Whether they are called contractors, freelancers, or contingent workers, non-permanent workers hired on a per-project basis make up a significant portion of many organizations. A study conducted in the summer of 2020 and released in the fall by Upwork found that over 59 million Americans, or 36% of the U.S. workforce, had participated in the gig economy during the preceding 12 months, an increase of over two million workers from the previous year. The numbers are expected to increase in the coming years.
While the study did not provide details about the specific types of work conducted, the prevalence of contractors in software engineering is easy to see. At any given moment, more than 10% of the software development positions listed on Indeed are for contract or temporary positions. In 2019 when Upwork released a list of the 100 most in-demand skills for freelancers, specific programming languages were numbers 1 and 2 on the list.
Over the past few months, several of our customers have provided feedback that Coder is particularly well suited to helping them manage their contractor workforce. We thought we’d share a few of their insights.
Software engineers hired on contract typically possess specific skill sets needed to solve particular problems for an organization. These abilities usually come at a premium for the organization--every billable hour spent configuring a dev environment rather than writing code in that environment is money wasted for the organization.
Coder allows developers to spin up reproducible development environments in minutes, fully configured with all the required dependencies and exactly the same as the environments used by all the other team members working on the project. There is no time and money wasted inquiring about which version of Node.js is running in production or which Python libraries are available for use. When Coder is used in conjunction with a product like CodeTour that helps developers understand a codebase, contractors can start contributing on day one, not in a week or two.
Many companies provide workstations for their contractors. While that often makes sense for on-site workers, for an increasingly remote workforce it’s a more difficult case to make. Shipping laptops adds expense, logistical complexity, and even potential security risks since shipped packages could be intercepted before arrival.
With Coder, developer workspaces reside within containers in the company’s cloud infrastructure. Developers do not need powerful workstations for compilation and assembly. If they need additional compute power they can spin up a new workspace(with the exact same environmental configuration of their previous underpowered one) in moments.
With powerful, secure developer workspaces in the cloud, companies no longer need to provide powerful laptops for developers--relatively inexpensive Macbook Airs or Chromebooks would suffice, even for permanent employees. In the case of remote contractors, it would be easy to finally move to a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) approach, completely eliminating additional equipment costs.
Let’s just say it. VPN is a pain, both for those who have to manage it and for those who have to use it to access the resources they need.
Coder lets developers access remote developer workspaces securely through an encrypted browser session or through SecureShell “SSH” — no need for VPN. Coder ties into your SSO provider and can be configured for multi-factor authentication. In many cases, allowing contractors access to a company’s VPN simply creates an unnecessary security risk, allowing them inside a company’s network and potentially granting them access to systems they have no business need to access. Many companies are adopting a zero-trust approach to network security, which would mitigate this risk, but such implementations are still relatively rare.
If a contractor has been hired just to write code, Coder lets them do so without exposing the rest of the company’s systems unnecessarily.
Issuing laptops to employees and contractors means the company is taking on the risk that customer data and source code are properly secured. By moving development environments to your cloud infrastructure, customer data and source code move with it — effectively preventing mass exfiltration of precious and confidential data. Coder lets companies demonstrate to their customers that their data is secure, and will not be lost or stolen.
These are a few of the anecdotes that our customers have shared with us. If you would like to learn more about how Coder can help your organization manage its contractors schedule a demo. Or if you prefer a more hands-on approach, sign up for a free trial.