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Ben Halpern
Ben Halpern

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What is the future of remote work in software development?

The world went primarily remote in the height of the pandemic. With things returning to "normal" in a lot of the world, where do you think the software industry will settle in terms of remote work popularity and overall expectations?

Discussion (67)

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tracygjg profile image
Tracy-Gregory Gilmore • Edited on

For me, the last two years have demonstrated remote software development can work very well and I think this model will persist for a while. However, I am concerned about new developers and the impact of not being able to working along-side experienced developer might have on their learning and experience. I think peer-programming will become more important than every before to bridge that gap.

I think Leonid has an important point especially for young developers. The lack of in-office interaction needs to be replaced with extra social-life interaction - who knows it might work out better.

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James Prince

I started as a Junior 2 months before we were locked down over 2 years ago. I miss incredibly the quick informal chats about new tech and what my other colleagues were working on outside of work. Also the quick "Are you getting on OK?" chats I would get from the seniors.

I managed OK, I studied hard on my own and let the likes of; podcasts and discord channels for the tech I was using teach me instead.

It was different but sort of worked. However now I am back in the office, in my opinion there's no contest between office interaction and remote. Office always wins, my progress accelerated again.

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victorchukwuemeka

Honest truth ... I will love to have a full time job on web development

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Jacob Enders

I found peer programming to work better remotely... as long as I had two or more monitors.

I can put my partners view on one monitor, and my view on the other monitor and seamlessly work alongside them. But in person, it's difficult to get a good view because I need to physically look over the persons shoulder or get out of my seat just to get a good view of what is happening.

Even when I do work in person with someone, we just work remotely from our cubicles lol

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mochsner

What solution do you use? Currently using teams & this isn't natively possible (ifaik, but maybe a meeting + direct chat together could achieve this?)

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fish1 profile image
Jacob Enders

I'm not quite sure what you mean by "isn't natively possible".

I think the only downside to teams is it being limited to a single screen share. We've used google meets and we were able to do multi-share.

At the moment though, I only have one partner, so meets is able to serve our needs. And of course we do use voice chat while sharing screens.

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Ingo Steinke

I expect everyone to let me work 100% remotely for regular work, and please don't bother me with daily video calls where everyone will repeat what is clear to see on GitHub or a Kanban board. I am able to deliver good work (front-end web development most of the time) without ever meeting anybody in person and some things don't even need a single meeting or phone call.

That being said, I still enjoy meeting people in real life from time to time, especially for collaborative work on tricky or inspirational stuff, sketching, talking, and I enjoy meetups and conferences as in-person events as they offer so much more inspiration and room for hallway talks compared to online events, and I don' t want to stare at a screen unless I'm coding or in cinema.

As several people already added to the disussion, learning and onboarding of junior team members is probably another aspect that is much easier to achive when actually being in the same place together.

But for regular daily work, the old "normal" is nothing that I have been missing ever since I started remote work (even before the pandemic, thanks to Germany's shitty railway system which allowed me to skip some commuter days every week when I was still an employee). And don't expect me to go back to working 5 days x 8 hours every week either. The old "normal" has never been normal, and it's about time to make people realize that life is not supposed to be a 9-to-5 in a corporate office.

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Christian Engel

Are you working as an employee, or contractor/freelancer?

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ingosteinke profile image
Ingo Steinke

I'm free now.

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InHuOfficial • Edited on

I think a lot of development work will stay remote, we are an industry with hundreds of tools that are already reasonably mature such as GitHub, Slack etc. that make remote work easy.

Where it becomes even easier is with things like virtual offices, such as gather town (which we use at daily.dev), making it almost like you are "at the office" and, when used properly, allowing for adhoc interactions, and fun games with your team.

gather town quick aside

They recently introduced go-karts on gather town. Here is my personal one sat at my desk waiting for me:

go kart in gathertown by my customised desk

When they were introduced it was a fun 20 minutes of silliness similar to what you would get in the office when someone discovers a new site or game and you just have an "unproductive" few minutes with your team mates for laughs.

