Should Software Engineers Work Remotely?
Before we can answer this question, we must first answer another question: Can software engineers work remotely? The simple answer is yes. Software engineers can usually work remotely thanks to all of the available tools that allow them to remain productive off-site.
The answer to the question of SHOULD software engineers work remotely is a little more complicated and may need to be addressed on an individual basis.
Yes, companies can save time and money if they hire software engineers to work remotely. Remote employment also allows companies to hire experienced engineers from around the world. The downsides to working remotely are the lack of face-to-face human contact and the challenge of work-life balance.
In this article, we are going to address some of the helpful tools, tips, and tricks that will help companies and individual software engineers decide if working remotely is the best option.
Efficient and Productive Work from Home Policies
One of the first things an employer needs to consider before hiring engineers that work remotely is the company-wide work-from-home policies. These policies exist to lay out the company’s expectations and requirements of all employees working remotely.
Whether employees are contracted for hourly work or they receive a regular monthly salary, the expectation and guidelines that should be included in the policies are similar but may be adjusted based on a company’s needs or things like time zone differences.
Some of the main things to consider including in the policies are:
It is best to have employees scheduled to work the same or similar working hours to those that would be worked if they were coming to the office. This will help to create a healthy divide between work and home life as well.
Time zone differences may mean that working hours are at different times than the company office employees, but the idea of working 9–5, or 8 hours a day would be a wise policy to enforce for the health and productivity of the employee.
Along with the working hours, outlining a way to track attendance so that the employee and the company are aware of how and when the employee should be available for collaborative work or meetings is also important.
Tips and Tricks for the Best Remote Work Practices
When a company decides to hire or allow current employees to work remotely, it is best to provide them with assistance in adjusting to working from home. Providing a list of the best practices for working remotely will be a great step in working toward productive and efficient remote work.
Some of the best remote work practices include:
- Having a designated workspace that is separate from other areas of life, including meals, family time, sleeping, and leisure time.
- Dress for work, even if there are no virtual meetings to attend.
- Plan meals and snacks in advance to avoid the temptation of constantly going to the fridge just to look.
- Set a work schedule and keep it to help avoid unwanted mixing between work and life outside of work.
- Don’t forget to move. With limited space, no water cooler to gather around, or break room to waste time in, it can be tempting to stay in the “office” and keep working until it is done, but everyone needs a break. Take at least a ten-minute break every hour to walk around, stretch, go to the bathroom, grab some coffee, and just get moving.
Useful Tools for Working from Home
For software engineers to be productive remotely, they must have the proper tools they need to get the job done. The main tools they will need are programs for time tracking, communicating, collaborating with their fellow engineers, and managing projects.
Here are some of the top recommended programs:
- Clockify & Focusboost
- Hangouts, Zoom, Teams, Skype
- Discord & Slack
- Whimsical & Miro
- Office Suite Online
- Asana & Redmine
Concerns About Working from Home
The two biggest concerns that most people have about working from home are loneliness and work-life balance.
One of the biggest benefits of working in an office is regular face-to-face contact with other adults. When working from home, this may not happen as often and can cause employees to struggle with a regular feeling of loneliness.
When a person eats, sleeps, relaxes, works out, and works all in the same space, it can be difficult to find a balance between life and work. Setting boundaries, making a schedule, and having a designated workspace are key to finding this balance.
If a software engineer prefers working remotely or is in a position where working remotely is the best option, the engineer should work from home. To ensure productivity, employers should make sure the software engineers are well equipped with programs, policies and expectations, and helpful tips that will help them succeed.
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