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My first four months at the Ministry of Justice

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: collaboration, developer, Recruitment

I have recently started a new job as Senior Frontend Developer at the Ministry of Justice and I wanted to share a few details of my opening time here.

Remote Working

I have been remote working for the past year now and could never go back to working in an office. The reasons are the same as most other articles out there, but here is a short list of why this is so important to me:

  • I get four hours of commuting time back per day to spend with my family and most importantly my dog.
  • I get to cook clean food and do the school run.
  • I get time to workout more during the day.
  • I am able to concentrate for large periods of time, undisturbed, getting more work done.
  • If my family needs me in an emergency, working from home enables me to be there when needed.

I am so glad the Ministry of Justice encourages this too! Remote working isn't for everyone, some people thrive in an office atmosphere. Luckily here you have a choice, if I feel I need to see humans rather than talking to my dog, Jack, then I can work the day from the office. 

One of the things I love is when the whole team does get together in an office to meet face-to-face; here we retro and plan our sprints. Unfortunately there is a lack of high-fiving, but I am hoping to change this. This time together is just right to make you feel closer to the team and give you a springboard for the next sprint.

Flexibility and Trust

There is no need to update your status when you go to make a brew or even the need to ask for permission to go pick up your ill children from school. Being treated like an adult is hard to come by in most jobs. The trust you are given to complete your tasks, work your hours (and only the hours you are supposed to work!) is empowering.

From a mindset point of view, you find yourself wanting to do your best. You take active steps to making sure you complete your work to a high standard. With great power, comes great responsibility. 

When you treat people as grown ups, you get grown up results. Everything revolves around communication within your team. If you want to take leave, let your team know, check your responsibilities and organise. Then go off and enjoy yourself!

Mental Health

Throughout my time here, I have heard someone mention about mental health at least once a day. The focus on the wellbeing of their employees is fantastic:

  • You’re encouraged to take half a day out a week to focus on training.
  • You must take your holidays.
  • Work at a steady pace - do not rush things.
  • Do not let yourself burnout, talk to someone!

In the evenings I am more relaxed and not awake at night worrying about an issue I couldn't fix. There is no burnout so the evenings are mine to pursue my hobbies.

Collaboration and Open Source

Within the first three days I had got a 'pull request' approved into one of the design systems. Everything here is open and shared between all departments. Cross collaboration is massively encouraged. The above was needed for what I was working on. It was work done by others, but now I was able to expand on that and give back. An amazing feeling!

Being able to find solutions from other departments is a breeze. Everyone jumps straight on Slack to help and point you to the right resources. One thing I want to push is strengthening our frontend code throughout the business. The few questions I have asked are met warmly and with encouragement. This makes me really excited that this is going to be a very busy and fun year ahead.

Accessibility is everywhere here. Everything you do always raises the question. The Government Design System (GDS) team own this area and always seem to be on hand to help with knowledge gaps and providing frameworks to be able to prototype and write software.

One thing I want to try and bring is a performance angle. Enabling those who cannot afford high-end devices or have bad connectivity to be able to use our services but still with a great experience. I am looking forward to getting stuck into this once I understand more about how things work.

Another project I have managed to get attached to is a cross-government working group for the GDS. This is for making sure our sites are done to a high accessibility standard. It mainly revolves around User Experience teams but being able to work from a more technical angle to help implementation of the designs has been great fun and I feel truly apart of something bigger.

The future

It has been a great four months so far working in the Ministry of Justice. I have big plans for the future of our front end development and I will be sharing lots of technical blog posts over the coming year.

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1 comment

  1. Comment by Antoni Sulé posted on

    Absolutely loved reading this. I have often wondered what working in digital government would be like. This answered all my questions and more.


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