all Life at codit

Work Ethics, and Other Values that Make Codit Great

For several years in a row, Codit has won the 'Great Place to Work' (GPTW) certificate. Yet while the survey touches upon very important aspects of a healthy work environment, I believe that it doesn’t give Codit enough credit. Here’s why.

Codit takes a ‘Great Place to Work’ to another level – in particular with its people-minded, personal approach. In this post, I’ll go over some of the work ethics learnt over my years working for Codit. All of these ethics have grown from Codit’s approach to managing people: not ‘resources’ or ‘assets’, but people — because Codit is foremost a company dedicated to its people.

Within Codit, there are several values that we hold high. For me, the most important one is ‘All Together’, which represents a collective commitment to each other. In the next couple of paragraphs, I’ll show you some work ethics that have grown naturally from these values and give you some examples of how they can be practically applied. I’ll often use the example of a code pull request, where new code is pushed to the collective code repository, often causing problems to arise. This is usually a moment where people come together, to express opinions and voice issues. But with Codit’s work ethics, these problems often turn into opportunities!

Everyone Has a Voice

Most companies contain a diversity of people, departments, opinions and experience levels – from those who have been there for years, to the newbies who only started that day. Each and every one of those people has a voice.

You often see two things happen: either someone with a lot of experience discards the opinion of the starter, prioritising their experience, or the starter discards the opinion of the senior, valuing their own innovative outlook. At Codit, we want to avoid the judgement and disregard of other opinions. Everyone has a voice, and no voice is ‘the best’ or ‘the truth’. Even in a technical company such as ours, there are more subjective themes that you might think.

At Codit, we have some ‘umbrella projects’, which span over several dedicated projects or are independent of clients. These can be internal projects to research technologies, or public open-source projects that we use in our client projects. All of these projects are available to everyone in the company. Arcus, for example, is a public open-source library with code that’s written by contributors from within the company. My point here is that anyone can submit an issue, comment on a problem, or contribute to the code. We explicitly make sure that everyone has the chance to be listened to, and to have a voice. Anything can be discussed, everything can be criticized. The beauty of this is that everyone in the company is contacted in the same way. As one of the code-owners for most of these Arcus open-source libraries, I can tell you that we don’t distinct between seniors or starters. Everyone has to go through the same process if they want to commit code or discuss something. This uniformity also has a positive advantage: nobody cares about how many years of experience you have. If you’re part of the Codit family, you have a voice.

Everyone Deserves a Thumbs-Up

A stereotype about Belgian people is that we tend to focus on what is ‘missing’ or ‘not right yet’ — as if there will ever be a time when everything will be perfect! We are also shy in giving compliments, but the hypocritical part of this is that we usually feel very good after receiving one. As everyone on a team has a talent that they can use, and of which other team members can make use, we have an ethos that everyone deserves a thumbs-up.

When I’m asked to review a code pull request, I take this idea very seriously. Usually, people tend to focus on the things that have to be changed, and what the author of the pull request should pay attention to. But when I review one, I always look for things that I find amazing. And believe me, in every pull request there’s something that will get you excited. Instead of keeping that feeling to yourself, we make sure to comment upon it alongside the other feedback. You’ll be amazed by how it changes the atmosphere in a team. Suddenly, you’re giving each other compliments all day.

Everyone is Part of the Team

This section is about a very subtle way of communication that I find very important. Little subtleties in words can have tremendous effect, such as using ‘I’ instead of ‘we’. In a public chat or comments section, instead of saying “I made that mistake a while back”, I like to say: “We made that mistake a while back”. Instead of “I wrote that piece of code”, I say: “We wrote that piece of code”. It’s about group commitment. Decisions can of course be checked and ultimately made by a single person, but I like to speak of it afterwards as a team decision. Everyone carries each other’s mistakes and shares in each others’ successes. Everyone is part of the team.

The communication in our blog posts about Arcus is phrased in the same way. We talk about “our” work, “our changes”, “our improvements” and “our fixes”. Behind the scenes, it could all come from the same person, but it remains from “us”. Same for the public issues and code pull requests. We speak in terms of “our”, “us” and “we”, because everyone is part of the team.

What Makes Codit a Great Place to Work?

For me, it’s not about the professional opportunities, the training budget and other physical benefits. It’s about the open-minded atmosphere, the safe environment, the loyalty we show towards each other and so much more, make it such a healthy workplace. These work ethics are just a small part of what working at Codit is all about, and are what makes Codit a great place to work.


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