What I am going to describe here is how I have experienced the change in the last 12 years I am a developer and where I think they are going to. Now, many companies like Basecamp are already doing what I'll write but currently are the exception. Let's begin:
Act I - The first experimentsMy first remote work happened at 2010. It wasn't a fulltime remote work. I went at the office 3 days a week and work from home for 2 days. I was the only employee of this company back then that I worked partially remote, everybody else from the 10+ employees were going to the office. This company never tried this kind of work before me. Now, on these days this may seems like "it happens" but it was extremely uncommon back then.
I worked for an average greek IT company with zero innovative conditions in the work space and I was a junior developer. Still I was an unstoppable achiever, I would take even the most ugly tasks without complaining and I was underpaid even for Greece. So, under these conditions they accepted to try it instead of losing me. For me it was a great experiment and I discovered how much better I worked remotely. Actually, I still remember how much my productivity raised and even the company managers couldn't believe it.
Act II - The experiment worked, now what?After that and soon enough I discovered how much better I could be paid if I work remotely for a company outside of Greece. It was very uncommon to work remotely back then and if a company offered it, then most probably it was an innovative startup. So after some experiments, I started working fulltime remotely at 2013 for a company outside of Greece and I haven't work in a strict office environment until now. For the records, 2 years later the company had an exit.
Then, I worked fulltime remotely for another company at 2015. Six months later, they decided to rent offices in Greece and bring the team some days per week at the office. It didn't went very well but this is a story for another post. Still, I got great lessons as I re-discovered what an office can give you. For a while I thought that the ideal company environment is fully remote but it is good to give you the freedom to work at the office if you want to.
I still believe that working together at the same room is good, but it has some disadvtanges. These days we have great tools like "code with me" plugin from Jetbrains. It is even better to be able to share your screen or to write at the same codebase using your machine with someone, than working side by side.
Act III - COVID eraWith COVID-19, remote working became the new standard for developers. It was a quick transformation and even tranditional companies started doing it. I still remember having a conversation before COVID-19 with a big IT company and they were sure that remote would never work for them. They changed their opinion in no time with the beginning of lockdowns. But I doubt it will last at least in Greece and for these tranditional companies.
So, is remote the future of work? I would say yes, at least for developers. But it isn't enough or the only thing. I am going to describe an Utopia of what I think will be the next steps, so come with me in this journey and what I think it will be the future of work.
Act IV - Well-being and the futureLately I am reading a lot regarding abandoning the 9-5 and make it more flexible. In fact it's the next logical thing of remote working. Work-life balance and having your own schedule has become the new norm as the realisation of being productive and having results is more important than counting hours.
Next is having very specific meeting times with strict time range and having much less distractions. Now meetings is a whole chapter of it's own, but working with much less distractions is a must have and most of the communications are much more effective when writing things asynchronously.
Act V - Something scary for most companies to admitCompanies need to accept that a programmer can't code creatively and unstoppable for 8 hours per day - every day. Depending of the difficulty of the task, this vary. But if somebody do or can do it in very tough tasks, it is bad and leads to burnouts sooner or later. In fact I think he can barely do it for 5 hours. So I think future work will step to four working days. Or they will be ok to work 4, 5 or 6 hours instead of 8 hours. They will also give more space to their employees to decide what they need to do.
Another practice for cool down and avoiding burn outs is having hero week for developer. A developer rotation procedure where one or more developers per week will be handling whatever task he thinks best to improve. Or even better prepare presentations for the rest of the company on some field they find it interesting. Even a toy project of their own.
Act VI - Passive income and work on something you wantLast act, the basic passive income will be a thing and we will work for companies which we are truly inspired by their goals instead of money. This will bring a total freedom and the company's vision will be the same as developer's vision. Actually, if you ask many developers what they would do if they didn't need to work for money, they would still want to write code. This needs a lot more discussion though and how can be achieved in the decision level. DAO could be a potential way but I won't go into more details for now. But it is crucial to keep your team motivated, feel a part of what they are working and at the same time align your goals.
ConclusionThe above is a small and brief experience of me, some procedures I have seen great companies do and where I think we are going to. I may write another story regarding great procedures to keep developers happy. But if you want to truly offer the best to your employees, it would be great to trust them and consider all of the above.
Send me an email and share your thoughts regarding your utopia working environment!