Now we have a little parking lot in the corner of the virtual office where we keep our go-karts and we occasionally zip past each other's desks throughout the week!:

go karts in gather town in corner of office

And because I am just silly, I had to add a car park to gather town and overlay a certain song to make this (need sound on):

I just wanted to share that little bit of silliness!

With all of that being said, I hope you get the idea - 90% of the office environment and random interactions can be maintained with solutions like gathertown!

Conclusion

So I think remote work and multi-national teams with people from all different backgrounds are going to become the norm, and that can only be a good thing surely!

One thing I think that will need to happen (as it made a huge difference to our team dynamic) is "company gatherings".

No matter how good the tools become there is nothing like meeting in person:

daily.dev team photo all wearing daily.dev shirts

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Atul Prajapati

I agree with your thought "Leonid"

But still we don't have proper systems and software's to manage work from remote.

One big problem i have faced during last lockdown that there is lot's miss communications while we are working remotely with few team members.

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JoelBonetR

That's curious because when you write things down it's all clear but when you speak with someone they forgot details and thus those communication issues shine most.

Maybe you need to recap the meetings to ensure all involved people is aligned and send this sort of "TL;DR" through the chat for people to double-check :)

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Rebecca DuPont

I think this is the right direction and I agree with you, Joel. It might be overkill, but often in meetings I end up taking minutes and notes and at the end will recap with the action items. If it's my meeting I called I will send out an email to the team with the summary of the talking points and action items.

However if it's another person's meeting, while I will take notes for myself, I will still email the group and clarify what we are doing and what my action items are.

Did I do this before having to be working remotely? Nope. However, this is half communication but also half covering my behind.

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joelbonetr profile image
JoelBonetR

Its a technique widely used as well in face-to-face meetings since... always.
It's not just about "communication issues", sometimes people tend to do what they want instead what they are suposed to do.

Creating and sharing meeting summaries is a key point, not only to make things clear but also to ensure you all are in the right, or at least the same direction. ๐Ÿ˜„

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atulcodex profile image
Atul Prajapati

Wow Joel your thoughts are very clear

I'm impressed with your clever remote working experience

I will surely apply these ideas at our team meetings

thanks dear, thank you very much!

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joelbonetr profile image
JoelBonetR

You always need to protect yourself and those things make organising a job/project/team more... let's say straightforward. If you need to check that everyone is doing it's thing each few hours something is wrong ๐Ÿ˜†
So let the things written down into a group usually helps on that.

Share your experiences when you use that! :)

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Ben Sinclair

What things do you think we can't manage properly remotely?

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Atul Prajapati

Ummmmm, Junior developers

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FJones

I'm probably gonna be the big dissenter here: Remote is less productive in a team. Especially in agile-oriented teams, remote makes important in-person communication difficult enough that the individual gains are outweighed.

A balance needs to be found (we're currently running a 3+2 model, where two days of remote work per week are permitted), but even then the team goals take a small hit. If everyone can work in isolation and achieve overall goals, it works. But that's rarely the case, and often immediate communication with stakeholders is key.

Similarly, training is more difficult when done remotely, because we lack the in-person interaction that transfers much more in much shorter time.

Remote work is not the future. Hybrid models may be, but I'm a staunch believer in integrated on-site work - especially once stakeholders are involved.

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Christian Engel

Well, I must admit - it works really great in our team. We are currently 6 (next month 7) developers in my team and our productivity increased a lot when the pandemic lockdowns began.

We are currently at "lets meet once a week in the office"-mode and granted, its fun to see the people face-to-face, but productivity-wise, working remote is the better option for us.

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Ben Sinclair

Why do you think remote work hampers immediate communication?

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Ben Sinclair

To elaborate, the only people I can imagine you have immediate communication with that's faster than remote are people sitting at the same desks.

