Not many people called it, but a weird upside to the Coronavirus "New Normal" is that companies that are fiercely against working from home have now been forced to let their staff do it because of health laws, or staff refusal to come in and risk catching the virus.
Many tech workers have been enjoying this perk, and possibly thinking to themselves "can I work like this forever?". I believe the answer is yes, but for most, it won't be for zero effort. When the pandemic is over, old ways of thinking might creep back in.
With a bit of thought on your part, now is the best time ever to transition to remote work, so that you can travel more, commute less, spend less on rent and spend more time with your family and mates.
Here are some tips for doing just that:
Remote first companies such as Gitlab, are set up so that all employees work remotely, from anywhere in the world. As such they are almost certainly never going to transition you to an office (because they don't have any!) or look down on you as one of "those remote employees".
They are also more likely to have the tools and processes set up the make remote work smooth because everyone has to do it. They probably have a smoother developer onboarding process than "get Bob to come over and help you install everything", and have ironed over kinks to do with standups, meetings and agile ceremonies to adjust for the challenges of not being in the same physical room.
With the Coronavirus pandemic now an almost permanent fixture in our lives, I think most of us now have real remote-working experience. Use this to present yourself as remote-ready. In your CV or cover letter, you can emphasise this.
For the interview prepare: How will you explain how you are great at remote work? What challenges have you overcome? How do you stay motivated and productive when working from home? If you are a team leader, what initiatives have you put in place to help make remote working more effective? How do you ensure that your team members are doing great work and not getting stuck?
Show them that you can be trusted and that you communicate well and are easy to manage, and if applicable, can manage others well.
The current working situations would have proved that yes, you can have a team working remotely, regardless of your company size. If your company has done it they will have this first-hand experience. If not you can point to myriad other examples such as Facebook, Amazon, Slack and Twitter who have let their employees work from home unless they have to be in the office for their specific job duties.
This is the time to negotiate what you want in terms of working from home, be it part-time WFH or full time. If you love where you work this is probably a better option than leaving. If you decide to move to another company in the future you can use point #2 with more force - marketing yourself as an experienced remote worker.
Open-source contributions, to strategically chosen projects, will not only show you can code but help you build relationships with people working at remote-first or heavily remote-oriented companies. It might get you a foot in the door or even bypass early interviews. You don't need to build an entire project and be a "BDFL" of a major framework. Just find a good project in a programming language you are familiar with, and start fixing bugs. Be respectful of the rules, protocol and culture of that project so as not to annoy the maintainers, but make them enjoy working with you.
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