Perhaps you’re thinking about taking the plunge on a remote position—losing that onerous commute, escaping the confines of a cubicle, and enjoying a workspace of your own: shoes optional! The benefits are real—for workers, employers, and perhaps the larger world (less commuting means fewer greenhouse gases). Already a major trend before the early months of 2020, remote work has soared in popularity since the beginning of the COVID pandemic. And many people are finding remote work far more fulfilling than they had ever expected. As Fast Company’s Jared Lindzon writes, “The office as we know it is over—and that’s a good thing.” But before accepting a remote job as a software engineer, there are a few things to consider and be clear about.
What to Consider Before Accepting a Remote Job as a Software Engineer
1. How much do remote software engineers make?
Publicly available salary data varies greatly according to who is reporting the figures. For example, a 2020 CodinGame Developer Survey of more than 20,000 developers in over 125 countries cites an average annual gross salary of $31,958 USD in Brazil, while Statista.com cites a median annual salary of $10,975 USD in Brazil as of April 2020.
2. What should MY salary be?
Look at rates paid for similar positions in your geographic area. Take into consideration variances across industries, and inventory your skills and experience. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How much experience do I have as it relates to this particular industry? (e.g., If you will be accepting a healthcare software engineering position, do you have healthcare-specific software engineering experience?)
- What sets you apart as a colleague and team member? (e.g., Have you supervised other employees, spearheaded major projects, or earned prestigious awards in your field?)
- Are you proficient in a skill or technology that is rare, difficult to master, or in high demand?
With a little online legwork, you’ll at least figure out a ballpark range and gain confidence to ask for compensation that is commensurate with your skills and experience.
3. What is considered proficient in a programming language—and how do my skills compare?
Researcher and blogger Catherine Ray, or Rin, says, “If you are ‘proficient’ at a programming language, you can sit down and code (without consulting the internet or a book) and produce a functional program. You can write efficient, concise code in this language. If given source code, you can optimize it.”
You may be familiar with other languages (and by all means include them on your resume and online profiles), but your true proficiencies will determine how you compare to other candidates for a position.
Furthermore, as ZDNet author Liam Tung writes, software engineers who know Redux.js, Google Cloud, AWS, and React.js are currently in demand. He says, “Engineers proficient in Redux received almost three times more interview requests than the marketplace average, while candidates with Google Cloud, AWS and React.js skills received 2.7 times more interviews.”
4. What software development tools am I expected to know or learn?
5. What project management or communication tools am I expected to know or learn?
According to DevPro, the most common project management tools are:
The most popular communication tools are:
- MS Teams
All of these tools are generally intuitive and easy to learn. If there are any you don’t know, check them out before interviewing, and definitely before accepting a remote job, so you can at least say that you’re familiar with them.
6. Are there any location restrictions or required availability hours for my remote work?
Working remotely may not mean that you can work absolutely anywhere. To facilitate meetings and timely communication, employers may need you to be in a time zone that is the same as or similar to theirs. And employers frequently have legal restrictions and tax considerations that affect where they will hire and pay workers. If you are planning to move or travel extensively, be up front with potential employers and make sure that your expectations match.
7. Is this a role in which I will be happy and challenged?
Before accepting a remote job, make sure the position is a good fit for you. Most people learn best and enjoy a “proximate challenge”: tasks that they are mostly ready for but require some new learning as well as modestly expanding their skill set. In short, opportunities for growth, but not an exhausting daily sink or swim. Even if the compensation looks terrific, if the work looks likely to be either dull or stressful, look carefully before you leap.
Also, burnout is a real thing, even when (especially when?) you’re in charge of structuring your days. Here’s our advice about how to create an ideal work-life balance and avoid remote work burnout.
8. What is the team’s remote work culture—and does it appeal to me?
Ask potential teammates to describe the team’s work culture, and decide whether it suits your style. Ask:
- Are most workers full time? Part time? How flexible are work schedules?
- Is everyone expected to work autonomously most of the time?
- Is there much camaraderie? If so, how is it fostered?
- How do most interactions take place—Zoom calls? Slack DMs?
Introverts might love being at home and primarily responding to email and DMs, while extroverts might grow lonesome with little human interaction and enjoy videoconferencing, regular real-time check-ins, and social Slack channels.
Ready to go remote?
With these eight factors in mind, if a remote software engineering job sounds right for you, check out the many available positions at salsamobi.com/careers, and get in touch!