Midwire

Ruby, Elixir, Macintosh and Other Technical Maunder.

Software Development - Onsite or Remote?

I’ve been in the Software Development business since 1990 and seen a lot of changes in the industry. From GUI-less operating systems and using the “C” language to the world-wide-web and high-level expressive languages like Ruby, things have changed. Some things have come full circle like client-server architectures to ‘the cloud’. One thing that has changed for the better and to its logical conclusion is the ability to telecommute.

Back in the day there was no choice. The internet did not exist and in order to make a living you had to take the time to travel to work everyday, spending your own money for gasoline, wear and tear on your car and sit in a tiny cubicle with no window to write code on a monochrome text-only green or amber colored CRT (Cathode Ray Tube). They weren’t called monitors back then.

Now we live in the age of the “Internet Superhighway” (another throwback term), and we have the option to work remotely from a home office. Taking advantage of this option provides many benefits:

  • Environmental: Far fewer people are required to travel for work, using combustion powered vehicles which are bad for the environment.
  • Financial: This benefit is two-fold in that telecommuting saves money not only for the employer who doesn’t need to provide office space, computers, electricity, water, restrooms, etc., but it also saves money for the employee who no longer has to spend money on gasoline and car maintenance. Employers typically save between 30 to 70 percent on employees who telecommute even part time.
  • Time: The employee can now often save hours each day on commuting and spend that time working or with family.
  • Productivity: Workers that work from home tend to be happier and more productive. Telecommuters are less likely to be absent from work and can more easily manage their time. It is also proven that telecommuters produce higher quality work. In addition employers who are willing to hire remote workers have a much larger pool of high quality talent from which to choose.

Some employers like to throw up the “what about security” issue. With modern day VPNs security is not a concern unless you don’t trust your employee to begin with. Who wants to work for an employer that doesn’t trust you?

All of these jobs nowadays that require software developers to work “onsite” astound me. In this day and age to require software developers to drive to a brick-and-mortar building everyday is simply ridiculous. That kind of policy is a sign of one of two things:

  1. The employer is ignorant of the benefits of telecommuting.
  2. The employer has management issues. Management doesn’t trust their employees to work independently and report their time honestly.

So, to all of the recruiters/head-hunters that keep trying to ‘relocate’ me in order to make a few bucks… give it up! I don’t work onsite!

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