As soon as you need to speak to someone farther away, you either use the same system as remote, or you get up and walk over to them. In that case, you might find they're not there, or they're busy right now, or someone else tries to talk to you on the way. In half the cases, you're going to take longer to talk to them and it's going to be a more frustrating experience.

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tracygjg profile image
Tracy-Gregory Gilmore

I think maybe it's the casual/unplanned "bump in the corridor" conversations that we might miss out on. I know I miss not having coffee/lunch breaks with my team and chatting about things other than work. Getting to know more about your colleagues that their technical capabilities is important. Working from home it is all too easy to ignore the breaks you should be taking. It is not so easy when your teammates are pulling you out of your chair. Fun times.

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Mahmoud Harmouch

Any software company that doesn't embrace remote work is definitely going to be disrupted. This is the opinion of a lot of people, including me. I have been working remotely for quite a while now, and I have never looked back.

My future is absolutely remote work. There are a lot of benefits to this, such as the ability to work from any location and the flexibility to balance family life with work. It has changed the way I live my life and it has made me happier than ever before.

However, there are drawbacks to this type of environment that need to be considered as well. The major ones include but are not limited to constant suffering from burnout because of the unlimited number of tasks to be done, loneliness at home, and a social disconnect.

More and more companies are embracing remote work and hiring employees who can work from anywhere in the world thanks to the internet connection they have at home.

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Felipe Armoni

I agree. I've been working remote since before the pandemic and I don't want ever to go back to working in an office.

In my view, working remotely is very effective, since it minimizes distractions and interruptions and this is very important in software development.

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Atul Prajapati

Yes I agree

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Ferit ๐ŸŒŸ๐Ÿ•Œ

My hope is:

  • Remote-work by default.
  • Hybrid offerings, e.g. bigger companies having "Hubs", not huge HQs but multiple smaller locations, Monthly / Quarterly F2F Events, Roadmap Plans, Brainstorming/ Ideation being more in office.

Reality is that many companies seem to be invested in their "cool HQs" and therefore push people for these hybrid work frameworks where you have to be 40-50% of your time in the office.

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Constantin

How to make friends outside of work 30+?

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Michael Kohl

The same way you made them before? Gym/other sports activities, meetups, bars, friends of friends, etc. I'm in my 40s now and moved to a relatively small island during COVID while 100% remote working and I have a big and active group of friends here.

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Eric di Domenico

I am in my 40s making friends now is a very different experience from making friends in my 20s at work. I've enjoyed working from home for a decade and with a family it's great. But I loved working in an office and going out to lunch and for drinks with colleagues before I had a family.

The camaraderie you get from grabbing a drink with colleagues and bitching about work can't easily be reproduced remotely.

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Michael Kohl

I am in my 40s making friends now is a very different experience from making friends in my 20s at work.

I keep hearing that, it just doesn't match my own experience. Work was never my main avenue for making friends and that hasn't changed until now. Maybe it's because I don't have kids so I still have a lot of free time which isn't necessarily true for other people at our age.

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Constantin

Before? University :D

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citizen428 profile image
Michael Kohl

Haha, fair enough.

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Diego (Relatable Code)

I think remote will become the overwhelming popular choice. There is just too many benefits. Employee satisfaction, more potential hires, reduced office cost, etc.

But something i feel is starting to gain more traction are possible hybrid options where you go 1-2 days max.

Something to note as this is fairly new is that there are still a lot of things not solved yet when it comes to remote work. It'll come with time I believe.

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John Peters

I've worked long enough (20 years) in the office and 10 years remote. I will stay remote for as long as possible. With Teams, Azure Devops, Visual Studio the collaboration is available 24/7. My team uses Kanban and we have daily stand-up meetings. Everything is visible including my login and logoff times. Not an issue for me because I love my job.

