Businesses of all scales, sizes, and verticals took to the work from home setup and many have stuck to the model. While there are several cost benefits for organizations involved in following the work from home setup, it’s important to understand how one can make the most of working from home and build the perfect home-office setup.
Developers Working From Home
The abrupt pandemic-driven shift has given developers a unique vantage point of working from home (WFH). Simply put, there has never been a better time for developers to work remotely. As many businesses and organizations have now turned remote-friendly, there is a higher possibility of these organizations hiring developers from far away regions. Working remotely as a software developer opens doors of previously inaccessible opportunities as companies see the untapped potential of hiring remote developers.
There are many benefits of working as a remote developer or engineer.
- Choose your working hours.
- Work with different people with unique skillsets and diverse backgrounds.
- Chance to get paid more than your local industry rates.
- Choose whether you want to work from home or your own office or a cafe.
- Time saved in work commute leads to better work-life balance.
- The chance to grow immensely as you work with people globally.
Current Remote Work Trends For Developers After Covid
A recent Gartner poll showed that 48% of employees will likely work remotely at least part of the time after COVID-19 versus 30% before the pandemic. Another survey by Upwork indicates that 1 in 4 Americans will be working remotely in 2021. What do these statistics and studies indicate for remote developers? A chance to work with leading organizations from the comfort of home.
Companies are embracing the hiring of remote developers either on a part-time or full-time basis. Whether a company is looking to hire a skilled team of developers on a full-time basis or an experienced programmer on a temporary basis, the chances of hiring remote IT talent are higher than before.
Tips To Work Remotely As A Developer
Remote work is part of the new normal now. While most developers and workers have adapted to the remote work lifestyle, here are a few handy tips to help developers level up their work-from-home game.
1. Create a comfortable home office space
The first and most important tip of becoming a successful remote developer is investing in building the perfect office setup at home. Doing this will help you get more productive and instill a much-needed sense of professionalism. For example, a proper work desk with a comfortable office chair is a must. Given that you will be sitting on your desk for hours at a stretch, the right table and chair are crucial to your home office setup.
Similarly, it’s important to invest in a laptop stand for your laptop so it matches your seating height or in additional monitors to facilitate better multitasking. A high-quality headset and webcam are imperative for avoiding grainy visuals and echo during online calls; little things like this go a long way when working as a remote.
Here are some tools every developer should invest in when working remotely:
- Monitors: Invest in HD monitors of a decent size that can be mounted at a height so as to not strain your vision or back. A multiple monitor setup will help you juggle tasks easily.
- Laptop stand: If you are using only a laptop, then invest in a sturdy stand that makes it easier to type, see, and use the laptop without any strain.
- Headset. While Bluetooth and wireless headsets are in vogue, it’s best to get a pair of reliable wired headsets that don’t require charging. This way you can also use your headsets on the fly without having to worry if it’s charged or not. Ensure that the headset is easy to carry in your laptop bag in case you plan to work from a cafe or when traveling.
- A dedicated room or place: Space is a luxury. However, if you are working from your bedroom or a dedicated room in your house, make sure that it has a door that can be shut to avoid any disturbances or noises that may hamper your video calls.
- Stable Internet connection: This is one of the most important aspects of working from home. A developer needs a stable internet connection along with a good backup connection.
- Good lighting: Powerful LED lamp on your desk that can be adjusted or a setup near a window goes a long way in making it easy to sit by your desk all day and night. The right light can uplift your mood and make it easier to work longer hours.
- Electric kettle or coffee machine: Developers usually work long strenuous hours and it doesn’t hurt to have a coffee machine or electric kettle handy to make some instant hot tea. This helps to ensure timely refreshments without disturbing your workflow.
- Access to a jug of water: Keeping water handy helps to take lesser breaks and hamper your workflow. Having water handy also helps to make coffee and tea in a jiffy.
Some of these home office setup tips may sound obvious, but there are many developers who skip these only to end up having productivity issues due to these little hurdles.
