When we asked our users why they wanted to learn to code, 25% of respondents said they started coding because they wanted to work remotely.
Why? Well, there are plenty of benefits to remote work, from the obvious (geographic flexibility; the freedom to structure your day however you’d like) to the more subtle (say goodbye to nightmarish daily commutes; “pajama pants” are just “pants,” if you’d like them to be).
While digging into the data, we learned that many open remote positions happen to be technical in nature, even if the role is traditionally “non-technical.”
So in this post, we’re going to dive a bit deeper and explain how the right combination of tech skills and work habits can help you work from anywhere you’d like.
Remote Companies Explain How to Get a Remote Job
When considering how to land a remote job, the best people to ask are the ones hiring. Buffer, Invision, and Zapier all three fully-remote companies that have written about the qualities they look for when hiring a remote employee.
Buffer, a social media scheduling tool, has operated as a mostly remote company since its founding in 2010. In 2015, they made the switch to fully-remote. Joel Gascoigne, founder and CEO of Buffer, has written about the motivation for and results of that decision extensively in the years since.
What do they look for in new hires?
For one, certain soft skills can make a world of difference. Remote work has a tendency to amplify traditional business challenges—technology, communication, and productivity get tougher to deal with when you’re separated from the rest of your team. According to Gascoigne, new Buffer hires “need to be self-motivated and productive working at home, coffee shops or a co-working space.”
InVision, a product design and collaboration platform, and Zapier, a web app integration platform, are also successful, growing tech companies staffed by fully-remote teams. Both have echoed Gascoigne’s preference—regardless of position, traits like experience working for startups and a hyper-communicative workstyle hold these teams together.
But there’s another skillset that these companies seek out in candidates for technical and non-technical positions alike.
Get the Job with Technical Skills
When I looked at open job listings at all three of these remote-only companies, I found another common requirement—tech skills, for just about every position.
For example, this line appears in the listing for a Partnership Manager position at Zapier:
API documentation is familiar territory. You're comfortable looking for and suggesting improvements to an integration based on reading through a tool's API docs.
A partnership marketer working in the same office as their product and engineering teams might not have to know the technical ins and outs of their company’s product, because getting an answer is a shoulder tap away. A remote marketer doesn’t have that luxury, so tech fluency is key.
A similar thread runs through InVision’s job listings. UX Researcher and Product Manager roles stress the importance of understanding “quantitative data analysis” and “complex technical challenges,” respectively.
In both cases, these skills are treated as a means to more effective communication across the team. Even if the UX Researcher or Product Manager won’t be analyzing data or solving technical challenges themselves, working remotely demands a comprehensive understanding of what your engineering, data, and design teams are doing in other parts of the world.
You Don’t Have to Be a Developer to Code Remotely
As software continues to eat the world, just about every role is becoming a technical role. With this shift has come a preponderance of positions characterized by work that can be done asynchronously, and technologies that support that work.
Nisha Garrigan is the co-founder of, and now a marketer and front-end developer at, Croissant. The app—run by a fully-remote team—grants users access to over 350 workspaces in nine cities around the world.
Prior to co-founding Croissant, though, Nisha was a marketer in a somewhat traditional capacity. She told me she enjoyed the job, but she began to realize she was on a track she “was not very passionate about.” She added, “I kept reading exciting news about various startups. I became enamored with the idea of being on a small, passionate team of people seeking to change the world with technology.”
On her search for a next step, she came to a pretty clear conclusion: “In general, it seemed like I would have many more job opportunities if I learned how to code.”
She started teaching herself to code, attending hackathons along the way to hone her skills. During this period, she got her “first taste of remote work.”
“It wasn’t motivating for me to work from my tiny Brooklyn apartment on the weekends, so I became one of those people you see at coffee shops busily tapping away on their laptops. I loved soaking up the good energy of other people and using that to fuel whatever projects I was working on.
“There was a really freeing feeling of working on projects I cared about, from wherever I wanted to. It was this feeling that actually inspired the idea behind the startup I’m working on now, Croissant.”
Why work remotely
Nisha’s story highlights one of the main reasons more people are gravitating to remote work—being in total control of where and when you work is empowering.
With the flexibility afforded by remote work, pursuing opportunities outside of the job in question becomes more realistic. That means furthering your education, building out a side project, or anything else that feels impossible to fit around the structure of a 9-to-5 job in a set location.
For parents, the benefits are innumerable. Be there before and after school, chauffeur to practices and rehearsals, and sit down together for dinner, all without missing a beat professionally.
For anyone whose geographic and career preferences don’t perfectly align—for example, having a spouse working in Europe and a job for a company based in San Francisco—remote work is a pretty appealing solution.
Don’t overlook the time and expense saved on commuting, either. Remote work can mean avoiding not just an hour by car or train, but avoiding a total uprooting of your life. That old trope of packing up and moving to the big city in search of opportunity doesn’t have to be a reality.