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My perspective is this, employees who have side projects will inevitably not be able to concentrate on the job that they are employed to work on.

Is this feeling shared amongst hiring managers in the industry?

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  • 16
    My perspective is this, employees who have side projects will inevitably not be able to concentrate on the job that they are employed to work on. - So if they have interests and hobbies outside of work they won't be good employees? What if it's not a side project but something else? What if they're involved in a barbershop quartet, will that cause them to inevitably not be able to concentrate on their job? Your premise is ridiculous and insulting.
    – joeqwerty
    Jul 9 at 12:56
  • 2
    Most workers understand that their main jobs pay their bills. So, they won't let their side projects interfere with the quality of their main jobs. Jul 9 at 16:15
  • Engineers with side projects is a good thing. It means they are willing to put their own time into getting better. This should be counted as a positive. Jul 9 at 16:31
  • Closed as opinion based, but what is notable is the opinions all point in the same direction... go figure the intelligence.
    – Solar Mike
    Jul 9 at 21:56
  • After looking at OP's profile I assume OP is not a manager. Therefore it would help if the question not only defines a clear goal, but also explains which perspective answers should address (manager vs applicant).
    – Chris
    Jul 9 at 22:37
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Stop trying to own your employees' personal lives. What they do outside the 8 hours a day you're paying them for is none of your business.

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  • Good answer. I would have thrown in stronger language myself. Jul 9 at 13:43
  • @GregoryCurrie I considered it, but wanted to stay within the code of conduct guidelines of "kindness, collaboration, and mutual respect" :-) Jul 9 at 14:37
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I always thought they were considered a pro as employees train themselves.

I am not a software manager but my understanding, at least where I have worked, is that side projects are viewed as a benefit as employees train themselves outside of work hours rather than requiring on the job training.

12

Many people would add points for someone doing some other programming in their free time, showing they are interested. From time to time I have "donated" code that I've written in my spare time to the company, so they definitely benefit from that. Or I know solutions to problems from my private work.

Other people just don't care what people do in their spare time, as long as it is legal and doesn't bring the company in disrepute.

You must be the only person in the world who sees this as a negative.

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I'm a software leader, and I find individuals who don't have side projects to be a red flag. One of the most important qualities in an individual contributor is curiosity - fulfilling a need to know. Nothing screams curious like a public code repository jam packed with side projects of diverse topics and toolsets.

For people working for you now, you don't want to discourage these things, you want to encourage them. I would recommend even going so far as to allow a certain amount of company time to be spent on some of them just to give people an opportunity to fool around with new technologies, techniques, patterns and practices.

Anyone who engages in these kinds of side projects demonstrates a growth mindset, and those are the individuals you want to attract and nurture.

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  • this is a very common attitude, so you get an upvote. I often encountered people that are narrow minded about this though: I have a growth mindest, that's why I use my free time to grow into another direction that during work. I read history, watch science videos or read books on communication. My github is a barren wasteland with some very small 10 year old playthings...
    – Benjamin
    Jul 9 at 16:10
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    I would not go as far as a red flag. Engineers with families have lots of demands on thier spare time. This does not make them any less productive at the job. Jul 9 at 16:34
  • @MartinYork: I can understand the sentiment. I'm one of them. And I still have several repositories of unfinished projects lying around. A repo isn't the only way someone shows curiosity - a person I just hired at the director level told a number of stories and showed a lot of pictures of a garden he's building as well a car he's restoring. Families and demands on time can't stop the truly curious. It won't always be in software, but it's a trait that just can't be repressed. If you look for it, it'll show up somewhere. Jul 9 at 17:56
  • @Benjamin: So is mine. It's not the only way to show curiosity though, and at worst it shows a history of curiosity. People don't just suddenly become "not curious". When I'm interviewing I try to find the topic for which a candidate just can't shut up about. Usually it's a repo. Sometimes it's a hobby house built for a child. Jul 9 at 18:02
  • A brilliant coworker with a PhD in engineering and the creator of multiple algorithms had multiple side projects. He got ticked off about a wrench that kept slipping, so on his own time he invented and patented a better wrench. Many of you have one these at home. Another side project is horse riding. He once got his foot tangled up in a stirrup. He got ticked off and invented and patented a better stirrup, once again on his own time. He has multiple patents, several of which were developed on his own time and at his own expense. This is someone you want to keep rather than let go. Jul 10 at 4:39
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Funny. Are you looking for professionals or slaves?

Would you allow them to have families? Children?

These also distracting

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It depends on the purpose of the side projects.

If it is an attempt to earn income, then I am m concerned. I aw worried you are looking for a new job.

If it is a hobby: updating the webpage for their community association, then I am less concerned.

I worry about things that could conflict with our activities. It isn't the hours, because they can do all sorts of things that take up their free time, it is working on things that could complicate our activities or our customers.

I knew a person who thought he had a million dollar idea. They talked about it constantly. It got so bad, that they told everybody that this month might be their last month. They were then surprised when they weren't picked for the new project. The problem wasn't the hours they were putting into it, it was the fact that customers were worried they would quit at any time. They also worried they weren't focus on the customer.

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