Ways in which Berlin IT companies differ 2018-05-03

I wanted to write this post for a while now. It’s about how different IT companies are, in Berlin. I find that interesting. The examples include what I have witnessed myself, at jobs but also interviews, and also tales from friends. I will leave the implications that this diversity has to you. I expect to revise this post a few times in the future. Also, splitting things into disjoint categories turned out to be difficult, so it’s somewhat arbitrary. Order does not necessarily reflect importance.

With that being said, these are some examples for ways in which Berlin IT companies differ:

People

  • Diverse mix —vs— 95% locals
  • Daily English —vs— German all day long
  • Cheap junior labor —vs— mostly seniors
  • Non-IT people and IT mostly lunch together —vs— hardly ever

Development

  • Git —vs— Mercurial
  • CI on master branch —vs— on all branches —vs— zero CI
  • master branch always green —vs— in constant need of repair
  • master branch has a single gatekeeper —vs— it has not
  • Code review is waving through —vs— code review is collaboration, exchange, learning —vs— code review is not done
  • Paid IDE —vs— using free edition of commercial product

Responsibilities

  • Dedicated Ops people —vs— devs doing ops work as well
  • Getting informed —vs— constant need to hunt information yourself
  • Lots of freedom —vs— work drone with roadmap shoved down your throat without ever asking input
  • Growing software —vs— getting tickets done any way

Working hours

  • 32h per week welcome/tolerated —vs— 40h per week enforced
  • Official core hours from 10:00 to 15:00 (5h) —vs— 10:00 to 17:00 (7h!) —vs— 9:00 to 17:00 (8h!) —vs— …
  • Core hours enforced/complained —vs— come in at 11:00, we’re good
  • Sleep at night —vs— be called by Ops for help at 1am
  • Home office by choice —vs— home office by explicit approval

Compensation

  • Salary negotiated to the ground —vs— accepting what you asked
  • Salary raised every 12 months by contract —vs— no plans to raise before you bring it up
  • Vacation days negotiable —vs— 25/26/28 vacation days across the company
  • Overtime compensated —vs— overtime not compensated

Contract itself

  • Can be adjusted —vs— refusing to change anything “for administration reasons” (to then find out …)
  • Is explained when you have questions about details —vs— is not explained
  • Is German and English side by side —vs— German only
  • Is mostly okay —vs— raises more eyebrows than you have

Rooms

  • Sales people have calls right next to you —vs— on the hallway —vs— nowhere near
  • 2 people per room —vs— 4 to 6 people per room —vs— 20+ people per room
  • Headphones, coming early, staying later to get work done —vs— healthy amount of distractions

Office

  • No plants —vs— externally managed alibi plants —vs— 800 Euro budget to go buy some as a team next week
  • Rather dark —vs— lots of light
  • Windows to open —vs— no window that would open in the building

Surroundings

  • Variety of tasty lunch options nearby —vs— hardly any

Equipment

  • Freely chosen —vs— presets —vs— same reflecting Apple box for everyone
  • Healthy chair granted —vs— on demand —vs— they’d rather have you quit
  • Motor-lift table —vs— screw-left table —vs— fixed height on (of unfit/unhealthy height)

Drinks / Food

  • Machine-made sparkling tap water —vs— three types bottled mineral that are hardly ever run out
  • Water, wide variety of soft drinks, juices and beer —vs— two boring options
  • pay-yourself sweets —vs— free sweets —vs— no sweets
  • Barely drinkable coffee from press to a single button —vs— “Siebträger” espresso machine for handmade gourmet coffee (i.e. the “Gentoo way”)

Your mileage varies? Interesting differences missing? Surprised? Drop me a mail!

Version 2018-05-04

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