We pulled back the curtain to show you what it’s really like
In order to answer the question as authentically as possible, we sat down with Rob (R3) McLarty, Lead Software Architect here at WorkTango, to ask him a set of questions in order to find out what being a developer here is really like.
He gives some insight as to what you can expect, how the days are structured, what he enjoys most about working here, and what he would tell others looking to join WorkTango’s team.
Especially in the remote work environment, we have found a gap between what people think working for an organization is like, versus what it’s actually like.
This blog is intended to fill that gap, provide external organizational transparency and serve as a guide for future applicants interested in joining WorkTango’s team.
What initially interested you to join WorkTango?
“What really resonated with me was WorkTango’s authenticity and commitment to building better workplace understanding: both helping employers gain valuable insights into their organizations, as well as employees gaining a more effective voice. At other companies, I’ve refrained from participating in surveys because they lacked anonymity for sensitive questions or because they were geared to help the business, not the workers. By contrast, WorkTango’s platform aims to be truly equitable and inclusive first.“
At WorkTango, our passion is to improve (work) lives and our virtues provide the road map to lead us to fulfill that passion.
Another area that brought Rob to WorkTango was the early stage the organization was in at the time. As a developer, this presented two challenges, which Rob saw as opportunities.
“Sometimes working at big enterprises, it feels like you need to walk on eggshells around the code, the processes, and trying to figure out the chain of command. There’s a lot of busy-work. I didn’t find that here. That doesn’t mean lower quality of work, but higher necessity, efficiency, and creativity: if you can figure out a better way of doing things, you’re free to do what needs to be done. For example, I’m an advocate for privacy and security and I could see opportunities to enhance our algorithms and provide even better protection for employees without losing any key insights for employers. Now, that’s exactly what I’m doing. We call it our ‘employee promise.'”
What does an average day look like?
Each day at WorkTango begins with a quick morning meeting in which we cover wins (small and large), questions, comments, recognitions, and red flags so that all departments can execute the day’s tasks efficiently. It also opens the floor for cross-functional collaboration and project alignment.
Following the morning meeting, the development team works on the highest priority deliverables first, typically planned out in 2-week sprints. These can include new platform functionality, security audits, coding, or implementing new features… to name a few.
“At the end of the day, everyone does what needs to be done, regardless of the plan’s intentions or what hat you need to wear. I work on the whole stack from doing a bit of graphic design work to architecting the client application’s information structure, to automating the CI pipeline or even designing CloudFormation templates to codify our AWS infrastructure. Things change fast and everyone needs to be able to pivot and move to where the solutions are flowing. We formally try to break work down into 2-week chunks and iterate through a process of discovery > scoping > designing > coding > refactoring > maintenance (not necessarily in that order, or in sequence). But a lot of other little things happen along the way: a service might go down that needs fixing, a bug might be preventing a customer from fulfilling their task, or a colleague might need some technical consultation to evaluate an idea. There’s always something fun to work on; it’s never boring!“
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Being a developer can be difficult, and challenges lie where there is difficulty. But for every challenge that is met, we grow more as a team, as a product, and each of us as a person.
“Everybody in this country should learn to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.” – Steve Jobs
That is what Rob enjoys about his position: critical thinking. More specifically, the ability to identify and solve new issues or functionalities that come up. He also has quite a different perspective on the work itself. “Coding to me is like art: I find beauty in its complexity and I love the process of shaping it, moulding it, and constructing new things that have never before existed. Sometimes after refactoring a particular block of code to the point that it is a combination of concise, descriptive, and intuitive, I like sitting back in my chair and admiring the coalescence of data structures, logic, and semantics all working together in harmony.”
There is also an educational component incorporated in the work. Once a month, a fellow team member is tasked with hosting a casual education session on a chosen aspect of their role. This is done through sharing of articles, documentation, or a simple demonstration and is followed up with an open discussion that concludes with tangible takeaways.
“When people are ‘doing programming’ most people imagine a raver in sunglasses chugging Red Bull and smashing a keyboard as tons of unintelligible symbols scroll by their screen like the Matrix. In reality, it’s a lot of sitting still, thinking carefully, reading documentation, learning, and experimenting. I’d say only about 1/3 of my time is spent pressing buttons on my keyboard. In this vein, we try to help each other and increase the overall team’s knowledge by sharing the best parts of the information we’ve found out in the wild. Skipping to the good parts saves tons of time searching, filtering, and scanning through the unknown.“
What are some of the challenges?
There are going to be challenges in any position, and you need to stay vigilant in order to reduce the effects of burnout, especially as a developer.
One that Rob has personally faced is the dreaded legacy code. “Some of the original authors of the code are no longer here, and sometimes it can feel like you are reaching to the bottom of the toolbox for a single tool.” It takes time and effort to sort through and organize the complexity of legacy code – something not every developer is able to do. These challenges have also provided Rob the opportunity to learn and grow in his position. “I love organizing things. I love logic. I love it when things make sense. I wouldn’t be happy if everything was perfect and there was nothing left to fix.“
What would you say to anyone that is considering joining?
“There’s a lot of freedom working at WorkTango. That also means there’s a lot of responsibility. These are good things. It means you can do what you know needs to be done without a lot of red tape. You can take ownership of a piece of code and feel pride watching it grow and nurturing it over time. I don’t feel any inhibitions about saying what’s on my mind, even if I’m not the greatest communicator in the world, and my colleagues listen to me (and I them). We each have our own manners and methods and we harness that diversity to see problems from different angles, ensuring we hit on a successful solution. I feel like everyone’s got each other’s back.“
At WorkTango we have a commitment to equity and feel that it is our responsibility to do the work internally so that we can authentically serve our community and help organizations create workplaces where everyone can succeed. Whether you are a developer, marketer, or executive, you are free to be whoever you want to be, encouraged to bring your authentic self to work, and appreciated for having a different perspective. We strive to create a sense of belonging here.
“WorkTango is a place where your voice will be heard. Its mission is to help other organizations do the same. I’m given the tools I need, the flexibility I crave, and the opportunities to grow my career in the direction I want to move. No complaints.“
At WorkTango, we are deeply committed to ensuring that our policies, practices, and systems are barrier-free, promote diversity and inclusion and create equal access opportunities for everyone. We even wrote a guide on diversity, equity, and inclusion, which is a topic that we are passionate about internally and externally with our clients! Our philosophy is ‘we drink our own champagne’ (we use our own tool for ourselves) and that shows up in the product we make: if it’s not good enough for us, it’s not good enough for our customers.
So, if you are considering joining, don’t hesitate to throw your hat in the ring… we’ll save a celebratory bottle just for you!
Check out our guides on workplace culture, employee engagement, and employee surveys. Learn about every aspect of a successful employee voice initiative!
We write on the current challenges HR and organizations are facing in order to support our community. Check out more of our articles here.