Sometime in March 2022, Andela the global network of remote engineering talent released a survey showing that 91% of African software developers chose a fully remote or hybrid model as their preferred working environment.
The survey featured over 1,000 developers from across 12 African countries and was carried out to better understand and share the DNA of technologists on the African continent.
As a matter of interest, whilst the majority prefer remote or hybrid models, 49% of engineers surveyed felt that their employers were well prepared to support remote work, indicating that companies across the world are still struggling to realign their workplace policies and systems to better support new ways of working.
In a chat with Agnes Muthoni, Director of Talent Partnerships at Andela, she discussed some of the findings of the survey.
To what extent does the work environment shape software developers?
When you think about African software developers, from the survey that was run, 80% of them are working remotely, and for some of them, it’s actually by choice to work in ideal work environments, that encourage flexibility and enable them to plan their work and personal lives.
They’re choosing also to work in co-share workspaces, where they can also meet and interact with other developers for problem-solving.
What is also important to note is that many of these software developers are working with teams or with clients who may not live in the same location as they do.
The idea of being able to work remotely, also helps them to save time and boost productivity for them.
According to the developer survey, the responses showed that remote work drives productivity, and almost 1/3 of the respondents indicated that their ability to focus on work and the ability to be creative while they’re working, in an environment that suits them has benefited them the most.
What’s Andela’s role in increasing the number of experienced developers who can build using AI, IoT, and Blockchain?
What’s interesting to notice is that these are technologies that represent the future of computing. And these are technologies that have rolled out within a short space of time.
These technologies would have the power to accelerate the speed of doing business, creating new business models and disrupting existing models.
What we’re seeing in developed countries is that they are trying to figure out how to migrate from either legacy platforms to smart devices, or ways in which they can start incorporating IoT, AI and Blockchain.
In Africa, I think it presents a great opportunity, as we have an opportunity to leapfrog and build products that are enabled by these technologies.
We have already seen this innovation beginning to happen. We have startups that have been founded by African developers who are self-taught and proceeded to build solutions using Blockchain.
What is interesting to see here is how developers are already latching on to these new technologies, teaching themselves or learning and immediately beginning to build and create real value with these technologies.
This is very similar to the mobile penetration in Africa, where 50% of mobile wallets are now currently in Africa.
“We saw that innovation accelerates in a market that where we needed to leapfrog. I think we would see something similar here, in terms of what is it that we’re doing to be able to further drive that adoption”
What stands out about Andela is that we are a global talent network. So this provides a great space for developers to connect with other experts and other developers, learn from them, and build together.
We also have themed events that we’ve started putting together, where we invite experts to speak about these specific technologies. We have also launched partnerships with edtech providers, for our developers to upskill in these areas.
“We commenced having conversations with hubs that are building using these technologies, we are seeing that there, there’s quite a number of opportunities for us to be able to increase the number of ways in which we can get more experienced developers.”
Are there obvious reasons companies lag behind in supporting developers working remotely?
I guess the obvious reasons that I’m sure you’re well aware of are the irregular power outages and unreliable internet infrastructure.
And so for obvious reasons, you’ll find that companies will choose to have their staff come, and work in an environment where they know that the internet is stable.
Also, lack of proper training on how to manage remote teams, and not necessarily maybe knowing what tools can be used.
And also to think that now people have started using some of these remote tools, and have actually begun to see that they can drive productivity. There are a number of companies that have actually recorded higher productivity when their teams are working remotely.
“That, to me, is a great testament that shows that it is possible it can be done, I think there’s more of just like, understanding what policies, what sort of processes and systems are needed to support an enabling remote working environment, and how to tackle any operational challenges to ensure that there is no disruption to the work.”
So some of the things that we’ve implemented at Andela, is that we work closely like with the internet service providers in the locations where our developers work so that we’re able to, manage or anticipate internet disruptions.
“We also extend internet stipends to developers together with also giving them the option of being able to work at a cushion workspace.”
What makes Andela’s software engineering training unique?
