If you don’t allow your software developers to work from home, you’re not just withholding a nice perk from your employees, you’re hurting your business.
Here’s five reasons letting developers work remotely should be the default:
1. Widen your talent poolGood software engineers are already hard to find. On top of that, you've got to hire someone skilled in your chosen tech stack, which narrows the pool even further. Why restrict yourself to those engineers within driving distance to your office? Can you really afford to wait for talent to move close to you?
The CTO for my current gig lives an hour away from the office, and can’t move because of his wife’s job. We wouldn’t have been able to hire him if we didn’t let him work from home. Who are you missing out on because you won’t look at remote devs.
2. Reclaim commute timeThe average commute time in the US is 30 minutes. That's an hour a day your in-office developers aren't working. If you let them work from home, they can start earlier and finish later.
Don’t think they will? The evidence shows they do: people working from home work longer hours than people in the office.
An extra hour of work a day is five more hours a week, or almost three more work days in the month. Why throw that time away?
3. Reduce sick leaveWhen I've got a cold or flu, I stay home. I usually spend the first day or two resting, but by the third day I'm usually able to work for a little, even though I'm too sick to go into the office.
If my boss didn’t let me work from home, he wouldn’t get those “sick hours” from me. I’d be forced into taking more time off, getting less done.
And when my wife’s sick, I don’t have to choose between taking care of her and getting my work done. By working from home, I can do both.
4. Increase employee retentionThe only thing worse than not hiring a good dev is losing an engineer you've already got. When they leave, you're not only losing a resource, you're losing all the historical knowledge they have about the system: weird bugs that only show up once a quarter, why the team chose X db instead of another, etc.
Since the competition for talent is fierce, you don’t want to lose out to another company. Letting developers work from home sends a clear signal to your employees that they’re valued and that you appreciate work-life balance. And with many companies sticking to the old “gotta be in the office” way of thinking, you’re ensuring that any offer your employees get from another company won’t be as attractive.
5. Stay focused on work doneFinally, letting developers work from home forces the entire team to focus on what's really important: getting work done. It doesn't matter how many hours a developer spends in the office; if that time isn't productive, it's wasted.
What does matter is how much work a dev gets done: how many bugs squashed, how many new features completed, how many times they jump in to help another engineer. What you need from your developers is software for your business, not time spent in a cubicle. If they’re not producing, they should be let go. If they are producing, does it matter if they’re at a coffee shop downtown?
And if you don’t have a way of measuring developer productivity beyond hours spent at their desk, get one. You can’t improve something you don’t measure, and team productivity should be high on your list of things to always be improving.