Pre-pandemic, most software developers were office workers, with remote-only opportunities coming from freelance gigs. But in 2020, things shifted. Companies discovered the benefits of eliminating real estate costs, hiring people from remote locations, and rearranging their workflow to make operations efficient for a team in different time zones. Although there is a current trend to bring people back to the office, tech is still the most remote-friendly industry.
In fact, many software developers now prefer working from the comfort of their homes. But how do their workdays differ from those who work on-site? What benefits can they enjoy with the given flexibility? And what challenges, if any, do they face?
TripleTen spoke with a few software engineers who have been working remotely over the past years to answer these questions. Here’s what we’ve found out.
Daily life for software engineers
When your employer is located in another time zone, your working day may start at some unconventional hours, but it can also bring new opportunities. “My typical day begins with tutoring TripleTen students, having meetings, and answering a lot of questions,” says Julian Hernandez, a tutor at TripleTen for the Software Engineering Bootcamp and a web developer at Meta Interactive. “I usually do that before getting down to my full-time job. I’m three hours behind my company, so I only start at noon.” After finishing work, Julian usually heads to the gym.
For Dom Vidovic, a senior front-end engineer and blogger, things work differently. He eases into his day before sitting down to handle tasks. “I wake up in the morning, do some reading, meditate, and then work. During the day I usually go out, then come back and work again from 6 or 7-ish p.m. till I go to sleep.” Dom also manages to squeeze in a workout, meals, and everything else he needs to do.
As a full-stack software engineer at Verkada, Zyad Elgohary’s schedule is a little less flexible, as he has a couple of meetings to attend during the day.
“In the mornings, there’s usually some kind of meeting over Zoom,” Zyad says. “It could be like a 15- to 20-minute stand-up when everybody in the team talks about what they’ve been working on. After 3 p.m., there’s usually another meeting. Sometimes it’s a biweekly check-in meeting with a manager or a strategy meeting for the team. It depends on the day of the week.”
In between, Zyad does what he refers to as “actually working.” He dedicates at least three to four hours to coding and writing documentation. He also takes breaks to get food, work out, and socialize.
Benefits of remote work
Many software engineers launch their careers by doing internships and working from an office. But after a while, as Dom explains, it feels great to move to more comfortable and flexible environments and get the best of both worlds: a stable job and freedom.
Working from home is way, way more comfortable because you don’t need to waste time commuting. And you don’t have that feeling of coming home from work and being all worn out. Once you’re done, you want to get out of the house and hang out because you’re still full of energy.
Now Dom enjoys the freedom of traveling and working from various locations. As a remote software engineer, you don’t have to be in the same state or country to be hired by most U.S.-based companies.
In fact, the benefits can be so tempting that they become a prerequisite for some developers. Julian admits that he has passed on some lucrative job offers in favor of the more flexible schedule that comes with remote work. “I value it so much,” he says. “And I accept the fact that I may have missed out on opportunities career-wise to have more time for my other life goals.”
Cons of remote work
Obviously, working remotely comes with flexibility, the ability to travel and all that jazz, but working in person has lots of perks, too,” says Zyad. “You learn loads by working closely with other people, which is so important. You also get to form great connections, and your productivity is better.
Zyad also says that the office he used to work for felt like home. There were days when he didn’t want to go home, what with all the snacks, collaborative office space, and the chance to chat with colleagues.
But here he is now, enjoying a three-monitor setup at his home office. So as a software developer, you can consider rotating between on-site and remote work to see what works best for you.
Work-life balance when working from home
Software engineers working from home insist that having a physical boundary between your work and life is good for you. “I dedicate a space at my home to work, and I don’t work anywhere else,” Julian says. “I limit this location to a working headspace, and keep my bedroom, living room, etc. for non-working mentalities.”
Zyad also believes that separating life and work helps him improve both. “I used to have my computer in my bedroom — it was terrible and I was very unproductive. So I ended up moving the whole thing to a different room. Now I wake up, wash my face and only after I’m done waking up do I go downstairs and start working.”
Programmers agree that their jobs give them much flexibility. But this comes with responsibility — to find some kind of structure or system that will hold your working day together. And it shouldn’t be all work and no play, either. Don’t forget to meet other people if that’s what you usually do.
Our pitch to you
Think you’ve got what it takes? Check out TripleTen’s Software Engineering Bootcamp! No previous tech experience is required. Learn the skills that will help you land that remote coding role today!