24. Workspaces, Workstations, & Working Agreements

On today’s episode, we’ll be talking about workspace, workstations, and working agreements. It cannot be underestimated how affected we are by our surroundings. From posture, to desk positioning, to office snacks – there are often many overlooked factors that effect our performance and overall wellbeing.In this episode we discuss everything from ergonomics, to desk pairing, to Rubik’s cubes and bubblegum – the tools, objects and social dynamics that give us the ability to deliver great code. Take a listen and find out how William, David, Emmanuel and Michael try to avoid M&M dispensers and make their workspace as comfortable, convenient and stimulating as possible.


Key Points From This Episode:

  • React Native Sound.
  • Workstation ergonomics: To stand or not to stand?
  • The pros and cons of desk pairing.
  • Are two monitors better than one?
  • Tools for the daily workspace.
  • Mmm… Developer toys?
  • Working agreements with pairs.
  • The best snacks in the office.
  • And much more!

Transcript for Episode 24. Workspaces, Work Stations, & Working Agreements

[0:00:01.9] MN: Hello and welcome to The Rabbit Hole podcast, I’m your host, Michael Nunez. The panelist today are:

[0:00:07.1] EG: Emmanuel.

[0:00:08.1] DA: David.

[0:00:09.2] WJ: William.

[0:00:10.2] MN: And today we’ll be talking about workspace, work stations and working agreements. Tools and objects that give us the ability to deliver great code. Do we have any teach and learns today?

[0:00:20.4] EG: Yeah, well there is a change in the Climamat where one strider is ruling off and one strider is ruling in but I am staying. So I’m the one sort of in charge of getting that chart up to speed on our code base. It’s been really interesting because I’ve noticed that I’ve had to – well I’ve decided to – times when I could have jumped it and fix it, to let the other strider just work out the problem on their own and as I see them struggling to make the connections in their mind that are in the code base.

And I hope that’s helpful because in the past I probably would have tried to just, “Okay I know how to fix this or I know how to do this. I have been looking on this for the last six months so I know what I’m doing.” But I think it’s better to in fact give that person the space so that they can figure out that one even though I probably, right now, I can do it faster but I think in a month or two, giving them the space will allow us, both of us, to do it even faster than before.

[0:01:20.7] DA: Do you find that they are getting a better understanding of the code base by explaining it as well or?

[0:01:25.7] EG: Yes, I’ve had to. I mean having a fresh set of eyes this person then has asked questions that I probably take for granted or wouldn’t have thought of. He asks why a lot and I probably asked why a lot the first time but I stopped asking why a while ago. I guess this is just how this thing is and he’s willing to ask “why, could we do this differently?” and that’s been really helpful as well.

[0:01:49.1] DA: Cool, nice.

[0:01:50.1] WJ: Yeah, I find when pairing with marginary people who asks lots of questions, I always end up with a better understanding after having explained it. Because why is a really powerful question to answer.

[0:01:59.9] MN: It is.

[0:02:01.5] DA: Yep, six why’s all of that.

[0:02:04.9] WJ: The six why’s, wow. This is even deeper.

[0:02:07.0] DA: That’s like root cause analysis, right?

[0:02:08.7] WJ: It’s five of them, well I have heard of the five why’s.

[0:02:10.3] DA: Oh it’s five why’s?

[0:02:11.5] WJ: Yeah, I like that you are talking it to the next level.

[0:02:13.7] DA: Yeah, you don’t stop, it’s recursive.

[0:02:16.1] MN: Five why plus one. Is that an extra “ump” that extra why? I’ve been learning I think before in time, I mentioned that I’ve been doing some React Native just fiddling with React and I ran into this package that’s been helpful, React Native sound. So I’m actually able to play a sound on the application that I am building. It is going to be a pretty basic application of you clicking on a button and it saying a sound. I don’t want to release any spoilers so when the app does come out, it’s going to be amazing. Oh yeah.

[0:02:52.6] DA: No one will know what sound it is.

[0:02:53.7] MN: Yeah I know. I mean probably the combination of my face and Bobby but that is all I’m going to say. That’s all there is, yeah.

[0:03:00.7] EG: I feel like I can imagine what this is already so.

