The Pros and Cons of Hiring Remote Developers
Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, the tech industry (among many others) has had to grapple with the changing landscape of remote work. With a new variant making its unwanted appearance every few months it seems, remote work continues to remain the norm for many companies. This new normal has shifted the status quo […]
Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, the tech industry (among many others) has had to grapple with the changing landscape of remote work. With a new variant making its unwanted appearance every few months it seems, remote work continues to remain the norm for many companies. This new normal has shifted the status quo substantially. A 2021 study shows that 86% of software developers based in North America are currently working remotely full time. This is in stark contrast to the pre-pandemic numbers, which showed just 19% working remotely full time. Such a drastic shift in work environments over a relatively short period of time does not occur without both benefits and downsides. Below are a few pros and cons to expect when hiring remote software developers:
Larger Talent Pool
The ability to recruit/hire developers outside of a designated market is a clear benefit to remote work. You allow yourself the option to find the best talent to fit your business needs without needing to convince candidates they must relocate their families and uproot their lives for a new opportunity. Ensuring that you are able to find the right talent is a different conversation, but hiring remote software developers increases your odds.
Since the mass migration to remote work for most software developers in 2020, many are seeing clear benefits both personally and professionally. In this same study mentioned above, 70% of developers reported being more productive while working remotely and 61% reported a better work life balance. Employees operating more efficiently and feeling as if they have a more positive work experience is a great recipe for retaining top talent!
A final benefit of outsourcing your development work to remote employees is saving money! Say goodbye to many of your overhead costs when hiring remote. Office expenditures (rent, utilities, insurance, furniture) and individual expenditures (laptops, monitors) are no longer necessary expenses to running a successful development operation. No matter the size or scale of your business, saving on costs without impacting performance is a no-brainer.
An inevitable result of hiring developers from various areas of the country is a lack of consistent working hours amongst your team. While this can be beneficial to employees and allow for a better work/life balance, there are also a few negative side effects. Not having a full development team available for urgent production issues that arise can lead to delays in diagnosing the problem and implementing a fix. Additional side effects of having developers across various time zones is less time for pairing on complex issues and limited meeting availability.
Solution: There are no solutions to time zones unfortunately. The best way to deal with inconsistent schedules is to follow Agile best practices such as daily stand-ups, refining the product backlog, and setting communication guidelines.
Less Knowledge Sharing
Most developers who started a new job during the pandemic know this feeling. Accept a job offer, go through onboarding, get to know your new colleagues via Zoom, and now it’s time to start coding! While the sprint planning and backlog refinement meetings you have started attending help get you up to speed on priorities and work status, where do you go for documentation on test data? What are the established norms around PR reviews? Getting answers to these simple but necessary questions is not nearly as quick or easy while working remotely.
Solution: Schedule time each week for developers to meet and discuss engineering-specific topics. While product discussions can be beneficial and sometimes necessary, try to keep the discussion around topics or issues facing developers on the team.
Team Chemistry Challenges
The final downside to highlight when it comes to hiring remote developers is the challenge of building team chemistry. In the study referenced throughout this blog, 58% of remote developers mentioned “lack of day-to-day interaction” as the number one downside to working remotely. Work tends to be a lot more enjoyable and rewarding if we have friends striving to meet the same goals and going through the same challenges. The unfortunate reality is developing these friendships is simply harder when interacting via Zoom or Slack versus in an office.
Solution: Scheduling virtual happy hours or game nights is an obvious solution and one that is great at getting everyone together to socialize. Another solution that does not involve formally blocking time on everyone’s calendar is using the Donut Slack extension. Donut will set “water cooler topics” in group channels, connect folks individually and ask them to introduce themselves, and even create remote team lunches!
Whether you’re a fan or not, remote work will continue to be very prevalent for software developers as we head into year three of the pandemic. I hope the benefits and downfalls laid out here provide some clarity on how to best navigate remote work to ensure a well-functioning software development operation! Fortunately, Exelaration has more than a decade of experience providing top-notch software solutions to our clients in a remote environment. See what our experts can do for your business.
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