Finding the Sweet Spot with Remote Work at Software Companies

See how to have confidence in your decision about remote work and scheduling flexibility.

remote worker

Re: remote work: Pandora’s box is open. That’s not to say that companies that were staunchly opposed to remote work before 2020 unleashed all sorts of evils when they permitted working from home so their operations could continue during COVID-19 shutdowns. However, they did allow their employees to experience a different way of working, and now that the knowledge of what it’s like is out there, it’s hard to put it back in the box.

Last year, the Pew Research Center found that even though pandemic restrictions had ended, 35 percent of workers who perform jobs that they could accomplish remotely were working remotely full-time. It’s a significant decrease from the start of the pandemic when 55 percent of employees were working from home. However, it’s a vast increase from the pre-pandemic world when only 7 percent of employees worked from home. Additionally, Pew found that 41 percent workers have “settled in” to a hybrid schedule, with some days in the office and others at home.

The McKinsey & Company American Opportunity Survey sheds some light on remote work’s appeal. This research underscores the importance employees place on autonomy over where and when they work. In fact, after pay and career opportunity, flexible working arrangements is the third criterion job seekers use when evaluating new jobs. It’s easy to understand. With remote work, there are no costs to fill up the tank to travel to work. Employees also reclaim the time they spent on their commutes, and there’s no need to dress in business casual to do the job. Furthermore, some employees insist they’re more productive when they’re free to set the terms for their workdays.

But employers see things differently.

A Resume Builder survey found that 37 percent of companies plan to increase the number of days an employee has to be in the office by 2025. The survey uncovered several drivers to get employees back at their desks in corporate facilities. Business leaders say when employees return to the office, they see improvements in communication, productivity, engagement, mental health, and morale, and a decrease in employee burnout.

But does it apply to software companies?

Software companies were ahead of their time with remote work. A DigitalOcean study reported that 89 percent of software developers in the U.S. worked remotely in 2019, at least part time, thanks to policies adopted in the 2010s. Additionally, 43 percent of developers that year said remote work was a top consideration before taking a new job, and 53 percent thought less of a company that didn’t permit working from home because it gave the impression the company was “behind the times.”

Software companies and their teams recognize that because coding and other software development tasks require focus, problem-solving, and creativity, it may be beneficial to allow coders and other professionals to set their own schedules rather than expect quality work on demand. Then there’s the very real consideration that different people perform optimally at different times of day, with some reporting that they work best through the night or when they get a 4 a.m. start.

As difficult as it may be with the hype about the current where-to-work-tug-of-war, you need to make decisions based on what’s best for your unique company. To do that, you need to perform a risk assessment – and not only to focus on the cybersecurity threats of having employees working from home or a local coffee shop. You need to take a holistic view of the impact of remote work on your organization, including how significant it is in helping you find and recruit talent beyond commuting distance, attracting top talent that insists on flexibility, and increasing employee job satisfaction. But also consider the downside, such as the greater challenges you may face with communication, collaboration, teamwork and a cohesive culture. And, yes, factor in the financial implications of office space that you aren’t utilized, at least part of the time.

Information on sentiment throughout your organization and hard data on finances and productivity will help you find the answer, whether it’s 100 percent remote work, everyone in the office, or, more likely, something in between that provides your company with maximum benefits.

Do you have tips or a creative solution for managing a remote or hybrid team – or convincing your employees to return to the office? We’d love to share your story with our audience. Contact us!

Bernadette Wilson

Bernadette Wilson, a DevPro Journal contributor, has 19 years of experience as a journalist, writer, editor, and B2B marketer.

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Bernadette Wilson

Bernadette Wilson, a DevPro Journal contributor, has 19 years of experience as a journalist, writer, editor, and B2B marketer.