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Emil

In my company it worked pretty well to work completely remote. Furthermore there are a lot of cool things like Live Coding extensions for most common IDEs. That is great.
But by the time I started to miss being in the office. Meaning having small talks with non dev related co-workers and furthermore seeing people. Especially on conflicts (which everyone has...its software development) its way better to clear the air with face to face talks. Or mostly conflicts don't arise when things are discussed within one room.

But still from home its easier to handle family stuff. Its great not to be away for too long and yet still work really concentrated.

The worst thing from my point of view is that my flat is really small so I don't have a dedicated workspace. I work from my kitchen table with only a laptop. Moving is mostly not an option since you need to pay more for more space and you only move because you need office space

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Clarion Technologies

From Shopify to Alibaba and Google to Ford, companies around the globe have been telling their staff to work from home in a bid to stem the spread of COVID-19. 2020 will probably go down in history as the Year of Remote Working and will leave a lasting impression on the way people live and work for many years to come. Although โ€œvirtualโ€ teams have been increasing over the years with companies expanding their presence across geographies, increased telecommuting and shared workspaces, COVID-19 just accelerated this!
Best Practices to boost productivity of teams working remotely

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Andrew Baisden

Remote work means less stress and higher productivity in my experience. Been working fully remote since 2021 and the only major downside I see is that you might not go out as often to meet people. But in warmer summer months that could change.

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Kashif Aziz

I have been working remotely, on and off, since last 20 years. Started to work remotely at the time when the concept was unheard of in my country. These days it is less challenging than before to work remotely. All you need is a good internet connection and some discipline.

In my opinion, the biggest challenge to remote work is how you draw the line between work and non-work. For some, the day extends above and beyond usual office hours as clients or managers assume that since you are at home, you can work as long as required.

Remote work is here to stay, at least in the tech world.

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Stefano Canepa

Remote working suits our industry. Live meetings are still the best way for some meetings for some people, so the hybrid approach works better. Stay at home the time you would have spent at your desk, and in-person the time you would have been in a meeting room discussing in front of a whiteboard.
Leaving people to decide when to meet in person makes the hybrid approach even better. The limit of the hybrid system is team members should live a reasonable distance from the office to make the once in a while commute not so bad.

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Ankit Kumar

I am working in IT for almost 10 years now. Last two years have helped to us prove that engineers can deliver their irrespective of where they are.
I hope this will set a standard in firms and they will have more trust on their employees unlike pre-covid era.
I still think that lack of in-person meets with peers will create a gap among colleagues since they will only get acquainted to other engineer, not other person.
I think and hope remote and in-office (optional choices) will go better as future of work.

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Johnnn

So, here we are. I asked you to imagine a future where software development has become a truly remote job, and the whole world is your office. You donโ€™t have to commute to the office, you don t have to attend meetings or ask permission from your boss. You just wake up in the morning, open your laptop and start working. mamc

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Thien DX

I think the overall system is not ready for 100% remote, at best it can be hybrid (2 days office 3 day remote).
My case : I have Junior members joining, when going remote, even though I follow the manager's recommendation, it's still super hard to provide support and monitor them. Going full remote is not working well if you don't actively involve, ask, discuss with others.
Technically you can still do all those WFH, but in the same office you tend to do it more than staying at home.
IMO it's a culture thing, especially young people who usually struggle in new jobs, need more traning/couching to effectively WFH.

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Davide de Paolis

What is preventing you from "actively involve, ask, discuss with others" when working remotely?

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Louis • Edited on

A few years back, companies that worked remote first/only where an exception. Now it's exactly the other way around.

When I think of the future of remote work, I expect some huge changes, especially regarding geographic & financial factors.

  1. If you can work for a multitude of companies across the world, there's no real reason to pay people based on their (or the company's) location. That's going get interesting regarding salary & CoL in locations like the bay area. Sentences like "This is a typical NY salary" or "For country xyz, 30k$ are a good salary" will vanish slowly. At least I hope so.