[0:03:02.8] MN: Yeah, no I mean it’s really cool like –

[0:03:04.7] EG: I can hear it.

[0:03:05.8] MN: Like if you think about sound when it enters into a computer you have to be able to grab the track that it is on and then stop it and play. So using React Native, well this pack is react native sound to capture the sound architecture that is on the IOS simulator which I am using right now is pretty cool because they have all these functions that I would not have thought of. It’s like, “Oh I am just going to play this sound and I have to stop this sound”.

Well now no, you have to check the channels of the module, the speaker module to determine where you want to play it and what not. It’s been pretty interesting to learn because I thought I was just going to be simply playing sounds but it’s cool to see all of the things you could do with React Native Sound.

[0:03:47.5] DA: So it sounds like there is pretty robust multimedia you can do with React Native? It’s not too in depth? Well I guess like Slack is React Native and I think Discord as well. So they have some pretty wild stuff that they’re doing?

[0:04:01.5] MN: Oh yeah, it’s a lot of fun. It almost feels like I am building a web app but it’s simply – I mean the way the syntax is a little different but just been dealing with the React Native has been a lot of fun. I have an idea on how to build that like working on React right now – I’ll try build this little component, see what happens and then boom, it’s just made. Then the fact that you can make it for both IOS and Android at the same time. So my app is going to be everywhere, that’s what I’m hoping.

[0:04:28.2] DA: Awesome.

[0:04:29.5] MN: Yeah, we’ll jump right in to the main topic, we’ll be talking about workspace, workstations and working agreement – which is pretty much the things we have around us and at the desk that we can reach to ensure that we can communicate better and deliver code and ensure that we get all our stories done and whatnot.

One thing that I’ve seen as of late has been standing desk, I know a lot of people, a lot of developers have been getting standing desks and I wanted everyone’s thoughts, standing desk. How does people feel about that?

[0:04:59.4] WJ: I think it’s far more important that your desk is the appropriate height for you personally than it is either standing or sitting. There’s a whole bunch of ergonomics, research that’s been done on how the way that you sit or the way that you stand, for long periods of time affects your work product and your quality of life. I find that as a consultant, I’m often in a new office, new environment with new desks and seating things.

It’s always really noticeable to me when the organization pays attention to ergonomics. One of the rules for ergonomics is that your monitor should be about arm’s length in front of you so if you stick your arm out, your fingertips should be just barely touching your monitor. If you do that, you know, it’s not really noticeable at first but then you know, you realize, man, my monitor has been way too close or my monitor has been way too far away.

Also the URL bar, if you’re in the browser, that should be at eye level. You want the whole monitor itself to be a little bit below directly in front of you. Your forearm should be able to come out from elbow level with relaxed shoulders for the ideal keyboard height, your both feet should be flat on the floor and like when you’re working in an environment where that’s the way that it feels, it’s really noticeable.

I had, when I was doing my own startup was the only time that I was able to completely fully customize a setup because for most of my career, I’ve been a consultant and have been, you know, in other people’s offices with other people’s setups. I could really tell the difference particularly desk height and keyboard height. Also, it’s impossible to have an ergonomic setup with a laptop because you can’t have both your keyboard and your monitor at the right height if they’re attached to each other.

[0:06:48.4] MN: Yup. That’s not happening.

[0:06:51.0] DA: So ergonomic is not having a hunch back? Yeah. That’s kind of unfortunate because I do like having some flexibility and being able to move from location to location that you get from having a laptop. I feel like if I feel stuck, like kind of going to a different place helps me get to a different thought pattern and it helps me get unstuck sometimes. It is kind of unfortunate that laptops do encourage the worst of behaviors. But I think standing desk are nice because they let you kind of keep some of those ergonomics and change the way that you are a little bit and still keep working.

I used to consult a lot as well and I would work from home sometimes and so I got a standing desk setup. I would flip between the sitting desk and the standing desk and that would kind of constitute like you know, my change of scenery for the day. I’d sit at my desk, go over here, stand over here, work.

Yeah, just get a different perspective and also like, kind of move around because it’s kind of tough being a programmer and not having any real reason to move, but yeah.

