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Work From Everywhere: The New Reality of Hybrid Work for Engineering Teams

September 1st, 2021
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70% of engineering teams are more productive when working from home

Hybrid work for engineering teams is here to stay

There is so much talk about it. It’s becoming a cliche, but it’s an undisputed truth: the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our reality, and our working habits along with it. The restrictions have kept us in our houses, forcing us to adapt, and find new ways to carry on with our lives. Once we discovered that more and more jobs could be done remotely, it was obvious we were never going to let go of that freedom and flexibility. 

Work from anywhere

27% of the worldwide population is now fully vaccinated, and as more and more countries are receiving vaccines, some companies are getting ready to get back to the office. But we all know it’s not going to be as easy as that. 

According to a recent Flexjobs survey, 65% of respondents want to be full-time remote employees post-pandemic, and 33% want to work in a hybrid work environment

If this past year and a half were all about remote work, the future of work is hybrid.  Hybrid essentially means having more options available within the same company: on-site, only partially on-site, and fully remote. 

Trends show that we were inevitably heading towards a hybrid scenario anyway, but the pandemic has accelerated this process. And dealing with all these changes in a short period of time has brought a certain degree of confusion.

A first step in dealing with the new reality of working from everywhere is understanding what went well and what didn’t, what you want to keep, and what needs to go. As engineering leaders, you can then decide what works best for your team. 

We’ll show you how the Waydev platform can become a reliable partner in choosing the best option, without worrying about the downsides. Using development analytics intelligence means having valuable insights about your team’s work, progress, and any issues without seeing your engineers in person every day. 

Choice is the new reality

Going fully remote during the pandemic was not a choice for all. And for many, going to the office on a daily basis before that, was not a choice either. By far, the greatest benefit of hybrid work is having the freedom to choose. Of course, the choice will be regulated differently within each company, but it will not doubt become a competitive perk. 

Hybrid work gives teams the freedom to choose what works best for them. Some may miss the social rituals of coming to the office and meeting with their colleagues. Or they may opt to drop by every week for a team meeting or brainstorming session. And some will realize how working remotely is really not the same as being on lockdown and will choose the comfort of their home office permanently.

Remote work will prevail

3 days remote and 2 in the office? Or 4 and 1?  Or for some, even fully remote. Whatever the scenario, for most teams, especially in software development, working remotely will be predominant.

Remote work comes with many benefits for engineering teams: fewer distractions and more coding time, the comfort of their home office, more flexible working hours, and more working opportunities. 

According to the 2021 Work Trend Index commissioned by Microsoft, remote job posting increased 5 times during the pandemic as companies have access to different talent and skills that were not available in big cities. People are now reevaluating their opportunities and even their career choices.

46% of people are considering moving because they can work remotely. And as many as 41% are considering leaving their job this year, in search of better opportunities. As the need for software engineers and engineering managers will continue to grow, the possibility of choosing remote work will continue to be an important differentiator.

And this is general employee data. When it comes to engineers specifically, the 2021 State of Remote Engineering Report, conducted by Terminal, found that 70% of engineers are more productive when working from homeAnd 1 out of 3 wants to work remotely 100% of the time.

It’s not hard to guess why. If we take out the (sometimes painfully long) commutes, and the occasional distractions, developers are left with more Maker Time without working extra hours. Most engineers perform better when they are deeply immersed in their work. Understanding this will help you schedule meetings and other events around their schedule. Waydev’s Calendar Metrics will help ensure engineers have 3-4 consecutive hours to code. 

Activity Heatmap will show you when your team is most active and when it’s Maker time. This will also allow your team to work more flexible hours or have a diluted schedule – take breaks when needed, do house chores and work during quieter hours.

Of course, no model is perfect and without downsides. But if we look at some of the common ones associated with remote work- loss of productivity or feeling of isolation, and burnout – we’ll see these too can be avoided with the right tools and policies in place.

Waydev can help you measure your team’s productivity – so you automatically track, and optimize your effectiveness without their manual input.

I recall reading an article about a certain company where the main concern was not only feeling like the team was no longer productive but that they never had those ‘hard productivity metrics’ in the first place. That’s exactly what development can offer. Real-time insights to help your team improve efficiencies and speed up development velocity.

You can use reports like Work Log, Developer Performance, and Sprints to gain granular visibility into your team’s progress without the need for ad hoc sync ups, which can become a source of stress or distraction for your team. You can read more about ways to improve your team’s performance here.

Set limits to avoid burnout and digital exhaustion. Understand each other’s boundaries, when you can be contacted and when not. Use the Sprint report to see where team members may be over capacity, or whether they are falling behind with work. The Google calendar integration will show you how much time your team spends in meetings. 

As an Engineering Manager:

In fairness, working from everywhere was not uncommon in software engineering even before the pandemic. The transition is not as abrupt and we’re probably not the most affected industry. 

Nevertheless, before it was never the norm. So now, engineering leaders will have the same priorities as any other managers: retaining talent and making sure their teams are happy and engaged. 

Here’s what we think will be key to your successful hybrid work strategy:

Invest in tools 

Use tools that increase collaboration like GitHub, JIRA, Slack, Confluence. 

Use development analytics intelligence tools like Waydev so you have a better understanding of your team’s activity without putting additional pressure on them. 

Leave 1:1 and team meetings for building trust 

Use that time to build a relationship, and bond with your engineers, and don’t spend it on gathering updates. Use Waydev reporting tools to get instant, real-time updates. Now, more than ever, it is important to encourage discussions and exchange different opinions. Foster an environment where each team member has a voice. 

Use the camera as often as possible

Ok, maybe sometimes you’re worried you might still have pillow marks on that really early call, or just don’t feel like it. But you should make an effort to use your camera as often as possible. Our messages become a lot easier to decode and a lot harder to misinterpret when they’re accompanied by facial expressions, and gestures. It’s also an opportunity to learn and share more about each other’s life and form genuine relationships.

Recognize work

Give praise where praise is due and do it often. This is something dev analytics can help a lot with. The Developer Summary report will show you what your engineers have been spending time on, even the less visible but important work like paying down technical debt.

Create clear hybrid work policies

We don’t have an answer for what’s best. It’s all history in the making. But as companies settle into full hybrid mode, the HR department of your organization will need to know how to manage onboarding new employees, wage rates, paid off time, travel, and adapt the appraisal process, if necessary. As an engineering manager, you will most likely (want to) be involved in deciding how your engineers will work and whether they can choose for themselves how they want to work. 

Develop hybrid management skills

You learn something new as a manager every day. But developing hybrid management skills is something some now see as being an emergency.  Creating trust, asking questions, and getting honest feedback from your engineers will be crucial for the well-being of your team. There are 3 key areas you have to pay special attention to:

Focus on culture

The future hybrid workforce finds motivation in work that has a purpose and makes an impact. Work on creating a fair and inclusive culture that fosters different points of view,  creativity, and authenticity.

Reconsider benefits

According to the same 2021 Work Trend Index, 23% of engineers would like a home office stipend for utilities, internet, and other expenses; 22% also want more flexible work hours, and 11% desire new technology and productivity tools. 26% of engineers also ranked support for mental health as one of their top three sought-after benefits.

Talk about it more

The hybrid way of working as a standard practice is fairly new to all of us. There is no clear guidance, no formula, or set of rules. Nobody knows everything and that’s why we all need to keep talking about it. We’ll go by trial and error, learn, share, and improve. 

If you want to find out more about how Waydev can help you, schedule a demo. 

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