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In 2007 the PHPClasses site launched premium subscriptions. The idea was to provide better site services to users willing to pay a fee. That way the site could eliminate, or at least reduce, its dependency on advertising.
Despite most premium services were suggested by the users, premium subscriptions did not pick up as much as I hoped, so the site continues to have advertising for now.
Still I tried to find other types of services that the users would be willing to pay. Therefore I decided to work on something that the site users needed, rather what they told me they would pay for.
This is a site visited mostly by PHP developers. They visit the site to find components to use in their work. So, I assumed that most of them are always looking for jobs that pay better than the ones they have currently.
Therefore I thought it would be a good idea to have a way to provide greater exposure to developers that are available for taking jobs. This way, employers looking for skilled developers could find and hire the them.
That was when I realized that there should be a sort of directory of PHP professionals to make it easy for recruiters to search for developers by the specific skills they require. That directory was launched a few months after still in 2007.
That was indeed a great idea, but the fact is that employers do not usually seek for candidates in directories when they have job openings they need to fill in. Usually they go to a job board and post a job offer. Therefore I decided to developa a job board dedicated to PHP. It was launched in 2008.
This was a great step because more and more companies and recruiters started posting PHP jobs. The job board provides means to place paid jobs postings that allow employers to get in touch with more candidates immediately. They can also post job offers for free, but those jobs are offered first to premium users. Non-premium candidates need to wait.
This helped generating more revenue for the site either from paid job postings or from users upgrading to premium subscriptions.
One important detail is that I always had special care with companies paying for posting jobs. I noticed that some companies posted the jobs in one month, and later they posted the same job again. I assumed they did not get a satisfactory list of candidates to fill their jobs. It was certainly not for the lack available candidates. There should be some other reason for not being able to find candidates that matched their requirements.
At the time of this writing the site has over 12,500 developers that signed up explicitly to get PHP job offers posted in the site. Those developers are spread around the world in 167 countries. So it is likely that a company willing to hire Web developers may not always be able to find candidates with the required skills near enough their offices.
Some companies are willing to cover relocation costs. Some are even willing to go beyond that and get visas for the skilled candidates, so they can come from foreign countries. Still it is often hard to get the candidates they would like.
Even if they are willing to accept candidates from foreign countries, many of the developers are not willing to move to a different region, even less to a different country. Some people simply would not like to leave their families and friends behind, and move to another place, having to adapt to a different culture.
Other people, although they would not mind moving to another country, they still hate to go on the routine of the daily commute between their homes and the offices.
I have to confess that I more of the latter kind. In 1998 I moved from Portugal to Brazil due to family related reasons. It was not a trivial move but that was not a big deal. What I hated most was when I worked in São Paulo city around the year of 2000.
São Paulo is one of the largest cities in the world with about 12 million inhabitants just in the main city areas. The traffic is chaotic every single day of the week. Nowadays it got much worse when compared to when I worked there. Every day you loose valuable hours of your life in the city traffic. That consumes your patience and your mental sanity.
During the .COM bubble burst I was laid off from the Internet company that I worked, like many others, because our company was merged into a bigger one and they had to perform major cost cuts. I moved to a different company for a while but I was not very well motivated with the new type of job. I left that job after a while.
Coincidentally my son was born then. That was the moment of my life when I decided that I would try to avoid going back and forth between home and company offices every day. I tried to find jobs on which I could work remotely, but without much luck.
Therefore I decided to try to turn PHPClasses into my own full time business, working from home close to my family all the time. I had to go through a period of about 1 year without any revenue, but fortunately I made it.
If I did not make it, I would probably be working for somebody else in a company, very much frustrated with the time and patience that I would have to consume putting up with daily commutes between home and the company office.
If you got to this point and read all the previous paragraphs, by now you have guessed what is the answer. If you did not read it all and jumped here directly, go ahead and read it back now, or else this may not make much sense to you.