2. Make sure you have the correct communication tools for working remotely
A big downside about working remotely is the inability to communicate in person with your colleagues and your team members. To combat this situation, every developer must invest in the right software tools to enhance communication. From time emails to frequent zoom or skype calls, communication is the key to getting work done remotely.
Here are a few software tools every developer must get in order to ensure better communications:
- Professional email: In case you’re working as a freelance developer, it pays to have a professional email address to correspond with clients and colleagues. In general, though, it’s important to actively communicate via email about any new changes or updates to the project you’re working on to ensure easy backtracking.
- Zoom: Zoom account goes a long way to ensure quick, easy, and efficient video calls on the fly. Alternatively, you can also use Google Meet or Microsoft Teams to actively communicate and schedule calls with their colleagues, teams, and clients.
- Skype or Slack: Depending on what’s more comfortable, developers can use a chat app like Skype or Slack to enhance productivity. Slack offers a bunch of handy integrations that make it easier to share code on Slack channels.
Whichever tool you use, it’s important to hold periodic chats and/or video calls with your employers or clients to share your opinions, learnings, problems, and important findings of the project. Doing this will help you get feedback and make you feel like you’re a part of a team instead of working in isolation.
Making your presence felt by timely communication will ensure that you don’t go invisible. At the beginning of the day, drop in on the group chat to say “Hello”, and ask how people’s days are going, etc., etc. This way people will know you’re currently working at home and it helps to build a relationship and let people know that you are there.
Along with making your presence felt, you should also let your remote coworkers know when you’re not working. A simple “Good morning, everyone” to let people know that you’re starting your workday or sending “Be back in 1 hour” messages for lunch during the day is nice too.
3. Manage your deliverables and what is expected of you
Whether you’re working as a freelance developer or employed with a company, you must ensure that you and your client (or employer) have a water-tight agreement and an up-front and fair understanding of work expectations. As a developer, you must ensure that just because you’re not in a traditional working arrangement does not mean you should be working long hours or at odd times or on weekends.
For example, it is advisable to clearly communicate that you won’t work at inappropriate times like after 8 pm or before 6 am, or over weekends. And if this is the case, then you should discuss an agreement or arrangement on overtime or other remuneration.
For freelance developers working on multiple projects or with various clients, it is best to formalize your work arrangement with a contract. This goes a long way in preventing misunderstandings and disagreements.
Another way to ensure proper management of deliverables is to hold a stand-up meeting to get an update on what your team was working on yesterday, what you’ll be working on today, and if there are any obstacles in your way. This format works in the case of multiple developers or in case you wish to update your employer on a weekly basis of the work done and to manage expectations. With larger remote teams, these meetings help to make sure that nobody is replicating work or making incompatible changes.
4. Ensure that you continue to grow and network with the right people
One of the biggest or most unique challenges of being a remote developer is that you are mostly working alone. You need to be a diligent self-starter and keep yourself accountable for the project and tasks at hand. There will be many times when you have to figure out the solutions to problems on your own because there’s no team sitting with you to instantly help you.
This ‘being alone’ also begs the question of whether or not you are investing in self-improvement and career development. You need to make sure to keep some time aside to learn a new skill, read a new book, participate in a forum, or network in a developer community to augment your programming proficiency, expand your skills and knowledge, and enhance your career.
Some tips for self-growth for remote developers include:
- Setting aside fixed time every day to learn something new.
- Join an online developer support community like Stack Overflow or Facebook groups, Slack channels or the Programming subreddit; check out free and paid forums like Experts Exchange and Quora.
- Make small talk with your fellow programmers in your team or schedule weekly tech team calls to discuss problems and learn new things.
- Be active on LinkedIn to grow your professional network for better career prospects, learning opportunities, events, and more.
5. Ensure work-life balance
A big issue with working from home is actually the fact that you are not going to an office. This makes the lines of working hours very blur.
