The coronavirus pandemic led to an explosion of work-from-home setups for developers, as many were forced to leave the office for the comfort of their couches. Even with the pandemic mostly in our rearview, however, remote work continues to be popular and appears as if it is here to stay.
While working remotely has its benefits – such as giving developers more freedom with their schedules – it can be a challenge, especially when it comes to productivity. That is why we will discuss several tips for remote developers to help you make the most of this increasingly popular work setup.
In addition, many developers collaborate with other programmers from different regions of the globe, so the tips inside this software development tutorial will be helpful in these scenarios as well.
Remote Developer Tips
Whether you just got a new job as a remote developer or have been working from home for a while now, here are some tips to help you boost productivity and achieve overall success while programming away from the office.
Create A Designated Workspace
One of the biggest challenges you will face as a remote developer, programmers, or software engineer, is separating your workspace from the rest of your home. To avoid blurring the lines between work and home, you should do your best to create a designated workspace that serves as your office and nothing else. This lets you replicate the feel of an employer’s office, makes you feel like you are actually at work, and makes it easier to leave your office (and the tasks associated with it) once the day is over.
You do not need a huge home to pull off this tip. Even if you live in a studio apartment, you could put a small desk in a corner and designate that as your workspace. Taking things even further, you could make a rule that you only use that small desk on Monday through Friday strictly for work purposes. By having that workspace, you can make it easier to concentrate on tasks and avoid one of the biggest obstacles of remote work: distractions.
Work A Consistent Schedule
Not having a designated workspace can blur the lines between work and home life, and so can not having a consistent schedule.
Even though one of the top work-from-home benefits is having more control over your time, some programmers may find themselves working extra hours since switching to a remote position. To avoid burnout, set a consistent schedule, so you know when work begins and ends. Sticking to a schedule can also increase focus and let you know that there are specific times when all your focus should be on coding, for example, and not errands.
Avoid open schedules, as they can lead to excess work, poor time management, less focus, poor work-life balance, and burnout.
Get A Second Phone Number
It can be hard to gain the ideal work-life balance if your team members or project manager are constantly calling your phone at all hours of the day and night. You can avoid this common remote work issue by getting a second phone line used strictly for work purposes. It does not have to be an actual second phone with a separate SIM card, either, as a simpler service like Skype or Google Voice could suffice.
Tell your colleagues this is the phone number they can call with any questions pertaining to work. Even better, give them an exact schedule of when they can call and expect you to answer the phone.
Take Breaks from Programming
Spending most of your work time on a computer does not shield you from the potential health problems of overworking. Sure, you may not be lifting heavy machinery in an oil field, but you can still set yourself up for future health issues if you overstress yourself and do not get the proper rest you need.
Many developers make the mistake of hunching over their desks for several hours at a time. This can lead to fatigue, plus eye, neck, back, and shoulder problems. Take advantage of your remote setup and schedule various short breaks throughout the day to avoid such potential health problems. Not only will you allow yourself to recharge your brain and body, but you will also boost productivity by ensuring you are not too tired to get the job done.
Keep In Touch With Team Members
Working remotely requires extra effort from developers in terms of communication and collaboration. By being at home, you are physically separated from others, which reduces human interaction and cuts down on communication that typically comes from being together in an office setting. As such, you will need to make a conscious effort to reach out to team members daily or at least every other day to keep everyone on the same page.
Use your team’s preferred communication avenue to post daily updates of tasks you have accomplished and what is next on your plate. For instance, you could post a daily status update to Slack, such as: “Finished reviewing the XYZ page for errors and planning on testing ABC tomorrow.”
By posting a simple status update, you let your team know where you stand and what needs to be done. You also give your project manager a heads-up on progress so they can determine if everything is on schedule.
Keeping in touch with team members on work items is just one way to communicate. You can also communicate with them socially to schedule meetups or improve morale and bonding, which can increase productivity as well.
We have a review of the popular collaboration tool, Microsoft Teams if you are looking for a tool to communicate with your team more effectively: Review of Microsoft Teams.
Ask For Feedback
The distance between you and your colleagues creates the need for increased feedback so you can gauge your performance as a developer. Without feedback and constructive criticism from teammates and management via frequent code reviews, for example, you may not improve your development skills, which will not do you any favors as you look to climb up this (or another company’s) ladder in the future.
As you get feedback, you will probably be asked to give it as well. When giving feedback, remember that the goal is to help others improve versus offending them.
There may come times when you have to give and receive feedback from a developer, project manager, stakeholder, or other team member that you do not see eye to eye with. If this happens, ask for feedback from other, less biased developers, so you truly understand what needs to be improved.
Avoid Multitasking With Home And Work Tasks
Can you get more errands done when working at home? Sure, but you want to avoid mixing errands and other home tasks with work, as it can distort focus, lead to mistakes, and make it harder to concentrate.
If you want to get your laundry done on certain days, fine. Just be sure to do your laundry during a quick break, not when working on something important.
Dress Professionally For Virtual Meetings
If you have a video call with a current or prospective client, be sure to dress the part of a professional. Even though you may code in your pajamas, you want to exude a positive impression when collaborating with others who can impact your bottom line and career trajectory.
Never Stop Learning
As mentioned, one of the biggest benefits of working remotely as a developer is that it can lead to more control over your schedule and increased free time. Use some of that free time to advance your education so you can become a more well-rounded developer. This can increase your value to the team and open the door for better, higher-paying development gigs.
There are several ways to learn new skills or advance your developer education online. You can find courses, one-on-one training, and much more to boost your programming, tech, and even soft skills. Ask your employer if they reimburse online training. If so, you could improve your marketability as a developer without paying a penny out of your own pocket.
We have a list of some the Best Online Courses to Learn C# if you want to improve your C# or .NET programming skills.
Tools for Remote Developers
Now that you have some tips on how to increase productivity and collaboration as a remote programmer or member of a remote software development team, check out our list of the Best Tools and Software for Remote Developers.