Tdd Apps Blog

# Thoughts on side projects

Oct 17, 2017 3 minute read

My first paid job was writing Windows Applications in C#. My work computer was a clunky HP -originally intended to be used as a server-. During my nights and weekends I started learning Cocoa on a Dell laptop with no battery or display, connected to a 15” CRT monitor, running a Hackintosh version of OS X. A few years passed by… I bought my first Mac, my first iPhone, and my company needed to develop some iOS apps. Guess what iOS developer with several years of experience was readily available?

I'm always working for you, even when I'm not

Years later I was working almost exclusively writing WPF Windows applications. I got interested in rich client-side web apps because remotely updating my clients was suboptimal. I started learning a little bit of Knockout and Angular on my nights and weekends. Guess whom got hired to work exclusively writing Angular web applications?

I can share other similar examples but I don’t want to bore you.

Whatever technology you learn, whatever activity you engage with: blogging, giving presentations, etc, is actively benefiting your employer. People rarely unlearn things they learn on their free time. I’m going to take it even a step further, that lunch you ate at your desk so you could code on that Kotlin project… that is also good for your employer.


Learn new things, have personal projects, share your knowledge, go to meetups, contribute to open source projects. Well rounded professionals know many different technologies, even if they are not related to their day-to-day jobs.


Encourage your employees to learn for the sake of learning. You’ll reap the benefits. Encourage your employees to have side projects, this will create more mature employees that can schedule their time better.

Do you prefer to be this guy?

Office Space

Or this guy


But what if?

My employees work on their personal projects all the time:

Is their work done?: Yes. Great, maybe that employee needs bigger challenges. Give it to them before they go somewhere else.
No. Have an honest conversation and share this information with the employee. Take corrective actions if the problem persists.

My employees are preparing for their next interview:

Nobody can prevent an employee from wanting to go somewhere else. Figure out why would they want to leave and solve their problem.

This company have enough work for three lifetimes, they should be working for me 100% of their time:

I want to know what everybody is doing all the time in a spreadsheet

I can't even

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