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What makes for a quiet developer work environment on the road?

Developers run into distractions when they work out of a hotel or Airbnb. Here's how to fight back against subpar accommodations that halt productivity -- and how to avoid them next time.

A developer's work environment carries a lot of importance. Sometimes, developers have to travel and will work outside the predictable comforts of the office. Perhaps they will even code from a client site in an unfamiliar city or setting, such as during a technology conference.

Unfamiliar circumstances can often present distractions, if not an untenable developer work environment. For example, if you plan to get development done from out of town, you might work out of an Airbnb to save the company money and find that type of work environment unacceptable for a variety of reasons. In this circumstance, your available course of action largely depends on your specific travel arrangements and employer's policies.

First, review the nature of your accommodations. You could try to question the legitimacy of the booking description and cite the probable lack of commercial safety systems, such as fire escapes and smoke detectors, if it proves unsuitable as an office setup. Additionally, different cities and states apply different legal policies to Airbnb bookings. Check if the state has regulations for business travel accommodations.

However, it's probably best to take the path of least resistance and find an alternative that works for you and your organization. Most companies include standards in human resources documentation that low-end Airbnb or hotel accommodations might be unable to meet. Check with HR to know your reprisal options, as well as what you are guaranteed as an employee.

That said, when companies look to cut travel costs, it's easy to scale back the quality of employees' out-of-town accommodations. Some companies demand significant sacrifices from their employees. Although, with some ingenuity, you can probably find an option that provides a quality developer work environment that meets the organization's guidelines.

Research budget hotels in the area when you must travel; often you will find hotels at the same cost or less than Airbnb. If you will be there for a long duration, consider an extended stay hotel, where you might be able to negotiate overnight rates down. As a developer work environment, an extended stay hotel offers a more home-like feel than a hotel, with likely fewer distractions than an Airbnb. Alternatively, you can also look for off-season hotel discounts to fit within budgetary restrictions.

Additionally, if you have friends or family in the area where you're working remotely, see if they have an available room. Some organizations offer compensation for these stays -- and it beats having uncooperative neighbors.

Conferences worth the travel headaches

There's no shortage of technology conferences for developers and testers -- and first-timers might struggle to narrow down their wish list.

These conferences have different barriers to entry, such as cost and level of expertise, but many cut through the clutter to offer real insight and connections to attendees. Author Gerie Owen, a veteran of the conference circuit, described some of the most significant local and national QA, DevOps and Agile conferences to attend -- though that's no guarantee you'll find high-quality overnight accommodations to finish a feature development between sessions.

This was last published in December 2018

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