It should be obvious by now that the concession that companies should consider to make is to allow talented developers to work from home.
This is my opinion but I am sure I am not alone. Many people think like me. Web development work can perfectly be done totally from remote locations. It can be from home, from a LAN house, a coffee shop, from a different city, state or even from a foreign country.
If the employer is willing to make that concession of allowing employees to work remotely from home, that will make jobs much more attractive to a greater range of developers. This includes many developers that have great talent.
In many jobs employers feel they need to have frequent contact with employees so they can communicate with them and keep track of their work progress. This is fine but employer and employees do not need to be in the same physical place to make it happen.
They can just use a video conferencing system, like for instance Skype, and they can not only listen but also see each other right in the eye. Of course they need a decent broadband Internet connection but nowadays that is not hard get at affordable prices in most countries of the world.
Every company has their business secrets that they do not want to share with competitors nor anybody else that should not be aware of their activities.
So it is normal that they may be afraid that any information they exchange with employees over the Internet may be tapped and leaked to somebody they did not intend to share secret company information.
That is why VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) exist. Employees can establish VPN connections between their computers and their company networks, and so all the information that is exchanged is encrypted during transmission. This way nobody can tap on the employee Internet connection to steal private company information.
If the employer feels that the employee may be the one to leak secret information, just do not give it to him. But this is common sense matter that should be applied regardless the employee is working remotely or locally.
The Internet is full of distractions. Than can be e-mail, instant messaging, Twitter, social networks, etc.. It is not hard for an employee that is not motivated to do their work to find distractions being that on the Internet or somewhere else.
One way to prevent that an employee wastes work hours time with distractions is to keep monitoring what he does. That may work but if an employer needs to keep monitoring all his employees, he will not be able to do anything else besides watching the workers.
Still, if a company can afford having somebody watching the employees all the time, the employees do not need to be on the same physical space to be watched. There are software solutions that can work on remote computers keep taking screenshots of what the employees are seeing on their screens.
This is a bit too intrusive, so I do not recommend it if you are willing to hire really talented developers, because when I say talented, I do not mean just technically. I also mean they are serious people that have a good sense of their duties.
Developers that are really serious they really work hard on their work hours. You do not need to watch them all the time. You just need to assign them the tasks and tell them when you expect to have it delivered.
They do not even need to tell you explicitly when they deliver their work. If you use a version control system, like for instance Git, SubVersion, CVS, SourceSafe, etc., you will see them committing their work regularly to the company project repositories.
If you are not aware of what are version control systems, this is a very important thing you are missing, regardless of whether you want to control your developer employees work or not.
For those not familiar with the concept, version control systems are software systems that keep track of the changes done in all files of project. Usually there is a main repository server accessible over the Internet.
Each developer working on the project extracts a copy of the latest version of the project files. Then he adds, changes or removes any project files as part of his work. When he is done, he commits the changes to the repository server.
This is great and highly recommended regardless whether there is one or multiple developers working on the same project. Even better is that the most popular version control systems are Open Source, and so you do not even have to spend money buying it.
As a side comment, I can tell you that nowadays, version control systems are so common among Web developers that this year the PHPClasses site added the possibility to import classes published in the site from version control repositories managed by the contributing authors.
But back to the point of keeping track of the work of Web developers, version control systems make that task very easy for employers. They can be configured to notify the employer, for instance by e-mail, when the developer commits the changes he did to the files of the projects he is working on.
If necessary, the employer can even see the exact lines of code that the developer changed when he commits the project updates.
Despite version control systems were not meant specifically for employers to monitor developers' work, it can be used for that purpose too, if the employer feels that it is important to him.
The Internet, and in particular the availability of broadband access services made it viable to use the Internet for long distance real time communications. This enabled the possibility to perform many types of jobs from remote locations.
However, until this became a reality, it was not normal for anybody to even consider the possibility to work remotely. Now that it is possible, more and more Web developers want to have that flexibility when they perform their work duties.
