Guide to Remote Work in the Computer Science and Tech Industries
Multiple tech positions ranked in U.S. News & World Report‘s list of the best jobs for remote workers, including software developers, data scientists, and information security analysts. Remote work in computer science gained prominence before the COVID-19 pandemic. A study by DigitalOcean reported that 86% of IT developers worked remotely in 2019. The same report showed that 43% of developers considered telecommuting a necessary job perk.
The pandemic accelerated the rise in remote work. While the shift to remote work may not fade, according to The Economist, a mass exodus to fully remote positions remains unlikely as states lift pandemic-related restrictions. Instead, many companies look to hybrid models where workers spend part of each week in the office and work the remaining days remotely.
Remote employment offers several benefits but may also require some adjustment. This guide covers how to find remote tech work, set up your workspace, and navigate potential work-from-home challenges.
A study by DigitalOcean reported that 86% of IT developers worked remotely in 2019.
Finding a Remote Position in Computer Science or Tech
Applicants seeking distance work in tech should highlight previous work-from-home experience by listing the location of previous remote positions as “virtual.” They can also include keywords like “remote” in application materials, CVs, and LinkedIn profiles. Applicants without remote experience should showcase soft skills like strong communication and the ability to work independently.
To find work-from-home computer science positions, look at job boards like Uncubed that focus on tech jobs. Other remote job boards like Working Nomads and We Work Remotely also feature numerous software development positions.
Many job boards include filters for remote positions in the search bar. Short-term and contract positions can show up under this filter, so applicants should read job descriptions carefully. Companies may also market positions as remote but require employees to relocate and work on site once offices reopen.
For more guidance on searching for computer science and tech jobs, check out this career resource page.
Applicants without remote experience should showcase soft skills like strong communication and the ability to work independently.
Making the Most of Remote Work in Computer Science and Tech
Working from home brings unique challenges and rewards. According to Global Workplace Analytics‘ ROI workplace calculator, hiring remote workers increases productivity and employee retention while lowering real estate costs. On average, employers save about $11,000 per half-time remote worker each year.
Remote workers can avoid long commutes and the high cost of living in major tech areas like Silicon Valley. Well-equipped workspaces, careful time management, and a healthy work-life balance can help employees capitalize on remote opportunities and remain productive.
- Equipment and Environment
Work-from-home software developers and other tech professionals need the right equipment and work area. Some companies require employees to purchase or rent their computers. Others provide laptops, phones, and other devices or offer stipends to cover equipment, internet service, and even perks like coffee.
Although remote positions might seem solitary, communication remains essential. Zoom meetings and employee messaging systems facilitate virtual check-ins and stand-up meetings. As a result, workers often need access to a reliable, high-speed internet connection and a camera.
A dedicated workspace can lead to better habits and ergonomics. Choose a desk height that promotes good posture and match it to a height-adjustable chair. Having a monitor at the right height and distance can prevent eye and neck strain.
Many employees prefer a two-monitor setup. One monitor might display references or messages while the other features active tasks. Tech professionals may also consider a blue light filter app like f.lux to further reduce eye strain.
- Time Management and Productivity
Working remotely requires good time management skills. Creating a routine can help maintain productivity despite household distractions. Remote employees should try to set strict boundaries for household members during work hours.
Work methods like the popular Pomodoro® Technique can provide structure at home. Try several strategies and record the ones that work. Whiteboard calendars and daily planners can also aid organization and task management.
To optimize communication efficiency, distance workers can take advantage of messaging systems such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom. Job applicants should find out what communication software an employer uses and learn it in advance.
- Mental Health and Work-Life Balance
According to a June 2020 survey from TELUS International, 4 out of 5 remote workers have trouble separating their work and home lives, especially at night. Drawing a clear line promotes a healthier work-life balance.
Remote employees may feel obligated to respond to notifications, even while off the clock. Turning work notifications off after clocking out and creating a separate user profile for work can help steer employees away from working after hours.
Remote workers should also enjoy the same scheduled breaks and PTO opportunities as in-office employees. Taking a walk can improve mental and physical health. Physical exercise helps mitigate the negative effects of sitting in front of a screen all day. Workers can also engage in other activities like stretching while standing or seated.
Feature Image: SDI Productions / E+ / Getty Images
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