During the last months the whole world changed a lot. Something happened that was not expected at all. The schools closed in most of the countries and a lot of courses have been started. Most of the companies changed to home office mode or closed down. Anyway, digital solutions have a high role in the current situation. The companies with a good digital background can survive, the rest can easily fail.
Fortunately most of the software companies have a good digital background. But how will this situation influence the life of programmers in the long term?
At most of the companies the opportunity of home office is a big ghost since years. Even if there are no technical obstacles or they could be removed by a simple IT solution (like setting up a VPN bridge etc.), a lot of companies still had a policy of no home office or very restricted rules for home office (like only once a month etc.). In most of the cases they had the impression that working from home is not efficient. Or they just wanted to track their employees more strictly and easier.
At most of these companies it changed now and they changed to an almost 100% home office mode. Which means most of their employees in most of their time are working from home.
I’m sure that on one hand there are companies and projects who are more successful on this change, on the other hand some companies may fail this change.
The reason for failing can be the lack of trust from management point of view, wrong leading strategies in the company, pure technical infrastructure, lack of experience or lack of motivation from the developer side.
But based on what I’m experiencing and what I heard from others at most companies this change was more or less successful, the teams are working from home with similar efficiency as they had before.
From the developer side there are also different opinions. There are ones who hate working from home. For some of them the conditions are not fulfilled at home properly, others are just too social to do it on a daily basis.
But, at least from the ones I know, most of the developers like this situation from a work perspective. I personally also like it, but I would prefer to work from the office once or twice a week.
The other point I often heard is that some of the developers have difficulties to find the work-life balance at home and they are working much longer than normally. You have to be strict with yourself to manage it properly.
Another perspective is the perspective of the customers. Since a lot of businesses stopped working during the last weeks, for sure there will be a lot of projects cancelled by the customers. On the other hand there are fields where there's a huge need for software developers: online communication and education solutions, digital solutions for shops and services etc.
So I also expect a lot of new projects coming in the near future. However all of us need to be flexible, it can happen that we have to change our profile a bit and to change domain or technology in the future.
As for now most of the well-paying developer jobs are placed in big and expensive cities and expensive countries.
At these places even if you have a good salary you don’t have a huge chance to have your own house in a calm circumstance with a nice garden, these places are mostly too crowded for that and the prices are too high. Furthermore a lot of developers are working far from their home, just to have a proper job.
In the current situation there’s a good chance that companies will realize that home office work can still be efficient and they can save a lot of costs on that (like renting office space etc.), so they are changing fully or partially to this mode in the future.
I already heard some nice visions from programmers about moving to the countryside or back to their hometown and doing the same job for the same salary remotely.
It sounds great, but I doubt if it could work so easily.
If you take a look at how most big companies are working nowadays: they have headquarters and offices in more expensive countries, near to their customers and they have offices in so-called best cost countries (like India, eastern-European countries etc.). The reason is that it is enough to pay much less (sometimes even around 25%) in the best cost countries, than in the expensive ones (US, UK, Germany etc.). But they still want to have a certain amount of employees who are there in place, who can meet any time with the customer, who can be tracked better, who are near to the fire.
So if you are working now at an expensive and well-playing place and you are changing to 100% home office mode and moving to some nice, preferred place your advantage over the colleagues working in the so called best cost countries will be strongly reduced. So that it isn't worth it for your company to pay you 3-4 times more than for your colleagues working in the low cost offices. So most likely they won’t do it in the long term.
On the other hand the disadvantage of being far away from the headquarter will be also reduced if more and more work is done remotely. It makes no big difference if you are working from home in the next street or 2000 kilometers away.
That means if the home office model will become more and more popular I expect the differences of salaries between the different countries to be reduced in the long term.
How can we handle this situation?
First of all I have to remark, that we are very lucky compared to other professions, since our job can be easily done from home, so we are not stuck without incoming for weeks or months. On the contrary, we can save some time by not having to commute to work everyday.
One hand we have to do our best for our current work and current project to show that we are efficient developers even from home office.
In order to do that you have to have a strict daily routine and you may have to try out new tools or new ways of working. For example we started to do only mob-programming sessions and I think they are really useful.
On the other hand in your free time you have to learn something new, so that you will be flexible enough to change if it is required in the future. Take a look at the trending technologies and domains. There are now a lot of online courses available for free or for a discounted price. Do them, it makes you really powerful in the long term!