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Remote vs. In-Office Software Teams: Which One is Right for Your Business?

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Today, the biggest trends affecting technology industry employment are the growing acceptance of remote and co-located teams and workplaces as well as the effective tools that enable it.

Productivity and cost, like with every other business, are the most critical factors involved when choosing either co-located or remote workplaces. One thing is for sure, however – every firm has a different set of wants and needs for their business.

So which team do you think better fits the ideals of your company? Remote or co-located? Now before we dive into the ‘remote vs. in-office teams’ narrative, let us give you a deeper insight into what several industry peers think about the modern work environment.

Does Collaboration Equal Distraction? While it is evident that open workplaces foster better collaboration between office employees, it also acts as a double-edged sword. Closed-door offices may be a hindrance to communication, but they do well to shield us against distractions from the noise coming from our co-workers and their constant interruptions.

In this post, we have shed more light on the matter between the benefits of face-to-face collaboration followed by those of open-office environments and exchanges between collaboration and distraction.

The Data on Remote vs. Co-location

Remote workplaces are still growing in various parts of the world, whereas information on distributed teams and their effectiveness is mostly based on opinions and rumors. However, there is an incredible number of studies on open offices that range from productivity and health to basic employee satisfaction to how noise disrupts arithmetic ability. But these studies don’t concern software developers or other professionals of the software development industry.

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Then Georgia Tech Ph.D. candidate Chris Parnin, in his 2013 blog post Programmer Interrupted, cited a number of studies on how interruptions lead to disappointing results.

After examining 10,000 programming sessions, Parnin stated that programmers take about 10 to 15 minutes to start editing code once they resume their work after being interrupted. He also adds that they likely get just one uninterrupted 2-hour session in a day.

Coders must stay focused at all times. It is clearly evident from the above observations how much a software developer’s productivity can be affected due to losing a number of valuable hours to largely avoidable distractions.

The Irony of Remote Work

On the other hand, Basecamp founders David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried, asserted through their book, REMOTE: Office Not Required, the positives of remote work and provide effective advice to managers looking to transition from closed-door workplaces.

Given how they have expanded Basecamp’s workforce to more than 50 employees since establishing the company in 1999, the authors know what they’re talking about. The book also shares the risks that co-located office managers would unlikely consider.

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Common knowledge seems to suggest that remote employees have less working hours and enjoy better freedom when not being supervised or monitored, but the book warns remote managers that there is a bigger risk involved, which is being unable to identify overworking and burnout when employees are not on-site. Fried deems this is the ‘irony of people working from the comforts of their own home.’

So the authors advise managers to put up reasonable expectations for their hours and while also instructing their employees to measure their productivity by telling themselves if they have done a good day’s work. There are a couple of studies which show employees being more productive when they’re not being supervised.

Forsaking Commute

Working remotely or from home comes with the perk of abandoning long commuting hours and cutting down on fuel cost as well. In fact, Michael Swierczek, who is a remote software developer for Diio, says that working remotely alleviates the countless distractions of office noise and intrusions and the additional advantage of giving up on the commute is really worth it.

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Those folks who live in extremely congested areas could be willing to extend their office hours over working at home. Some of them can even be away from home for over 50 hours. Unfortunately, working for so long could seriously affect their overall productivity, which can only improve by reducing these extra hours.

Companies that practice remote work promote it to encourage and improve employee morale. GitLab’s “The Remote Manifesto,” includes eight principles of working remotely including one that lets employees work closely with their loved ones and be there for them most of the time.

Remote-First

Today, more established companies and startups vying for remote work are winning over those who favor open offices. As a result, there is a larger market for remote jobs, including websites and platforms such as 3P Development that allow employers to connect with and recruit workers quickly from their own homes without any hassle.

Now hybrid offices that mash private areas for tasks requiring concentration with those that involve collaboration are in style. It also appears that the digital nomad lifestyle has given remote work a whole new meaning.

So now that that’s been taken care of, have you decided the kind of workplace you want to opt for? Well, the answer truly depends on the needs and goals of every company. But after careful thinking and planning, you’ll surely find your answer.

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