Coding lends itself to remote work. The 2017 Stack Overflow developer survey reported that 11% of respondents worked as full-time remote workers. Remote work, however, can be tricky. Not only do you have to stay up-to-date, but your working environment might not always be conducive to optimum output. Here are some suggestions to common challenges, including where and when to work and how best to learn new skills.
1 – Place
If you are working remotely, ensure you are working in the correct space. Working from the bedroom, for example, is not conducive to a healthy working environment. You need a space that is designated for work. Alternatively, when you leave the “office”, you need to be able to leave your worry and stress behind. Working from a space that is meant for other things, such as a bedroom or a kitchen, doesn’t allow for sufficient separation between your work and personal life.
Ideally, commute out of the bedroom to another work space. If you can, make use of an office or a coffee shop. If that’s not possible, try and use a separate section of your place that is only used for work. Keep it free from distractions – e.g. TVs. Also, if you’re working from home, it helps if you get dressed in the morning – this demarcates your work from your personal life.
2 – Time
Time management is frequently a struggle, particularly when you work from home. It’s very easy to start doing the laundry in the middle of your working day, for example. As a full-time remote developer, chances are you are already putting in more hours than the average commuting office employee. A 2014 Canada Life Group survey reported that telecommuters saw themselves as more productive than if they had to work in an office.
One way around this is to try and stick to a schedule: have specific times for work and personal tasks – perhaps you want to try an application like Wunderlist to manage your to-do and household lists. But remember, because you’re working from home, you don’t have the usual distractions that happen in an office. You could remain cooped up in your house for days. Take frequent breaks outside the house.
3 – Learn
In a formal office environment, it is easy to bounce ideas off of each other when you are in a jam. Informal water cooler discussions often lead to new directions. It is also easier to approach someone, because you can physically get up and walk over to them.
One of the challenges of working remotely is learning remotely 100% of the time. You can’t go to a pause area and discuss a problem with a colleague over a cup of coffee. While remote workers are seldom lonely, they can be alone. They are solely responsible for their own growth as a developer.
Try and set aside a single hour a day to spend on learning something new. Take your lunch hour (that is to say if you even take lunch) and spend it on self-improvement. It will serve a dual purpose. It will give your mind a break from what you are busy with at work and it will allow you to focus otherwise dead time to your advantage.
It is here too, that the right learning platform is essential. Here, online programs might work best for you.
4 – Learning Support
When it comes to learning, an important aspect is access to support. That is where the real juice is. Long distance institutions have been doing the same thing for years. You have an educator that is accessible via email. You can expect to receive feedback within a couple of days (or a week or two). How does that translate to online courses? Do they offer the same level of support? Do you have access to more than just help desk support? Do you have access to a professional developer that can review your work and provide same-day/next-day feedback (depending on your geographical location).
Perhaps you may want to consider an online coding bootcamp, which are structured, mentor-guided learning platforms that replicate the in-class experience. If your goal is to change careers (while maintaining your current job in the interim) or to upskill in an adjacent area from your key proficiencies, an online bootcamp is ideal.
5 – Coding fatigue
Lastly, how does one deal with the overwhelming nature of learning a new programming language or a new technology? Professionally, you write code all day long. Then, in order to learn something new, you need to write more code.
Choosing a good online course will break up the work items or modules into more manageable pieces. This will allow you to make real progress by being able to start a module, and complete it without spending hours and hours working at understanding it. Combining this with proper time management, will allow you to avoid the situation of code fatigue.
For remote developers, the crux of the matter is your support structure. Where a teacher isn’t traditionally available with online courses, it comes down to support. Does the online course provide enough support to allow you to learn?
- The area you learn in must be conducive to learning.
- The course you are taking must be easy consumed.
- The platform you take that course on needs to lend itself to proper and quick support.
As a remote developer, you need to take all these into account when deciding on a platform to work with.