The remote workplace is becoming increasingly dominant in the technology industry. Technology is enabling remote work, and technologists are benefiting from it. The world of work has changed dramatically over the past two and a half years. Before COVID-19, some companies had embraced a remote-first strategy, but they were the exception rather than the rule. Today, some of the largest companies across the world are embracing remote work as a default business model.
We sat down with four members of our Andela Community – Hannah Olukoye, Rizwan Jafri, Saheed Badru, and Teri Eyenike – to gain their insights into working for global companies, navigating the remote workplace and the importance of community in growing your career.
What was life like before you embraced remote work?
Teri: Before I started working remotely I was working in the wellness industry. I worked in the Gym, and had to be in the office almost the entire day. I wasn’t enjoying the process of going into work everyday and needed something extra to occupy my time; learning new skills and trying to boost myself, to make sure I got a remote opportunity. In 2021, I started working remotely. You don’t have to commute, you can spend time with your family and you have a better work life balance. Your health is guaranteed!
Saheed: I started my career 10 years ago, in the investment banking industry, 100% of the time based in the office. Gradually, in 2015, I transitioned into hybrid work, working three days a week in the office and two days working remotely. It was fair, although the challenge of community in Lagos means you have to leave almost as early as 5am to beat the traffic, getting home at 11pm. It was expensive as well, and I saw communiting as a big distraction. During COVID-19 I became fully remote – joining Andela was my catalyst to going 100% fully remote.
Rizwan: I was working fully on-premises before COVID-19. Working on-premises was good, but since Covid I not only got used to working from home, but I really enjoyed watching my second child grow, learning to crawl and then to walk. And that was an amazing and enjoyable experience for me. It motivated me to look for more remote work – and I found Andela. Now, I’m working with a global team who live in 14 different time zones, and still we’re able to catch up with each other and deliver the work. Before joining Andela I was working remotely, so the transition to Andela wasn’t difficult. Now I really love this experience. I can’t work on premises again!
Hannah: I was working as a web developer, and the commute on public transport was an hour each way. One week, I arrived extra early and there was a power outage! I had to go home. It became a game of finding out if there was power at the office or not. That’s one thing I don’t miss about working on-premises. When I’m working at home I can decide if I want to work at a shared co-working space or a cafe. It’s up to me to decide, so I’m flexible.
What was your first experience like working fully remotely, with a tech company?
Saheed: Personally, working remotely has been a blessing, it has cut out a lot of the fat in terms of mental and physical stress. The major challenge I had while transitioning was balancing work and personal time. I used to be someone who would work into the night. But while working remotely I’ve been able to take more personal responsibility and plan appropriately. I actually have specific time blocks I work in now, and focus on productivity. Having time for other things outside of work, I can pursue my hobbies. I have more time to take care of my wellbeing. I would always choose remote work first, anytime.
Teri: As a remote worker, you have to spend a lot in Lagos, Nigeria (where I live) to get online, or work a generator. If you aren’t receiving the right incentive for working, a good salary etc., it takes a toll on you. Is it really worth it? But for me, what I gained from the opportunity of working remotely is that its rewarding. I tend to upskill myself in various ways that I’ve never done before. I enjoy the process because I have more time to myself, it’s been a blessing for me and I’ll choose it over going to the office any day.
What was it like to transition from a non-technical background to a technology role?
Hannah: For my undergraduate degree, I studied Actuarial Science, so by the time I graduated I knew I wanted to land into a tech role. The first thing I did was signing up for a short diploma course, learning programming skills and the basics. After a while I started to specialize in Android development, which I did part time, in the evenings and weekends. It really helped build my confidence. For my first job as a web developer, I showed up with my laptop. I had no portfolio, so I showed them what I was working on via my laptop and I got the job! That’s one thing I encourage others to do – you need to show projects you’ve worked on, some of the skills that you’re good at, because your employer wants to know that this is something you’re passionate about. A good way is to showcase your portfolio online. You can even use free sites, as well as something like Github. Just a link you can share as you’re sending your cv.
In the tech community you always have to keep learning, upskilling and taking courses to improve yourself. What I learned in 2014 isn’t relevant now – I wouldn’t get a job in Android now if I didn’t stay aware of what was happening in the tech world.
Stay in touch with other people in the tech community, there are many networking events – go to them, they won’t hurt! It’s been a positive experience, where I’ve met mentors and mentees.
What advice would you give women entering tech today?
Hannah: Women were always the minority when joining a tech team. You’d find there would be two ladies out of maybe the whole team, or you’d be the only one. But this is something that is slowly changing and I’m happy about that. In the company I work for right now around 50% of the engineers are female. That is rare, but I’m glad many companies are now embracing more women in tech.
How does community involvement help your career?
Rizwan: There’s an African proverb that says ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together’ and that’s true of a community. A community helps you take your career to the next level. Six years ago I started working for a company with in-house technical communities, and that was my first experience. I learned from other people and shared my own knowledge. Eventually I led that in-house community. I love to be part of a community; they help us grow and learn new things. In Andela, your chances of being part of a fascinating community are endless. We have multiple communities. If you’re the smartest in the room, you’re in the wrong room. At Andela, there’s always someone you can learn from, from juniors and freshers to the most senior level technologists. There’s always new technology and new perspectives to discover. I’m currently leading the Andela community in Lahore, Pakistan which is a phenomenal experience for me. It’s about bonding with people and guiding them through their Andela experience. I love answering queries and helping people.
How can non-technical people go fully remote?
Saheed: I started my career wanting to learn different things. I was freelancing, doing web design and SEO. As time went on I was able to join with a few friends to brainstorm and try out different things. It allowed me to test technical and business development aspects. This set me up for my career. I was able to then move across different spaces in tech. I continued to learn different processes, in order to solve problems for clients. Learning – particularly growth hacking – helped me start in my remote career. Testing projects helps to set you up for remote opportunities. This helped me build my portfolio. Collaboration is important and it puts you in a better position to fully transition to a remote job.
How can you take full advantage of a talent network like Andela when looking for global opportunities?
Teri: During my first interaction with a client I was asked about my technical skills and proficiency. I did a test and all the projects I worked on contributed to help me get accepted into the talent network. You should try to upskill yourself with programs like the Google Africa Developer Scholarship. Come into Andela and learn new skills here, skills that every client is looking for. You can also mentor others and expand your network to meet people who are willing to learn new tech skills. You’re not limited to one specific area in Andela. You can try many new things.
To find out more, watch How to work for global tech companies anytime, anywhere on YouTube.
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If you found this blog useful, check out our other blog posts for more essential insights!