This post was updated in December 2017 with new information.
For a growing number of companies, remote developers have proven that the right people, equipped with the right tools can be incredibly valuable members of any software development team. Even though the benefits of offering remote working options seem obvious to some, many companies still focus their developer hiring strategies around finding the best local tech talent.
As surprising as this might sound, a handful of stigmas persist about remote working options, which are ultimately keeping employers from finding the developers they need. Here are a few of the most common misconceptions about allowing developers to work from wherever they’re located.
The best remote developers have the ability to write quality code and the time management skills to stay on track without an engineering manager looking over their shoulders. It would be easy to think this means these developers are so self-sufficient that it’s impossible for an engineering manager to give feedback or direction.
Although their bosses don’t have the luxury of walking over to their desks whenever they want to share a few thoughts, remote employees want and need the same level of support that employees who work from your headquarters get on a daily basis. In fact, prioritizing face-to-face interactions with your remote programmers is an excellent way to keep them engaged and ultimately retain them.
For many people, “remote working options” and “flexibility” tend to go hand-in-hand. A surprising number of people I spoke to when I was a recruiter believed that whenever they allowed an employee to work from home, they were essentially giving that person the day off. While many remote programmers do enjoy some flexibility around things like their working hours and dress code, it’s unfair to assume that these perks mean they’re not getting anything done.
David Fullerton, VP of Engineering here at Stack Overflow, once wrote that remote developers work longer hours than in-house programmers. He adds, “It’s not required, and probably won’t always be the case, but when going to work is as simple as walking upstairs, people just tend to put in more hours and work more productively.”
Many remote software development teams live in a variety of time zones and have different working hours. While some employers might say this ultimately makes it harder for everyone else on the team to stay on schedule, this is simply not the case for companies that have committed to making remote software development work for them.
Sure, things like communication and decision making become a little more difficult when you can’t pull everyone on the development team into a room for a meeting. Still, you’d be hard-pressed to find a development team with a strong remote culture that claims they can’t get things done as efficiently because their engineering team is distributed.