As a software developer, my primary responsibility is to ship working code. I do this by writing code all day long. This is the job I was hired for. I work for a small company that struggles with identity. I feel that lately, they are struggling to find new clients and therefore are targeting alternative markets. The result of this is that they are now having me travel for a week a month or less to various clients onsite. I understand that doing this once is reasonable. However, I feel that if my company continues to put me in a position where I'm traveling and meeting clients, rather than writing code in a comfortable working environment, that this would be counter-productive.

How can I convince my boss that having me travel for extending amount of time to visit clients or prospects is not the most productive use of my time.

I don't see how travel is necessary when there are lots of telecommuting tools available to making communicating over long distances possible.

How can I convince my boss that having me travel for extending amount of time to visit clients or prospects is not the most productive use of my time.

I'm not entirely sure that's the case, to be honest. At a small company you must wear many hats, simply because there aren't enough resources to for everyone to specialize. Just because you were hired as a developer doesn't mean you won't be asked to perform tasks that are not developing yet still fall within your skillset.

If you feel that you aren't being utilized to the fullest, I'd go talk to your boss about that rather than focusing on not wanting to travel.

I don't see how travel is necessary when there are lots of telecommuting tools available to making communicating over long distances possible.

Remote meetings are a blessing that I'm thankful for on a daily basis because I'm in the unenviable position of handling first tier support on top of my development tasks. That said, they're not ideal for all situations. Even in situations they are good for, clients can still ask you to be onsite because it simply makes them feel better.

I somewhat disagree, deceptikon. I think that being now asked to travel for a week at a time once a month away is excessive, when you were explicitely hired as an in-house developer with no travel required.

If I was hired by a company to write code in their main office, with the expectation that I would have my evenings and weekends free, and am now suddenly being asked down the line to spend 25% of all my time traveling, I would find that very unfair. Especially if I am married, have children, have personal responsibilities that require me to be available during evenings or never more than a reasonable distance away for emergencies.

I think I know more than anyone about wearing many hats at a small company. I have a Computer Science degree but I spend the majority of my day selling advertising. I can also understand having to interact with clients now even though that wasn't in the job description.

But I do think it's unfair for the company to spring on you that suddenly you're going to be taking week-long business trips once a month, especially considering you were never hired for a position that would require frequent traveling. I also agree with you about how you don't see how travel is so necessary when there are lots of telecommuting tools available. I think that some sort of compromise needs to be struck here.

I agree with you Dani but the question is whether or not it is counterproductive and the short answer is no. As a developer it may be very productive to engage with the clients face to face. However, and as zahnsoftware stated, with all the conferencing technologies available travelling does seem rather moot.

I don't think it should be required to travel for a week at a time every single month on a permanent basis given how many different teleconferencing technologies are currently available. My honest opinion though is that I personally would never have agreed to do it in the first place :) since I didn't sign up for a job that requires any sort of frequent traveling. I think that should have been disclosed in advance. Not everyone is in a position to be able to do that and I don't think it's fair to spring that on someone after the fact.

I don't think it should be required to travel for a week at a time every single month on a permanent basis

The OP doesn't seem to be implying that it's permanent, or that it's been going on for very long at this point.

How can I convince my boss that having me travel for extending amount of time to visit clients or prospects is not the most productive use of my time.

At some point, the business finaces will resolve this issue. If there is little or no return on the investment, there is not poin to continue the practice.

So in your case, if sending you to see the clients is generating more revenue than not sending you then it makes business sense for this practice to continue.

However, if you are generating more revenue for the company to sit behind a computer and code all day, then that makes more business sense.

Are they having you visit clients, because they need for you to perform multiple duties for the organization, or are they finding that clients want more access to the coder (you) because the product that is being delivered is better or closer to what they are asking for?

I feel your pain...I hate traveling. Its feels like a waste of time, especially if what you enjoy doing is coding rather than sales, business socializing...

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diafol

Well, perhaps your boss tunes into DW and will read this thread. Dialogue initiated... ;)

Even with video conferencing, nothing beats being face to face, two people sitting behind a screen together looking at a problem.

Your employer notices a customer requirement to have on site consultants, you're shoved into that role for lack of anyone else to handle the job.
It's their decision to thus reduce the amount of time you can spend at your home base on the core product, instead spending time with the customers where no doubt those customers pay for that time, yielding a profit for your employer.
If it turns out not to be profitable, they'll end that program or reduce it in scope.
If it it profitable but cuts into the core release cycle too much, they may hire someone else either to replace you in the core team or for the consultancy work.

Personally, i think you should talk to your boss and have him do the majority of the face to face meetings while you are developing in your office. You are some other developer should only take over if your boss's schedule is tight and same to you guys.

That is my personall opinion...

The problem with that, Michael, is often things get lost in translation from the people requesting features and functionality and the people actually implementing it. Additionally, non-programmers might not realize that something is not feasable, or cannot be done a certain way. There definitely needs to be direct communication between the clients and the programmers IMHO.

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diafol

As a non-industry hobbyist looking at it from the outside, it seems the ideal situation to have the person at the sharp end getting close and personal with the client. However, being a super-duper coder doesn't necessarily give you the skills required for dealing with clients. I realise that small outfits need multiple-hat wearers, but surely 'dealing with a client' is a critical role, not one that anybody can just pick up on the fly. Having said that though, its not a bad skill to develop if given the opportunity, as I would imagine that it would boost your CV and make you far more employable - if that's what you wanted of course.

As far as this case is concerned, if the boss is so committed to clear communication, then one would imagine that he/she would appreciate candour from his/her employees. Or is that wishful thinking?

I work in a Tier 1 multi-national consultancy firm with multiple UK offices and full VPN connections available.

Regardless of the technology in place I still work 125 miles away from home at present commuting a total of 250 miles and week and staying in a hotel Mon-Thurs on full company expenses.

Admittedly it is part of the job and so is expected however projects value having all the team in one place for communication etc. From my point of view and workline I disagree and that travelling to our Aston office is far more productive than working from my local one as it allows me to be in face-to-face contact with everyone else on the project, BAs, Technical Architects etc etc. It also allows me to be around the sister projects on the account for cross-project relations around areas we share connections and bug fixes.

Just my two cents on travel as a 21 year old who has lived in a hotel weekdays for fast approaching two years now.