  2. If you don't have to go to the office, the only thing that holds you back from going fully "nomadic" (besides family, etc.) is working on sync'd schedules - i.e. within a specific time zone. I think async work will be the next step after remote work as it unlocks so many possibilities.

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Fabian Holzer

I think, we'll see a dichotomy emerge between office-by-default and properly remote companies. There is plenty of pull to the former for various reasons (with one big reason IMO being mistrusting middle managers), and I'll expect the latter to be something that will be a competitive advantage but not implemented by the majority. I personally think, that hybrid working actually is nothing but a marketing brand of the office-by-default model.

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Russell

I don't miss the office at all. I work for a contracting company, so I rarely work directly with my co-workers anyway. They were often more of a distraction than anything.

I started with my company as a junior almost four years ago (my first development position) and after figuring out I could work remotely a few months in, I only went back on days I felt like it. I haven't had any issue with getting work done, impressing clients, or advancing my career.

I think many of the social reasons for encouraging people to come to the office don't fully apply for our company. Our system was already built to support remote work because it's structured around us traveling to client sites about 4 days per week anyway. Our office probably wouldn't support 100% return to office even if it was encouraged. We have a new policy that even allows people to request 1-6 month "transfers" that will allow them to work remotely from another country (many rules apply, don't expect to get work from the Bahamas ๐Ÿ˜†).

So far none of my projects have wanted to pay for me to travel, so here I am working from home for the past 3+ years, and I love my job.

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๐Ÿฉฐ The Flying Shooter โค๏ธโ€๐Ÿ”ฅ

As a jr developer who've just entered this world, I'd say that a hybrid solution it's what is working best for me. I started my internship 3 months ago and the first two months I was going to the office everyday, but the commuting time (6hrs - 3 going and others 3 coming home) was exhausting and draining every energy I had in my body. From this month I'm going to the office 3 times a week and my life-work balance has improved a lot. I still keep the interactions with my seniors and I can do some pair programming "live" but at the same time when I work from home I can get more than 5hrs sleeping and that helps with my health.

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Oscar Ortiz

It honestly depends on the situation the company is trying to solve.

Sometimes it's best to work in person or even brainstorm. But what I'm not a fan of is hearing how you need to go back into the office on a zoom call. Some strange times we're living in at the moment.

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dvddpl profile image
Davide de Paolis • Edited on

I really hope remote is the future and companies will not go back to on-site, nor impose hybrid.

For sure I am not and will not consider any job offer from companies not allowing 100% remote.

Remote working works. Software and tools are already there:

Slack huddles and zoom/google meet, collaboration tools like MIRO, cloud tools like draw.io and Google docs, postman workspaces , Trello, and many more. Everything is available.

I find meetings and pair programming are way more productive since we are all remoting.

Misscommunication depends on the people. It happens both on site and remote.

Burnout or productivity loss also depend on people. It's up to you how you balance your work-life, manage your time and deal with stress.
Diligent hard-working dedicated People were burning out in the office too.
Lazy unmotivated employees were slacking off in the office too.

Sure I might "miss" the transition/boundary that the commuting was allowing me, but I gain my time for myself and my family, and I can set that boundary by being able to do more on my free time.
Some problem might come not from remote, rather from asyc communication due to different timezones but that also can be solved.

And lastly, Remote is not the same as "working from home during a lockdown" and is not working " in separate places of the world hours apart". When it come to social life and stress people often confuse the concepts...

On the other hand, I'd like to still see Tech Conferences and Company Gathering live and onsite - those are good for networking and getting to know people deeper and imho they can't be replaced by online games, metaverse and such.

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Thomas Hansen

When I started Aista, I was very sceptical of remote work. Today we're all working remote, and it's the best thing that could have happened in many ways. We however, are within the same timezone, and we can drive by car to meet up in a couple of hours. I would have problems if this wasn't the case. A lot of communication is non-verbal. I believe it's important to physically meet, at least every now and then ...

