Work remotely has long been a dream for those who struggle through long commutes, annoying office colleagues, and dull-as-doornails conference room meetings. Does it live up to the hype?
The experience is different for each person depending on their job and their career. If you’re a web developer, what could you expect from the remote working life?
It just so happens that I’m married to a software engineer who works remotely. Technically, he’s a dev-ops engineer rather than someone in web design, but much of the experience is the same. Here’s a peek into his favorite perks.
Cultivating a Dream Workstation
We all love creating our ideal work environments, but for any web developer, that starts with great computer equipment. My husband has cultivated his home office piece by piece: great chair, long curved monitor for seamlessly using multiple windows, top-speed internet connection, you name it.
The same goes for his working environment at any given time. Without worry about annoying his colleagues (except me), he can put on whatever music, videos, or other ambiance helps him focus.
Balancing Daily Schedules
My husband works as an employee, not a freelancer, who wound up working from home when COVID-19 hit. Schedule-wise, life is similar while working from home compared to working in an office.
His days are split between meetings and individual working time. Most days involve his morning scrum with one or two additional meetings or calls throughout the day. He spends the majority of his time working on his tasks for that week.
While he has less ability to customize his working hours than freelancers do, there’s still more freedom when he doesn’t have a commute to tack onto each end of every day. There are rare occasions when he’s working during evenings or weekends due to others’ time zones or special code deployments. Other than that, he can tweak his schedule each day as long as he’s roughly within the realm of 9-5.
Since he’s part of a team, my husband is constantly on collaborative platforms. They’re all tasked with keeping in touch with the team, helping each other resolve issues, and responding to inter-company needs.
For his company, their top tools include Slack and Zoom as well as a task tracker that keeps everyone’s to-do lists together. Freelancers need these essentials too so we can stay in touch with clients, though we have our own choice of tools.
Dedicated Employee Bonding Time
Some people who transition from an office to working from home miss the social atmosphere of working in the office, like casual conversations and morning chats. My husband’s company wanted to maintain that fellowship while everyone works from home.
With that goal, they established social opportunities for remote teams. His team gets on Zoom for “water cooler chats” every so often, as well as occasional game nights and other team building activities. These events help break up the daily grind and give them productive, team-bonding breaks where they spend quality time together.
How to Become a Remote Web Developer
If the life of a software developer working from home sounds like a dream, it’s easier to get in than you might think. Start with these essential steps.
Choose Your Educational Path
Unlike many fields, web development doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree for all entry-level jobs. Some people choose that path, but there are other options for becoming a developer too. Many companies hire developers based on what they know, not whether they have degrees.
Look for apprenticeship-like programs for example, which provide on-the-job training. Learn to code on your own with online courses or books. It might be tough to become a full stack developer that way, but it will give you a start to get your foot in the door.
Opt for Freelancing or Employment
As I mentioned, my husband is fully remote but he’s an employee, whereas I’m a freelancer. There are pros and cons to each.
Employees with a remote job have consistent, stable income along with benefits like health insurance, paid vacation, all the basics. They’re still working from home but have less control over their schedules.
Freelancers, however, are one-person businesses. They recruit their own clients and complete ongoing or project work, balancing multiple projects at any one time. Their income isn’t as predictable but they have more control over their schedules and workloads.
Identify Top Targets
Whether you choose freelancing or employment, start searching for opportunities as soon as you have the development knowledge you need. Prefer employment? Specifically look for employers who hire remote workers. There are plenty of development companies aiming to find remote employees or whose entire workforces are remote.
Prefer freelancing? Go on a client hunt. Start networking with local businesses that might need development work. Set up your clear strategy for finding clients, submitting proposals, negotiating contracts, and tracking your work.
Establishing the Work Life You Want
Most of us spend around one-third of our waking lives at work. That’s a lot of time to be unhappy, struggling to push through each minute. When web developers and other employees work remotely, they have more control over their environment and their work lives.
Whether you’re a homebody or dream of the digital nomad life, whether you’re seasoned in web development or just starting out, you can take steps to design your career the way you want.