Agilogy, professional Full Stack software developers, delivers customised products to organisations irrespective of the company size. Based in Barcelona, the team specialise in agile software development and experienced to collaborate and work remotely. This article originally appeared on Agilogy.
Agilogy is a registered provider on Ekipa platform. You can view the team here.
At Agilogy we’re used to working from remote locations on clients’ projects. As a matter of fact, the majority of our programming work is done remotely.
This is of course in a large part due to the nature of our work. Developers work through networks and sending and receiving files over the internet (encrypted) makes distance (and time-zone) almost irrelevant. A carpenter would have a much tougher time installing a kitchen remotely (but we’re sure someone’s working on it.
However, from time to time it still surprises us when clients insist that the developer be physically present at the location of the client (often full-time). For clients there seems to be a trade-off between being present and the quality of the work/productivity. We believe this is an error in thinking.
Internal communication and building trust are very important and we would even argue ‘crucial’ to a good remote-working relationship (as in any relationship). But is being present physically really necessary? All the time? Really???
We believe this requirement might come from organizations unaccustomed to their people working remotely or a fear of lower productivity or maybe of: “not knowing what that programmer-guy is doing, if I can’t see him”.
If the last reason is the case, then we don’t think a remote-working relationship is the way to go. It takes some getting used to remote workers and as mentioned, trust is very important. But even assuming these traits are established, what real advantages are there of working with remote teams, beside the cost savings in hourly rates?
1. You get the best man (or woman) for the job
If you need a certain type of developer or specific skills that are hard to find in your local market, you increase your chances substantially of finding that talent if you’re able and allowed to look outside your firm, regular contacts, town, or even country… Suddenly the world becomes your potential workforce.
We’re not saying you should definitely search beyond your countries’ borders. There are big advantages to working with local talent in some functions. (we would not suggest for an HR manager to work remotely, not full-time at least). But the chances of finding that exact profile for a specific job increase significantly because the talent pool you’re searching in becomes much larger.
One caveat here: You should have a pretty clear picture of the profile you’re looking for, before you start looking. (but that’s a different Blog article altogether)
2. Increased client-engagement
Would you believe that remote teams are actually MORE engaged with the client than people working in your local office?
This may sound surprising but we didn’t make it up… It comes straight from Harvard
At Agilogy, it doesn’t surprise us much. With every new engagement we see how we need to dig deep and try to understand the true challenges facing the client and the problems they experience. This makes for an interesting exchange of information which may otherwise be implicit (and not as documented) with people working in the office.
3. Increased productivity
Sure “client engagement is very important, but what about productivity?” you might say. Surely people who work in separate locations are less productive than if they all came into one office, right?
Well, apparently not. If managed correctly, it seems people work more efficiently and are MORE productive working remotely! Again, straight from Harvard: https://hbr.org/2014/01/to-raise-productivity-let-more-employees-work-from-home
In this light here’s some interesting insights from a field study by Cisco among 2000 employees in 2009:
“Approximately 69 percent of the employees surveyed cited higher productivity when working remote, and 75 percent of those surveyed said the timeliness of their work improved.”
“By telecommuting, 83 percent of employees said their ability to communicate and collaborate with co-workers was the same as, if not better than, it was when working on-site.”
4. No endless, time-consuming and non-productive meetings
While we’re not saying that meetings are unimportant, we do believe they’re sometimes overrated. What ever got accomplished by meeting more?
They’re also very time-consuming and most of the time not everyone needs to attend for every topic.
This is something that’s avoided in working remotely. At Agilogy we hold meetings and they are important but they are usually very short. It’s surprising how concise and effective one’s communication becomes when meeting on a shared video-conference call or in a chat application. Professionals tend to become very pragmatic and to-the-point. And it’s unusual that the entire team needs to be present at every meeting.
The result is a team that communicates more effectively with fewer distractions, and that’s better prepared going into these brief meetings.
5. A different view
Our developers can see possible solutions for client’s problems that the in-house team may not have come up with. One of the reasons why, is because we see them from a different perspective, in fact quite literally because the team is in a different place.
This means we may bring different skills to the table because of different education, background, methods, experience, etc.
This cultural aspect shouldn’t be underestimated. IT problems are sometimes not as ‘black-and-white’ as one would expect and a different way of viewing the problem or code can lead to surprising outcomes that work in the clients’ favor.
6. Better resources
Apart from making it easier to find the right person for the job, chances are that if that person works in a dedicated team (say a team of developers specializing in Scala), he will also have much greater resources at his disposal to perform better.
Developer’s tools, libraries, literature, in-house know-how and colleagues to consult with are a great advantage for any professional, in-company or subcontracted. These resources can be leveraged even more when such a team works remotely.
It would be difficult and very costly, if not impossible to duplicate such resources inside every company. We would argue that it’s not even necessary for every country to have such specialized teams, let alone every city. Since such work is easily done remotely and the internet knows no national borders.
6½ The environment
This may not count as a measurable benefit to any specific client (or even the developer) and that’s why we only call it ‘half’ an advantage, but all those greenhouse gases not wasted in driving a car, getting on a plane, keeping the lights on in an office that’s way too big… The central heating, airconditioning, traffic jams…
Not to mention time spent away from family and not being able to be back home in time to tuck the kids into bed… (We wonder if anyone ever calculated the cost of that? There must be a cost to society, right?)
While avoiding or minimising all this time and energy spent on non-productive means does not provide a clear monetary reward for any of the parties, it’s clear that the planet benefits in a big way and so we thought it deserved a mention on this list (even if it were just ‘half’ an advantage).
To sum it all up, we call this way of working: ‘Smartshoring’.
Not Offshoring. Not Nearshoring. Not Outsourcing perse… It’s basically a matter of looking clearly at the needs of the client and seeing how we can solve those while working remotely. And if that client happens to be in another country? No problems. It’s just another day at our office
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