John Knowles is Head of Development at JH. Here he's sharing what it's like to be a part of the team.
Making that next step in your career is always a stressful time. There are so many decisions to make to ensure you find the place you want to spend most of your awake life. The fear in the back of your mind that you could end up working somewhere that you wake up each morning with that feeling of dread, the dread that some of us have been unfortunate enough to experience.
At the top of our list is making sure everyone here is happy, and that above all that feeling isn’t experienced by anyone working at JH.
I joined JH nearly five years ago, and the values I had back then pretty much remain the same:
- Work with people I learn from on a daily basis
- Work with people that have the same passion and drive for our craft
- Produce work I’m proud of, both in quality and delivery
- Work with industry-leading technologies
- Feel respected as an individual, by my colleagues and management
- Maintain a good work/life balance
- Always be on a path of progression
These values form the foundation of why I work at JH, and they’re what make me look forward to coming into work each morning.
Development Team Culture
The main common traits across everyone in the development team at JH is the drive to always do better, learn something new and to solve problems. We have open processes that anyone in the team can contribute to rather than a top down leadership approach.
Open Development Meetings
In the bi-weekly development meetings we have an open platform to talk about topics interesting to us as developers. Common topics are developments in the PHP, Magento and wider communities, Open Source projects, and any technical issues anyone in the team has been experiencing – always sharing lessons learned on projects.
Our code review process has a deep focus on education and learning from each other. Where the Continuous Integration services ensure we’re meeting standards, code reviews allow us to discuss our approach with another developer and educate each other on where we can improve our work. Here we’re making sure optimisation pitfalls are spotted internally before they become a problem, and that we’re thoroughly matching requirements and needs for each client, with everyone’s input.
As a team we have chosen to adopt the PSR standards. Using static code analysis along with our continuous integration services, we ensure we all work is in the same format and there are no battles between spacing and code formatting.
Continuous Integration (CI)
Continuous Integration (CI) has become the centre of our work over the past few years. Every push and pull request runs the automated tests to ensure we haven’t broken anything with our work and our code meets the agreed standards.
Version control (GIT)
Version control (GIT) is at the heart of our work, allowing multiple developers to work in harmony together without having to worry about how we put it all together at the end. Using GITFlow and regularly rebasing conflicts are few and far between.
Deployment stresses are a thing of the past with a clear release process and deployment tools such as Capistrano to make sure we’ve got a successfully deployed release and a atomic rollback if ever required.
Hardware and Software
JH don’t mess around when it comes to hardware and software. Having the right tools to do the job is never questioned, with all the developers on top specification hardware (Apple preference) and PHPStorm as our IDE.
It’s not just the development team that strive to always do better. Everyone at JH has the common ambition to make every project and each piece of work we do the best we’ve ever worked on. It’s such a rare and refreshing experience to get so many people with a common goal in the same place. We’re also open to feedback on improving, we’re good, but we always want to get better. Our team regularly discuss ways of refining our perks, benefits, and environment – we’re always evolving this way.
Work Life Balance
A good work life balance is critical to being happy in your career. As much as anyone can enjoy their job, having a good quality of life outside of work is essential. At JH we have some great perks that really make this possible. This works well for everyone, from fitting in exercise to getting off to an appointment you’d otherwise have to take a day off for. But it’s perhaps the parents here that feel the benefit most profoundly, being able to make the school run sometimes in the mornings, or being able to build up hours to take a couple off when it’s Sports Day – these little things are actually priceless, we feel in looking after the family’s well-being, we’ll have a happier, productive team.
We get 28 days holiday a year (including bank holidays) as basic but this increases by a day every year you work here. On top of this we close down between Christmas Eve and New Year without it being taken out of your holiday allowance, giving you quality time with family and friends.
Our core hours are 10am-4pm Monday to Friday. This means that the early birds get in so they can finish at 4pm and miss the rush hour traffic, while the late risers will get them few extra hours in bed in the morning and start at 10am.
Working From Home
Working from home is a great perk we have to help with the work life balance. Whether it’s to reduce the amount of time spent commuting each week, getting away from the distractions of the office to really focus, or being in to get that package you ordered that can only be delivered between 9am and 5pm. Here we’re given trust to work as we think best, it makes us independent in our time management and brings the best results to work and home life for sure.
On top of what I’ve already spoken about we get paid conferences, training days, two stocked kitchens (before even mentioning the 6 foot beer fridge), an incredible office environment (with air conditioning) and quarterly company events such as go-karting, bowling and pizza making classes.
Nearing 5 years
I look at the values I hold when it comes to job satisfaction, and honestly I find it hard to pick holes working at JH. I started as a PHP developer nearly 5 years ago and sit here today as the head of development with an incredible team around me, who are all as driven to doing great work as I am, pushing the boundaries with the technologies we use – and having a great time as we do so .