[0:08:10.8] WJ: Yeah, I think if you have one of the standing desks that lifts and sinks, you know, the ones that are adjustable?

[0:08:17.6] EG: Yeah.

[0:08:18.8] WJ: Then you can have the perfect arm height and the perfect monitor height and perfect keyboard and monitor height and it will adjust with you. So you can be sitting or standing without having to change anything.

I really like – I agree with you about laptops being great for moving from one physical space to another, either for unsticking yourself or just so that you can have a laptop in a meeting. I always setup my workstation so that it’s easy to remove my laptop and put it back so that I can still be mobile and have a good setup most of the time.

[0:08:50.8] MN: You just yank, the ability to yank out all the USB and the power cord and the HDMI to just run out, is that what you refer to?

[0:08:59.4] WJ: Yeah, I’ll usually cord them together so that they’re always right next to where they need to be plugged in when my laptop is sitting on its stand.

[0:09:09.9] EG: You know, listening to William talk about all the ergonomics has revealed to me how little I actually do any of that stuff. I was just – I felt changed after that.

[0:09:25.1] MN: Both feet on the ground? I got them on the legs of the chair.

[0:09:29.0] DA: Feet are up. Coding.

[0:09:34.2] EG: Both feet on the ground? As you were explaining the arm length thing and I was just sitting on the laptop, I was like, “My goodness, I have a fist and...”

[0:09:43.1] MN: You almost punched your laptop.

[0:09:45.9] EG: I punched my laptop. No, but really, I have all these ideas now about how I need to sit up, at least when I’m at home. I went to the recourse center and I was mentoring somebody through their program and that person eventually said, was stopped and they send me a gift and the gift they sent me was a stand for my laptop because every time we would Google hangouts, I was hunched over the laptop. Looking down on them.

They sent me, the person in California and he sent me a stand so my laptop would be like eye level. This is after we stopped meeting. He just sent that to me for like next time.

[0:10:26.3] MN: You got to keep it up and we got to see your face.

[0:10:29.5] EG: Yeah, I have like terrible setup. I mean, at the client I’m at, the in house devs can have these adjustable standing desks. Where, you know, I’ve seen them like push a button and it goes “bzzz” up, it buzzes up and they do it.

[0:10:46.0] DA: Fancy. Ii it motorized?

[0:11:00.5] EG: Yeah. Motorized and everything, right. Us as consultants do not have that.

[0:10:53.2] MN: The problem is, you could probably get it like you can’t get it. The problem is you have to take it with you when you go and those things are heavy.

[0:11:00.5] EG: Oh, no.

[0:11:01.0] MN: It’s like 70 pounds, I’m not lugging that to the next client. It’s just too difficult. What do I do?

[0:11:06.2] EG: The ones at this client are like installed, like drilled into the space.

[0:11:12.2] MN: Wait, that’s the motorized one?

[0:11:13.2] EG: Yeah. They have one of these…

[0:11:14.2 ] MN: That one’s cool.

[0:11:16.3] EG: …facilities crew come in and they drill into your desk and they drill into place, they put yeah.

[0:11:22.0] DA: My gosh, yeah.

[0:11:23.6] EG: It is a serious thing.

[0:11:24.8] DA: That’s a tipping hazard right?

[0:11:27.2] EG: Yeah, they make sure it’s secure and everything, also if you're moving, you’re not allowed to touch anything, right? First, if the stuff belongs to the client company, you can’t touch it but if it belongs to us, we could move it, right?

The client devs, when they’re moving seats, they have to have someone else move all their stuff for them.

[0:11:46.9] MN: Yeah, it’s like that multiple clients too. Where I am now, it’s like, “Wait, that’s a filing cabinet, leave that right there, we’ll hire someone to…” I’ll be like, “No, I’m totally capable of picking up, of rolling it, it has wheels, I could roll it to the desk where...” They’re like, “No, no, no, no, no don’t touch it, we got it. Don’t worry.”

[0:12:07.7] DA: It’s like you need work or something?

