The power of remote developers: how to convince employers it’s better for their business

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During my office hours with Fred Ngo he asked a really great question — How do you land a gig where the employer is okay with you being remote? 

Working remotely is nothing new. Talented developers have been working remotely at large companies, small companies, agencies, startups or as freelancers since the internet became fast enough.

The problem is landing that type of dream gig. You can work in your pajamas all day. You can work while traveling the world. As long as you’re able to execute nobody cares where you are. So how do you convince employers to let you work remotely?

Realizing that it’s possible

Surprisingly, the biggest barrier is knowing that working remotely is possible. Although it’s something developers want they never attempt to make it happen. 

37 Signals hires remote workers and they claim they wouldn’t have been able to build a world class team with out it. In fact, limiting your search to local developers makes it that much harder to hire.

Many large companies hire remote developers too. When I was working at one, the most talented developers I knew were remote. They would fly in sometimes for face-to-face meetings, but the majority of their time was spent working remotely. Employers were more than happy to keep great talent in any way they can.

GroupTalent has tons and tons of projects where remote developers are fine. These employers have no problem working with a developer remotely. Some even prefer it. There’s always Elance and oDesk, but people who hire there tend to pay quite less.

Convincing the employer

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Working remotely is always a tough sell. In business, face-to-face communication is the most important thing in getting something done. It’s just not the most efficient. The overhead of meeting in real life just to make a decision is killer.  Unfortunately, that’s how most companies operate. They have an office that they expect its employees to be at every single day from 9-5. So in case people need to talk in real life they can.

Help them realize how inefficient that working environment is and how it disrupts your deep thinking process. A typical work day is something like this:

  • Get into the office at 9:30-10am
  • Grab a coffee, check your email and surf the internet
  • Now it’s 11am and you start writing some code
  • At noon you’re interrupted because your co-workers want to go eat lunch
  • After lunch you grab another coffee and you’re finally back to your desk at 1:30pm
  • Check some more email, surf some more internet and get back into writing code
  • You’ll get sucked into some hour long meetings at 3 or 4pm
  • You get back to your desk and write a little more code
  • It’s now 6pm and time to go home

The amount of time you’re physically coding is minimal. The office life is a huge time sink. Why would you (a super talented developer) ever subject yourself to that? That’s for mediocre developers. Paul Graham wrote an excellent essay on the maker’s schedule. He only wrote code from dinner to 3am because nobody could interrupt him.

So don’t be silent. Let the employer know what type of work environment makes you efficient. Let them know how much more money you’re able to make for their business when you have that type of freedom. Don’t let them restrict you to make their own lives easier. After all, being in an office is only convenient for the manager. They want to keep tabs on you and feel superior. But at the end of the day it only hurts the business. Make sure they know that.

Are you a remote worker? Feel free to share your experience!

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