Should you work remotely?

Software developers (and not just them) quite often believe that remote work is one of the best things that can happen during their career. Sitting at home or even better, laying on the beach with a laptop on your knees, while drinking some fancy beverage and of course coding from time to time (you’re not at the office anymore, therefore your boss ain’t gonna observe what are you actually doing) pictures like a some kind of dream. But is it really like this?


 

I’ve been working for over 5 years now and about half of that period remotely. Well, I still do work remotely, yet currently more in terms of developing some side projects with friends, so I don’t count it to be a truly remote work (at least unless these projects start to earn money).
Anyway, I’d say that after 2-3 years, as a software developer who did work from his home I could describe both, the pros and cons of the remote work. In short, the remote work is great as long as you can organize yourself, but I’d rather not do that for a very long term, as the biggest issue is the loneliness. I’m being totally serious here, but I’ll get to that point later on and tell you why is that so important.

Let’s start with the advantages of the remote work:

  • Freedom – you can work pretty much anywhere in the world.
  • Flexible working hours (unless the customer requires otherwise).
  • Ability to split a job into chunks – e.g. work in the morning, then have some break, then work again in the evening and so on.
  • Saving of the time – IMO one of the best benefits, as you don’t need to spend time traveling to the office.
  • Doing things your way – usually working solo means more responsibility which I find to be an advantage.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Indeed, these are the benefits that you can get while switching to the remote work. And as long as you can organize your daily tasks properly, soon you will find out that you might be much more productive than usual, however, it requires a strong self-discipline, mostly due to the fact that there are so many potential distractions around us, much more than if you stick to the work at the regular office.
I’ve mentioned that one of the biggest concerns while working remotely might (but doesn’t have to be) the loneliness in general. What does it mean and what are the possible implications? These are the things that come to my mind:

  • It’s more difficult to resolve or discuss some issues without being able to directly (face-to-face) talk to other team members.
  • Possible feeling of too heavy burden, if you manage a big project mostly on your own.
  • Focusing on the work might be more challenging – you don’t see other people working around, so you feel you can do anything else as well.
  • Not improving, which basically means degrading your soft skills. Believe it or not, but it’s quite an important for your career.

You could probably find many more pros and cons of the remote job. For me, working this way is great if there are other things in my life that require more attention, which means that I need more time to deal with them. Let’s say that I have a side project and I need these 1 or 2 extra hours per day that I could get while working remotely. Or you might have a family that you need to take care of and be at home most of the day.

Nevertheless, if you spend too much time working totally alone and separated your social relations will most likely weaken. And why is it so important? Because during most of your career within the IT industry (or anywhere else) you won’t be working solo, at least if you want to build something big. And talking via Skype hardly makes any bonds between you and other team members or your management. Even such simple things as going out for a beer with your collaborators or boss might mean much more than delivering the best code possible while sitting alone in your home office.

To sum up – I encourage everyone to try remote work at least once, as you might really love it (like I did in the past). Just beware that within the remote work sequence there’s still this keyword work and you might realize that it is difficult to deal with all of these distractions around. Or simply that spending alone 6 or 8 hours per day inside your room after few weeks or months might make you feel a little bit weird.

6 Comments Should you work remotely?

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  2. rz

    I work remotely 2-3 days a week for about 7 years. What I value most is saved time and peaceful work environment which makes me much more productive. But I couldn’t argue it does not improve your skills the same as work in the office. I like to keep the balance between those two, I couldn’t work remotely nor in the office every day 😉

    Reply
  3. ohdev

    If you allocate some time for self-development the remote work won’t be danger for your software skills. But, indeed, it is very difficult to keep discipline in this area that guarantees constant self-development.

    Reply
    1. Piotr Gankiewicz

      Improving the software skills is usually not an issue because quite often you tend to have more responsibilities by working remotely than in a regular job. The bigger concern is that if you don’t meet with some other developers or managers from time to time (and I’m not talking about Skype sessions or so), your soft skills might suffer and it’s a quite important topic for the overall career.

      Reply
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