Balance, learning, and scaling. Our thoughts on the Future of Work and Learning

Our office in downtown Kitchener sits next to 100-year-old industrial buildings. Decades ago, they were rubber plants, banks, tanneries, and tire makers. Today they’re apartments, retail, and office spaces. Companies like Vidyard, Google, Encircle, and Shopify make their homes in these landmarks. These brick and beam office space tend to remind us of the change in our community.

We’re accustomed to change. Changes in industry, markets, and the ways we work and learn.

This adaption to change in the ways we work and learn was a key theme of a recent event here. The Communitech Breakfast series brought economist Linda Nazarath to town for a talk. Local leaders and change makers were there to learn about these coming changes and how to act on them. “We’re at a turning point. But unlike other times, we have an opportunity to control it,” said Nazarath.

Wes Worsfold, our CEO, and Nur Ipek, our Director, Customer Relations were in attendance. Here’s their key take-aways:

Balance
We’re seeing a change in where and when we work — and the importance of a balanced life.

Before the 1700s, early gig workers like millers, bakers, and coopers moved from project to project. The Industrial Revolution and mass manufacturing created the need for an in-house workforce.

Today, we’re seeing a return to gig working. People choose when and where they want to work. This results in a ‘hustle’ culture.

“Clock watching doesn’t get a project completed on schedule. And, creative, productive work is not defined by a 9–5 workday,” said Wes. “At BitBakery, we strive to create real harmony between work and life. To do this, we provide our team with the most flexibility to achieve what they want to do — both professionally and personally.”

Our office has core hours for standups and meetings. But outside of those core hours, our team can work when they need to explained Wes. Have school drop off in the morning? Gym class at 4? Some of our team also work from home when they need or want to. Using tech like Slack, Zoom and JIRA allows us to stay connected even when we’re not in the office together.

We let our employees take care of their personal needs so when they’re working, they’re 100% focused.

Workforce management
Working with BitBakery gives our customers the opportunity to flex the size of their team based on project demands.

Most projects have a natural ebb and flow of development. But this can be difficult to manage when you have full-time workforce and overhead. According to Nazareth, only 50% of a full-time employee’s cost is their salary. The rest is benefits, equipment, training, software licensing and other soft costs.

Businesses are also limited when managing these teams. You can’t add team members when you need to and it is difficult to manage when you need to reduce the size of your team.

Beyond team management, we find that many of the projects we work on looked at as special initiative. These are projects outside the core skill sets of our customers’ current teams. At BitBakery, we act as a one-stop shop for ideation, design, building, testing, and go-to-market needs. Using BitBakery as your trusted outsourced development provider means we can handle the coordination and procurement of the talent your project needs. We provide the entire scope of services — our customers get the project done without extra management headaches.

We’re always learning
Our final take-away from Nazareth’s talk was on the importance of continuous learning. The rapid change in technology means workplaces can’t rely on traditional professional development.

At BitBakery, we know that courses and conferences can be valuable. Our team has budget to attend learning events, workshops, conferences and courses. It’s a valuable benefit and a great recognition of the importance of learning.

Beyond that though, we find that there’s great value in experiential, in-the-moment learning. BitBakers spend an average of an hour a day in learning activities. We focus on documenting and sharing our learnings as we work.

We also make time to work on individual and team projects to learn new technologies. Earlier this year, we set aside Friday afternoons for a month to work on a smart contract project. We designed and developed a smart contract app for charities. It was a great learning experience for us on smart contracts, blockchain (Etherum and Solidity), and cryptocurrency. Everyone on our team had a hand in developing the solution from ideation to wireframes to coding and testing.

What’s next?
Contact us today to learn more about the ways we can help you with trusted outsourced development.

Functional programming — A BitBakery Knowledge Nibble

Continuous learning is one of our core values. Every BitBaker brings their own unique experience to deliver for our customers’ projects.

Once a month, we get the team together for a lunch and learn series we call Knowledge Nibbles. We bring in catering from one of our favourite locals and take turns presenting a subject to the team.

The October learning session was lead by BitBakers Marcel Rusu and Pablo Morales. They presented an intro to functional programming with lunch from the Lancaster Smokehouse.

As a provider of outsourced software development, we work with a lot of different stacks. Two different customers might even use the same framework, but use different versions. We use continuous learning to build a deep understanding of the frameworks we use.

“You can learn a lot more by developing an understanding of the technology first.” said Pablo. “If you’re just running around asking questions because you don’t know the answers and not making time to learn, you’re not growing as much as you could be.”

Marcel has been following the concept of functional programming for a few years now. Both Marcel and Pablo studied computer science at Wilfrid Laurier University. “He kept talking to me about functional programming in second year and I didn’t really get it until I finally had the chance to work with React.” said Pablo.

Their talk focused on two principles of functional programming: declarative programming and immutability. Declarative programming is a shift from telling the program “what to do” instead of “how to do it”. You focus on the flow and structure of data before you type in your first line of code. Declarative programming makes it easier to see how data flows through your code. You’re also less likely to make simple errors that occur when you swap variables.

Immutability builds on the idea that state changes are the cause of most bugs. These changes can be implicit or accidental. An immutable date type is one that is never changed. Using immutable data types reduces and even eliminates these bugs. What can be an immutable data type? In Javascript, primitives like numbers, strings, and booleans all can be immutable. Other languages differ in the mutability of their standard types. Some allow for immutable arrays, others allow for mutable strings.

Marcel and Pablo chose the topic because of its rapid adoption in the industry. “What’s interesting is that web is leading this. It’s almost a decade ahead of mobile for moving into declarative.” Marcel feels that many people still have trouble explaining functional programming. “Many people use functional programming in frameworks like Angular and React, but I think it’s still hard for many front end devs to easily answer ‘what is functional programming?’”

Before diving into functional programming, Marcel recommends asking why are you using it. What benefits does it offer your development team?

“It’s really important to understand the technologies we use,” said Pablo. “We use a lot of different frameworks, and it’s important to build a deep understanding of them. Three months ago, I wouldn’t be comfortable explaining things to the team. Now I feel like I can really help Marcel and Edson.”

Marcel and Pablo both agreed that getting a chance to present was rewarding. “We’re both pretty passionate about talking and sharing. It’s exciting to do that here at BitBakery.” said Marcel.