24 Back-End Engineers Share if Working From Home Limits Their Career Growth
There’s a lot to love about working remotely compared to in an office. You can leave your business attire in your closet and keep your cosy socks on, or replace walks to the water cooler with refreshing strolls outside with your dog or family members. Even better, trading that frustrating commute can give you time to focus on yourself, or explore hobbies that were once seen as too exhausting to muster after a long 9 to 5 day.
While remote work may seem like a daunting new reality, we mustn’t forget that humans have been working from home for hundreds of years. Take the legendary story of Isaac Newton, who apparently first conceptualized gravity when an apple fell from a tree nearby while he was back at home after Cambridge University was closed due to the plague (sound familiar?)
As we reach the third year of our latest pandemic, many companies have made the switch to remote work. Studies show that working from home can increase productivity, performance, flexibility, and financial benefits. However, there are also plenty of benefits to working in a traditional office setting. Maybe that water cooler conversation with a coworker can spark the solution to a pesky bug, or a casual conversation with a manager might bring new career opportunities.
So the question is, does this lack of social interaction with colleagues hinder said opportunities, or can they be also found working from home, through online interactions?
To find out, we wanted to see how working from home has affected individuals within the software industry, so we interviewed 24 back-end and full-stack developers across 14 companies on how working remotely has affected their career growth and opportunities. Keep reading to find out the widespread experiences and opinions on this topic!
Does working from home limit your career growth, and/or access to opportunities?
"I've been working from home for the last 2 years. Working from home shapes the way we interact with others. I prefer video/audio calls instead of written communication, especially with my team members. I haven't experienced any difference regarding my career growth. I don't think that working from home limits opportunities."
Nikola Spalevic from Vivify Ideas
"I think it is much more successful to work in an office for every worker and for the company as well. Work from home - yes, but only when it is unavoidable."
The self-effacing Tibor, who’s a lead back-end developer with 10+ years of experience, predominantly works with Node.JS and Rust, shares his sentiment on working from home below:
"No, working from home does not limit career growth (unless you are lazy). There is a lot less time wasted on commuting, small-talking, waiting for the bathroom or coffee machine etc. while sitting in the comfort of your home. That time is not a huge amount that equals a lot of money in working hours saved but is a huge impact on maintaining the focus needed to get into a "flow state" while working on more challenging problems.
The longer you spend in your "flow state" the more you start understanding the problem you are solving and it’s easier to stay productive for a longer period of time. Being productive does not always equal finishing more tasks, but means you have more time to focus on more advanced ways to solve the task. You get to exponentially grow your capability of thinking further in the future and solving the task in a smarter way.
Opportunities are endless in the software development space so they remain unchanged. It might be good to have an eye-to-eye conversation with someone sometimes. But most of the interactions do not require that kind of dedication and can be easily done via async online communication channels."
Tibor Huđik from Barrage
As a back-end software engineer, with 6+ years of experience, he predominantly works with Rust, Node.js, PHP, PostgreSQL, and MongoDB. He shares his sentiment on remote working below:
"Working from home does not limit my career growth, and/or access of opportunities. From my perspective, working remotely does not limit my personal development and does not threaten my career.
There is a lot less time wasted on commuting, small-talking, waiting for the bathroom or coffee machine etc. while sitting in the comfort of your home. That time is not a huge amount that equals a lot of money in working hours saved, but is a huge impact on maintaining the focus needed to get into "flow state" while working on more challenging problems. With the proper set of tools and the right attitude the location does not matter. It's the people you work with that really matter.”
Matej Žagar from Barrage
Lukasz is a back-end developer with an exceptional 15 years of experience, who regularly works with Kotlin, Java, and Python. When it comes to working from home and its benefits for career development, he shares his distinctive perspective:
"Working from home does not limit career advancement and/or access to opportunities. It reduces face-to-face meetings, which are sometimes more valuable than online meetings. Better to talk to someone alive (talking to yourself doesn't count)."
Marcin, a senior back-end engineer with 11 years of seniority, has experience in a range of technologies, including Spring, Kotlin, Python, DynamoDB, and more. His opinion on the matter is short but sweet:
"In my opinion, I'm more effective when working from home. I can work from any location if there is good Internet connection."
Maksymilian is a senior backend developer with 8+ years of seniority. His most frequently used tech stack includes Goland, AWS, Terraform, Docker, and more. They share their following opinion on the matter below:
"I love working remotely! Recently when most people in IT started to work remotely, we saw that this kind of work has a lot of positives. As for me, the most important factor is the ability to work in focus. I have no distractions. I can also save a lot of time because I don't need to spend my time on public transport.
When it comes to human relations, it is good to meet from time to time with your team in real life to integrate. Just go for a beer, good food, or to an escape room."
