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Is it possible that the software industry could become nearly 100% remote?

ben profile image Ben Halpern twitter logo github logo ・1 min read

Not to say that remote work is a flawless solution, but it is certainly a trend gaining in popularity.

I imagine there will always be a purpose for offices and hubs to an extent, but could we see a reality where the normal way software is built is from wherever the developer happens to be located and meeting up IRL is not an everyday norm?

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Personally, I don't want the industry to go fully-remote. I like the experience of working in the same physical space as my team members. Coworking spaces aren't bad, but they're still not the same, socially, as working in the same room as members of your own company/team.

At one point in my life, I thought I would enjoy working remotely. But in the years since, I've come to realize that I just wouldn't be happy working fully remotely. Flexibility to work remotely when needed is pretty much a must for me, but even the benefit of getting 2+ hours of commute time back isn't enough for me to do it full-time.


I did remote work for 2 years and eventually came to a similar conclusion. I like the passive ambience of an office space of people getting work done. But sometimes I need to get deep work done and the office is just not conducive for that (unless you're given an office with a door).


Similar experience. After a year of living the dream of going to work unshaven in my underwear I realized that dream sucked; for me. “The Perfect Work Commute” by Frank Font


Same here. Never worked fully remote, but one day a week was already enough for me. I like to meet people in the office, have a chat and go out for lunch with others.


Give people a choice, the ones who want remote let them do remote, the ones who prefer to work in an office let them do so. And a mix is of course also very well possible.


I don't think it can go 100%. But yes it's certainly on the rise.

Many people (a substantial number I'd say) still believe that people don't work unless you make them. I guess that ideology alone makes thousands of people go to office everyday.

Then there's also the kind which believe in the very foundation of offices as institutions. They'd go in every day regardless of productivity and expect others to come too.

May be things might change when millenial population gains leadership or upper management positions.


This. I agree here, the core issue is rather the work ethics and that productiveness is individual.

For example, I work two days of the week at home and three at the office. This is how I found myself best to balance productivity with my personal demands.


Now everyday due to corona and I already get performance decrease :-(


When organizations leave the culture of micromanagement that is when the industry will be 100% ready to become remote friendly. Real Estate will get a hit for sure if IT embraces 100% remote culture. So existing orgs who have invested in their infrastructure will tend support in-office culture. It is good one for upcoming organizations.


Yeah real estate agents for sure won't be happy with remote ...


I think it is important to give your employee a choice.
Remote work is not for everyone, I'd be happy to work from home and avoid my daily commute but some of my colleagues prefer an office environment. Some of them may enjoy a coworking space, but other may prefer working with their team at the same office.
I don't think the entire industry will become remote first, but I expect the majority of companies to allow some kind of remote work in the near future, maybe just once or twice a week, or giving the choice between fully remote or office.
I'll base my future career decision on that, trying to exclude companies hostile to remote work.

In order to contain the spreading of corona virus many firms in Italy are allowing people to work from home this days, in some cases people are forced to work remotely as some cities are in lockdown.
Let's see how it goes, unfortunately I'm still coming to the office but trains are almost empty and there is way less traffic than usual.
I'm trying to see the glass half full, I hope firms will start considering remote work after this experimentation period in order to improve their employee's lives and to reduce pollution.


While there are a lot of people against this idea or think it won’t happen, I would like to provide some counterpoints.

  • corporations can drive down operational costs by closing satellite offices. This is usually the case when times are rough, revenue is down. That doesn’t have to be the only case though. Decisions to allow 100% remote are not altruistic and probably have more to do with the corporation’s balance sheet.

  • when working remote, I had to fill my schedule with meetups to get that in person connectivity I was yearning for. There are other ways.

  • at one point most web software was tied to locale, like the mythical server in a closet. Nowadays not so much with the cloud.

  • flu spreads in office environments.

  • as cities become more adept at coping with climate change, they can incentivize remote work. Turns out it never was a good idea for everyone to drive to the office at the same time 🤷‍♂️. Corporations are incentivized to purchase realty by local governments though, so many are correct it will never be 100% remote.

