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More Americans now work full-time from home than walk and bike to office jobs (qz.com)
192 points by hunglee2 on April 13, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 139 comments

I consider myself, without doubt, to be an introvert. I hate parties with a passion, and am perfectly happy in my own head compared to even hanging out with a good friend.

But I hated working at home. The isolation was terrible, not to mention the challenges of working on project teams (even with Slack etc). I felt lonely and less motivated.

It is funny though, because my wife is the opposite of me on the social scale. She loves groups of people and social interaction. And yet she's fine working at home. Part of this I think is because she very much goes into her own world when working with how focused she becomes, so she doesn't even notice the isolation.

There may be an interesting dichotomy here:

Your wife might be very social. Perhaps working at home gives her a respite from all of that social interaction, helping her to focus more. Some people struggle to focus and deal with interruptions in office settings.

You being an introvert may struggle to commute and form bonds remotely. You may feel like you read people better and connect better in person.

Now imagine there was something here that applied to more people. What it would mean is that smart managers should look to give workers environments that maximize their work and personality styles.

I'm with you in regards to how my mind responds to working from home (not well).

Humans evolved as social animals. Everything we've always done has been in groups. When you are growing up, you spend most of your waking time in the company of other people (school). The ones who don't, who are homeschooled alone, turn out "weird". Until the modern advent of telecommunications, working has meant being physically collocated with other people. Spending most of your waking hours alone at home is an unusual thing to do; we're not adapted for it, and it's tough.

100% telecommuting doesn't work for a lot of people, maybe even the majority of people. It definitely doesn't work for me. Coworking spaces are one solution, but I only have a short commute anyway, so I'm just going to go into the real office.

You talk about how your mind works, but then make generalizations based on that, even saying "it doesn't work for a lot of people". You're generalizing and stereotyping based on your own feelings and thoughts about how humans work. I especially take issue with your assertion that people turn out "weird" in relation to homeschooling.

I'm an introvert. I wasn't home schooled. But extroverts think I'm weird because like the OP, I don't enjoy social events with people who aren;'t my friends, I don't enjoy large groups, and after a long day of work I just want to be home with my family or alone in silence to recharge. There are lots of people like me. The "weird" you see? Probably just different than what you're used to.

The approach should be that if you want to work remotely, you should. And if it doesn't work for you, then you should go to an office. We shouldn't force whole groups of humans to do things they are uncomfortable doing. You shouldn't be forced to isolate yourself if that doesn't work, but you shouldn't force me into sitting in an office when I could do the exact same job remotely and be more secure and comfortable.

And neither one of us should call the other "weird" for feeling that way.

Humans being social animals isn't just some generalization based on "how my mind works", it's a basic fact of our species. Yes, there are some outliers (i.e. hermits and recluses), but the vast majority of people benefit from daily social contact. This is how we evolved as a species and it's how we are to this day. There are plenty of scientific studies showing what happens to socially isolated people: They get more stressed out, anxious, and have lower life expectancies.

> the vast majority of people benefit from daily social contact.

This I can buy. However, you can have daily social contact. Significant others, friends, family, church, meetups, social outings, etc.

Homeschooled kids have social contact daily. So do people who work remote. Don't conflate hermits with remote workers.

The reason I personally can't stand to be in an office? The people who think that the office is where you get your social fix for the day.

Upvoted because I agree with your overall point:

> 100% telecommuting doesn't work for a lot of people, maybe even the majority of people.

You're probably getting downvoted (I had the urge myself) by the minority of people who find it to be an excellent fit. Maybe in previous generations we would have been sheepherders, cowboys, or explorers. Or maybe monks. I work remotely and I like social interaction, just much less than most people. If working in an office gives you 10/10 in social interaction, my preferred number is probably a 2. I'd be unhappy with a 1 but much more unhappy with a 10.

Maybe others feel like me. Or maybe given the presence of always on google hangouts and facebook messenger and slack and irc, they feel plenty social.

I consider lack of being face-to-face to be a legitimate drawback of my job, but it's waaay less of a drawback than being forced to live in a "tech hub" or have a commute. The power of being able to hire people who live more than 30 minutes away from your office is incredible.

>The ones who don't, who are homeschooled alone, turn out "weird".

And those in the public school system are juuuuusssst fine...

I think CydeWays quoted the word "weird" so as to make it clear that they did not think that those people were weird (but that society at large does).