Since this is a relatively new thing, many employers are not aware that the ability to do their work from home is a privilege that many developers strongly desire. This is part of the reason I have decided to write this article, raise awareness about the strong desire of many developers to work from home.
As a matter of fact some developers would even consider first jobs that allow them to work remotely, even if those jobs pay less. So, not only companies may be able to hire motivated employees that are more productive, they could even save money on salaries.
Furthermore, when employees work from home, companies can save even more money in transportation subsidies that they would need to pay if employees needed to go and work at their offices every day.
So, in case an employer is not very much convinced that employees that work from home are more motivated and so more productive, you can always add that they can even save money in salaries and transportation subsidies.
Basically the obstacles I mentioned above are the most common reasons I hear from employers not willing to allow employees to work remotely. As I tried to explain, you can argue that those obstacles have not much reason to be.
Still there may be other important reasons that I may be missing. If you know of any other arguments used by employees to reject giving permission for employees to work remotely, please post a comment to this article, so we can discuss about it.
As the population of large cities grow, more and more people need to transport themselves to work every day in their offices. The traffic in those cities is becoming more and more chaotic.
If more and more companies start offering the possibility for their employees to work from home, less people will need to use transportation to get to their company offices every day.
With less need for transportation, there will be less pollution emissions from all sorts of vehicles: cars, buses, motorcycles, trains, planes, etc.. People working from home will not get stressed with the traffic because they will not need to transport themselves to work every day.
The overall result will be that streets become less crowded, the cities get less polluted, and the population will preserve their health. The way I see it, governments that promote remote work will have a lot of benefits from doing it, as they will get the merit of solving problems that affect the people that elected them.
I am not a politician nor I intend to become one ever. But if I were a politician I would work hard to give incentives for the companies that provide remote work jobs. That could be for instance in the form of cuts in taxes paid by the companies on the top of the salaries of the employees that take remote jobs.
Since I am not a politician, I leave this as a suggestion to any politician that agrees that this is a great opportunity to promote something that is greatly beneficial for the society as a whole.
By now you may be wondering, if offering remote work can be such a good thing for both the employer and the employee, why we do not hear much about success stories? My short answer is, probably because nobody told you about them.
That is why I think it is important to talk about this matter here. If we raise awareness about the benefits of working from home can be for everybody, maybe in the future we see more companies moving ahead and offer remote jobs, providing better quality of life to employees and benefits for the company, which will move faster and eventually make more money as result of the work of motivated employees.
Let me tell you about several people they I know they have either been working remotely for their companies.
Eli White is a well known PHP developer. He has been working remotely for several companies in the latest years.
Well known companies like Zend, TripAdvisor and Digg are just a few of the companies he worked for, most of the time from his home in Mount Airy, MD, United States.
Currently he works also remotely in mojoLive, a company of which he is also a co-founder. He works mostly from home, but sometimes he moves to a local coffee shop for a half-day to have a different point of view and eventually to meet near co-workers.
For Eli, working from home is the chance to perform interesting work on something that he loves, PHP Web development, while he keeps close to his family and friends, which is something that keeps him happy and motivated.
Since 2006 he has been working 100% from home to different companies in different periods. He still had to travel to the offices of those companies occasionally when really necessary, like for instance to have meetings for deciding very important matters.
He believes that those trips are highly important. In is opinion, it is the chance to meet people in person and really get to know them, so that later when communicating remotely, you can understand them better, and not read between the lines when you shouldn't.
When he was between jobs, he would not take offers from companies that required him to travel too frequently to distant offices that keep him away from where he lives. He has waited whatever time it took until a new opportunity appeared offering the possibility to work for a company without leaving his city.
César Rodas is one the best contributors of the PHPClasses site. Despite of being young and working all the time from a less known country, Paraguay, he has already achieved a lot in his career.
