When you’re looking for a home for your career, one really important consideration is who you’ll be working with. What’s the culture like? What kind of people will you spend your time with?
I’ve worked at Atomic Object for a few years now — long enough to have observed and identified some characteristics that most, if not all, of the other Atoms have in common. In no particular order:
1. Atoms Respect Each Other
People here work hard and have high confidence in their abilities. Despite this confidence, egos are still kept in check. You won’t find any “rock stars” here.
While good at acknowledging their individual strengths, they also acknowledge each other’s strengths. I’ve never seen a battle of egos here. Whether it’s a question of design, project management, or coding, input and concerns are welcome and considered logically. Even though I was hired fresh out of college, I’ve always felt my input was respected and given consideration. And those I’ve worked with have always been happy to explain decisions and entertain ideas of how to improve things — no matter how big or minute.
Ultimately, I think this is rooted in a common desire to make the best software possible, and the realization that teamwork and collaboration get you farther than any individual’s heroic efforts or knowledge.
2. Atoms Take Responsibility
No matter how good a team is, there will inevitably be a time when things don’t go as well as planned. What impresses me is that, in the times I’ve seen this, there’s been no laying of blame on others. When you blame others, you cheat yourself out of a valuable experience to learn from mistakes.
On the other side, sometimes you end up identifying risks, tasks, or other work that has no explicit ownership. I’d be more surprised to not see an Atom step up and take ownership in this situation — even if only to bring it to the attention of the broader group so it doesn’t go unnoticed.
One aspect of this manifests in ensuring good team practices during project work. When I’ve made oversights or perhaps even been lax, my team members have had my back and pointed out issues without bitterness. At other times, I’ve done the same. We keep each other in check.
3. Atoms Have Diverse Interests
Although the majority of us fall under the label of “designer” or “developer,” we’ve all got our own specific talents and areas of interest. And everyone I talk to is happy to share their knowledge. Off the top of my head, I know exactly who to talk to if I have a specific question about, or want to know more about:
- Embedded electronics or embedded programming
- Any variety of functional programming topics
- Game development
- Data structures
- Cars, auto-crossing
- And many other topics
Cumulatively, our shared knowledge makes what we refer to as our Brain Trust. It’s very valuable and useful, between our generalist culture and the wide variety of projects that we take on.
The best part, however, is that the knowledge extends far beyond what we use as part of our work. It’s a great resource to explore other areas of life and a good platform on which to build stronger relationships with each other. Our culture values this so much that we have free Pair Lunches to facilitate it.
4. Atoms Prioritize Sustainability
At Atomic, there’s always the expectation to work effectively and full time. Despite this, everyone understands that it is better to work reasonable hours to avoid burn-out or reduced quality of work.
Putting in some extra hours can occasionally appear beneficial to a project. Less often, it may be necessary. Whenever it’s considered, however, I’ve seen that considering a sustainable pace weighs very heavily. I’ve never been asked to put in significant extra hours, and when I have done so voluntarily, I’ve been reminded by other Atoms to make sure I’m being sustainable.
What surprised me about Atomic Object is that one of the best aspects of working at here is the people I get to work with. At the end of the day, I feel happier and more fulfilled knowing I’m working with people I can trust, respect, and learn from.