> Everything we've always done has been in groups

erm no, there are numerous accounts of people living ar ermits or away from the groups in History. why do you assume everyone has to live with the herd ?

And they have always been considered weird, even when respected by their local culture, and to number very few. We have a word for such people. We do not actually have a word for people who are not hermits, because that's how normal it is. We have words for being excessively group focused, like "gregarious", but not for "not a hermit".

Slightly less extreme, many cultures have had some sort of monk experience, where the monks do not live alone but often have some sort of highly restrictive vow of silence or something. It is certainly a thing in humanity that is popular enough to at times create social institutions for those who wish the rather different lifestyle, but it has also been a radical minority of people who choose it.

What's my point? Is there anything wrong with those choices? No. The point is that trying to arrange a social order that tries to push the majority of people in that direction isn't going to succeed.

I consider "everything is going to become telecommuting in the future" to be up there with "mobile games are going to completely destroy PC and console gaming". If it was going to happen, we should not still be speculating about it... it should be happening right now, visibly obviously, not something we have to go parse through trends and sort of squint at to see.

Just because you don't see it doesn't mean it's not there.

Do you have any sense of how many people who are forced to head to an office each day would rather not? Probably not. I know I don't. But that's because the majority controls how these people work.

Working remotely doesn't mean you're a hermit. If you are, your organization has a communication problem. I work remote and am able to get social interaction instantly with anyone in the organization.

"Working remotely doesn't mean you're a hermit."

Yes, I'd call it much closer to monk-like existence.

It still isn't what the vast majority of humanity is going to prefer.

The proof is that if there was some sort of massive preference for working from home, we should be seeing it now. The tech is here. The Internet is here. The computing power is here. All the preconditions would seem to be here. If what is missing isn't that humans don't generally prefer to be physically together in a group structure, what exactly is it? If the revolution is so inevitable, what's stopping it?

If the answer is "Well we need more VR that makes it feel like they are there", that's a goal post move. May be true, but still a goal post move. If the answer is "because $MANAGEMENT", what's going to change about that in the future, and why aren't the managers also eager to work from home if it's so inevitable? If the answer is "Well Americans (who are uniquely terrible in all the world) have this irrational desire to spend time in their car in gridlock because they love it so much" then I guess that's more inevitable than the move to telecommuting then, huh? I haven't got an alternate explanation for why this isn't already happening that makes any sense, other than, we are not generally psychologically suited to work that way.

> The tech is here.

While I WFH quite a bit, I have to disagree with this statement. For a lot of interaction modes, being remote still lacks a lot of the bandwidth (for lack of a better term) than in person. If you're working out a problem/presentation/etc. with a group, it's still hard to beat a conference room with a whiteboard.

Things are better than they used to be. Something like Google Docs can certainly help. But working with a group F2F, serendipitous encounters, informal interactions, etc. can be hard to replicate. And, again, I say this as someone who works remotely much of the time and doesn't go out of my way to commute, even though it's not a bad commute.

Thanks to Google Docs and video Hangouts it's gotten a lot better than it used to be when I first joined the industry a decade ago. You're right though, it's still not as good as being physically co-present in a conference room, or sitting side-by-side at a computer. I suspect it will get better with VR. For now, though, I definitely enjoy working in an office with my coworkers the most, with perhaps a very occasional work-from-home day (only 5% of all work days) thrown in as a sort of quasi-vacation.

I love my vive and all, but having to deal with it for every meeting just sounds like a hassle.

That's actually a good point. I hated remote meetings back in the day when you had to call up a number and then enter a meeting ID, and having to put on a VR headset seems like a similar amount of hassle. I also have eye issues readjusting for some time after using one -- that doesn't seem like fun to deal with repeatedly throughout the day.

Maybe we'll have to wait until mind-integration VR becomes a thing.

I'm perplexed that to this day there still aren't physical whiteboards with a screen underneath where you can write on them and see others writing. This, along with seeing the face of whoever is talking would be basically as good as being in person.

I find the exact opposite. My WFH days are far more productive. I feel no need to go to the office at all, most of the people I work with are remote, anyhow.

And for technical communication, I'd MUCH rather have everything in writing via email. No, I don't want to call someone on the phone and have them read logs at me. I want a copy of the damned log file so I can look up what's happening with each message and figure something out, not to listen to someone ramble on the phone.

