Remote working: what developers need to know
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Although remote working is an excellent choice for many, it does come with its drawbacks. And if you decide to make the switch, it’s worth knowing exactly what you’re in for. In this article, Sean Bave, general manager & vice president of Stack Overflow Talent explains how developers should prepare before they start out on their first remote working gig.
No commute, no office politics, and no need to change out of your pajamas: remote working clearly has its benefits and it’s more popular than ever. Data from Stack Overflow suggests that as many as 15% of developers work remotely, depending on country, and 21% rated the ability to work from home as really important to them in their jobs.
But it’s not all sunshine and roses: although remote working is an excellent choice for many, it does come with its drawbacks. And if you decide to make the switch, it’s worth knowing exactly what you’re in for. And once you’ve got a clearer understanding of how different remote working is from working onsite, there are a number of strategies you can put into place to make the most out of it.
So how should developers prepare before they start out on their first remote working gig? Here’s what you should take stock of.
You’ll communicate differently
When you’re not working in an office, talking to colleagues becomes a whole different beast. If you need to get in touch with a team member, you can’t walk over to their desk for an in-person chat. When the ability to interact physically is taken away, the tools you use will become more important than ever, whether that be video calling, instant messaging tools or plain old email.
Establishing the right communication practices is necessary for keeping everyone in the loop. It’s worth spending a bit of time thinking about all the options. Many remote developers prefer cloud-based tools like Slack. Other tools such as GitHub, JIRA and Trello offer different ways of making sure everyone is on the same page with a project and their role within it.
But don’t rely only on the written word: check in with your team via regular video calls for in-depth catch-ups and so they get a chance to see your face — it’s more important than you think.
SEE ALSO: Behind the scenes as a remote worker
Stay on top of things
In an office, you can rely on general chatter to keep up with what’s going on. But when working remotely, tracking what you and your team are working on becomes critical. Nobody knows exactly what you’re working on until you tell them. It’s vital to have a strong understanding of standard processes so that there’s no confusion about what happens in certain situations.
You’ll also have to become a lot more self-sufficient. When your colleagues are hundreds of miles away and only available on Slack, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to reach them instantly if you can’t remember exact instructions. When you can’t rely on your team, you’ll have to train yourself into taking detailed and clear notes from every meeting that you can refer back to. There are a number of different tools to choose from which are helpful in this area: Todoist, Evernote and Asana are just some of the better-known tools out there for helping workers keep on top of their workload.
Don’t forget to be social
Remember, there’s a social side to the office too. Developers are often characterized as introverts, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t like socializing every now and then. And as a remote developer, it’s even easier to feel left out. You won’t get to take part in spontaneous after work drinks or team lunches. You might even find yourself missing the opportunity for a quick coffee or a game of table tennis with a colleague. These casual social occasions are more important than they at first appear: by establishing social rapport with team members you’re able to better establish yourself as part of the group, meaning that your colleagues, over time, will be more happy to help you and listen to your perspective on shared challenges.
SEE ALSO: Avoiding the traps of remote work
On a very basic level, take advantage of calls with your colleagues to catch up on what’s going on in the office, interesting side projects or personal updates. If you want to really integrate yourself into the office’s social network, try and encourage fun events like remote beer bashes. Chances are your fellow remote workers are feeling the same: so take charge of social events and make them more remote friendly.
If remote working is the right choice for you, then, by all means, seize the opportunity: but make sure you’re prepared. If you’ve got all the right tools and have strategies in place for navigating the difficulties that come with being away from the office — whether work or social-related – then you’ll be able to breeze through any problems with ease.