The Techies winners! Best place for developers to work

Last month we were thrilled to win The Techies award for ‘Best Place for Developers to Work‘, and were treated to an evening at the beautiful M by Montcalm hotel in Shoreditch to celebrate the great work the winners (and shortlisted companies) have done over the past year.

But what is it that makes dxw a great place to work for developers? Here are a few of the reasons the judges liked how we do things here at dxw…

The office

We’re based at friendly and comfortable office in popular Hoxton Square in London’s Tech City, within easy reach of public transport as well as a diverse range of shops, cafes and restaurants. dxw occupies the ground floor of a converted Victorian warehouse building, and the coffee shop next door with a pavement terrace provides a great venue for impromptu meetings.

Our MD Harry Metcalfe and the rest of our team, work hard to create a pleasant and welcoming working environment that has everything an agile team could need to do their best work. There are standing desks, good modern kit to work on, limitless coffee and great people to work with. There’s also an enviable collection of rubber ducks and endless ‘fiddle toys’.

Looking after the inner developer, there’s plenty of healthy food, with snacks and fresh organic fruit delivered every week, as well as good coffee. Team lunches, an annual mince pie tasting and lots of impromptu cake are enjoyed by all.

At dxw there are no silos and in the open-plan office it’s easy to share ideas and ask questions. The atmosphere is relaxed but focused, with an irreverent sense of humour. It’s a diverse team and days are organised to match – some people start early, but everyone is in by 10am for the daily stand-up (although there is also working from home when circumstances require). Most clients are London-based and team members co-locate with them at their offices.

In 2017, we won the Best Place to Work (SME) award at the Digital Tech Leaders Awards.

Improving public services to contribute to the greater good

Our company ethos is to make government digital services better for the end user – the great British public – and every dxw-er works to this mantra. Everyone is passionate about what they do and clients see and benefit from our enthusiasm and commitment through the effective digital services we develop. One joiner blogged in December: “What drew me to dxw were the people, the great environment and work culture which combines values that I share – plus the opportunity to learn, grow and “make things better” for social good.”

There’s a constant supply of exciting projects to get involved in and plenty of inspiration and support from colleagues. We actively look for work that’s interesting and fulfilling, so individuals are always developing and growing. Harry vetoes projects if they sit uncomfortably with our philosophy. In the last few years, we’ve turned down several lucrative but inappropriate projects.

“It’s not only about money,” says Harry Metcalfe, MD and Founder. “It’s about making government work better by asking people what they need, listening to them and caring about what they say. Taking on work that doesn’t respect users and their needs is incompatible with that approach.”

New ideas welcome!

We’re actively encouraging new ideas – we really listen to people. Everyone has a chance to contribute to the company’s development, and when someone has a request that they feel would make their job easier to do, we do our best to say yes.

We work in multidisciplinary teams and everyone has a clear understanding of what the rest of the team does. Individuals aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo and help clients think differently. Developers, designers, product manager, marketers and researchers are free to try out new ideas, and everyone at dxw is valued and encouraged to contribute to the future direction and growth of the company. Supporting women in technology is a big focus and a third of our workforce is female. You won’t find a gender pay gap here.

We’re an open organisation without unnecessary hierarchy. Everyone has an opportunity to contribute to our plans for the future, and the way we work is set out in our online playbook for everyone to read and contribute to. MD Harry is an inspirational leader and is still hands-on with projects, which may be why he’s held in such high regard by everyone.

Working sensibly, not all hours

We’re serious about working at a sustainable pace and not presenting employees with impossible challenges. Working late or out of hours is strongly discouraged unless there’s a pressing or short-term problem. On projects, delivery managers focus on unblocking, problem-solving and facilitating to give teams the freedom and space they need to work. For every project, we try to build a team with the right skills and experience for the job and try to avoid selling more work than can be delivered by the existing team.

Perks and benefits

The biggest incentive for the team at dxw is getting to work on exciting projects that help to change public services for the greater good. ‘Hard’ benefits include competitive salaries, generous holiday entitlements, a company pension, childcare vouchers, a cycle to work scheme and 0% season ticket loans.

Attending work-related conferences and having the opportunity to speak at events if desired. We’ll buy relevant books on request, and we have a growing library.

Practising what we preach

Many firms declare they are all about nurturing talent but then spend all day every day looking after the clients. dxw is different: in January 2017 we moved to a four-day week for client projects, using Fridays for company-focussed work. These include working on internal projects, learning new skills or experimenting with new technologies. It gives developers more opportunities to learn, develop and to improve the way they work as the company grows. There are also regular opportunities for reflection, feedback and review.

Developers are able to work on a range of client projects and solve different kinds of problems and challenges, rather than being pigeon-holed into a single area. By working as part of multidisciplinary teams, they get increased opportunities to learn new things from their colleagues.

Employees also attend a range of local and regional events relevant to their role and then share what they learn with their colleagues.

Another aspect of knowledge sharing is our new Slack channel called ‘Today I learned’. Contributions have ranged from the technical (WordPress tips, Open SSH features, programming a Raspberry Pi) to the origin of common idioms.

We also have regular whole-company retrospectives and retreats to harmonise the group, discuss how we work and enable everyone to discuss and contribute to our future plans. Follow-up in the office ensures agreed actions are progressing and everyone feels happier and more productive. The retreats provide further development opportunities. ’. One of the team concluded after this year’s event: “The retreat got us to work together with colleagues we sometimes don’t get the opportunity to work with. It made us think laterally about a lot of perceived and real issues and got us to understand differing perspectives and actually find some great solutions that continue to spread the ethos of how we do things here at dxw.”

We’re currently recruiting for developers (and for lots of other roles!), so head over to our jobs page and apply today.