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Blog: Remote Work/Life Balance and Productivity

Another one from Quora:

How can remote software engineers maintain a healthy work-life balance while staying productive?

Generally speaking, much more easily than in-office software engineers!

Not having to commute means they have lower work-related demands on their time.  For many people, it also means omitting a particularly stressful and dangerous part of the workday, one that actually costs them money that is rarely reimbursed by the employer.  For that matter, remote workers often don’t even have to put on “real clothes”, versus a bathrobe or pajamas or even nothing at all, saving them further time and expense.  ;-)

But what about the productivity, you ask?

For this kind of work, or anything else involving a lot of deep thinking on complex matters, working remotely generally means fewer distractions, so they can get into a state of “flow” rather than having to constantly rebuild their mental models after numerous interruptions.  Yes, the snacks in the pantry and the nice weather outside may be calling, but those are much more easily ignored (with a bit of self-discipline) than the colleagues and bosses wandering by with questions, or wanting to go out to lunch or play ping-pong or whatever, not to mention their noisy chatter even when you’re not part of the conversation.  If there are kids or inquisitive pets or whatever at home, there’s the option of working from a local library or coffeeshop or whatever.  (Though then they’d be expected to put on “real clothes” again.  ;-) )

Sure, there may be occasional need for discussion with colleagues, clients, etc.  The vast majority of this can be handled asynchronously, like via email, or for more people, chat systems such as Slack.  If synchronous discussion is needed, there’s always the phone, or if worst comes to worst (IMHO), texting.

So, to sum up, the way your question is phrased makes me think that you think it’s difficult, but by contrast, the lower time-demands and lesser distractions make remote work a big win for any kind of work involving concentration on complex systems.