The world of work is changing rapidly, especially in the technology sector. Remote work has steadily grown over the past decade, accelerated even further by the COVID-19 pandemic.
For software engineers in particular, remote work provides many advantages and greater flexibility.
This comprehensive guide examines the key aspects of working as a remote software engineer in 2023 and beyond.
Is Software Engineer Work from Home?
Yes, Software engineers can work remotely from home but not all companies offer full-time remote work for this role. Many technology companies are open to partial or full work-from-home arrangements for software engineers due to the digital nature of their work.
However, some companies still prefer software engineers to work onsite at least part of the time for collaboration and access to specialized equipment.
Some of the most common types of remote work arrangements include:
- Full-time remote: The employee works remotely full-time and does not go into a designated office location. All work is done from a remote location.
- Hybrid: The employee splits their time between working remotely and working from the office/onsite location. Many companies are adopting a hybrid approach post-pandemic.
- Flexible: The employee is not bound to specific hours or locations. They have flexibility in when and where they complete their work, as long as goals are met.
Remote work has grown significantly in recent years across many industries. According to Upwork’s Future Workforce Pulse report, by 2025, 36.2 million Americans will be remote workers.
This change has been led by the technology and software sectors where companies are realizing the efficiencies that can be gained from remote employees.
Software engineers in particular stand to benefit from remote work arrangements that offer increased flexibility, better work-life balance, access to global opportunities, and more.
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What is a remote developer job?
A remote developer or software engineering job is one where the employee works 100% remotely. They are not required to commute to an office or fixed location.
Remote software engineers utilize technology tools to collaborate with team members distributed across different locations.
Typical responsibilities of a remote software engineer include:
- Developing, coding, testing, and troubleshooting software programs and applications
- Collaborating through online platforms and communication tools
- Attending virtual meetings with internal teams and clients
- Delivering software projects on time within budget
- Providing maintenance and upgrades for existing software products
Can software engineers work remotely?
Absolutely – software engineering is a field that adapts well to remote work because the core tasks involve working on computers to build, test, and deploy applications.
The rise of high-speed internet connectivity, video conferencing, and collaboration tools enables software engineers to work efficiently from anywhere.
Here are some of the reasons why software engineering is well-suited for remote work:
- The work revolves around computers and does not require physical equipment.
- Tasks like coding, programming, and testing can be done remotely.
- Team collaboration tools allow effective communication and project management.
- Software projects can be broken into tasks and assigned to remote team members.
- Technology enables the sharing of design files, documents, code, and applications.
What is it like to work remotely as a developer?
Working remotely as a software developer offers pros such as flexibility and autonomy. Developers typically enjoy working independently and remotely allows them to do so.
However, some potential challenges include:
- Lack of face-to-face interaction with team members
- Communication gaps arising from remote collaboration
- Difficulty unplugging from work and maintaining work-life balance
- Decreased visibility for promotion opportunities
- Distractions from the home environment
Overall though, most developers find the benefits outweigh the cons. Utilizing project collaboration tools, having a dedicated home office space, and overcommunicating help overcome the challenges.
What percentage of software jobs are now remote?
The percentage of software engineering jobs that are full-time remote has risen steadily over the past decade.
Even before the pandemic, remote work was gaining popularity in the tech industry.
According to recent surveys and studies, here are some statistics on remote work for software engineering roles:
- 15% of software developers worked fully remotely before COVID-19 – a figure that has since risen to over 50% (SlashData, 2019)
- 70% of software engineers reported working remotely at least some of the time (StackOverflow, 2020)
- 57% of hiring managers say their company now has more remote software developers compared to before COVID (CodinGame, 2020)
The data shows a clear trend toward increased adoption of remote work within software engineering roles over the past few years. This trend is expected to continue growing.
Getting Hired as a Remote Software Engineer
If working as a remote software engineer appeals to you, the next step is figuring out how to land a remote position. Here are some key aspects of getting hired remotely:
Is a degree required to get a remote software job?
A college degree in a field like computer science or programming is often listed as a job requirement for software engineering positions.
However, some companies are open to hiring developers without a formal degree if they have strong coding skills and experience.
The key is having a portfolio of projects that demonstrates your programming abilities. Completing online courses in software engineering, contributing to open-source projects and networking with other developers can help compensate for the lack of a degree when trying to get hired.
Steps to become a remote software developer:
- Build up your skills and experience: Take online classes, complete coding boot camps, and work on open-source and personal projects.
- Create a portfolio: Showcase your projects and code samples on GitHub or your personal website.
- Network and make connections: Attend virtual conferences and events, and connect with developers on LinkedIn and social media.
- Practice remote interviewing: Interviewing for a remote job will be different than an onsite one. Get comfortable using video conferencing and screen-sharing tools.
- Search for open positions: Look for open remote roles on job boards like FlexJobs, and Remote.co, We Work Remotely.
- Prepare application materials: Update your resume and cover letters to highlight remote work abilities.
- Interview successfully: Present yourself as a self-motivated proactive worker who can thrive remotely.