Yeah. IM, email occasional phone works really well. What do you think of the web cam thing where people can see if you're at your desk? I've never tried it but the idea is a bit...uncomfortable... for me for some reason.

I think I can answer that by pointing out that my camera has electrical tape over it. I've never seen any reason whatsoever to have video on my calls. I only care about what's on their computer screen.

After working from home alone for about a week I start to feel less and less motivated too. For the couple past weeks I was working on my own project and to keep my energy levels up I rented a desk in a almost next door coworking space. It is definitely boosting my productivity and is great for networking too.

I feel exactly the opposite. Working an entire week at the office will have me so demoralized and burnt out by Friday that I have to go get away from everyone in the woods for the weekend.

The most effective mix for me is going into the office on Monday, and getting all of the meetings and planning and face-to-face busywork out of the way, and then working from home the rest of the week. It's easily 2-3X as productive, and I'm just so much happier.

I'm fine with a few friends (who I also interact with solely remotely as they live a few hundred miles from me), working remotely and just seeing my wife daily. I love it and have never been happier with a job or my living situation.

As with anything. YMMV. I've never been an ambitious person though, and my job to me is just a 'do what is needed, and no more' type of thing. I'm never out there trying to network or dig up leads on new opportunities either though, so if I wanted to do those things or were more ambitious I guess I could see the appeal of going into the office.

We (my wife and I) do get out quite a bit though, although we're eachother's best friend so we're not out socializing with out couples in our off time (thankfully).

Agreed! That's an ideal kind of setup.

Total conjecture but the people who I have seen struggle with WFH are the same people who don't have a social group outside of work, so WFH ends up meaning no social life and they become very lonely and isolated as a result.

For people who do have that social group, they tend to want to get the work done as quickly and efficiently as possible so that they can then spend time with their family and friends, ie the people they want to be around, not the people they have to be around to make money for their employer => themselves.

With family and friends you can talk about life and have fun. With coworkers, often you talk about work or things indirectly connected to work...

Amen. Silence is the ultimate nootropic.

Sounds about right to me. Introverts don't necessary hate being around people, just being not being very good at actively seeking interaction can be enough. For people who tend to not make much contact unless necessary, an office environment can be very valuable.

I found a great balance by working at home 1-2 days a week. I get shitloads of work done on the work at home days, and I get the socialize with coworkers on the at work days. For me, it's a good balance.

I'm relatively extroverted, and I can relate to your experience really well after working from home for the last year. The isolation and lack of human interaction can be downright depressing, and I've been led productive than ever.

I'm curious to know if people with families have a different experience with it than single people. I'm a single guy in my mid 20's, and I suspect that if I was married and had kids at home the experience would be more positive.

I work from home a couple days a week, to avoid the fairly long commute to the office.

I definitely think seeing my family around during the day is a big plus. I mostly start really early (around the same time I would normally go to take my bus), so I have a nice 10-15 minutes break with my kids, before they go to the daycare. My wife also just started a bakery and works from home mostly, so I have the opportunity to take small breaks during the day and spend some time with her.

Last but not least, I am more productive and on average create more value when I work from home, just because I start my day doing what I like the most and commuting.

Obviously, this is just an anecdote and everyone's case is different, but I think if you work from home and you're not alone, it shouldn't be as depressing and/or demotivating.

In my experience, it can be hard. For some people, it's easy to emotionally accept that you have to be gone at work all day but very hard to process the fact that you're right there and can't always instantly turn off and interact with them. Your family/SO needs to feel like you care about them, and you need to be able to settle comfortably into work without feeling like you're going to be interrupted constantly. It's a really knotty problem.

> I suspect that if I was married and had kids at home the experience would be more positive.

Positive, yes. But it's hard to be productive with young kids in the house.

I don't know if I'll ever work remotely again for a company that is out of town. I'm currently in an office regularly, so I can appreciate working from home, but I'll only do so if the office is in town. I don't mind getting in my car and going in when needed, but I don't like having to hop on a plane.

That's the situation I'm in now on my current contract. The down side is that, unlike the others who work remotely from other states; it's easy for them to ask me to work a problem that requires me to come on site. So that's sort of a down side. The people are nice though.

>I consider myself, without doubt, to be an introvert. I hate parties with a passion

Those aren't necessarily connected in the way that many people like to assert with such conviction. Many introverts (like me!) love parties and hanging out with friends.

