Developers: tomorrow all remote?
This pandemic from hell has proven that mass remote work is possible. And we developers are in a very good position to do just that. Let’s take a ten-year leap into the future. Is it possible that we could be all remote?
We’ve been in this virus shit for months. I went crazy after a couple of weeks. And it’s far from over.
That said, all this shit has proven that mass remote work is viable. It even works for a lot of unexpected jobs. But it also and especially work for us. The privilege of being a developer is also to be able to work from anywhere with an internet connection. Your job is perfect, tailor-made. One workstation, one connection and lets go.
And the fact that it works that well is important. We’ll probably all be remote tomorrow because our job is perfect for it. I don’t think we’re allowed to complain today. While millions of people are losing their jobs, we’re busy pushing code on the Internet.
And forget about this pandemic, we know that developers are becoming more and more remote. Developers like it very much and there are examples of that everywhere. This was the case before and this pandemic is only accelerating the great conversion of devs to remote. And the tech giants are not holding back this revolution anymore.
Giants leading the way
I remember the silicon valley giants (GAFA) forcing their team to come on-site. It’s because of these giants, and their allergy to the remote, that silicon valley has become a mess. A place where if your haircut costs 320$, it’s a bargain. You don’t want to know how much the rent is.
But this year, COVID-19 enjoy the sunny weather of California too. Even the giants had to adapt, and pretty quickly. Nobody had a choice.
Soon the announcements started raining. Facebook announces head-on that in five to ten years time half of its staff will be on permanent remote. Facebook, it’s 50K employees right now. Then Twitter, Slack and Square announced that after the pandemic, all their employees have the right to continue to work remotely if they wish. And they have the right to do it for life!
And for some time now, announcements like this, coming from the biggest names in tech, have been going on. Feel like a big shift towards remote work is well underway.
And these announcements are more than important for today’s topic. Why ? Because tech always follows his giants. If Google says the future of devs is remote, a lot of companies will immediately follow. Even more will in the future. It’s systemic, the GAFAs move, the others follow.
We’ll probably all be remote tomorrow because the revolution is underway among the giants. But actually, looks like this revolution is already here.
Already the new norm ?
I’m only talking about the future, but the future is now. A recent study on 4,500 developers by Digital Ocean reports crazy numbers.
Remote is already the new norm for developers. And it’s not just something they prefer. It’s something they demand from the companies. 86% of these developers are currently working remotely to some degree, 1/3 full time.
And you have to understand that this study is a pre-covid apocalypse study. Imagine the numbers if the study was done now? We’ll probably all be remote tomorrow because it’s already the case today. And everybody seems to agree that this is just the beginning.
Some even go further than that. The next big technology platform is not be a product. But a place: your home! And when you see all the specialized remote sites, and how they’re overflowing with jobs, this theory seems to be true.
- Remote.co : https://remote.co/remote-jobs/developer/
- Remoteok.io : https://remoteok.io/remote-dev-jobs
- StackOverflow : https://stackoverflow.com/jobs/remote-developer-jobs
- JustRemote : https://justremote.co/remote-developer-jobs
- Remote.io : https://remotive.io/remote-jobs/software-dev
- Remoteleaf : https://remoteleaf.com/
- WeWorkRemotely : https://weworkremotely.com/categories/remote-programming-jobs
- WorkingNomads : https://www.workingnomads.co/jobs
So the next question is, when do we get back to normal?
At this point, this question is obsolete. There are issues that are more topical. What if the definition of normal has changed? What if we’re already in the new normal?
What do you think?
To try to answer that question, I asked you directly. On my twitter, I mostly shitpost about dev in general. I often talk about the blog and sometimes I ask questions to everyone.
And sometime people answer! So I asked about full remote in the future. It’s a sample of more than 1,000 developers who answered.
The answer is clear, very few (7%) are against remote. The majority (47%) want to be able to do remote work in a partial way. And 42% of you want permanent remote work.
And that is the decisive point of a massive shift to remote work in tech. If we all really want it, it will happen. We’ll probably all be remote tomorrow because the majority of developers like the idea.
Remember Twitter’s announcement to make all its employees remote? Exactly at the same time of the announcement, the “twitter job” request made a crazy spike on Google trends. All the developers wanted to join Twitter after its remote turn.
I’m part of the minority here. I like working directly with people. I like it for a pretty simple reason.
The human question
Permanent isolation doesn’t work well on me. I think we’re all pretty different. And I totally hear the argument that working alone allows you to focus and go faster. I agree even. But in the long run I have a hard time maintaining that focus without going crazy.
I find it hard to feel like I’m part of a team alone in front of my desk. There’s not a lot of people in our field who think like that, and I’m dealing with my weirdness. I’d rather talk to a real person. Mainly to come and piss people off when I don’t have anything to do with my coffee.
Is it possible to create a real team and a corporate culture remotely? Apparently so. Today there are teams that define themselves as remote. Big names like GitLab, Elastic and Basecamp have the majority, if not the totality of their staff working remotely. And it’s working great for them! These teams have created their identity around remote work and they are proud of it.
But does that work with everyone? Some people think the amazingly good productivity we saw during VIDOC is an illusion. The result of employees who didn’t want to be laid off during a crisis. According to them, there is no substitute for human contact to move forward quickly.
As always, I think the answer lies in the nuances. No one wants to be forced into an unpleasant situation. Everyone wants their freedom.
I’m convinced that what most developers want is not to be forced into full remote. But simply more choices. There’s a HUGE difference between going full remote and giving the choice, a few days a week, to be remote. I think we heading towards more partial remote in the future. Organizations that were completely allergic to the idea have, or are going to, move in that direction.
It’s certain that in less than 10 years, in our sector in particular, it will concern 100% of developers and 100% of the companies that employ them. The remote choice will be mandatory. And I think that’s good news because it will give us total control over our environment.
We’ll probably all be remote tomorrow because developers want more freedom in their job. It also gives more freedom to the company that employs the developers. With a system with so many advantages, it’s hard not to see it as a system with a great future.
We’re already there. Before the pandemic it was already an impressive phenomenon. Since 2020, it’s gone exponentially. I can’t wait to see how things will evolve when this crisis is really over.