Thanks to the pandemic, finding remote jobs is easier than ever. Over 85% of developers say their organizations are at least partially remote.
“I run a team of trainee and junior developers in a software company in London. Since the pandemic started, we have moved to fully remote and we’ve hired two new entry-level developers,” says Julien.
“Generally, it is possible to work fully remotely at any level. Of course, your team needs to support you, and the company needs to have the set up to do that.” Even though a junior developer can work remotely, it might not be the wisest idea.
Being a junior developer is already challenging in itself. On top of mastering your coding skills, you’re learning how to collaborate with other teams like UX, QA, and product. It can be overwhelming. Then, the natural challenges of working remotely can make those obstacles more difficult.
Many developers have shared their disappointment with junior-level remote jobs. Scott, API Developer at eBay, shares, “I worked remotely when I was a junior developer. I think this hindered my growth in a number of ways, and I would strongly recommend against it.”
Why? Lyle says, “You learn a lot being around other people. As a junior dev, you'll see a lot of stuff that will make you go, "huh?" If you're working remotely, it will be more difficult for your more experienced teammates to resolve your issues than if you were there for them to walk you through them. And yes, instant messenger can resolve some issues, but it's simply not as effective.”
So, while working remotely as a junior developer is possible, you might not want to. Here’s why.
What is it like doing remote work as a junior developer?
What you’ll do daily and how you interact with your co-workers will depend on where you work. An excellent remote company will provide a support point person, resources, and a good onboarding process. A great remote employer will give juniors scheduled time for pair programming and do code reviews.
Most remote companies use tools like these to collaborate online:
- Asana or another project management tool
- VSCode and LiveShare
Can I work as a part-time remote junior web developer?
There are part-time remote junior web developer positions available; however, many are freelance or contract positions. Plus, as a junior, you’ll likely find it challenging to work part-time because you won’t have enough contact with your team to learn what you need to on the job. You’ll also be more crunched for time.
Pros of working as a remote Junior web developer
The pros of working as a remote junior web developer might seem obvious to you. But don’t be fooled by social media. Working as a remote developer doesn’t mean you’ll be sitting on your laptop under a palm tree or working from “anywhere.”
You’ll still need to be able to find time and space to focus, participate in video meetings, and actually get your work done.
Here are the four most mentioned pros of working remotely.
Without a commute, you can save money and time! Some people find it challenging to work at home, though. Many developers need separation from their home or their family to get their work done. Some remote developers rent an office or co-working space to focus.
Live wherever you want
You can almost live wherever you want if you can land a remote web developer job. However, some web developers will find it difficult to get a job with a company that isn’t based in their home country. If you plan to be a digital nomad, be upfront about it. Jobs that don’t care where you’re living or working exist, but you must be on the same page with your employer.
Work wherever you want
Again, don’t expect to work by the beach daily as a remote developer. But you can work from anywhere, which is an incredible privilege. You’ll likely find it easiest to work from home or an office near you. You may work while traveling; just make sure you’re planning ahead for where you’ll work, how you’ll get wifi, and managing time zones.
For many, working from home will be the same as in the office – except they don’t have to commute. But for some lucky folks, their schedule will actually be more flexible. This can be life-changing for those with kids, especially. Aside from meetings, many places allow you to augment your schedule by an hour or two which can contribute to work-life balance.
73% of people working from home claimed that working from home improved their work-life balance. That’s pretty remarkable! Removing the time to commute and doing chores during your workday at home certainly can improve work-life balance.
Some people reported being distracted by family at home, while others cited office drama as more distracting. Still others stated unplugging from work at the end of the day is challenging, and they feel lonely when working from home. This is a case where knowing yourself is essential.
Cons of remote Junior web developer jobs
So, why can remote work be a bad thing for new developers? Not only is the competition for these jobs stiff, but you might also find that you’re unable to grow as a developer in the ways you need to.
It’s hard to land remote junior web developer roles
You are competing with a larger talent pool by going for remote-only jobs. Many companies have avoided hiring juniors until things return to a pre-COVID “normal” – narrowing the opportunities even more. Others, though, have gone fully remote.
According to Danny it is more difficult if you don’t live near your employer’s offices. "Becoming a junior developer in a remote position far outside your state, city, or country is significantly harder than if you were to become a junior developer where it's local to you."
Even with the competition, some companies have prerequisites because of the remote aspect. “We tend to hire people with at least 2+ years of professional experience,” says Ola of SoftwareMill – a fully remote company. “People with no previous professional experience might find it really difficult to get used to the remote work model as they didn’t have a chance to absorb any teamwork standards or productivity habits.”
Many companies can’t support juniors remotely
According to Gregory, many companies still resist remote work or struggle to adapt their processes and working styles. Some companies don't hire remote juniors for this reason. They need someone more independent, as Ola mentioned.
