Hello friend! As a developer, you’re likely no stranger to remote work. Even before the pandemic pushed companies en masse to work from home, remote work was on the rise across the tech industry.
Now, even as offices start to reopen, many developers don’t want to go back. The benefits of working remotely are simply too good to give up. And companies are listening.
As a proxy and web scraping expert who has worked remotely for the past five years, I’ve experienced these benefits firsthand. In this guide, I’ll share the key incentives that make remote work ideal for most developers like you and me. I’ll also explore why remote work is likely here to stay for much of the tech industry long after the pandemic winds down.
Remote Work Was Already Popular Pre-Pandemic
Remote work was gaining steam prior to Covid-19, but the pandemic accelerated its adoption significantly. According to Gallup, in 2020 the percentage of employees working remotely at least part of the time jumped from 31% to 71%.
Even before the pandemic, remote work had been growing steadily:
- 2017: 43% of employees worked remotely occasionally, a 4% increase over 2012 levels (ICS)
- 2015: 37% of companies offered remote work options, up from 30% in 2011 (OWLLabs)
- 2012 to 2016: remote job listings on FlexJobs increased overall by 79% (FlexJobs)
The writing was already on the wall that remote flexibility was the future of knowledge work. Covid-19 simply accelerated an existing trend.
Now, even as companies start mandating RTO (return to office) plans, many employees are pushing back—especially in the tech industry. According to Protocol, nearly 60% of tech employees said they‘d consider leaving their job if they weren‘t offered enough remote work flexibility.
Developers in particular have been vocal about not wanting to return full-time to the office. Why is this? What incentives make remote work so appealing to developers?
Why Developers Love Remote Work
There are many clear benefits that make remote work an ideal setup for most developers. Based on my experiences and conversations with fellow devs, here are some of the top incentives:
1. Flexible Scheduling Optimizes Productivity
Having control over your schedule is easily one of the biggest perks of remote work for developers. No longer confined to the standard 9-5, you can optimize your hours for when you personally are most productive and creative.
I tend to burn the midnight oil and get into a deep flow state at night when the world is quiet. Other devs I know are early risers who crush tasks first thing in the morning. Remote work lets you work when it suits you best.
Studies back up the productivity benefits as well. According to a 2-year study from Stanford, employees were 13% more productive when working from home due to the flexibility it provides.
The ability to take breaks when needed is also key. If you’re stuck on a complex bug and need to step away for a walk to refresh, you have that freedom. Those micro breaks add up to big benefits in creativity, focus, and problem-solving abilities.
2. Access to More Job Opportunities Globally
Pre-pandemic, tech hubs like Silicon Valley were swarming with high-paying developer jobs. But for devs located elsewhere, these opportunities were largely inaccessible.
Remote levels the playing field. Location no longer limits your job prospects. You can work for exciting companies in thriving tech hubs across the world right from your home office.
According to Hired‘s 2021 State of Software Engineering report, 45% of tech workers reported living outside a tech hub. This percentage has grown as remote work opens doors that were previously slammed shut by geography.
As a Python developer, for example, you could work for a budding startup in Austin, an e-commerce giant in Korea, and a nonprofit in Belgium all in the span of a few years—all without needing to relocate. The possibilities are endless.
3. Fewer Distractions Than an Office
Open office floor plans. Loud coworkers. Endless meetings. Offices can be a nonstop distraction for developers trying to focus.
Working remotely allows you to control your environment in a way that offices don‘t allow. You can play white noise to drown out external sounds, shut your door when you need to hyperfocus, and avoid being derailed by impromptu meetings.
According to research from Stanford, remote workers were able to focus for longer uninterrupted stretches at home, completing more work overall. Minimal distractions means devs stay in flow for longer.
Granted, home distractions like pets or kids can disrupt work too. But overall, remote workers report higher productivity and focus.
4. Better Work-Life Balance
Pre-pandemic, 70% of developers reported work-life balance as their biggest challenge (StackOverflow). Stress and burnout are rampant in the tech industry.
Remote work enables developers to take back control over their time and priorities. More time formerly spent commuting can now be used for hobbies, family, exercise, rest, and other wellness habits.
Developers can also live anywhere they want without needing to stay in major hubs for job access. Many choose locations closer to family or with lower costs of living.
