Thinking of switching from an office-based software engineering position to a remote one?
That’s understandable, as so many companies are now open to remote workforces. Big names like Google, SAP, Sanofi, and Williams-Sonoma are just a few examples.
But if you plan to start working in your slippers and pyjamas soon, you should find out what you’re getting into first.
Today, we’ll share 3 ways office-based work and remote work differ from each other if you’re a software engineer. We’ll also provide some bits of actionable advice you can use for the shift to remote work in each situation!
1. Your Schedule Is in Your Hands
Remember the old days when you went to the office, got told your development itinerary for the day, and followed it?
Well, things are different when you’re a remote worker.
Most remote workers get flexible hours. That means they can start working at odd hours of the night instead of in the morning, have their lunch break early, etc.
Of course, there are both pros and cons to this. It’s easier to see the pros first, including the ability to work when you want to instead of being locked into the traditional shift hours.
That can be a major benefit since engineers do their best work when they feel both stimulated and creative.
Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that you’ll always feel inspired or motivated during traditional working hours. With flexible hours, you can save your work for when you’re most likely to do it well.
But there are downsides to flexible hours too.
For example, it can be hard to tell exactly when you’re supposed to stop working, especially if you’re passionate about what you do. That’s because, as a software engineer, you probably tend to associate being at the computer with doing work.
So, if you’re at home all day and on the computer for most of that time, you’ll feel like you’re always “at work”. You may even find yourself working much longer hours than usual!
Time management thus becomes critical if you’re a remote worker. Arrange your daily schedule according to what would make you most productive, and set fixed hours to stop or take a break so you don’t overwork yourself.
For example, do you tend to be most awake in the afternoons? Then schedule your most difficult tasks for those hours of the day.
You should also decide on the number of things you have to complete every day. Scheduling your tasks is especially important when you’re working remotely, because you’ll still have to meet various project deadlines.
2. Communication Is Different
Working remotely definitely changes the way you communicate with your co-workers.
In the office, most things are communicated in person. Sure, there are internal chatting platforms or emails, but for the most part, communication is done in person because it’s possible.
People can just walk up to you in the office to deliver messages, after all. They may pop by your cubicle or even drop you a casual request at the pantry.
But the majority of the communication you receive as a remote worker won’t be given in person. In fact, you may not even get most of it in real time!
When you’re in a remote workplace, hours tend to be flexible. This means that even if your company sets a range of hours for communication, not everyone will be online at the same time.
There’s also the peculiarity of remote workplaces where members of the same team are located across the globe - coworkers will have different time zones!
So, you may well have to wait hours for a response from someone in a different time zone from yours but on the same team.
This may be good at times: it can help you stay focused on what you’re doing. Many engineers actually find it easiest to finish tasks when they have fewer distractions -- some even say that’s why they prefer to work at night.
But if you need quick answers to a query, it can be a pain. Luckily, there are so many communication channels and apps for remote workers now that help ensure effective collaboration.
It’s fairly easy to send someone enough messages on multiple channels to ensure they get notified ASAP. And if all else fails, do the tried-and-tested thing: pick up your phone and call them!
3. You Have to Construct Your Own Workspace
Finally, when you’re working remotely, you often have to “build” your own workstation.
At the office, you’re typically provided all of the tools you need: the computer hardware, the (pre-installed) tech stack, the furnishings like chairs and desks, etc.
As a remote worker, you have to put most of that together yourself at home.
In spite of that, it’s generally a good investment to set up a proper workstation. Even if it may be costly, it pays off in the long run to have a conducive work area at home.
Don’t underestimate the boost to your productivity that can come from a desk chair with excellent ergonomics, for instance. The same for a mechanical keyboard with the types of switches you like.
Fortunately, some employers now see the importance of ensuring all employees have what they need to work effectively and comfortably at home. These companies have expense policies for employees who need items for their home workstations.
How to Find Great Remote Software Engineering Jobs
While the differences between office-based and remote work can be a challenge at first, the right position (and company) can make the transition a lot easier.
As we shared above, there are even some employers who provide expense policies for remote employees’ needs. Other companies may also provide amazing benefits and allowances to employees to help them get used to working from home.
If you want to find such employers, Skilledd can help. Its online platform can provide you with job opportunities from top tech companies that will let you work from home in as much comfort as possible.
You can build a profile on Skilledd, take technical assessments, and even get training modules or advice to help you land a remote job with your dream employer!
Head over to Skilledd.com now to register your profile for free to get started.