He was the winner of the PHPClasses Innovation Award many times and was the annual winner for two years in a row thanks to many of his innovative PHPClasses. But that was not all. He participated in the Google Summer of Code contest as contributor to the Wordpress project. He worked in several well known companies like EyeOS and currently PlumWillow. The current job allows him to give talks about his Open Source projects in many different events around the world.
The fact that he lives in Paraguay made it bit harder to get visas to move to countries of companies that offered him great jobs, like for instance Yahoo. He would have loved to work in such great companies, but since it was an hard and long process to get him the necessary visas, those companies had to give up on him.
But that did not hold back other companies that did not mind to have him work for them remotely from where he lives in Paraguay. He just needed to get a good broadband connection, so the Internet delays did not hold him back. He rented his own office space near his home, so he can work productively without being disturbed by domestic matters.
Nowadays he manages a team of several people in a project for PlumWillow that includes other developers also working remotely for the same company. What some companies missed for not hiring him, other companies took the chance and hired him to add great value to their projects.
Ernani lives in São Paulo, SP, Brazil. He has been a long time PHP developer and a PHPClasses site contributor. Several years ago we moved on to the Java market because then the opportunities seemed to be more rewarding.
Nowadays he works from home most of the time. He feels he is much more productive and motivated to work remotely, as he does not have to face the stress of the daily commute between home and the company office in a busy city like São Paulo. Once in a while, he still goes to the company office in another city near São Paulo.
It is also more flexible for the company customers because he can also support them through remote meetings, even with customers from far countries with very different time zones. If he had to go to a company office during regular work hours, having those meetings with far customers would be very hard because of the time zone differences.
If the company he works for determined that he had to work exclusively from the office, we would do it but not with the same motivation. A significant salary raise would make up in part for the loss of the privilege of working remotely, but it would still not provide him the same motivation having to go to the company office every work day.
João Prado Maia is a Brazilian PHP developer probably better known in is country for having developed the PHPBrasil.com, a large local PHP community site of PHP articles and code snippets.
João moved to the United States many years ago where he lives and works now in his own PHP consulting company.
He has worked remotely from his home for MySQL AB when that company was still independent from Sun and Oracle. He developed an issue tracking named Eventum for MySQL.
Nowadays he hires PHP developers from his own country to work remotely on his company projects. That allows him to work with employees with PHP developers from Brazil, which naturally speak the same mother language.
Since he is very skilled, he would be a great asset for any company willing to hire him to work on Web development projects.
However he is not willing to leave his family and friends Latvia to work for a company in another country. He has plenty of work in Latvia but he could always consider a good offer to work for a foreign country, as long as he could do it all from his home in Latvia.
Meanwhile he is looking up for an investment to work in his own startup, so if he gets that investment he may not even be able to take any work offers anymore.
Click on the Post job links, read the instructions, and make sure you tick the checkbox that says May telecommute (work remotely). If you are willing to accept remote candidates from other countries, uncheck the option that says Accept only candidates living in the same country, otherwise keep it checked.
You do not have to post jobs in English, if you prefer candidates that speak a different idiom. You are allowed to post jobs in the idiom of your country if you want to restrict to candidates of that country.
Go ahead, post your remote job now, many thousands of talented Web developers are eagerly waiting for your remote work opportunities.
Companies that give the opportunity to talented developers to work remotely, have all to gain from that. Motivated developers produce more and better.
Despite remote work is not yet a very common practice in many countries, this is a trend that will certainly grow, as companies and governments see the benefits they may get from promoting this kind of work practices.
If you agree, please start spreading the word to others and recommend them to read this article. If you do not agree and you may have important objection, please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts so we can discuss about it.
1. Employers looking in the wrong places for Web Designers (2011-11-30 07:43)
Great article posted on php classes today. Menuel Lemos (phpclasses.org) goes into great detail of why employers have such difficulty finding talent in terms of web design...
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