The Minddistrict product is, next to an ehealth platform for the web, also an app, available for various devices. In addition to this technical side, which also includes video calling and message traffic, the product has a substantive side, with digital modules, diaries and a questionnaire. It is used by people who need help - whether this is a module about how to deal with panic or depressive thoughts, or one that helps people move towards a healthier lifestyle.
For software developer Jan-Wijbrand Kolman, it’s the combination of technology and content, what the product is about, that makes his job at Minddistrict interesting. “As a developer, I can implement a lot of technical stuff and solutions. Most of those have a strong substantive component, in the field of psychology. Over the years, our work has become more complex, because we create all sorts of functionalities in our platform, such as authentication and authorisation, APIs to integrate with other health software, video calling and tools with which patients and therapist work."
‘My work is not just about technology - there is a strong substantive component’
According to Kolman, his work is also about simplifying that complexity, to make sure the product can be well built and maintained. “Minddistrict has been around for over a decade, so we have been building on the same product for a long time. That’s why we don’t only create new stuff, but we have to take care that our existing functionalities and modules continue to develop and improve.”
Challenges and impact
For developer Tikitu de Jager, who works from his home office in Greece, the last five years Minddistrict has been the place where technical challenges and impact come together. “What makes this work interesting is that you always work on the larger product - everything Minddistrict offers. It’s not as if you’re done after one project, to be moved over to the next. Instead, you can really invest in something, and see it grow and flourish.”
All the time and attention you put into the product remains within the company, De Jager emphasizes. “And there is a strong focus on improvement. I work on the iOS app, but am also involved with the Android app. And we always keep our eyes open for improvements, that are always there to be made.” In addition, many technical challenges come along that keep the work interesting for De Jager.
‘The time and effort you put into your work stays within the company and product.’
From Greece, De Jager works in the mobile team with, currently, two colleagues: one works from Spain, the other from the Netherlands. “Every day, we start with an update on what everybody is doing. After that, I spend a part of the day programming. I do that alone or with others. Later, we look at what was made and what we can learn or improve. In addition, I spend some time on design and on preparing our long-term plans.”
Despite the fact he works remotely, there is a high level of cooperation that De Jager greatly appreciates. “We talk a lot via chat and are very involved with each other. We evaluate our work constantly. Everybody has her or his own specialities, but we also want to understand what the other person is doing. This way, we keep each other sharp and learn from each other.”
We cooperate a lot and evaluate our work constantly
You always try to find out exactly how people use our product, and this too makes the work interesting, thinks Kolman. “You can learn so much from that. You keep developing and testing, it’s never finished.” A complicating factor, however, is that it’s not an easy task to find user data because of privacy reasons. “We can’t just save this sort of privacy-sensitive information from users. We don’t want that, and even if we would, it’s not allowed. That’s why we focus primarily on statistics and analytical data.”
Contents of the work
For Jan-Wijbrand Kolman, the content of the work is important. “I studied interaction design, so I’m not a hardcore techie by nature. My focus is on how you can use information systems and use them as tools. In my job at Minddistrict, both that world and the interesting technical challenges come together, plus the content.”
‘We cooperate a lot and are involved with each other, even if you work remote.’
De Jager also thinks the technical challenges make his work interesting. “There is a lot of room to dive deep. On the one hand, there is focus on work with high impact. On the other, there are the more difficult issues that require routine and knowledge to create new possibilities. And because it’s a big product, you can spend a lot of time on it.”
De Jager no longer likes to admit he used to work in social media monitoring. “Social media can make the world a little worse, while in my current work, I focus on helping people. Users are happy with our apps, according to messages we receive from them now and then. The fact that my work helps them to recover from their problems makes the job extra interesting and valuable for me.”
The monthly strategy update that all Minddistricters attend, also colleagues who work remote.
That fact also plays a major role for Kolman. “We try to make means that people can use to solve their problems. Whether those are serious psychological problems, or smaller things such as creating an overview in someone's life. The fact that I contribute to making the tools for both clients and professionals, gives my work more value.”
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