  • SpaceX Starlink bas been in the headlines recently for being the bane of every astromer’s existence, but eventually there will be satellite internet everywhere at reliable enough speeds to develop.


I love remote work. Been working this way for years now. Kids come home from school early, so I can spend time with them. Work when I feel productive, not according to a pointless 9-5 regimen. I don't get monthly colds or flus. I can dress how I feel. I pop out in the summer afternoons to the nearby lake for a swim, or walk in the pine forests. And office chat goes on as normal....via email and IM.


I think 100% remote is certainly possible, but not ideal. I would hope the office environment would be available for a portion of the workforce that really thrives in the office, and available for part-time in-office work, but that a remote-first culture would become the normal (no water-cooler decisions). Other means of getting people together should be employed as well, maybe quarterly or biannually. Maybe monthly team lunches when teams are in the same city, while working remote.

I see a bright future for remote-first work:

  • People could live where it's ideal for them, rather than ideal for getting a job. More people could move away from cities and into the countryside or far out in the suburbs where buying a home could actually be achievable.
  • It could be huge for keeping mothers in the workforce and improve gender diversity. New mothers have a huge uphill battle to maintain a career and care for a young baby, and remote work, especially with flex-time, could help make that easier. No matter how much we may want equality, biologically, mothers are the ones breastfeeding and pumping, day and night.
  • It would improve accessibility for disabled people, again improving diversity.
  • It would decrease the loss of productivity due to illness. Not only would there be less spread of illness, but some people may opt to work through a mild to moderate case of illness if they can work from home and not risk going into an office and spread it to co-workers or have to go through the additional commute time that can be physically tiring and cuts into illness-fighting sleep. I worked fully remote for three years, got moderately sick once, and worked through it. This meant my PTO was spent on emotionally and physically restorative time rather than sick time.
  • It would be better for the environment and lead to cleaner air with fewer cars on the road. Two-income households may be able to go down to one car to save money.

It is definitely a possible solution, although I would say that it would come with issues on communication with employees in the company as it expands.

I currently work for a company that is 100% remote and is dedicated to design. However, over the past year, I've seen some good folks being let go and quit due to leadership's inability to actually have a heart to heart communication with the employees in terms of growth and direction. Even with Slack and Zoom available, you still have situations where one hand doesn't know what the other hand is doing.

And while this can be said the same with companies who meet at the office, it's arguably a lot more difficult in maintaining communication in a remote level since you don't have an actual place to reach out and discuss in what's happening. The only reason why I stick to remote jobs is because it does save the time and hassle from commuting to and from NYC (because it's expensive).

Still, I don't see any reason of slowing down for companies favouring remote work only, unless if there's an issue in maintaining confidentiality and security purposes when handling sensitive data for clients.


Technologically? Yep. No question. In fact, there are solid business cases for why there has to be a certain amount of remote capability for pretty much all companies.

What would stop it is the human factor and culture. Many people don't want to work remotely, and that's okay. Many managers don't want people to work remotely, because they don't like the loss of control (that's not okay).

Does this mean that companies won't have offices? Not necessarily. You can still be nearly 100% remote and still have some offices, especially if your niche has a large hardware component. "Remote" doesn't mean "only ever meet over video chat."


This is something I really wanted to hear from community.
In countries like India, specially for interns and junior developers, what usually happens is smaller companies in countries like USA, hire these young chaps who have no idea of validating a genuine job/company, underpay them, and in most cases don't pay at all and instead promise an experience certificate and in some cases they're being promised an on-site job with all expenses included after the completion of 6 to 12 months of work experience , and are eventually ghosted.

In some cases, they were employees of big companies in the US who were getting their work done for free from these poor chaps.

This my dear friends, is the dark side of remote jobs.


This is really saddening to read. I hope you can find some way to help prevent this or help these chaps avoid getting all exploited like that. For my part, we've long been aware of the potential strains of remote work, especially international remote work, and I've been thinking hard about how to ameliorate them.