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Joe Mainwaring

Iโ€™m the near term, remote work is here to stay. The pandemic has shown a lot of companies how to work asynchronously and many workers enjoy the additional time they have in their days.

My company was remote-first before the pandemic but weโ€™ve leaned into that even harder after 2 years, closing one of our regional offices to reduce expenses and downsizing our HQ to reflect the actual number of people who are coming onsite on a regular basis.

As far as a long term future for remote work, Iโ€™m not a pessimist but I think time will tell if remote work is simply a trend of the times or a permanent fixture in work life. Other companies like Yahoo have gone through cycles before of remote work and eventually went away from that as a culture when they needed to correct the direction of the company.

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Michael

Older style companies and managers are STILL going to want to see people in an office, as the comment I heard years ago by a contractor company went "I love the sound of keyboards early in the morning, it means money!"

Overall more flexible companies will be able to take advantage of personnel from anywhere and do well with it. Managers will need to adjust and learn how to be more inclusive of remote workers and be able to trust their employees more.

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Getscreen.me

The future is in the hybrid format of work. A completely remote format is not suitable for everyone, perhaps this is how individual specialists will continue to work. But let the team development sometimes meet in the office) That's how we work in our team and develop the software for remote access, which allows to connect to the office computers remotely.

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Christopher Thomas

I think being remote hurts my ability to socialize by being alone for all the workday.
Being around people, even if you're not socializing at that moment is still helpful. It's fundamentally good for the soul to be around people. Although I work remote, I'd like to work in an office at least 2 days of the week, maybe all of them, if the commute isn't too far.

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Matt Jennings

I'm a full-time web developer and here's what's helped me at my current job:

  1. Having a weekly 1 hour one-on-one meeting with a more senior developer. This helps me simplify my plan before starting work on a ticket and get resources for existing solutions so I don't need to reinvent the wheel.

  2. Have a weekly 1 hour one-on-one with my boss. This helps me overcome roadblocks and prioritize my most important tasks.

  3. Having a weekly 1 hour meeting with my team to discuss our completed tasks, upcoming work, and roadblocks.

The key is having those one-on-one meetings weekly is EXTREMELY important. It saves me time by using a more efficient plan before coding and figuring out my most important priorities.

I'm been at companies before where my team went weeks without having any meetings which was very, very bad.

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Aubrey Blair-Pattison

I think that remote work will only become the norm when people are comfortable with the tech that creates the sense of 'being there' with people. Those that I've worked with who aren't familiar with slack/discord/etc aren't as effective as they should be with creating connection remotely. Not everyone is competent in these technologies, and not everyone believes they work (they do). But belief is 90% of the battle. Use is 10%.

The next role I find I want to be 100% remote, so that I'm not tied to my current location. It's a process though.

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Atul Prajapati

Exactly, i got the answer :)

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Matt Ellen

Are you envisioning robots? Right now there is some stuff I physically cannot do remotely, but I guess if I had control of a robot I could.

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Atul Prajapati

You can do anything :)

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Manuel Odendahl

I think we will settle on a partly remote workflow. I know some people who absolutely dread working from home, while other people can deal with full time WFH. I personally have been remote for a long time, and recently got a desk at a co-working space because I was starting to completely wither, alone in my basement with only slack as a watercooler. I also enjoy visiting my clients a couple of weeks a year. There is high bandwidth communication when you are in the same room with other people and a whiteboard that just can't be replaced with zoom and an online sketch application.

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Tawhid

Most of the work will be remote except a few stuff likke attending the office in place once a week to discuss important stuff etc.

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ikray

I am seeing many companies doing a hybrid and maybe have a few hours in a week to have engineers in office for like major meetings. But most of the time working remotely

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Luke__

In our company, almost all employees from around the world work remotely and we do not anticipate changes.

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Gpet

We know that there are pros and cons in every situation of working either remote or if it is an office, however working remotely is effective if a lot of communication is exist.