Without time wasted commuting, you have the freedom to intertwine work and life in a way that works best for you. Doing work you find meaningful alongside better work-life integration leads to higher job satisfaction.
5. Work From Anywhere – Even Abroad!
Developers who want to travel or live abroad remote work makes it far easier.
With the rise of digital nomads, remote workers taking their work on the road, there are thriving expat communities all over the world. Places like Thailand, Portugal, Costa Rica, and Mexico roll out the welcome mat through special remote worker visas.
Pre-pandemic, the ability to work abroad permanently was quite limited. Now, entire programs cater towards remote worker visas. Barbados, for example, launched a 12-month remote worker visa after a successful pilot program.
As a developer, the world is now your oyster. You can design your lifestyle around traveling to and living in places that excite you.
6. Easier to Collaborate on Side Projects
Most developers work on passion projects outside their day job. This lets them experiment, build new skills, scratch a creative itch, or even build a side business.
Before remote work, finding collaborators for side projects was limited to people in your local area. Now by tapping into online communities, you can connect with talented developers around the world to collaborate.
7. Tax Advantages
Certain U.S. states like Texas and Florida have no state income tax, which helps remote developers keep more of their paycheck.
You may also be able to write off part of your rent if you use part of your home exclusively for work. Meals, transportation, and other costs can potentially be deductible as well.
Be sure to talk to a tax professional to understand how to maximize deductions as a remote worker. But done right, you can take advantage of tax laws that put money back in your pocket.
Challenges Remote Developers Face
Of course, remote work also comes with some downsides to consider:
Loneliness: Some devs miss the social bonds formed at an office. Coworking spaces can help, but extra effort is required to build connections.
Communication challenges: Conveying complex ideas over Slack or email is harder. Nuance can get lost. Hopping on a quick video call helps mitigate this.
Lack of separation: Without spatial boundaries, work can bleed too much into personal time. Setting a firm schedule and having a dedicated office area helps.
Career limitations: Certain roles like hardware engineering depend on in-person access. Make sure remote work aligns with your long-term career goals.
Tech issues: Debugging tech problems remotely adds frustration. Having backup internet access and equipment helps smooth issues.
Tax complexities: You may owe state taxes if you live/work in a different state from your employer. Talk to a tax expert to stay compliant.
Most developers find the perks outweigh the challenges. But remote work takes deliberate planning to mitigate the downsides.
Why Remote Work Will Outlast the Pandemic
The pandemic accelerated the remote work trend out of necessity. But now that companies see it works and employees love the benefits, virtual and hybrid arrangements are likely here to stay.
According to Forrester, over 25% of all professional jobs in North America will be remote by the end of 2021. They project that number rising to nearly 40% by 2025.
The genie is out of the bottle. Workers have gotten a taste of the freedom, autonomy, and flexibility remote work offers. And they don’t want to let it go. According to a Morning Consult survey, 65% of remote workers don’t want to return to the office full-time post-pandemic.
Companies are listening too. Tech giants like Microsoft, Spotify, Coinbase, and others have announced permanent remote or hybrid policies. They realize that attracting and retaining top talent means offering remote flexibility.
As a developer, remote work unlocks benefits like:
- Optimized productivity with flexible schedules
- Global access to exciting job opportunities
- Freedom to live anywhere – even abroad!
- Better work-life balance and less burnout
- Easier collaboration on side projects
- Tax benefits depending on location
The incentives are clear. While remote work won’t replace offices entirely, it is undoubtedly here to stay for the majority of the tech industry long after the pandemic winds down.
The future is flexible. Companies that force developers back to the office full-time will face steep attrition as talent flows to more progressive rivals. That‘s why most tech leaders predict a hybrid model becoming the norm.
As a developer, you hold the cards here. Don’t be afraid to advocate for the remote policies that will make you happiest and most productive. The data shows that what’s best for developers is best for tech businesses too.
The pandemic was a tragedy on many fronts. But if any good came from it, it was showing us that working remotely doesn‘t have to mean sacrificing productivity, innovation, or career growth.
For those who thrive in it, remote work represents the future. The incentives are simply too good for most developers to give up once they see the light. As more leaders realize this, expect flexible remote policies to spread even after the chaos of Covid-19 fades.
Exciting times are ahead. The future of work is remote – are you ready to embrace it?