For the most part freshers aren't aware of these scams. And the labour laws are at times very vague around remote jobs. Freshers understanding the legal requirements for the same is next to none. Thus making it very easy for scammers.


A nearshore company selling services around the world could have all the employees working remotely.
In all the employees work remotely.
but if you are talking about a startup or a company selling their own product, this changes. I think it's very important to create a synergy between the Teams and build bridges between people and you only can achieve this working face to face at least some days per week.


South American devs are hard core and underrated. Propers to you and yours.


I am glad to hear that. I really enjoy working with devs from Ukraine and Eastern Europe I think they underrated as well.
Currently, we have enough tools and documentation to improve our skills no matters where you are living.


I don’t think it will go 100% remote and I don’t think it should. I’ve worked remotely for 4 years and it’s a solution that works really well for me as someone who doesn’t live in a major city. Remote work is great for companies who want to tap into larger talent pools and for workers who want to work at amazing companies without needing to uproot their lives. Remote is also great from an accessibility standpoint and remote friendly companies tend to offer in-office colleagues flexibility when they need it, too.

Remote work isn’t for everyone and the reasons why people may prefer in-office work are very valid! I think what matters is that we see more companies to attract people who prefer remote work versus force in-office employees to adopt a remote work situation that doesn’t fit with their wants or needs. 😊


I believe the distribution curve will continue to shift more towards remote/flexible work (you can see how things are moving in this Gallup report).

With that being said, I have a hard time believing that the industry will become 100% remote-first. The nugget of the remote work movement that is worth paying attention to is the notion of flexibility. You should be able to leave work early to pick up your kid from daycare. You should be able to work from home 1-2 days a week if you want.

Instead of demanding that everyone be in the same location between certain hours, the workplace of the future will be built to adapt to this new mode of working. Peter Drucker talked quite a bit about this idea in one of his papers.


Better men than Peter Drucker have proven the disastrous error of the legacy of Taylor's "Scientific Management."

But proof is not persuasion.


When the Covid-19 situation started and the company i work for went remote, I thought that it was going to be a nightmare for me. I thought I wouldn't be able to be as productive as working in a working space. I was wrong. It took some time getting used to. But I can say that i'm definitely MORE productive and creative than ever before. At least for me, Working in a quiet environment was like a charm. There's also the two hours of commute that I got back.


if the mindsets of c level management can get around micromanaging and the fact that not seeing me physically does not mean being productive - then yes
As a business analyst of several years -my most productive times have been in my WFH basement.
No lengthy commutes, cigarette smell (don't smoke), and a blend of all sorts of perfumes from hugging strangers in a fully packed London underground train.
Its possible but will take a while. Covid 19 has shown us that it is doable but men are always stubborn ad will revert to old habits of micro managing


Not to get all doomsday cultish like..

But I think we will soon get a glimpse of what that will look like when the Coronavirus spreads in the US.

Not even being sarcastic. It's a matter of when it will happen, rather than if.

Thankfully most jobs have the ability to work remotely, especially our industry. So it will be interesting to see how it all plays out


But I think we will soon get a glimpse of what that will look like when the Coronavirus spreads in the US.

It is literally what's going on right now here in Milan, most of my friends working at companies that can do remote work have been asked to work from home even though normally they wouldn't be allowed to do it if not with specific agreements and on a very infrequent schedule. Now magically everyone is home and the companies are still functioning...


digital services/products are more than just the code and the developers (sorry all!). There's a lot of work done by business analysts, researchers, sales etc, which benefit from face to face meetings, before it even reaches a delivery manager and the developers.

I suspect there is a social benefit to coming into an office/place of work to catch up with your (hopefully friends) and shoot the sh*t before getting down to the code.

In terms of just devs, I reckon it's possible whether or not they want to is up to them.


