6 Productivity & Efficiency Hacks for Remote Developers
For Employers

February 15, 2024

6 Productivity & Efficiency Hacks for Remote Developers

This productivity paradox is real. Working remotely is increasingly common among software engineers, and many believe it is more productive. In a recent study by Software.com, 64% of developers said they're getting more done while working remotely, up from 55% last year.cDevelopers within the Index.dev community proudly declare, "The future is remote work," and express an eagerness to embrace it wholeheartedly over the prospect of returning to traditional desk-bound routine.

85% of Developers Work in Hybrid of Fully Remote Environment (Source: 2023 Future of Work Report)

One big reason remote work is a hit is because it gets rid of the daily commute. This saves people 1 to 2 hours every day. Plus, there are small benefits like not having to travel for meetings, being able to cook at home, and handling household tasks during the day. Thanks to tools like Slack and Zoom, developers can be effective no matter where they work. And special tools for tracking development progress help even more. They keep an eye on important things like how often new versions are released and how good they are. This kind of data helps companies trust their teams and lets everyone work together smoothly.

Also read: 18 indispensable productivity tools for remote development teams

In this article, we'll share six tips to boost productivity for remote developers. But before we jump into that, let's take a quick look at some important facts about how remote work affects developer productivity.

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Impact of Remote Work on Productivity

Key findings

In a recent report that dives into the future of work, Software.com took a close look at how remote work has affected 400,000 developers worldwide. The findings reveal three key insights about how the developer community has adapted to remote work over the past three years:

  1. Developers are enjoying a better experience: Thanks to more flexible schedules, developers are getting a lot more work done between 9 am and 5 pm (+5%). There's been a 9% increase in coding during morning commutes, and fewer late-night (-11%) and weekend (-9%) work shifts. This shift has led to a healthier work-life balance and a decrease in burnout among developers.
  2. Productivity stays steady: Although developers are spending slightly less time coding per weekday—59.9 minutes in 2023 compared to 64.2 minutes in 2020 (-7%)—this is offset by a small efficiency boost. The rate of keystrokes per minute coded, which shows focused work, has gone up by 4%. Additionally, many repetitive tasks are now automated with the help of code completion and AI tools.
  3. Automation and AI are making waves: The world is powered by software, and for innovation to thrive, development teams need to be at their best. The speedy adoption of AI and automation tools, like GitHub Copilot, has led to a surge in coding speed. Between 2020 and 2023, the average number of characters inserted per keystroke shot up by 41%, and the lines of code edited per minute increased by 39%. These numbers reflect the growing use of AI-driven code generation and completion tools. 
I pretty much use Copilot for everything now. It saves me the time I'd spend hunting through documentation. Essentially, I go straight from writing code to refining code. - Dusan T., Java Developer of the Index.dev Pipeline
Rate of Wiriting Code, Copilot Users vs Baseline
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Productivity hacks for an increased remote development efficiency

1. Defining Clear Objectives and Expectations

When it comes to keeping remote developers on track, clarity is key. Making sure that everyone knows what's expected is essential. A study conducted by Harvard Business Review discovered that 69% of remote employees felt their teams lacked clear goals and expectations. This issue can be tackled head-on by employing tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet for virtual meetings. This ensures that every team member comprehends their responsibilities and the overall project goals.

Ever heard of SMART goals? They're a game-changer for remote developers. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. According to the American Psychological Association, individuals who have precise and challenging goals outperform those with vague or simple goals by a whopping 90%. For effective remote work, tools like Asana or Trello, which are excellent for project management, come into play. They help in setting, monitoring, and updating goals. This keeps remote developers right on track and supercharges their productivity.

2. Establishing a Structured Daily Routine

Keeping a consistent schedule is a game-changer for remote developers. Research from RescueTime revealed that remote workers who stuck to a regular routine were a whopping 20% more productive than those with erratic schedules. Designating set start and end times for work helps remote developers maintain a sense of order and discipline, resulting in sustained focus and efficiency all day long.

  1. Embracing strategic breaks: Regular breaks aren't just a luxury; they're essential for remote developers to keep their productivity intact. Ever heard of the Pomodoro Technique? It's a gem. This technique involves dividing work into 25-minute chunks followed by a 5-minute break. It might sound simple, but it's incredibly effective. A study by the Draugiem Group found that employees who took regular breaks were a stellar 31% more productive than those who didn't.
  2. Taming distractions for peak performance: Distractions are sneaky productivity killers. Social media, email pings, and personal tasks can easily throw remote developers off course. Tools like Freedom, StayFocusd, and Focus@Will are here to save the day. They're like distraction-fighting sidekicks. With their help, minimizing distractions becomes a breeze, and developers’ productivity gets a solid boost.

3. Equipping with the Right Tools and Resources

In this new world of remote work, a slew of collaboration tools has emerged, transforming the way teams work together. For remote developers to thrive, the right tools are essential. McKinsey's research highlights that companies embracing collaboration technologies witnessed a remarkable 20-30% boost in productivity among their knowledge workers.

