Thanks to the Internet, remote work or work from home opportunities are abundant today and are expected to grow further in the coming days in many areas, including the software development industry. Remote work refers to working outside a traditional office environment.
Today, more and more people are opting for remote work mainly because of the flexibility it offers. However, like any other industry, it also suffers from some inherent problems. It is essential to be aware of these problems in order to overcome them and make the most out of this opportunity.
RemotePanda, a platform for companies to hire remote talents, has recently conducted a survey to understand the various nuances and trend of remote work in the software development industry.
About the Survey
In April 2018, RemotePanda started a road trip to capture real conversations and experiences of people on remote work. Over a period of 3 months, they met 250+ CXOs in the US and subsequently, also carried out an online survey, where again, more than 300 CXOs participated.
The survey also included remote workers in order to get a complete picture of the Remote Work Cycle. Most of the participants belong to the US-based CXO companies from pre-revenue to $5 million in revenue. On the other hand, the remote workers participating in the survey are mostly from India.
1. Why Work with a Remote Team
The survey throws lights on the current scenario of remote work in the software development industry by highlighting its benefits as well as the risks and challenges associated with it. It is basically a comprehensive coverage of remote work trends and best practices and learnings from industry insiders.
About 86% of the participants in the survey are found to have worked with or are currently working with a remote team. The main reason behind so many people opting to work with a remote team is the low cost. The survey found that the cost of a software developer from South Asia is about 50% less than that of a local hire in the US.
Another equally important reason is flexibility or the ability to work flexible hours. About 37% of the respondents cited cost to be the main reason behind their decision to work with remote teams, while for 33%, flexibility has been the main reason. So, a growing trend can be discerned here, where people are preferring to work when they want to work instead of going for jobs with the traditional 9 to 5 structur.
Remote work is beneficial for employers, as they do not have to sacrifice talents by forcing everybody to comply with the condition of gathering in one place in order to work. In fact, big companies like Google and Facebook have already allowed their employees to work the hours they want to.
2. Finding a Remote Team
The popular notion is that most companies rely on online platforms like Freelancer, Upwork, etc., for hiring their remote team as they possess a large pool of talents ready to provide services at competitive rates.
But, the survey carried out by RemotePanda has revealed that 39% of the participants actually prefer to work with teams that had been referred to them. This shows that trust plays a crucial role in this decision.
On the other hand, about 27% rely on freelance websites to find a remote team to work with, while 15% use LinkedIn and another 15% use internet research for this purpose.
3. Difficulties Associated with Working with Remote Teams
The remoteness in remote working does bring a lot of difficulties and challenges for people opting for this mode of working. The main difficulties faced in remote work are communication, time zone differences, collaboration, trust among team members, cultural differences, scalability, and quality of work.
Out of these, the top two contenders are communication and time zone differences. About 36% of the respondents cited communication as the main difficulty while working with a remote team, while for 16%, it was differences in timezone. Another 16% reported collaboration as the main difficulty, while 13% said that the main problem was ‘trust’ among team members.
4. Difficulties Associated with Working with Remote Clients
Communication is also the main difficulty faced by workers while ‘definition of the objective and clarity in the final goal’ is the second biggest difficulty faced by them while dealing with remote clients. About 45% of the workers who participated in the survey cited communication as the main problem, while for 25% participants, it was the ‘goal and objective clarity’.
Communication problems elongate the project timeline, while time zone differences can increase the duration of the project due to limited interactions. This, in turn, can increase the cost and thus, defeat the main reason to work with a remote team.
Therefore, success in remote work requires a well-defined process. However, many of the problems or challenges faced while working remotely are solvable.
5. How to Overcome These Difficulties
The problems that arise from the differences in time zone can be solved to a great extent by creating a plan that can put each team member in sync. This requires the right tool along with some adjustments in the working hours and the creation of multiple touch points within the day.
Also, it is essential to invest in time and resources to bring each member at par with each other with regard to the project in hand.
According to the findings of the survey, a majority of remote teams opt for a team coordinator to handle the issue of time zone overlap. The team coordinator is usually entrusted with the responsibility of providing the necessary overlap between both the sides.
A structured communication process, where both the parties, i.e., clients and workers know when and how to communicate is one of the simplest ways to deal with the situation. In the survey, almost 25% of the remote workers said that they depend on a communication process to overcome time zone difficulties, while 52% prefer appointing a team coordinator.
Communication issues can be handled by opting for a language that all team members can understand and speak. Cultural differences is another major impediments faced by CXOs with about 19% participants citing it as a difficulty in remote working.
The solution to this problem could be to devise a way to bring all team members close to the project. An attempt to understand different cultures, an openness to cultural differences, and keeping them in mind while creating plans can ease this difficulty to a great extent.
Almost 47% of remote workers said that an openness to differences in culture can help solve the problems emanating from the cultural differences of the team members. On the other hand, about 32% stressed the importance of more communication while 21% felt that educating yourself and the team about each other’s culture can help overcome the difficulties.
6. Satisfaction with Remote Work
Satisfaction with the work is one of the important aspects of working remotely. As per the survey by RemotePanda, 40% participants are satisfied and 18% are very satisfied. So, in total, about 58% participants are satisfied with remote work.
About 39% of the participants are somewhat satisfied and only 3% have expressed dissatisfaction with their work. This shows that the acceptance for remote work is growing.
A better perspective about what it means to work with a remote team for both your and your company, can go a long way in enhancing your remote working experience.
So, going by the findings of the survey undertaken by RemotePanda, we can come to the conclusion that the trend of remote working is growing and is expected to grow more in the near future.
The survey has provided greater insights into the nature of remote work and various challenges it can throw up. It underlines the fact that we cannot restrict ourselves to a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to working remotely. Rather, continuous time and efforts are required to make the most out of remote work.
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