I’ll be the first to tell you that I’ve made the assumption that if you told every developer in the world they could work remotely, they’d all jump at the opportunity. And sure, to some developers, the thought of having no commute and no formal dress code sounds like an incredible arrangement. While a growing number of developers are choosing to work remotely, it’s important to remember that writing code from a home office still has its own unique challenges. We reached out to a few developers to hear what they wish more employers knew about what it’s like to work remotely. Here’s what they had to say.
David Fullerton, our VP of Engineering, wrote that remote developers naturally work longer hours. For Kasra Rahjerdi, a Mobile Team Lead here at Stack Overflow, this observation is a reality when he works from home. Rahjerdi adds, “Routinely when I work from home and I’m engrossed in a problem, I look up at the clock and see that it’s 9 PM and that I forgot to run errands on my after-work to-do list.” On the days he works from home, he tells us that it’s common for him to dive right into projects after short breaks, rather than chatting with colleagues over coffee on his way back to his deck. “When I know exactly what I need to work on, I’m able to run right back to my computer, which makes it way too easy to lose track of time.”
Jeff Tindall, Managing Director at Tindall Media, tells us that even from the comfort of a home office, there are still some very real distractions that developers need to be able to work through. He elaborates by saying, “You’ll hear that children are playing outside, and then the mailman comes knocking on the door. And eventually, the washing machine beeps for the dryer. The flexibility to work from home comes with a lot of additional responsibilities.” Tindall also says that to working remotely is a skill that employers should evaluate each developer candidate for during the technical interview process. “If you can’t achieve your goals in spite of these distractions,” he says, “then working from home is probably not for you.”
It would be easy to assume that all remote developers prefer being somewhat isolated during the workday so they can focus on getting things done. However, even the most introverted and laser-focused developers miss out on the fun things that happen around the office from time to time. Milen Marinov, a Mobile App Developer at Kanbanize, tells us that not only is the social aspect of working remotely a challenge, creating opportunities for himself to interact with his colleagues has become an additional part of his job. “You have to write social contact into your calendar,” he says. “Otherwise, you’ll start to feel like the world has moved on and you were left behind.”