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Software Developer dilema – To remote or not to remote

Remote & Travel

Remote what?

Millennials. Digital Nomads. Travel. Instagram. Freedom. Especially freedom. All the things that make the dreams of the current generation. They all seem so easy to obtain, promoted by many and envied by most. And all become possible by one thing: being able to work remotely.

But what does working remotely mean? 

If you take a look at all those travelling blog posts, all the digital nomads that spend years going from place to place, you would think this means just travelling, enjoying the world, having a lot of free time. Your income is a passive one that comes from different activities related with travel.

If you look a few years back, working remotely was present mostly in the IT world, and it was not seen necessarily as remote work, but as freelancing. Being a freelancer usually meant you were taking a risk at being self employed, finding your clients/project on platforms that put you in contact with them and often work more than you would do for a regular 9 to 5 job. This could have easily meant that you don’t have so much spare time. Travelling the world while freelancing would have not been ideal, as you would end up spending all the time working and probably more tired.

Two different images of the remote worker are presented above, one ideal and one that is not, and all I can say about them is the following: they are not the rule and sometimes they are exaggerated pictures. But, people usually use them as reason before deciding if they should work remotely or not. The truth is no two remote jobs are the same. But, they do have the most important thing in common, also self-implied in the name, which is WORK. It requires the same effort and implication as an office job and, of course, it requires your time. The one thing that it does not require is you presence in a certain location. And with this comes the fun part: you can be anywhere in the world while doing this, for anytime you want.

Working remotely is not easy. Maybe I should not do it. Or should I?

We all know that not all jobs can qualify for remote work (imagine if doctors could do that, we would live in a whole different world). As a software developer, hearing this, you would ask: but hey, why is not everyone working remotely if it is so cool? Well, because it is not for everyone. Or is it?

1. “There aren’t so many remote jobs

Well, yes, it is not that easy to find the ideal remote job, as it is not that common within the companies. In the search process, you want to be as picky as with an office job, but when the number of the ones available is considerably lower, finding the best job could take longer time. Luckily, with popular platforms like AngelList (https://angel.co) or Stackoverflow Developer Jobs (https://stackoverflow.com/jobs) that post announcements for remote jobs, the search has become easier for developers.

2. “I need people around me”

Imagine your current job in an office: you greet your colleagues in the morning, have a cup of coffee with them doing a recap of the game from the night before, going to lunch or have a watercooler break where you find your boss and ask him about his kids or tell him about some new technology you found and want to use in your next project.

When you work remotely, this routine changes with you spending most of the day by yourself and your work. I remember when I started doing this, for the first two months I was thinking of quitting because not having someone to talk to during the day would, literally, make me sad. I knew I needed to make a change, so I started to make habits that resemble the ones from my office days: before starting work I met with some friends for coffee and I tried going out for lunch almost every day, sometimes even with some of my old colleagues. It was socialising as if I was working in an office, only the desk was at my home.

So, if you are a people person, working remotely might be a little difficult to get accustomed to, but not impossible.

3. “I keep getting blocked”

Your team mates might not answer to you as soon as you ask them something. In an office, you colleague is right there, one desk away and you can ask him anything anytime and you know he will answer to you immediately. But when you work remotely, you communication happens via an online tool and you do not know when you will get the answer and you can easily get blocked in your work. But is this such a bad thing? If you would be in an office, you would probably just wait until you get unblocked. But you are at home and know that for a while you don’t have a task you can easily take care of some errands, cook yourself some lunch or even work out. There is no time lost.

4. “No personal life”

The line between your personal life and the professional one is very very thin, mostly to non-existent. When you need to work sometimes your brain gets into home mode and viceversa. You might need to finish a task but you find yourself answering the door and talking with neighbours that need something from you. Or you are cooking lunch and you get an urgent bug to fix. Working remotely is flexible, but because of this you might find yourself working at any hour in the day. There is no solution for this, unfortunately, it is just a question if this lifestyle is your cup of tee or not. Food for thought.

Working remotely has some advantages.

The above are just a few of the things that characterise a remote job. And these reasons can mean so little when you see the bigger picture and look at the good parts of it. Let’s see.

1. The main thing: is called remote. 

 And this means you can work from anywhere. In the world(!). Here are a few examples on how to use the flexibility on location.

  • All the jobs have vacation days, usually a maximum of 30 per year. If you are a traveler, vacation days means you can only travel for a limited amount of time. Well, now imagine that besides those 30 days, you can travel to other countries for as long as you want, even a year. Of course, this comes with the cost of time, because you would need to work during week days. How I do it: when I travel to other countries, usually there is a negative timezone difference so it is best to start working early in morning, to synchronise with some of my colleagues. This means that my working hours might end at maximum 2pm and after that is explore the city time. It would be just like a lazy morning in vacation when you start your day late. I can call myself lucky as my husband works remotely too and we are able to do this together, but I have friends that do this by themselves and their experiences are as good as ours. Tip: there are a lot of companies that organise retreats for remote workers (https://beunsettled.co is on my todo list) or websites that help you ease into discovering remote friendly cities (like https://nomadlist.com), even with co-working spaces for you to meet new people like yourself.
  • If you are a family person and don’t get much time with you parents/grandparents because they are far away, you can visit them for a couple of weeks and spend quality time with them in the evening. I know I did that a few times.
  • If your spouse has to travel for work purposes for a longer period of time, you can easily go with him/her and work from the same city and not spend time apart.

2. You don’t have to lose time commuting to work.

No time lost finding a parking place at work. No rush hour.

3. You have flexible working hours, usually a number of them per week.

This means that if you need to do a personal thing, you can go do it without asking your boss to let you or even go take a day off for it. You will still do your job when you will have the time, but it is on your own pace, not a fixed one. I remember when working in an office job I needed to take a few day offs just to take care of some tax papers, to change my ID or to take the driving license exam. I would’ve preferred that those days would be spent in a vacation.

4. You are more productive at your work.

Sometimes you might find yourself finishing you work sooner, because there are less distractions than in an open space office (like most of them in the tech world). And if you finish your task sooner, this means more free time for yourself.

5. You can work with your friends.

If you are lucky enough to have them work remotely also. I can call myself lucky in this case and I can say that the days when we get together to work resemble a lot working in an office, even better. During the breaks our conversations are always good, with the best advises since we know each other really well and sometimes even fun.

6. No limits in job search.

Because you are not limited by location, your job search does not resume to the city you live in, but in the whole world. And if you live in Eastern Europe for example, you can have a bigger pay check by working for a company from the Western Europe or even United States or Canada.

7. You have more spare time

More time to spend with your spouse, with your family, with your friends. More time to work out or to do that tutorial you always wanted to do.

 

So, would your work remotely or not? Why?

 

 


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Featured photo by Domenico Loia on Unsplash.

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Remote & Travel