This post was previously on the Pathfinder Software site. Pathfinder Software changed its name to Orthogonal in 2016. Read more.
Is remote pair programming productive? Yes!
I have been successfully pair programming remotely almost every day for the last 3 years. It is very much like local pair programming with some minor differences…. OK. Some major differences, too.
Instead of sitting down with your partner and sharing the same monitor and possibly the same keyboard, the screen will need to be shared virtually. There are many options including GNU Screen, iChat, Skype, yuuguu, yugma, and TeamViewer. Also, something like Google Talk or Skype should be used for voice chat.
You know when you are talking on the phone that your attention is more focused on the conversation than when you are locally talking to someone? The same happens in remote pair programming. It is very intense and productive because both developers are extremely focused. You really need to remind yourself to take breaks, switch navigators, and go to lunch!