasons why you should expect your developer to be working on their own projects. Your developer should be doing something besides showing up to work, working on clients (or in house) and going home.

Working on their own projects is essential because it gives them experiences beyond their immediate work and gives them a platform for experimentation. Better that they try and fail on their own side projects than on your enterprise software products or your client’s live systems.

Software development is an art and a craft. It takes skill, knowledge, understanding and learning. Training is sparse once beyond the beginning stages, particularly in recent times where training budgets are getting harder to justify. Practice and experience are good forms of training – finding out the hard way what works and what doesn’t.

A passionate developer, someone who is bitten by the bug and craves to learn more, will go on to do more code development in their free time. That is the code monkey that you want รขโ‚ฌโ€œ someone who has passion and strives to learn more. This is the developer that you should want to find and keep. The professional who will test, push boundaries, experiment and learn more in their free time is valuable and should be kept and nurtured. This developer will bring more to an organisation than you may be able to utilise however they are worth their weight in gold over the long term.

Without this outside interest, your developer is restricted to only eight or so short hours in the day to both work on projects and learn. Experimentation is on live customer systems and training is whatever they are able to snatch. They walk away from technology each day and only return to it upon returning to work.

The passionate developer will go beyond just the day job and diversify. They will be a treasure to find and keep. If your developer is working on their own projects, perhaps it is possible to nurture that passion and therefore benefit from it within your business. Utilise their strengths and nurture their passions and your business will benefit greatly.

5 Responses to “Why you want code monkeys who tinker in their own time”

  1. Nick says:

    I couldn’t agree more. And yet… yet I’m also all too aware how certain employers view this in practice – I note your ‘should’ in the second paragraph.

    [I’m going to leave it there, my first draft would not have done me any favours… let’s grab a coffee sometime]

  2. dale says:


    To be fair, we’re biased – we both see ourselves as people who tinker with stuff in our own time, so it’s only natural that we would expect employers to appreciate and embrace this particular character quirk.

    But that said, yeah… views are often split – running the spectrum from appreciating, through complete indifference, to not understanding or even being suspicious of it.

    The comments on the original post I plagiarised was inspired by are pretty representative of reactions I’ve seen and heard myself.

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  4. David Currie says:

    This assumes that the day job doesn’t expand to fill any ‘spare’ time…

  5. dale says:

    True… would love to say that shouldn’t happen, but realistically, it does ๐Ÿ™‚