Dice's 2020 Salary Report revealed that a large majority of technologists (93 percent) want to work remotely at least some of the time. That’s understandable: Remote work allows many technologists to maintain a better work-life balance, avoid an intense commute, and even earn more money.
However, only 60 percent of respondents had the opportunity to actually work from home. And that’s despite years’ worth of studies (which many managers and executives have surely read) suggesting that remote workers are happy, productive workers. So what gives?
First and foremost, not all employees are the same. While a website designer might not need to check in with their manager every day, other types of technologists—including software developers—are viewed as more effective if the team is working together in one physical space. The rise of modern, effective communication tools (i.e., Slack and video conferencing) doesn’t factor into this particular calculus; scrum masters and development-team managers in particular might feel that even a regular cadence of video calls with remote team members could open the door to miscommunication and inefficiency, especially in the midst of a high-stress, tight-deadline project.
Nonetheless, the Salary Report makes it clear that there’s a clear disparity between what technologists want and what employers are willing to offer. Although our survey data didn’t draw a strong link between job satisfaction and the ability to work remotely, it’s natural to assume that an employee who wants remote work and doesn’t get it might choose to leave for an employer that offers this benefit... and given companies’ current focus on retaining their technologists, that’s a very big deal.
Fortunately, the following proposals might convince even the most reluctant manager to allow you to work remotely. Many of these tips will keep open effective lines of communication and help maintain relationships with the team:
With remote employees, communicating incredibly often with your manager and other team members is key. It’s also important to make a point of communicating everything with colleagues in addition to your manager; too often, a technologist will only check in with their boss, and forget to regularly update their team on their latest moves.
Check-Ins with Team
Regular all-hands team meetings will convince everyone you can stay engaged from home. In addition, liberal use of a collaboration platform such as JIRA or Rally will keep everyone updated on progress.
Stick to Your Hours
Promise that you’ll always be available during “normal” working hours. (Alternatively, if you plan on working a few time-zones removed from your office, establish a schedule that works equally well for everyone.
Establish a Remote Routine
Make sure that you maintain your usual cadence of meetings, deliverables, and more. This is key; nothing will cool your manager’s interest in you remote-working than a failure to submit code or other work-product on time. (It’s important to establish a calm, consistent working space—no WePark!)
Chat Apps are Key
Instant-messaging apps such as Teams or Slack can play a huge role in closing any “communications gap” between remote workers and those in the office.
Successful remote work comes down to communication and careful planning. If you decide to ask your manager for more remote-work opportunities, you may need to agree to stringent monitoring, at least for the first few months. You’ll also have to demonstrate that you can remain as collaborative and effective as possible, no matter where you’re located. This will mean intense collaboration with not only your manager, but also your entire team to make your processes and workflow as visible as possible so that projects can stay successfully on-track.