Maksymilian Lewicki from Miquido
"From my perspective, working remotely does not limit my personal development and does not threaten my career. Currently, I am turning the time I waste away from the office into physical training.
The only problem I can see is the lack of direct contact with colleagues. Too much emphasis on instant messaging disrupts the ability to read emotions, making it impossible to fully understand the people you are talking to."
Łukasz Boruń from Miquido
Michał Urbański | Future Mind | Fun fact: Most of the stuff he develops works… Eventually.
As a head of back-end development, Michal has 5+ years of seniority with proficient experience in Python, Django, Docker, PostgreSQL, and many more. He sees that the importance lies within the people and not the location when it comes to working from home:
"With the proper set of tools and the right attitude the location does not matter. It's the people you work with that really matter."
"I don't think working from home limits my career growth, it mainly depends on my work performance which is similar at home and in the office. The other aspect is teammates' relations.
When we meet in the office and have the opportunity to share a cup of coffee or to have a meal at a table then the relations are being built and therefore working together becomes easier and more efficient, I think."
Jan Pałucki from Miquido
With a recent change of heart in working from home, Bartłomiej sees many advantages that come with remote work. He’s a Scala Engineer with 3+ years of experience, and works predominantly with Scala, Akka, and Google Cloud Platform:
"In short, working remotely does not limit my career development, and it even makes it easier for me. I wasn't a fan of remote work and preferred to work from the office whenever I had the opportunity to do so.
Now, after more than a year of working from home, I cannot understand my previous way of thinking. I don't have to spend time commuting to and from the office, so I have plenty of additional time that I can spend on doing my side projects, learning new stuff, and reading books.
Additionally, because most interactions with recruiters moved to LinkedIn long ago, working from home changes nothing in terms of access to new job opportunities. Moreover, in my home, I have a bigger influence on my workspace and I can modify it to make work better for me."
With a whopping 15 years of experience, Marin is a Solutions Architect with proficiency in a massive tech stack under his belt that ranges from Python to PHP, and places confidence that working remotely not only brings freedom but also more opportunity for growth:
"By working remotely from home since 2016, I can only say that it helped both my professional as well as my private life.
I have the freedom to organize my workday as well as help with the house chores. It did not hinder my career growth, on the contrary, I had more time to grow and improve my skills."
Paweł shares his belief that working remotely does not necessarily hinder career opportunities but mentions how it may affect relations between colleagues. With 20 years of seniority, he now works as a senior back-end developer whose focus has been on Scala, Apache Kafka and Akka:
"No, it doesn't limit my career growth or access to opportunities. Actually, I receive many emails from recruiters.
However, it does limit relations with other people in the company. We use Slack and Zoom and meet online from time to time but still - it's not the same as working in one office. Some people like those meetings and are attending them often, other people don't like it.
We also meet offline but again, not everybody attends those meetings, and during the pandemic, there was a time we could not meet at all. There are people I hardly know but I'd like to know them better."
Paweł Stawicki from SoftwareMill
Robert has been focusing on back-end tech over the last 10 years and now has the role of back-end lead and team lead. He’s got talent in using a variety of technologies including AWS, Java, Docker, MySQL, and more. He believes the power of growing careerwise, and seeking opportunities lies within our hands:
"Because I have a generally positive outlook on life and I prefer to look at the upside of every situation, I would say that these unstable and turbulent times are when true professionals are forged and that working from home can hinder our career growth and access to opportunities, only to the extent we allow it.
Besides the independence, comfort, time and flexibility the remote work gives you, this setup brings a new set of challenges that can teach us valuable lessons and help us develop and grow as professionals.
We learn to adapt to unpredictable situations, to rely on self-motivation, self-discipline, focus, and concentration, and we learn to master communication to stay in the loop and collaborate efficiently.
By acquiring and developing these skills, condensing your insights, and adapting your tools, systems, and activities you’ll establish yourself as an indispensable asset and grow the visibility of your work and impact within the organization."
Robert Rusu from Halcyon Mobile
As a senior Golang developer with 6 years of experience, Bartosz is more than proficient in Golang, Kubernetes, and AWS. He shares his perspective on the matter below:
"I don't see any disadvantages related to working from home."
The Junior Software Developer, Kacper, specializes in Python, AWS, Java, and C++ in his 1.5 years of experience. His perspective is straight to the point, and doesn’t waste any time:
"I don't think that working from home affects my career growth or access to opportunities."
Alexander, a .NET developer, works with .NET Core, Angular, Docker, and PostgreSQL on a regular basis. He mentions the importance of organization and communication within the team:
"I think it really depends on how well you communicate with your team and the company. When working from home, you can't always be in real-time sync with the team.
So you may miss certain announcements or news and you might lose track of your own progress simply because you don't pay enough attention to it.
