How to Help Your Developer Stay Productive While Working Remotely

Productive remote developer

Writing code is a unique occupation. And it requires a unique skill set. On the one hand, it’s analytical, and you must pay very close attention to detail. But, it is also a creative endeavor. A programmer needs to be able to think outside the box. And while working in their own space helps them get creative, burning out is still a possibility. It’s crucial to help your dev team to stay productive while working remotely. 

Working in the right environment is a key component to achieve this. Office spaces are stifling creativity.

I once worked as a content producer for the marketing department of a private clinic. I was to take care of the writing. And a colleague took care of the art.

But the big problem was that there were always people running around. And the clinic’s director was always checking in. He wanted constant updates. It was almost as if he was coming to us several times a day shouting: “Where’s my Art?”

And of course, to make matters worse, the rest of the clinic staff didn’t get us. Doctors, nurses, and assistants were busy doing their job. And they looked at us as “those guys who sit at their desk all day, checking Facebook.” Their output was visible on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. Creative work is about peaks and valleys.

We could never concentrate on this environment, and so the work was never to our satisfaction. (Even though it ended up pleasing the director. Go figure.)

This is why creative and analytical developers are more productive remotely.

But there are a few caveats. Very few people can manage a good remote workflow by themselves. We’re not shaped for that in modern society. A bit of guidance from management can go a long way to help.  If you’re wondering how to help your developer be productive at home, read on and find out! 

2 Ways to Help Your Developer Deliver on Time & Stay productive

1. Set Up Working Hours 

Remote work may give your employees the flexibility to sleep in if they feel like it. Or to take an extended break in the middle of the afternoon. And it will let them work on the most challenging parts of a project when they are the most creative. Even if that happens very far from office hours.

There are two things to take into consideration here. The first is that human beings are terrible at estimating their own productivity! We always believe we can do stuff closer to deadline than what’s possible.

The second is that being able to set your own schedule can complicate communication. One of the most important factors in remote success!

So what’s the solution?

As a baseline,  we recommend employees to work on the company hours. Your working from home programmer can still enjoy working at 3 am now and then but still, they know that during certain hours you need him to be connected in the virtual office. 

This may seem a bit counter-intuitive to the remote work ethos, but it is not so. The remote worker still controls their environment. They simply have a pre-determined schedule that matches your company’s.

From that baseline, you and your programmer can optimize for creativity and productivity. Figure out a degree of flexibility you’re comfortable with and go through it with your employees.

It may also be beneficial to make good use of milestones. 

Set milestones that are more granular than the project deliverables. It’s much easier to keep remote work flowing when goals by breaking down into smaller chunks. People must focus on the single next step instead of on a looming deadline. In this way, are more realistic in their evaluation. Think of it as setting micro-deadlines.

2. Isolation and Burnout  Can Be a Real Issue; Here’s How To Solve It

Coding is a solitary pursuit. It asks for a great deal of concentration. So it’s helpful not having people talking and going around on office business nearby. But it can be isolating.

And ever worse. Those doing remote work don’t have someone looking over their shoulder all day. Far from slacking off, we’ve found that they tend to be fearful of the perception that they’re not working. And so, they tend to overdo it.

Tech blogger Scott Hanselman puts it like this:

“We tend to work late, we work after the kids are down, and we work weekends.”

He says the guilt around remote work is very real and can lead to burnout.

Following our recommendation to work on the company hours will go a long way to prevent this.

But it is not enough.

There is a great solution for both isolation and “remote guilt”. It is: encourage pair programming.

With this approach, remote programmers work in pairs. They might be co-located, meeting up on a shared workspace of their choosing. Or they can share a screen remotely, during work hours. This will create a sense of accountability and of someone witnessing the work. And the company is nice.

Hire Productive Developers With DistantJob

The best way to hire a talented programmer for your team is to go remote! You have the whole world to choose from and you get to hire talent at affordable prices. However, not everyone is fit for the remote work environment. You can interview someone who says they would like to try working from home and end up hating it. 

When you hire with DistantJob, you’re ensuring that the candidates you’ll be evaluating are remote-ready! Plus our recruiters are experts at headhunting productive programmers ready to fit into your company’s culture and values.

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Luis Magalhaes

Luis Magalhaes

Luis Magalhães is Director of Marketing and editor-in-chief at DistantJob. He writes about how to build and manage remote teams, and the benefits of hiring remote workers. He‘s been managing editorial teams remotely for the past 15 years, and training teammates to do so for nearly as long.