[0:12:10.5] MN: It’s like, “Don’t take my job, we got arms too, we’ll take care of it for you.” The motorized ones are pretty cool because – this is someone of my clients who has it – and you can move it up and down and then you can preset it. It has like 10 numbers, zero through nine and you can raise the height and then hold the number zero so that’s the zero setting. If you’re ready to be at zero setting which is standing, if you want it to be standing.

You just press zero and boom, it’s standing. I’m sitting down now so you go down, you set it for number one, boom, it just goes down. It’s like magical, you just go, boom, you just watch it, it does it for you.

[0:12:47.3] DA: That’s neat.

[0:12:48.3] MN: The other ones where you have to use your arms to do like – who wants to do that? No. What am I, savage? No. Just press the button, boom, that’s great.

[0:12:57.5] DA: Have you ever used a standing desk to do pairing?

[0:13:02.4] MN: I have but I always ask what the other person wants to do. It’s just like, I don’t want to force them, because I’m lazy, right? If it was up to me, I would sit but if they want to stand, fine, I’ll stand, I’m okay with that. But I don’t want to enforce anyone to change how they’re going to do their work so I don’t mind standing. I mean, what are your thoughts on pairing and…

[0:13:23.4] DA: I’ve never done it before, I’m just trying to imagine the mechanics, it seems a bit tough to have like a level surface for two keyboards and all that.

[0:13:30.7] MN: No, it’s usually just one and it’s like wrestling, it’s like tag team, you got to – you’re the driver and you punch the keys and write in code and the navigator is like, you know, helping you out and getting the work done. But like, the minute you going to swap it’s like boom, tag in, you got to jump back, a guy comes in or the girl and they just start coding, it’s great.

It’s really difficult to have a pairing session with two keyboards when you have a standing desk. I don’t think the motorized ones have enough space, I haven’t seen one with enough space for tow but I know the – I’ve done it with the clickable adjustable standing desk where you have to literally swap out with another person.

That standing position. I think the one that I’ve seen also is one person is forced to sit down at all times, that person doesn’t have a standing desk and the other person gets to use a standing desk however they see fit.

[0:14:25.8] DA: Okay.

[0:14:25.9] WJ: I worked on a client where my pairer and I, we would pair while standing and we were using — this was really ghetto — we just had these little IKEA stands. They were like, probably designed to be a little tables or maybe like a night stand or something, I don’t know.

But we would put them on top of the desk and that was how you would stand. I could be standing and my pair could be sitting and we didn’t even really move the IKEA desk, we just left it there. Then we would move the laptop to underneath the desk, which is still on top of the table.

[0:14:57.7] EG: Okay.

[0:14:59.0] MN: I know exactly what you’re talking about, the IKEA, if you “Google IKEA standing desk”, the following auto suggest is “hack.” It’s like this big thing you build, it’s like 22 bucks. I remember my brother telling me, “I’m going to build this standing desk but I need to go to IKEA and buy a set of things that don’t match.” Two completely different IKEA sets but it makes the perfect “standing desk.” I mean it’s 22 bucks, you can’t complain. It’s just like either you’re standing or you’re sitting.

If we were to talk about stone age, clearly that’s the stone age. Just like, “Oh, put a ton of books right on one on top of the other, it’s great.

[0:15:37.0] DA: Yeah, Lego blocks.

[0:15:39.3] MN: Yeah, shout out to IKEA with the $22 standing desk. As you mentioned before with pairing on a standing desk, monitors like depending on the size of the monitor is pretty important. I imagine if you’re pairing with someone and you only have one monitor, that screen has to be at least 21 inches.

I don’t know, I haven’t bought a monitor in forever. I just kind of accept whatever the client has, do you guys have any preferences on like whether you want two keyboards per pair versus one sharing. What are some of the thoughts on that?

[0:16:11.8] WJ: I have strong feelings about that. I think that it’s really important that both you and your pair have your own keyboard and mouse and ideally, monitor. Not ideally, I think, also monitor. I think that there’s significant friction when you have to physically move in order to switch from driver to navigator. When that friction is removed, you can really tell the difference.

It becomes much more seamless to tag the other person in and then the other person feels more comfortable being tagged in. I really notice a difference so usually, I will bring an extra keyboard and extra mouse. I will request an extra monitor. I don’t want to have to carry my own, we’ll request an extra monitor so that I can do this.

