Lately I have been thinking - how can we normalise remote flexible part-time working so more software developers can leverage their value to enjoy a truly balanced lifestyle with location independence, low stress and better holidays?
Are there still challenges around trust, productivity and communication or is it just ignorance?
As a developer I look for work that shows trust and gives flexibility in where and when I can do it, within a set expectation of hours per month.
I know others who seek to add on top of full time jobs. And of course there are parents with responsibilities for young children who can always use less work constraints.
What other scenarios exist?
Most software jobs are advertised as full time. Some need this. I suspect for most not. And why accept 3-4 weeks holiday a year?
In respect to productivity, surveys have shown the benefits of less than a traditional 40 hour week. Some countries and businesses have enshrined shorter hours or less days as a result. Some companies offer unlimited holidays.
Software development is brain-intensive and vulnerable to interruption. With remote working you simply get more done with less distraction in less time. Of course then you need a break.
Usually, working more than six such hours at a stretch gives diminishing returns. Sometimes an obsessive 10 hour isolated session gets a hard problem solved but you then may need to take the next day off.
In respect to communications, typical Agile environments provide for a lot of much-needed communication. Yet regular scheduled stand-ups don't often work for remote workers especially across time zones. Tools like Slack and email exist for asynchronous communication and you can always jump on a video call to nail down something you don't understand.
I find using Trello, Github projects and noting your daily plan and code pushing at the end of the day works fine. A vastly different time zone can have benefits with issues dealt with 'overnight' in the home country, or a virtuous cycle of development and testing in alternating time zones.
And back to trust. You are delivering code. It should be code reviewed and tested. The new features will or will not work. It's surely not hard to tell if someone is doing their job and delivering value.
I'm just scratching the surface with these thoughts. So leave yours in the comments below - good and bad. I'd love to flesh this blog post out into a solid manifesto, with your help.