Even some companies that have shifted to completely remote and have the technology to communicate well as a team aren’t prepared for juniors. Elisa had trouble with this during her first remote junior role, “they didn't have the resources to help me to grow. I felt stuck. I didn’t feel like I could perform as I would have liked to.”
Communication is harder
“Even though there are great remote collaboration tools now like chat and video calls, it is still harder to communicate without tone of voice, body language, etc.,” says Scott. “It’s harder to design something together. You can't both stand at a whiteboard together and throw ideas at each other.
Above functionality, many remote juniors also can feel a sense of isolation, Scott shares. “I also can say from experience that you’ll often find yourself "out of sight out of mind" to your other team members.”
Shane had a similar sentiment, “It's always more difficult to ask for help via chat.” Instead of being able to stroll over to someone else’s desk for help, you’ll need to ask for help directly via chat. Then, you’ll both need to find a time that works to set up a video call.
You won’t be able to learn and grow the way you need to as a junior
Another reason you might not want to work remotely is that getting feedback and connecting with your teammates is simply more complicated. As a new developer, your focus should be on personal development.
While online tools and pair programming are becoming standard, nothing compares to in-person collaboration. You might not want to be in person all the time, but a healthy balance of face-to-face interaction with your team to build trust, celebrate, and share small feedback is crucial.
“One of the biggest ways I learn now is listening to the more senior devs on my team talk to each other, work problems out, and code review with them,” Shane shared. This does not happen naturally or frequently in remote positions unless the company makes a point to hold group help calls for juniors.
Junior remote jobs can feel isolating
Generally, immersion in a team is the best way for juniors to learn. For most people, this socialization can also help them thrive. Immersion isn’t totally impossible when everyone is remote, but it is much more difficult. Working remotely can feel very isolating already, and as a junior, it adds complexity to growing in your role as a developer.
Elisa shares, “The hardest thing about working remotely is the feeling of being alone in front of something unknown. When I started a new junior remote job, the feeling of being lost invaded me and the days turned into a research job.”
Where to find remote junior web Developer jobs
The best way to find remote junior web developer jobs is through tech or remote-specific job boards. Many new developers have also found great luck through Discord servers, Slack communities, and Telegram chats. We’ve rounded up the top 24 sites for you:
- Arc Dev
- Remote OK
- No CS Degree
- Angel List
- Hacker News
- Recruiting platforms
- Flex Jobs
- Remote Tech Jobs
- Simply Hired
- Power To Fly
- LinkedIn Jobs
- Google Jobs
- Authentic Jobs
How to find the right remote junior web developer position for you
We rounded up a list of the most common issues remote junior developers shared so you can evaluate working remotely for yourself. Is the company prepared to work with a remote junior?
While a company might be set up well for remote work, it may not have systems in place to support you early on in your career. Here are some questions you can ask to find out.
- Do they offer pair programming and code review for juniors?
- Will you be able to work alongside senior coders?
- How do they communicate and collaborate?
- Are there other remote employees?
- Will you have a mentor or point person to ask questions?
Hiring managers for remote positions are looking for independent people who aren’t afraid to communicate. Before moving through the intense process of interviewing for a remote developer job, take a moment to consider your working habits.
- manage yourself without others prodding?
- work well from written directions with no in person guidance?
- keep others informed consistently?
- show initiative to take on new work without being asked?
- reach out to others as appropriate to help keep things on track?
- maintain a good working relationship with others remotely?
One of the most crucial soft skills noted for remote developers is communication. “Communicate effectively as much as possible. People need to know what you are doing. You aren’t bothering them with writing too much. If you really are, it will just get corrected,” says Krzysztof, who also works at SoftwareMill.
Are you a good fit?
Before you go into interviews, think about the type of schedule and responsibilities you want. Think about whether you’d be okay working for a company in another country. Make a list of skills you can do confidently and independently. Research the company culture.
- What are their expectations (your responsibilities, location, office hours, etc.)?
- Be honest with them about what you are actually capable of.
- Learn more about the company culture and whether you’ll fit into that.
Yes, a junior web developer can absolutely work remotely. Should they? Maybe not. Perhaps, if you’re really interested in it, finding a hybrid junior web developer role would be a wiser decision. Even if you don’t work remotely for your first role or two, there’s a definite possibility for remote work down the line when you’ve reached a higher skill level.
If you choose the remote path for your first job or two as a web developer, you may continue to be a junior developer longer than you’d like. If you’re willing to put in extra hours, actively communicate unabashedly, and work more independently, remote work may be for you.
If you want to grow quickly with support and community, a remote position might not be right for you. Knowing your own priorities before you start your job search is key here. What matters the most to you? Working remotely or advancing as a developer?