[0:16:55.9] EG: Really, my first pairing experience was at the app academy boot camp and what they had us do was share a keyboard and share the monitor. Where it was probably kind of intense because you were ping ponging every five minutes and so we had this one monitor, one keyboard and a monitor.

You’d be in the middle of like typing something out, next person finishes that method name or whatever it was you were doing. Now it’s different because we have two monitors and one extra wide, no, two keyboards and two mice and one extra wide screen at the client that I’m at now. I kind of miss one monitor, one keyboard because it would force the pair and I to be more in sync.

Because then the pair would have to finish like the sentence halfway or the method name or the code halfway.

[0:17:52.3] WJ: So you have a really strict enforcement of the switch. It’s like after five minutes, you have to switch.

[0:17:56.9] EG: Yeah, there, you have to switch even if you’re halfway through something, you’re switching.at five minutes. Now, I just adapt to whoever I’m pairing with. I think we do 15 minute switch but it’s not really enforced all that strongly, we kind of go with the flow and a feel. I think there’s a benefit in having that strict enforcement because then, both people have to be in tune and pay attention because you’re up in five minutes to finish whatever we were working on together.

[0:18:29.5] MN: I mean, there’s one way you can enforce it and that’s just removing the USB on the other person’s keyboard. I actually have thought, I mean, I’ve done it before where okay, I’m – this is like I’ve been driving for some time, you are the navigator, I’m removing the USB from my keyboard so that you can navigate and if I jump in, like there is no – it’s a bad habit to jump in and punch the keys but if you’re not connected then it’s pretty straight, you got the power. The way that I have it.

[0:19:02.0] DA: Yeah, I’m kind of curious about the screen having two monitors versus one monitor. I’ve done pairing I guess only with one monitor and when I had a workstation, like in my previous job, I would try to have two monitors but they’d be smaller. A more recent engagement, I actually have one really large monitor and I find it really nice to have everything on one screen without having a division like you know, having to look around too much.

I’m here, what’s the main benefit of having two monitors?

[0:19:36.1] WJ: To clarify, I mirror the two monitors so you’re not having to look at the other person’s screen to see anything?

[0:19:40.6] DA: Okay, it’s two monitors with the same content?

[0:19:44.2] WJ: Yeah. It’s so you don’t have to crank your neck.

[0:19:48.2] EG: There is a problem with craning my neck even with the extra wide screen we have at the client because if working, you know, we have a split screen where we have the specs in one side and the coder writing on the other, there is like a….

[0:20:05.3] MN: Just like a sheep at your neck… burn to.

[0:20:08.5] DA: Double take. What?

[0:20:12.2] MN: One of the issues that I have with the mirror monitors is that like, let’s say I want to point at something to someone. I’m often pointing at my monitor not knowing that they can’t see what I’m pointing at. So I learned to use the mouse when it comes to that. You know, highlight the variable or…

[0:20:30.0] EG:9 Or line numbers.

[0:20:32.0] MN: Yeah, the line number, because yeah, I go “Right there” and I’m pointing at it and they’re like “Right where? What are you talking about?” I go “Yeah, right – You don’t see it?” But no, of course because I mean, having two monitors paired, at the end of the day, it’s very important and informative and you have your own space and you can see a lot more clear without breaking your neck.

That was like one of the hurdles that I had to get over, just like, “Don’t point with your finger, point with the mouse.”

[0:20:58.3] WJ: Yeah remote pairing really broke me of that habit. They’re definitely not going to see the thing though.

[0:21:06.6] MN: Another set of tools that I find very useful are white boards. I often find myself running into a white board if I have to explain something to my pair that I am working with or if I have to explain a particular problem to someone in my team. Are there any other tools that you guys need or how often do you guys run into a white board? Are their white boards where you are at right now? How does that all work out in daily workspace?

[0:21:31.1] DA: I have a cork board next to my workstation and so I use that to pin on some different diagrams, print offs from system generated UNL diagrams and things like that, so that way it’s there and we can refer back to that if we have any questions about how the tables are related and what data is related to what and how the systems interact. I think that’s pretty helpful like having an overview just right on hands and yeah, it’s nice to have for putting like post-its or cards up on too.

