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How to productively spend “free time” at the office

Sometimes specially in the end of the year in software companies, there are less work for the team, at least this happen in my company.

What should I ask my developers team to do during these cold days?

What things they can do which can keep them focused and that will improve the company in next year and future?

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marked as duplicate by Anna Lear Jan 1 '12 at 6:33

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
See programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/92905/… and programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/96322/… Both questions are closed as off topic. –  knut Jan 1 '12 at 0:33
1  
You must be kidding. Are your developers experts in everything? There is always something they can be learning or studying. For example, one of our developers had some down time so he spent some time learning how to create a Windows Phone app (something we don't do). –  Randy Minder Jan 1 '12 at 0:43
    
You mean, other than hang out at stackexchange? –  Mike Nakis Jan 1 '12 at 9:12

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

There are tons of things to do for a team. Here is a small list for the team:

1-Close open issues (if any) in the projects delivered (if this is in your scope of work)

2-Prepare write-ups about mistakes in the last project(s) and how to avoid them in the future

3-Prepare educational sessions about new features in the tools that are useful but never found the time to use

4-Research best practices in different aspects of software development relevant to your software tools

5-Consider automation of repetitive tasks by building small utilities or templates

6-Research on new tools in the market that can make the next development faster and better

7-Ask the more experienced developers to teach the juniors some useful techniques

8-Attempt to do some team bonding and team building activities

9-Let people know more about each other's roles. Let developers see what DBAs do more closely and what issues they face. You may find that some of your developers could fill up for a dba for a holiday or so

10-Review your coding standards, backup strategy, disaster recovery, licenses, etc.

11-Study problems faced by the team members in detail and put plans to fix them

12-Consider building or using a Wiki for the team

13-Polish your company's web site

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1  
+1 for a good list. One more I'd add is adding unit tests to those features where team slacked (assuming that happened) during the release cycle. Also good practice for OP: during normal development, there's a ton of things that show up as "nice to have" items that developers never have time for. You can generate this list by regularly taking a pulse of your team and asking developers what's missing and what would help them be more productive. During slow periods, you should be ready to immediately start working on most important item in that backlog –  DXM Jan 1 '12 at 0:48
    
@DXM: That appears to be part of (1). –  Ben Voigt Jan 1 '12 at 0:49
    
@Ben: depends what you'd consider an "open issue". In my company when you said it to people, it's generally assumed you are talking about lower priority bugs that we never got around to addressing. Unit tests are additional code, not "issues". Different environments. –  DXM Jan 1 '12 at 0:52
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@DXM: If you meant bugs, you'd say "bug reports". "issues" is a broader phrase that includes work on requirements and validation. –  Ben Voigt Jan 1 '12 at 0:54
    
@OP: when reading above list, my only suggestion is to make sure you consider unit tests as part of "open issue" list. If you already did, I apologize for assuming you may not have. Ben, you are now arguing about semantics and meanings of words in English language. I'm sorry I didn't automatically make the association between unit tests and open issues. You are right. –  DXM Jan 1 '12 at 0:59

I vote for letting them relax and recharge their batteries.

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Profile! Learn where the bottlenecks are in your application(s). Even if you don't do anything to fix the bottlenecks at this time (if you even can), at some time in the future it will be extremely useful to know.

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