In-demand remote engineering positions:
Here are some of the most popular remote software engineering roles:
- Full Stack Developer: Works across front-end, back-end, database and infrastructure.
- Back End Developer: Develops server side of apps, APIs, and databases. Knows languages like Java, Python, Node.js.
- Mobile Developer: Creates iOS or Android apps using Swift, Objective-C, Java, and Kotlin.
- Site Reliability Engineer: Monitors and maintains infrastructure and operations for scale and uptime.
The demand for remote software engineers and developers continues to rise across all these domains. Companies value the ability to access a global talent pool by hiring remotely.
Salaries and Compensation for Remote Software Engineers
One of the biggest questions around remote software engineering roles is how the salaries compare to traditional onsite jobs. Here is an overview of typical salaries for remote developers:
How do salaries for remote vs. onsite roles compare?
In most cases, the base salary range is similar for the same roles whether they are remote or onsite.
For example, a mid-level Python developer would earn an average base salary of $90,000 – $120,000 whether they work remotely or from a company office.
The main difference is that onsite roles in expensive metros like Silicon Valley or New York City often have to pay higher salaries adjusted for the local cost of living.
Remote workers have more flexibility to live in lower-cost-of-living areas.
Do remote software engineers make less than onsite?
While remote software engineers can earn slightly less than those in high-paid tech hubs, the difference in salary is typically not significant, especially when factoring in lower living costs.
According to PayScale, the average software engineer salary is $92,046 in the United States, with only a 5% lower average pay for remote roles compared to onsite.
The locational flexibility and work-life balance advantages usually make up for the small pay difference.
Salary ranges for remote software engineering roles:
Here are typical remote salary ranges for some common software engineering positions:
- Entry Level Software Engineer: $65,000 – $90,000
- Senior Software Engineer: $120,000 – $185,000
- Remote Full Stack Developer: $110,000 – $175,000
- Remote Front End Developer: $75,000 – $115,000
- Remote Back End Developer: $95,000 – $140,000
- Remote Mobile App Developer: $85,000 – $125,000
Salaries vary based on experience level, tech stack, company, and location. However remote software developers can earn competitive salaries while enjoying the benefits of remote work.
Major Tech Companies with Remote Work Policies
Remote work policies can vary widely across different companies. Software engineers interested in fully remote opportunities should target companies that are remote-first or open to hiring globally distributed teams.
Here is an overview of the remote working policies at some of the major tech companies:
What companies allow fully remote roles?
A growing number of technology companies are now fully distributed and location-agnostic when hiring, including:
- GitLab: The world’s largest all-remote company with over 1,300 team members distributed globally. They have no physical offices.
- Automattic: The developers behind WordPress.com and related blogs have been a remote-first company since their founding in 2005.
- Buffer: This social media management platform company has remote employees across the world and provides transparency on salaries.
- Zapier: The workflow automation software company has no headquarters and over 300 remote employees globally.
- DuckDuckGo: The privacy-focused search engine has a growing distributed workforce of 100+ with no physical office.
Remote work policies at top tech firms:
- Facebook: Allowed many engineers to work remotely before the pandemic. Will move to flexible remote work post-COVID.
- Twitter: Announced employees can work from anywhere forever. There is no requirement to return to the office.
- Microsoft: Adopting a hybrid remote work policy for many roles including software engineering.
- Apple: Piloting a hybrid 2-3 days in office approach. But most engineers must still work from offices.
- Google: Will allow 20% remote working but most employees will return to offices for 3 days a week.
What is hybrid working?
Hybrid working combines both remote work and office work. Employees split their time between the office location and working from home or remotely.
This provides flexibility while still allowing for some in-person team collaboration. Many tech companies are shifting to hybrid policies post-pandemic to get the best of both worlds.
The next section will explore the future landscape for remote work in the tech sector and the overall growth trends.
The Future of Remote Work for Software Engineers
Remote work is undoubtedly becoming more mainstream within the technology and software engineering landscape. But is it here to stay and what does the future hold?
Why are companies hiring remote software engineers?
Hiring remote software developers and engineers allows companies to gain access to a global talent pool. They get flexibility in scaling teams while reducing costs associated with physical office space.
Other key benefits for companies include:
- Increased employee satisfaction and better retention
- Less unscheduled absences and sick leaves
- Ability to hire for specific skills rather than location
- Around-the-clock collaboration with global teams
- Increased diversity through hiring without geographic restrictions
Is remote work becoming permanent?
Early data shows both companies and employees overwhelmingly wish to continue some form of remote work even after the pandemic ends. Flexible and hybrid remote policies are being widely adopted.
While fully remote roles are still limited to certain companies, the availability of such positions is expected to continue rising.
Overall data indicates remote work is here to stay as a permanent mainstream employment model.
Remote work offers software engineers unparalleled freedom and flexibility. This guide covers the key factors around remote software jobs – from typical responsibilities to salaries and employer policies.
While remote work has its challenges, the benefits seem to outweigh them for most software professionals.
With the right strategies, software engineers can thrive in fully remote and hybrid roles. The remote-working genie is out of the bottle and does not look to be returning any time soon.