In my experience the typical corporate office is full of exactly these types of people, whose working lives consist of nothing but protracted meetings, and whose actual usefulness is much lower than they would like to think. Corporations would do well to slash many of these types from the payroll, and limit meetings to 30mins max and no more than a few per week


I don't expect it would be the case. Some people I have spoken to, about remote work and work from home; like these but would not want to work from outside their place of work for long. I have also dreaded working from home for a longer time. Going to office, seeing other people work has sometimes motivated me. Also, face to face interaction has proved to be ice breaker many times. I have met people with whom I had spoken to before on video calls, mostly work related, but when I had a close interaction, it kind of built trust faster. I think aiming for flexibility in place and time of work is more important. We are never 100% productive throughout the day, choice of when and where to work should be something to be focused more.


Here in Italy remote work is starting to be applied by some large company.
Italian companies are old-fashioned and this Meana that the employee must be in the office in order to check that he is working.
Now with the convid-19 many companies, in order not to close for a week or two, are applying the work remotely; therefore this can be considered an opportunity to demonstrate that remote work is possible and useful without repercussions for the company.

Anyway I dont think that the future will be 100% remote. In fact not everyone is suited to work remotely and on the contrary some work worse remotely.


...the employee must be in the office in order to check that he is working.

That's a damn shame.


We'll end up with most of the industry mostly working from home but seems like there's going to always be a place for offices and/or co-working spaces, but the form of those will change and that'll act as the big driver for more remote working!

A big constraint on remote in software, in UK/Ire, is the contracts available; public sector, defence, support commonly have staff on the ground, at least partially, as a requirement!


Great discussion. I think hubs will become more and more popular since office space is so expensive. I think there are definitely perks to being together when working but that doesn't mean it is necessary.

Why can't it go fully remote? Any system needed or required will soon be able to be controlled remotely if it can't already. Companies would save MILLIONS by having no office space and everyone doing their job remote.

With the rise of AWS and other cloud solutions, we get closer and closer. I think at some point CEO's start to really question the need for an office.


Absolutely not. Any software engineering job that requires specialize (and often expensive) hardware is very difficult or completely infeasible to do remotely.

The majority of jobs don't have these requirements though, and if you're working on a web app/SaaS system, it's probably pretty easy to be fully remote.


The Loud Mechanical Keyboard Users Battalion shall pledge our allegiance to this, and to the cause of motivating all colleagues in open office plans to put their foot down and request remote work!

AttenSHUN. Hut! Unsetttttt MACROS! Disaaaaaable AUTOCOMPLETE! Error beep enable!

Our solemn credo:

"This is my mechanical keyboard. There are many like it, but this one is mine. ... I must fire my keys true. I must type louder than my coworkers, who are now trying to kill me."


100% might be a bit too much of a "good thing" but I can absolutely see it becoming more of the default or the "new normal" ... the advantages (cost, time) are simply too substantial to ignore.

It doesn't need to be all-or-none, a mix is certainly possible, but some organizations where I've worked (on location, in an office) performed quite poorly and might even have functioned better with remote work, if organized well.


I think it will always be context dependent. In some countries there is very little infrastructure and so keeping a hub where people can come and get good infrastructure is needed. Also people are social creatures so they need time with colleagues to really connect with them. This does not have to be daily, just once in a while companies do need to arrange get togethers for remote staff to meet and greet in person. Some people fare better remote than others do as well. And some projects are more suited to remote work than others.


Interesting how now a little over a month later, the thanks to COVID-19 some tech shops are 100% remote (my client is one). I really don't like this but am making the most of it.


With right tools, discipline and more money 100% doable. Take freelancers as an example.


well I think you got to see that reality sooner than expected


Though it is not possible 100% but most firms would opt for remote work given the exceptional talent in the market except for the traditional MNCs where work from office is a must.


No. Because that also means you never ever meet in real life. Even for remote only you want to meet up in person with everybody a few times a year.


Personnaly i think we can reach the point of 95% but not entirely 100%.
100 % can be reach in rare nich case.
But when developping on web 95 % is pretty easy tho.

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A Canadian software developer who thinks he’s funny. He/Him.