The Realities of Working Remotely as a Web Developer
Having a remote job is a dream for many, and rightly so. You’ll be afforded some freedom and you’ll feel less constrained by the standard working week. Nobody likes feeling trapped and limited. Working remotely is a suitable antithesis to this, provided you can retain your motivation and productivity with self-discipline!
It’s not all positives, though — there are some downsides.
Let’s weigh up both perspectives within this article. We’ll start with the positives.
You’ll have more freedom and flexibility
For many, this is the main benefit of remote working.
Whilst still being accountable for the completion of your tasks, working remotely does provide a certain degree of freedom.
For example, it’s much easier to break away from your desk or office workspace and go for a quick stroll. Regularly exercising throughout the day, even in small bouts, can be hugely beneficial to your overall productivity.
Similarly, it’s also the case that you don’t need to “look busy” during every working moment.
Unfortunately, a lot of bosses or management figures are stuck in their old ways, and have come to expect this. If a developer’s hands aren’t constantly making contact with the keyboard — they can’t be productive!
As we all know, that’s simply not the case. It’s easier to avoid this kind of trap when working remotely in your own space. You have more control over the things that make you productive.
You can work from anywhere
Similarly, when working remotely as a web developer, you’ll have the option to work from (almost) anywhere!
Provided you have a stable network connection, and you’re easily contactable, your options are almost unlimited in this regard. Being easily contactable often means working in the same (or a similar) time zone to that of your team. But outside of that — you have a lot of scope.
A lot of developers enjoy travelling whilst working. For many, this is the dream. It’s the most drastic antithesis to the standard 9-5 working week, which is the exact thing many of us are trying to break away from.
You’ll (likely) save time and money by avoiding the daily commute
The overall length of the working day is reduced down substantially when you don’t factor in the toils of the daily commute.
For those with a long daily commute — 1 hour or more either way — the time gains are particularly noticeable. Time spent on the bus, on the train or stuck in traffic in the car can be spent as you wish. Either relaxing ahead of the working day, or doing something else you enjoy like working on side projects to generate some passive income!
The boost to morale cannot be understated in this regard.
Another benefit of working remotely as a web developer is that you’ll cut down on transportation costs. Depending on your particular situation, this is balanced out by the fact that you’ll be using more of your own resources throughout the day (electricity, gas and so on).
You can find work globally!
Since you are no longer constrained by the office environment, and you no longer need to work in a commutable range, you’ll find that your horizons have been significantly broadened when it comes to finding remote work.
More and more companies are moving towards hiring remote developers, especially within our industry. This means a larger pool from which you can potentially dip into.
There are many job boards out there that specifically target remote working developers, such as remote.co.
The downside of this is that there is more competition. If companies aren’t constrained to finding developers from within their local area, they also have a much broader choice. This means more competition for you, as a potential employee.
You’ll face less interruptions
This one is debatable. It depends how hectic your working environment is at home. Hopefully not too hectic!
However, since this environment is now within your direct control — it should be easier to maintain a quieter space where you can properly think and work.
As a developer, interruptions in the office are the bane of our lives. Particularly, having to “just do something quickly” when you’re already in the zone trying to push on with something else.
At home (or some other convenient space) — this becomes far easier to regulate. If you like to have your noise-cancelling headphones on and listen to podcasts while you work, you can do that without fear of ignoring your colleagues in the immediate area!
You’ll have less physical interactions
For some, this may be a benefit! For others, however, not having regular face-to-face contact is one of the main downsides of working remotely.
There are some benefits to working in the office that simply don’t exist remotely: pizza Friday, staff meals, table tennis, chatting amongst friends during lunch time.
Of course, there are often online equivalents to these benefits. Many remote teams have social gatherings over the internet and try to host various “team days” throughout the year.
This helps to provide a happy medium between working remotely and working in the office. However, some people simply thrive more when they are around their peers. For those people, working remotely 100% of the time may not be the most ideal approach.
Lack of discipline will hurt your productivity
Having more freedom and flexibility means the developer must be more motivated and have a degree of discipline.
This is easier said than done for some people, however.
Working remotely means you’ll need to carefully manage your time to ensure you don’t begin to foster any bad habits. You’ll want to be as productive as possible, but also take advantage of the fact that you have some flexibility and freedom.
Of course, we all go through bouts where we lack motivation. If you’re sat at home alone, however, these may be harder to shake. Being around your colleagues provides a more apparent degree of accountability, and it may be easier to force yourself to work within this environment.
Your work-life balance could suffer
It’s easy for the boundaries between starting and stopping the working day to become fuzzy if not properly managed.
Given you’ll be part of a team with other remote workers, with each of them afforded their own flexibility — you’ll find that you’re getting pinged with questions or queries outside of your own specific work routine.
This is a reality of the remote working lifestyle.
Sometimes, you’ll be called on to work (or otherwise get involved) when you’ve already downed tools for the day. The boundary between your working day beginning and ending can become extremely fuzzy, in this regard.
When working in an office environment, it’s much easier to leave your work behind. At the end of the working day, you can drop your problems and pick them up in the morning. They don’t (or shouldn’t!) follow you home.
When working remotely, this is much harder to accomplish. With your colleagues all working different schedules, there will often be a degree of difficulty in “switching off” at the end of the day.
Communication with your colleagues may become… difficult
Just like in the “real” world, communicating over the internet can be a mixed bag.
Some people are great at it. Others, not so much…
One of the downsides of using a tool like slack to manage communications within a team is that it can be easily ignored. It’s harder to directly approach or prompt people over this medium, as opposed to being right there in front of them in the office.
Often times, you’ll find you need an answer immediately. But you’ll need to wait several hours for your colleague to respond. In an office environment, this would likely not be an issue. Being able to physically approach somebody definitely has its benefits in this regard.
Of course, retaining smooth communications between staff is something that can be regulated and managed. However, the team as a whole will need to be diligent and ensure that they are as receptive as possible to each others needs.
You’ll notice there are more pros than cons in this article.
That’s because I believe that working remotely as a web developer simply provides a better experience over working in a standard office environment. It provides a lifestyle that is simply more compatible with my wants and needs.
Of course, everyone is different. I know people personally who hated working remotely when forced to do so.
Before making the leap, it’s important to consider your own situation. Do you have the required level of discipline? Will you be focused and productive even when nobody is watching?
You’ll still need to deliver results. You’ll still need to be accountable for delivering your workload whilst reaping the various rewards of remote working.
If you think you can tick these boxes, then maybe working remotely as a web developer is the path for you!