[0:22:05.2] WJ: For me it’s note cards and a Sharpie, that’s my go to.

[0:22:09.8] MN: Yeah, those are very, very helpful. I find myself being much less likely to grab the keyboard if I had the index cards and Sharpie ready to write down the task that I’m working on. Another thing that I have that helps is a Rubik’s cube. That keeps my hands occupied as I’m turning it and thinking about the problem with my pair allows me just to have something in my hands to turn and what not is pretty cool. But the index cards definitely help when it comes to writing out tasks and what not.

[0:22:40.3] WJ: Yeah, I really want that fidget cube.

[0:22:42.7] DA: I was just thinking about that. I was like you are the perfect market for the fidget cube.

[0:22:47.3] MN: Oh wait is that the one where each side is like you click here and then you press a button on the other side and then it has all these other different things?

[0:22:55.6] WJ: Yeah.

[0:22:56.4] MN: Oh interesting. Yeah, no I have seen it before. They’re really small, that’s the only issue I have. I mean from what I have seen.

[0:23:03.4] WJ: Yeah, they do look like really small.

[0:23:04.8] MN: I like the Rubik’s cube, the Rubik’s cube is awesome. Everyone should go get a Rubik’s cube.

[0:23:07.2] WJ: Yeah, other developer toys – like I really like having developer toys just to check because someone once told me, “People who work with their minds think with their hands” and that really rang true to me. So in the obvious – I remember we had like snap toys. It was like a snake necklace that you could snap and put back together like a bracelet, yeah and that was really satisfying. We had these squishy balls that were a stress reliever that one was alright. It was good if you threw it because it bounced. But I really do think it helps for concentration.

[0:23:46.1] EG: And the setup we have now when we first got – we were right next to a white board and so often times we would just get up and just white board really quick and go sit back down and we were working on something really complicated. We would spend a lot of time just standing over the white board, we would sit down and go back to it again, sit down. Having that easy access was really helpful. Then we moved somewhere else where we didn’t have as easy access to the white board.

And so we had to, I am not sure what we did really? We didn’t really have a chance to kind of visually represent our ideas. We often had to talk through them, it was through verbal communication instead of showing which helps I think clarify. Or as you get both people on the same page, both of you can draw on that white board and say, “I drew this and then the person changes the drawing to go, “what about this there?” and then there is this back and forth that happens that I miss.

But now we’re back to the place where the white board is right next to us. Also I like putting post it notes at the bottom of my screen as I am thinking of something or “I need to do this later, I can’t do it now.” If I do-do it now, it’s going to take me away from what I am trying to do now. So I like to put a whole bunch of them – well not a whole bunch – and hopefully it doesn’t get too much. But I will have four or five at the bottom of the screen and then as I am getting it done, I’ll just take it off, put it away. Those two things I find helpful.

[0:25:21.8] WJ: Yeah but I find moveable white boards are really great for that because when you need it, you want it right next to you and when you don’t need it, you really don’t want it taking up space.

[0:25:30.9] DA: I like using post it notes too although I just felt bad about how much paper I was wasting because the post it is kind of larger than any note that I would normally write on it and I’d be like, “Oh well there’s still some paper here maybe I will use it later” but I find this really tiny ones and those are perfect. I love them, I have no qualms with throwing them away.

[0:25:50.9] MN: Just to move along, we’re going to talk about really quick the working agreement you have with a pair. When you introduce someone to a pair sparring session excuse me, what are some of the things that you agree on when you say, “Alright, I can pair if I do X, Y and Z” like an example I have is I usually bring up Pomedoros where we do 25 minutes of concentrated work with a five minute break because that allows both of us to agree on the fact that I’m going to look at my phone.

And I am going to dedicate five minutes to checking on voicemails or emails that I have from the company and whatnot. Any other agreements you guys have? Like do you guys come in really early or stay in late, what are your thoughts on that?

