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Hiring Tips & Insights: Developers are slowly returning to the office, but more developers want remote
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Developers are slowly returning to the office, but more developers want remote

07 February 2024, by Josh Nel

In this article, we explore how remote policies are beginning to shift in a tougher tech job market and the long-term benefits for companies with remote setups.

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The developer job market is shifting and more companies are slowly returning to the office

During the tech boom and pandemic, demand for developers skyrocketed and shifted the balance of power towards developers. This led to more companies offering special benefits to attract or keep their top people. One of the main benefits? Remote work. Fast forward a few years and remote work has now become the dominant policy in South African tech companies.

Now, the tech job market has cooled and companies are operating in a tougher macroeconomic climate. Many have had to cut budgets, freeze hiring or even make layoffs. As a result, these companies are starting to take back some of the power they ceded during the hottest-ever hiring market. This has led to a perception that remote jobs are becoming harder to find for developers:

As things stand, some form of remote is still the norm as the majority of local developers still have the option to work remotely at least some of the time.

However, a closer look at the data reveals that things are changing:

17% of developers have lost their fully remote status in the last year. This indicates a shift away from fully remote setups, which could suggest a trend of bringing developers back into the office, at least part-time.

This shift to hybrid policies becomes clearer when you look at data from hybrid developers:

30% of hybrid devs were fully remote last year indicating a big shift towards more in-office time.

Developers still prefer remote over the office

As more developers return to the office, their preference for remote work has increased. In fact, remote has overtaken hybrid as the most desired policy in 2024.

Returning to the office is also having implications for developer retention: The majority of remote developers who’ve transitioned to a hybrid setup have rethought their role after the switch.

Developers have also highlighted the disconnect between what some companies are pushing for and what developers value:

This made us ask: What are the long-term benefits of keeping a remote policy for your team?

Remote work makes your company more attractive to developers

Despite the cool down in the tech hiring market, it’s still hard to find and hire good developers. This is particularly difficult if you’re looking to hire seniors or developers with knowledge of niche skill sets.

These developers typically have their choice of roles so companies still need to make their offers as attractive as possible. One easy way to increase how attractive devs find your role is a remote work policy:

Remote options are still the top factor developers consider when evaluating an offer, and its importance has grown 12% year-on-year.

Leverage remote opportunities in salary negotiations

Remote work doesn’t just make your role more attractive to potential team members. It can also help you in salary conversations with developers. Across the board, salary growth has slowed for software developers in 2024 and companies need to prepare for tougher salary conversations as a result. So how exactly does remote work help with salary negotiations?

Cost savings are tied with no commute as the number one benefit developers see in remote work. Working from home can help cut down on costs related to travelling, car maintenance and even buying lunches at the office.

For remote developers, this can mean more disposable income than a role with a higher base salary that involves commuting. Explaining how developers benefit from this arrangement can help you sell your offer even if it’s not in line with the sorts of increases that developers became used to during the last boom.

Remote companies still benefit from a wider talent pool

Last, but not least, remote companies have access to a wider pool of talent than hybrid or in-office ones. Previously, hiring was hyper-local but remote work has opened up global competition.

Companies are no longer restricted to recruiting developers from the same city or even country, and many remote companies are looking beyond the cities they’re based in:

Further reading:

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