But if you have well-organized communication within the team, then you shouldn't be missing out on important information and you will always be able to talk to your peers or managers about the possible opportunities and growth."
"In my experience, working from home allows me to access better opportunities than if I worked in an office. This way I can work for virtually any company in the world without the need to relocate. If my family and I are happy where we live, I won’t be limited to the opportunities that specific towns have to offer.
Besides, career growth also happens in remote environments. We evolve talking and discussing with others and nowadays I find myself talking more with my current remote colleagues than in previous on-location jobs, so that definitely helps my career growth."
With 5 years of seniority, Anna is a senior .NET developer thus is proficient in several .NET frameworks including .NET, .NET core, NET Entity and .NET Framework. Her straight-to-the-point response exudes confidence that remote working affects career growth.
"Yes, from my experience working remotely can definitely hinder career growth and lacks access to new opportunities."
Anna Derkach from ElifTech
Anton is a .NET software engineer with 4+ years of experience who’s worked primarily with .NET, C#, Microsoft SQL Server, Xamarin and more. Here’s his perspective of the impact remote work has on career growth and opportunities:
"To be honest, I have neither lost nor gained opportunities to work, learn and grow after having switched from office to home.
It is so because there are certain distractions at work that slow me down but there are certain distractions at home as well so I can’t really say that one of these working environments is better than the other.
I think that for me the best working model would be a mixture of working from home and office."
Oleksii is a Mid-level back-end engineer with 3+ years of experience who prefers Golang over other tech stacks. His strong analytical skills and passion for programming allow him to continuously implement innovative software solutions. His perspective on the topic at hand goes as follows:
"Speaking personally, I don't think so. It depends only on people and their aim. If they want to have career growth - they will do it in any environment."
With 6 years of seniority in a range of .NET frameworks, Uladzislau works as a .NET developer but also has a talent for Microsoft SQL Server and Google Firebase. His love for his work knows no obstacles, so working from home is no problem:
"I feel comfortable working from home because nothing distracts me and I can easily focus on important things.
Plus, I really enjoy my work and I believe it compliments my life so working remotely does not limit my career growth at all. I clearly see the opportunities and have enough time to think about them."
As a Tech Lead, Karol has been invested in this field for 8+ years with his focus predominantly on Java. He’s got nothing but positive things to say about working remotely and the opportunities it brings:
"I find working from home a perfect fit for my professional habits. When I code, I stay 100% focused. The well-organized home office provides a complete lack of distractions, making me more efficient than the office. Of course, there is a need to meet teammates face-to-face from time to time.
However, travelling to the office every day seems a bit outdated in the IT industry nowadays. I don’t find working from home limiting my career in any way. I moved to the Tech Lead position in the middle of the pandemic when we couldn’t even meet in the office.
Companies became more open to hiring remote team members. In my opinion, it brings more career opportunities than ever."
Jovanka has spent the last 4 years polishing her skills using Unity and C# and is currently a Medior software developer. She brings in a whole new perspective on the importance of what you would define as career growth:
"No. It all depends on our perspective of what career growth is. Is it personal relations with colleagues, or perhaps networking opportunities, or is it learning new technologies? New opportunities can be found online or in nearby events, but working from home does not limit us to do any of this.
Sometimes, working from home can leave us baffled over day-to-day talk that happens in the office, but on the other hand, that leaves us with more time to focus on the task at hand. That focus can lead to a deeper understanding of the problem which ultimately over time leads to better problem-solving.
With technology that allows us to stay connected, communicate and collaborate, we can easily connect with our colleagues and get help along the way, as long as we look for friendly discussions!"
So, what’s the verdict? With twenty-four unique perspectives on this matter, it seems like the majority don’t think working from home limits your opportunities and growth in the software industry. Nineteen developers mention no limitations towards opportunities and many even mention how remote working actually increased growth/career prospects! However, three developers say it did in fact limit these aspects, while two mentioned how working remotely had no effect on this matter whatsoever.
An ongoing theme within these responses was definitely the importance of peer relations. As long as you have a good team with good communication skills, remote working can offer you just as many opportunities as working in an office could. And in many cases, these software developers shared how working from home actually gave them more opportunities to grow.
Working from home opens up so much free time that was previously filled with your customary commute and those off-topic distractions from colleagues. Saving this time, and being in an environment you’re comfortable in, can lead to deeper and extended levels of focus. In addition, working remotely can give you the opportunity to work for a plethora of companies from different countries, without having to uproot your life to the other side of the world.
It seems fair to say, with a little bit of self-motivation and a good team with a healthy amount of online interaction, working from home can definitely aid career growth and opportunities!
And last but not least, a special thank you to all the talented developers who spent some of their valuable time expressing their opinions on this matter!