[0:26:38.6] EG: One of the agreements that was not initially what I worked out with the person I was working with, but eventually as we noticed that this person had all these responsibilities outside of the client work and so we sort of like, “Okay every three Pomodoros we’re going to take 15 to 20 minutes because you have to answer 20 emails.” And this stopped it from happening while we were working. Well mostly anyway, so that it wouldn’t happen while we’re working and that really helped us.

I felt, from my point of view, get more in tuned and we’re able to get together into a better flow and exchange ideas. Whereas these constant breaks, the person had to check an email, respond to this, respond to that would really break what we were doing at the moment.

[0:27:26.9] WJ: I have some working agreements too, definitely Pomodoro, always do that one. So I have a bad habit of skipping Pomodoro breaks when I am really in the zone. So one thing I’ll do is I will drink a lot of water, just like a biological Pomodoro break enforcer.

[0:27:44.0] EG: That’s a great Pomodoro break enforcer, yeah.

[0:27:46.8] MN: Nice and then you’ve got to look forward to that break when you go and take your five minutes.

[0:27:53.0] WJ: Yeah, I guess that’s not really a working agreement. That’s like me self-limiting. An actual working agreement that I usually do is around when to switch as driver navigator. Sometimes if I am starting out with somebody particularly if they don’t do a lot of pairing, I’ll break out a chess clock and we’ll enforce. This is how much time I will get on the clock, this is how much time you get on the clock and we’re going to prepare for exactly the right amount of time.

And then as we get more comfortable, I will talk about abandoning the chess clock and just leaning in. You just lean in when you want to type and then we will get to know each other’s habits and try and be respectful about not typing over the other person when they are in the middle of a thought and if one person does that then the other person raises it. So I find people are much more willing to tell you that something is bothering them if you give them permission ahead of time, “Hey, I know this is a thing that I do that might bother you. Please tell me if and when this bothers you.”

[0:28:52.3] MN: Right.

[0:28:53.0] DA: Yeah, that’s one of the stride social rules also right? It also reoccurs like giving people permission to interrupt if there is like a while actually, right? If someone is correcting you on the sailor then it’s like, “Okay. We have already accepted that this is something that we are not going to do.” So it’s okay if you bring it up.

[0:29:14.4] MN: Cool, I have one more thing I like to ask and it concerns, I mean it’s about food. I imagine developers cannot work without snacks in the office. So what are some of your favorite snacks that you guys like to have in the office?

[0:29:29.3] WJ: So I really like gum. We have some ice cubes that I am addicted to and whenever they are around. They’re like ice breakers ice cubes, I’ll just eat them by the fistful.

[0:29:42.0] DA: You can’t even open your mouth like…

[0:29:46.6] WJ: Yeah, nobody has told me that it is annoying. Working agreement – if anybody is annoyed by me chewing tons of gum all the time, let me know. I try not to be noisy about it but it’s snacks that never run out you know? You never get full off of gum so you can just continue to have it. Well I don’t know, maybe I have an oral fixation or something. I really enjoy gum.

[0:30:10.3] MN: I mean gum is good especially like when you are pairing with someone. I always get, not to offend anyone but it’s like, “Hey do you want gum before we start this pairing?” They’re like, “What are you saying?” “Well I don’t know, I am going to have one so you should have one” and then everything will be great and then that’s it. So gum is good.

[0:30:27.2] DA: It’s like we’ll be gumming together.

[0:30:28.9] MN: Yeah, exactly. You’ll not have onion chips or whatever. That will probably be more hurtful of me. Does anyone like onion chips out there? I am pretty sure it is bad for the keyboard and bad for the air, what do you think?

[0:30:39.6] DA: There’s one snack I am going to bring up which a client has had in the past. I absolutely love them but I feel so guilty because I like crunchy snacks and they have these seaweed chips.

[0:30:51.4] MN: Those are so good.

[0:30:52.6] DA: They’re so tasty. So yummy and so crunchy but it’s so loud. It’s like one of those commercials where you bite into it and everyone turns their head. So I have to really restrict my intake of those.

[0:31:10.7] EG: I have a granola mix that I like to bring. I’ve recently started doing this more and more often. I like almonds and it has chocolates in it and cranberries. I mean one that does ruin your appetite which gum doesn’t do but what happens is around three-ish in the afternoon every day I have a feeling of wanting to eat something. So it’s there. If I bring it today, if not I will usually go take a break and go get a cookie or something or a brownie or something like that and I think the almonds are better.

