I bet you can think of at least one time when a financial report led your company to cut costs however possible. From what I’ve seen over my career, this has led leadership teams to say to themselves, “If our team’s computers are at least turning on, that’s good enough for right now.” While it might seem like you have bigger priorities when your company isn’t flush with cash, the developers who responded to this year’s Developer Hiring Landscape made it clear that there’s a direct correlation between their overall job satisfaction and their satisfaction with their equipment. Let’s take a deeper look at the importance of a workstation—and how cutting corners on developer equipment can ultimately affect your bottom line.
On a scale of 1-5 22% developers who responded to this year’s Developer Hiring Landscape rated their current job satisfaction at an 8. For the most part, respondents also feel as if they have they have the equipment they need to do their jobs.
For some of you, the correlation between these two stats might confirm your investment in top-of-the-line developer equipment. But if you’ve scaled back on technology costs, this also indicates that developers who are unsatisfied with their workstations can easily find new jobs with companies that prioritize them. Considering that the cost of losing an employee can be upwards of 1.5 to 2 times that person’s salary, the little bit of money you might save by cutting corners on a developer’s computer setup gets completely wiped out if you get to a point where you have to replace that person.
Although some developer equipment might seem frivolous to a non-technical employee, developers have a firm grasp of exactly what they need to do their jobs well. When their companies don’t provide the necessary tools, their overall morale can take a hit. Ian Chadwick, the founder of Mizmoz, tells us that slow computers for developers frustrate them and impact the amount of work they can complete. “The equipment you’re given can feel like a direct correlation of your worth,” he adds. “Something that is often overlooked when purchasing equipment is the insignificant cost compared to a developer’s salary and time.”
Developers don’t take their technology budgets for granted. Johannes Kadak, a front-end developer at Qminder, says that his top-of-the-line setup that includes 4K monitors and expensive keyboards is not just for show. He adds, “It drives focus and productivity by allowing my to concentrate on my work instead of distractions such as lag, discomfort, or fatigue. Ultimately, my workstation allows me to focus more on what needs to be done.”
The developers we heard from re-confirmed something that our CEO Joel Spolsky has said for years: programmers need the best equipment money can buy in order to stay productive. “At my last job, the system administrator kept sending me automated spam complaining that I was using more than 220 megabytes of hard drive space on the server,” he wrote back in the year 2000. “I pointed out that given the price of hard drives these days, the cost of this space was significantly less than the cost of the toilet paper I used.”
Spolsky also adds that if a task like compiling even takes 15 seconds, most programmers will get bored and end up wasting time while they wait for the task to complete. That wasted time could sidetrack a developer to the point where a crucial feature doesn’t ship on time, which is a much more expensive than the price of most developer tools. How expensive is a missed deadline? Johanna Rothman says that when you delay a release, you miss the maximum sales time on that product—and if you take that in weeks, that’s an easy calculation for most business leaders to process.