Apenkooien: how developers at TOPdesk are encouraged to keep learning
At the development department, we’re continually working on our service management solution TOPdesk. We create new features, improve old functionality, and do maintenance. If we want to build the best possible product, developers need to be on top of their game. Learning and educating yourself is part of the job, and we provide ample opportunities for this. One example? We encourage developers to spend 10% of their time on something that they can choose themselves, as long as it makes them or the company grow.
We call our 10% time Apenkooien, which roughly translates to monkeying around. If you grew up in The Netherlands, you’ll know that Apenkooien is an elementary and high school game, that’s sort of combines the floor is lava and tag.
For a lot of children it is the best gym class of the year because it gives you the freedom to play however you like, you aren’t bound by rules and still learn while having fun. Apenkooien at TOPdesk is exactly this: developers can choose their topics themselves, they will develop in a direction that suits them and that they like. And because of that, it’s just plain fun!
How we spend our time Apenkooien?
Developers spend their 10% time in different ways. Some use it to study for certifications such as OCP. Others follow online courses on Coursera or Stanford, on topics as diverse as functional programming, machine learning, algorithms or business strategies. Others again use the time to investigate new libraries, new programming languages such as Dart, or build tools that make their daily working lives easier.
How I spend my 10% Apenkooi time
For myself, I like to use this time to create functionalities for the TOPdesk application that I think are useful, but a bit far out and will not normally get on the agenda. The great thing is that TOPdesk is a company that appreciates initiative and new ideas, and now there are two features in TOPdesk that were created by me, with the help of others. The first is to bookmark cards so they can be easily accessed; the second is a conversations widget that adds a Facebook-like newsfeed.
It’s very rewarding to see my own ideas realized in our software, and even more rewarding to hear that customers actually use and like them! I knew already that it’s often hard to get stuff working technically, and by doing this I learned that it is also hard to develop a feature from idea to part of a release. Hard, but very rewarding, and I learned a lot by doing this.
Do you want to be part of our development team?
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We encourage developers to spend 10% of their time on something that they can choose themselves, as long as it makes them or the company grow