There can be no innovation without slack

Recently I worked at a client where the developers did not have laptops and the internet was restricted. You could not look at social networking websites and blogs even. The reasons most companies give is that it is for information security and to prevent people slacking. If you have worked in technology for long enough, you will know that locking down stuff is a very naive way of enforcing information security. A talented enough hacker will get stuff in or out your systems, if required. Of course you need protection like firewalls and anti virus software (I am not an information security specialist, so I can’t comment more). Locking down sites just frustrates the hell out of developers. If I am trying to fix a technical problem at work, the last thing I need is a proxy telling me that I can’t access a blog post which might have the answer. If I want to try and find a solution at home where I have unrestricted internet access, it is still frustrating; Now I don’t have the code (because I don’t get to take the code home). Most developers can do wonderful things when they are in the right frame of mind. For me, it is when I am alone and can concentrate on solving the problem without any distractions. Unfortunately, the most peaceful time I get is on a lazy weekend and not having access to code is very frustrating. Some problems are much easier to fix on a weekend; for example, changing the directory structure of code or a major refactoring of the object graph. Because nobody else is checking stuff in and out, I can do such stuff without merge conflicts and pain. But now, the most I can do is recreate the problem on my personal laptop, fix it, get to work early tomorrow morning and repeat it there. Management must understand, there can be no innovation without some amount of slack. Robots working  for 8 hours a day continuously (and with restrictions), will not do wonderful innovative things and solve difficult problems. Sometimes I need to code on a weekend  (not every weekend, if have a personal life too) and if you don’t let me do that, you lose.


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