At Andela, we look at learning or education through the lens of demand, given that we are a Talent Network, we’re able to analyze the trends of technologies or stacks that our clients are using, and determine what are some of the in-demand skill sets that our engineers will need currently, and in the future.
“And we use that then to determine what, who we want to partner with, from an education perspective to deliver in demand courses that give the developers an edge when applying for opportunities.”
“With the recent lockdown, what we’re seeing is that educational providers need to think outside the box, many developers are looking for a rich online learning experience, where they can be able to learn in a self-paced environment, where they can also be able to get access to micro learning pathways that would help them immediately begin to learn the skills that they need, and then begin to apply those skills as they’re writing their code.”
And so what we’ve done on our end is we’ve built out an online learning platform for developers to connect, to not only go through the online curriculum but also to connect with like-minded individuals. We also offer expert sessions, and then provide an environment where they can be able to apply what they have learned to real based problems.
So this approach has not only increased our learning completion rate, but it has also increased the number of developers who can begin to immediately apply what they’ve learned to land a new opportunity or to continue to grow in their careers.
Just to give you an example, we launched Salesforce, a practice area for Andela, because what we realized is that Salesforce, is growing as a platform and also Salesforce developer skill sets is also in demand.
And so we proceeded to partner with Salesforce as a training partner for us to be able to generate new talent here on the continent.
32% of African developers claimed that working remotely would make them focus on work, how valid is this?
The data and the numbers speak for themselves when I think about Andela, and the fact that our business grew significantly, and we’ve been able to grow, expand, and scale our business at a time when all of our developers were working remotely.
That is just, you know, a validation that remote working can work. I guess it also depends on the organization and the actual, you know, vertical that you’re working in.
Managers of software developers now have remote tools where they can be able to monitor, analyze, and see the level of productivity of their software developers.
In a recent study, we actually saw that 80% of corporate leaders, and now more willing to have remote staff, working from home or working from anywhere.
Meta not too long ago released a statement indicating that their leaders can work from anywhere outside their headquarters.
This is just another set of validation that there are several benefits that contribute to increased focus, while working remotely. We’ve seen that the first benefit is it gives people more flexibility with where they choose to work and live.
We’ve also seen the fact that there is no need to commute to the office, which means money saving, thus putting a couple of more hours.
Even for our female developers who became mothers during this period, many of them have shared stories of how working remotely has helped them maintain more focus, and increase their productivity because now they can, you know, quickly check in on their babies, feed them and then get back to work.
A number of working parents are able to continue working full time because they now have the capability of being able to have more flexibility with their work and family.
Why do you think Github is the most preferred tool for developers?
Let me start with what Github is all about. It is a virtual control system that helps developers track their code changes over time. Github is most popular with software developers even as the reports indicate (80% of African developers use Github) as it is simple to use, it is open-source. We have seen software developers gravitate towards open source technology.
It is also more accessible for software developers all over the world and easy to collaborate on projects.
For example, if you’re working on a project, you can actually go on to GitHub and search for other developers who are working on similar projects, you can go to their GitHub profile, check their repositories, copy their code, make changes to it.
“The fact that you can be able to use GitHub as a way for developers to improve their discoverability, and at the same time, connect and collaborate on projects. Those are the reasons why I think, you know, it’s the most preferred tool.”
Is software development the future of work?
I guess the way I look at it is that we’re seeing more and more companies moving online. Thus they’re migrating their operations, from physical centers to a digital space.
Therefore the need for software developers to create these products as online products will continue to grow.
Based on a number of global Statistics reports, we’ve seen that software development is projected to increase by 22%. Over the next 10 years, which is much higher than the national growth rate for all professionals.
What is also interesting to note as well, the demand for software development continues to grow, we’re also seeing a steady demand for increase for other roles, like product managers, and UI/UX designers.
The opportunities that we’re seeing are not only just limited to software development, I think it is expanding into other areas, which is exciting for people who are looking to build their careers.
At Andela, we’ve been studying this demand, and then launching our practice areas in line with this growing need that we’re seeing from our customers.
Featured Image: Agnes Muthoni, Director, Talent Partnerships, Andela
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