Also right there you can share them with the person that you are working with so that helps I think with a little bit of bonding, yeah so almonds.

[0:32:00.2] MN: Yeah, I used to do M&M’s and M&M’s at the office they have an auto dispensary where you put your hand under and M&M’s come out. It’s so dangerous because you can sit there and be like, “Oh my god it’s magical M&M’s.” But then I had to look out if I am getting diabetes, I ought to be careful. So I definitely moved over to almonds and that’s actually been very helpful for my health in general and people are like, “Oh almonds? No I want M&M’s. Chocolate is better” I’m like, “Yeah, you have that. I’ll have this” and we’ll work until about –

[0:32:35.4] DA: It’s the adult snack.

[0:32:36.2] MN: Exactly.

[0:32:36.6] DA: It’s the Obama snack right? Seven day in almonds or something?

[0:32:39.4] MN: Yeah, exactly. Almonds have been working out great for me as well.

[0:32:43.8] DA: I never have worked in a place where snacks are provided before. It would always be something like, “I want to snack” I have to leave the building and venture outside and waste company time a little bit. But there’s that natural break and limitation where I spend time and money in order to get snacks. The idea of having an office where you have an M&M dispenser easily available, you’re never hungry. There’s never a feeling of hunger.

You are always provided for and it’s great but at the same time I do miss the limitations there and also walking.

[0:33:23.4] MN: Yeah, I think, I don’t know if you would all agree but I think the walking part I definitely use coffee for that. I’ll say I am going to grab a coffee and everyone’s that is my time where I like step out even though M&M’s are provided. I still go outside for coffee even if it is provided in the office, I will still going to step outside for it because that is what you step outside for.

[0:33:48.5] DA: Great, yeah.

[0:33:49.8] MN: Cool, I’m glad to hear everyone’s opinions on different workstations and styles and how you guys are able to do the great work that you do with things outside of the keyboard. Standing desks are great and make sure you eat adult snacks so you don’t get diabetes. Do we have any picks that we have?

[0:34:10.1] WJ: I have a couple of picks, they are both conferences. One is Code Land which is a brand new conference that’s targeted at beginner and intermediate developers and the organizer is a friend of mine, Sharon Ryan Uboric. Shout out to Sharon, she’s amazing. I am helping out with reviewing the applicants for the speakers and there is tons of great stuff. I am really excited for the lineup, everybody should come. It’s going to be here in New York.

I don’t know the dates offhand so I will have to pick this again in a later episode and same for Impacts which is an empire, it is an elixir conference that’s happening here in New York City. I am not directly involved in that but Stride is sponsoring it and there are free tickets. So I am definitely going to go to that.

[0:34:57.3] MN: Yeah, I will just pull myself. I’m looking forward to see what that brings.

[0:35:02.1] WJ: Yeah.

[0:35:02.2] DA: Cool, yeah. For me I had spent a lot of time doing backend development mainly just really deep in Python and Jango and lower ends and all that fun stuff. But I recently got a chance to start working on some more full stack stuff again. It is just really nice coming like sticking my head up out of the depths of the back end systems and seeing with what the light of the front end world is like.

[0:35:32.4] MN: That’s pretty cool. I mean I imagine dealing with a lot of back end related code bases but now that you are able to do the whole thing, like deliver something from beginning to end is probably a completely different experience now.

[0:35:46.0] DA: Yeah, definitely and it is always satisfying working on something at the back end but then if you tell someone else about it, it’s never quite as impressive as if you have something actual to show for it I think, so.

[0:35:56.9] MN: Yeah, I think that’s why some people actually choose to find it so that you could show it off and deal with it.

[0:35:58.0] DA: Right.

[0:36:00.9] MN: Cool, I’d like to thank the panelist today, thank you guys for coming out and thanks for listening to The Rabbit Hole. See you next time.

Links and Resources:

The Rabbit Hole on Twitter

React Native Sound

Pomodoro Technique

Code Land NYC

Impacts Elixir Conference NYC