  1. Seamless collaboration: Platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams empower remote developers to communicate, share files, and collaborate on projects in real-time. A McKinsey study revealed that adopting such tools translated into amplified productivity. 
  2. Mastering project management: The Project Management Institute discovered that a whopping 77% of high-performing organizations utilize project management software. Tools like Trello and Asana shine in this arena. They let remote developers create, assign, and track tasks, keeping projects on course and within scope.
  3. Supercharged workflow integration: Slack steps up with an arsenal of integrations – think PagerDuty, Opsgenie, GitHub, and more. This integration symphony cuts down time spent on repetitive tasks and automates the routine stuff. Result? More time for high-priority tasks. Plus, your team won't be juggling apps; they can video call, collaborate, manage calendars – all while staying in Slack's cozy domain. No more disrupting 'workflow flow'.
  4. Agile with Jira: If your developers operate in a Scrum framework, Jira's Scrum boards are excellent. They help break mammoth projects into bite-sized tasks. These boards map out work stages, who's accountable for what, and what's done, doing, or yet to be done. If Kanban is more your style, Jira's got you covered with Kanban boards too. They're the visual marvels that give your remote team the whole project progress at a glance.
Also read: Key strategies for upskilling and training remote developers

4. Embracing Collaborative Coding: Pair and Mob Programming

In the realm of remote work, the pace of absorbing new knowledge has taken a gentle step back. Remember those times in the office when you'd spot a duo or a group of developers huddled around laptops, dissecting issues like designing a microservice or untangling a gnarly bug? When developers bring their unique skills to the table, and collectively tackle a problem, everyone learns and contributes. But with remote work, these insightful exchanges become a tad trickier. That's where pair programming, and mob programming, swoop in.

  1. Pair Programming: Double the brainpower: With tools like online Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) or screen-sharing on platforms like Zoom, remote pair programming becomes a breeze. You code, they advise, you brainstorm, they validate. It's like having a coding partner.
  2. Mob Programming: The whole team's in: Gather your entire team, functional or cross-functional, and set sights on a single task. It's like a coding summit, with everyone contributing their insights, skills, and ideas. The result? A fusion of expertise that's way more than the sum of its parts.
Impact of Pair Programming for Developers (Data from: Red Airship)

5. Harnessing Asynchronous Communication for Remote Team Success

In any company, the lifeblood is communication – the fuel that drives teamwork. This expectation follows us to remote work, but here's the thing: developers are like puzzle solvers. Deep in their zone, a sudden chat message can shatter that concentration. It takes 15 minutes to dive into that 'flow' state and another 15 to break out of it. Frequent context switching is a time killer, zapping productivity. To escape this cycle, let's take a few mindful steps into asynchronous communication.

  1. Set the tone: It's all about the right rhythm. Team up and establish an asynchronous communication style. No quick-fire responses needed. When someone's free, they'll give you the thorough response you deserve. Both sender and receiver need to groove with this, understanding that it's all about quality, not speed.
  2. Record and relive: Time zones are the real deal in remote work. People might be on opposite ends of the clock. So, get in the habit of recording meetings and calls. This way, everyone can catch up at a time that suits them, without the dread of 2 AM meetings.
  3. Craft crystal-clear takeaways: AI's got your back. Use it to create summaries of discussions and meetings. No more slogging through a full-hour call just to locate that one golden nugget. These takeaways save time and frustration, letting everyone stay in the loop without losing their marbles.
Asynchronous Communication: The Future of Workplace

6. Moving Company Culture Online

Around a third of developers still feel a bit disconnected. To truly engage your remote developers, it's time to transport your company culture online. Virtual company culture is all about transparency. You trust your team, no doubt, but the lack of physical presence makes it tough to keep tabs on progress. Solution? Unveil transparency in full glory.

  • Feedback sessions are golden. Organize them regularly. One-on-ones with your developers? Heck yes. Pour out your thoughts candidly. And hey, when you assign tasks, spell out the bigger picture – how it slots into the grand scheme. Oh, and if you're momentarily MIA when they ping you, a simple "Busy, back in an hour!" takes two seconds and avoids any hanging frustration.

As Andi Stan, VP of Product & Strategy at Index.dev, puts it: 

Transparency is about instilling trust. This fuels tech team productivity.
  • Fair play is the name of the game. Shared resources? Equal access for all your developers. No one should feel like a second-class citizen. Make it a golden rule.
  • Well-being matters. According to Harvard Business Review, those with a rock-solid work-life balance are a whopping 21% more productive. How can you champion this? Flexi-schedules, hearty encouragement for breaks and time off, and drawing lines to prevent work creep.
Source: 2023 Future of Work Report, Software.com

Wrapping up

And there you have it – a toolkit for turbocharging your remote developers' productivity. But hold on, if you're seeking to bring supercharged remote developers into your fold, consider Index.dev. Here's the scoop on why:

✔High Impact and Retention: Gallup's got the stats: remote workers are seriously engaged – 32% engaged, to be precise. Compare that to the 28% in-office folks. But here's the kicker – with the remote setup and unwavering support, Index.dev has amped up developer retention to a mind-blowing 95%.

✔Cost Savvy Moves: Picture this: working remotely half the time and saving an average of $11,000 per employee per year. Global Workplace Analytics vouches for it. With Index.dev, companies like Omio, Perforce and Glopal have slashed their hiring expenses. Say goodbye to termination woes, vacation juggling, and recruiting bills.

✔Global Talent Pool and DEI Boost: Hiring remote developers opens the floodgates to global talent. No more geographical limits. And guess what? Index.dev makes it more than just hiring; it's about diversity, equity, and inclusion. A varied and inclusive team brings in fresh perspectives, ideas, and approaches, enriching your workforce.

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