Remote is still a tough row to hoe


It’s been a little over 3 years since I was struck down with the remote 🐛 and wrote down my thoughts on why it was the greatest thing evah. All of those things are still true: I still hate a forced commute, I still love having the option to be able to get my kids ready for school every morning, and I still value the health benefits over the traditional workplace lunch song and dance. I continue to hear more and more and read more and more about #remotelife and the benefits all these employees are realizing. Plus all the benefits the employers are realizing by having happy and content employees. The recent Stack Overflow Developer Survey shows remote options ranking #2 in valuable compensation/benefits. Another thing is still true even though it wasn’t mentioned in my first post: It’s harder than ever to find a remote friendly job.

🐔 or 🥚?

From my experience it is a chicken and egg game where an employer is not going to hire on a remote employee to a collocated team and a collocated team is not going to suddenly convert to remote (or even gradually convert…has the 1 day a week thing actually ever converted to full time IRL?). Given the huge talent gap that I keep hearing about in our industry there is a relatively minuscule percentage of opportunities where remote is an option (I mean…assuming I was searching for such things). For all the chatter I hear, I can’t help to think that we are just a very vocal minority. Maybe the survey suffers from the healthy user bias that we see in health studies. Are all you remote people slacking off so much that you have time to take a survey?


On the “bringing the remote employee on to a collocated team” thing: You might think I can make that work. I’m a special ❄️. There’s a 99.9% chance you’re wrong on that. Don’t do it. It’s tempting. I know. I spent over a year as a satellite employee and it wasn’t my most joyous times as a developer. You are indeed a special ❄️, but not in the good way. A quote from the excellent blog post from Martin Fowler:

It’s very difficult to get satellite workers to be effective. With most people co-located, most communication will happen within the co-located team. I hardly ever hear of this model without the satellite person getting increasingly detached. If their work is very autonomous, that will reduce the problem. It is also wise to ensure satellite people make regular visits to the onsite team, at least a couple of times a month. But in most cases it seems best as a temporary measure.


I do have to call out that it’s not always the people in charge of hiring that’s crushing all of our hopes and dreams. You’re probably not going to believe this, but there are actually people out there that enjoy going to an office and interacting with other humans all day. These people are called extroverts. For us introverts we can do this and often do a lot of times. It’s just that we don’t flourish in these situations. We all fall somewhere on the extrovert/introvert spectrum and it takes all kinds to be successful (think the Steve Jobs/Steve Wozniak combo). There is no wrong end to fall on, just keep that spectrum in mind when searching or hiring for a remote team. A lot more on this kind of stuff in Quiet. TL;DR? Watch this. Drawing from purely anecdotal evidence I believe there’s a strong correlation between introversion and remote.


So what do we do? Fiik. Do we wait a couple of generations for all the Cosmo Spacelys to retire? Good for our grandkids…not so good for us. Do we wait for the industry to have their epiphany and start seeking us? It worked for Agile 😏.

A lot of questions, not too many answers. It’s always a people problem is the only thing I can come up with.