As a developer working from home, you need to ensure that you are not burning out by working excessively or on the weekends or at odd hours. Clearly communicate with your team or your employer regarding the hours you will work every day.
While working from home has its benefits, you need to make sure that you are not giving up your personal life for the sake of work. Make time to exercise, spend time with your friends and family, read or watch television, etc. Working from home doesn’t need to be working 24x7. Maintaining a good work-life balance is an integral part of working from home and staying motivated and creative at work.
Work-life balance also means taking short breaks or short trips to refresh your mind and energize your soul. Working from home all the time can lead to a quick burn out which is not ideal. Make sure you’re not working on holidays and festive days - it’s important to know when to switch off the laptop and spend time on yourself and with your loved ones.
6. Ensure focus and better time management
As mentioned in the points above, working from home and working remotely entails being a self-starter and makes you accountable for your work. If you are someone who struggles with staying focussed or managing time on a daily basis, then it’s important to invest in tools that will help you not go astray. Digital distractions and ambient noises can play havoc for developers working from home.
Here are a few tools and software that you can use to focus and enhance productivity:1. Todoist
Todoist is a great checklist app that will help you prioritize your tasks and manage time.2. Be Focused Timer
Be Focused is a great time management app that breaks up individual tasks among discrete intervals and separates them into short breaks.3. Asana
Asana is a fantastic app for managing your daily tasks and improving time management.4. Focus
Just like the name suggests, Focus uses the Pomodoro technique to help you concentrate better and keep distractions at bay.5. Forest
Forest uses a unique and highly effective technique of pushing users to work in full concentration and then plants virtual trees.
How To Find Remote Jobs
So, now that you are aware of the benefits and tips of working from home, let’s cover the part of how do you find a remote job that you love? Here are some simple tips to find the perfect remote developer job:
1. Build your portfolio
Make sure to build your portfolio of projects which you can share with prospective clients and employers.
2. Apply to a company’s remote jobs (via portals or company website)
Several job platforms like Toptal, WeWorkRemotely, Turing, Fiverr, Upwork, and more offer developers the chance of working remotely with leading organizations.
3. Be specific
Start by looking at the skill you want to target and apply for posts in which you know you can deliver or have experience. Make sure you research the company before applying to know the kind of projects and clients they have.
4. Create a cover letter
You need to have a great cover letter that effectively conveys why you are the best person for the job. A strong cover letter can do wonders for your chances of getting hired.
5. Decide if you want to work as a full-time freelance developer
Freelancing is also another way to get remote software development jobs. Freelance positions offer more in terms of flexibility and also give you the chance to choose your hourly rate. Platforms like Guru, Upwork, and freelance.com are good places to find remote software development jobs.
6. Explore personal contacts and close professional connections
Twitter and LinkedIn are great places to build relationships and network with other fellow developers. Additionally, it pays to put the word out among your developer friends since most organizations prefer hiring people that are referred to by the people already working in their companies.
Why Organizations Should Hire Remote Developers
The pandemic has forced companies to think differently about their staffing needs for hiring software developers. Organizations today have the unique opportunity to hire any developer from across the world. Let’s first understand the benefits of hiring remote engineers.
As an organization you can:
- Hire developers with untapped potential, high productivity, and who are eager to learn and grow with the organization.
- Access to talented developers from other countries who cost much less than if you hire local talent.
- Enables you to add diversity of thought and culture to your company as people from different countries and backgrounds offer different ideas and perspectives.
- By going remote, you become a 24×7 company so you can be open across time zones and support customers globally.
Getting started with remote or working from home can be quite an adjustment, both for the developer and the employer. The pandemic surely jolted everyone to work from the confines of their homes and bedrooms. When done right, working from home gives employers the opportunity to hire talented developers from all over the world and create a wider range of opportunities for developers who live outside major technological centers or “startup” hubs.
Working from home reduces the operational costs of getting work done and makes the process of developing software a lot more efficient. It’s amazing to see teams of developers working together remotely from across different parts of the globe with the right best practices in-place.