You are right that they aren't causally connected. The OP is using the colloquial understanding of introversion. A more accurate description would be "asocial".

Psychological terms like these get confused in common-speak all the time. I am always a little thrown off when someone describes an asocial person as "antisocial", without realizing that the latter means something very different and disturbing [1].

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGN8bP5uJvM

The term "introvert" is too ambiguous to make any statement about self-described introverts with conviction.

serious question: what means to be an introvert then?

One definition I've heard is that introverts become fatigued when they have too much social interaction.

Extraverts on the other hand get energized by social interaction.

(Social interaction requires a lot of processing.)

Why ? It may be related to an organism's baseline of arousal.

The idea is that extraverts may have a lower baseline arousal rate, that they enjoy raising by interacting socially.

Introverts have a high baseline level of arousal, which gets raised too far by too much social interaction.

It is thought that extraverts are the majority making up 85% of the population, and introverts 15%.

This would explain why open office plans are the norm.

Ironically introverts often self select for work that requires deep focus, and end up having to do it in open plan offices designed by extraverts who see nothing wrong with that.

This is a good book on the topic: https://www.amazon.ca/Quiet-Power-Introverts-World-Talking/d...

Careful with the connection between extroverts and open offices. Not saying it's certainly wrong, but I'd say follow the money (they're usually cheaper) http://fortune.com/2015/03/18/pros-and-cons-open-office-floo...

A common plain-language definition of "introvert" used by professionals is that introverts "are more often energized from their quiet time than their social time"[1]. Extroverts are the opposite. Note that introversion and extroversion are on a continuum with most people in the general population (maybe not a specific population) being towards the middle.

Three comments to address your question specifically:

1. Note the "more often" in the definition. It isn't "always". As such, sometimes introverts are energized by their social time.

2. Given the spectrum of extroversion and introversion, some folks may be less extreme and therefore exhibit less stereotypical behavior for their archetype.

3. Extreme introversion (or extroversion) is not perceived as being pathological until it "causes impairment in functioning and/or causes significant distress for the individual" [ibid]. This might be in the form of detachment that has some surface level similarities to being an extreme introvert, but is actually quite different.

[1] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/self-promotion-introver...

Social situations introduce randomness, unpredictability. This is discomforting and sometimes disconcerting to me.

It's interesting to see that the average earnings of people who bike to work are increasing so much faster than the other groups. There's a stereotype that people who bike for transportation are just rich spoiled white liberals. I have no idea where it came from, and I'm pretty sure that historically it has been the opposite of the truth, but it's used as a political weapon by people on both ends of the political spectrum to argue against investments in bike-friendly infrastructure. People on the right stereotype cycling as a snotty badge of childless affluence and liberal virtue. On the left there's obviously a lot of support for bike infrastructure, but there are also public transit zealots who paint bike infrastructure as a perk that white gentrifiers award themselves, basically using the logic that public transit = diverse and good, cycling = rich and white and bad, therefore it's regressive to spend scarce alternative transit money on cycling.

The common thread on left and right is the assumption that biking as transportation is an activity of the affluent and educated. I've always wondered if a social stereotype that is so widely held across different groups in society can avoid becoming true. Maybe the rise of the average of wages of people who bike to work shows the stereotype taking effect by inducing more and more well-off people to see biking to work as an appropriate activity for someone like them.

Motorists (and many pedestrians) just hate cyclists and look for any excuse to marginalize them.

If they go too slow, they're slowing down traffic, if they go too fast they're a menace. If they're spandex clad, they're hated for their wealth, and if they're toting delivery food they're hated for their poverty. There's no winning.

Despite cycling being the obvious fastest and cheapest way to get around in a dense urban area...

Despite the fact that so-called cycling "infrastructure" (painting lines on streets that have to be repainted periodically anyway) costs basically nothing...

Despite the fact that every person on a bike is a person not using up space in a crowded train, bus, or car lane, despite the fact that adding bike lanes makes the streets safer motorists and pedestrians more than it does for cyclists...

Cyclists are literally risking their lives to make your journey better, and yet you hate them for it, because they confuse you.

I don't really understand it, but I wish I could.

I'll be happy to explain! Indeed, both as a driver and a pedestrian, I am usually not particularly happy with cyclists.

Cyclists are the most vulnerable agents on the road. More than pedestrians (even a light touch or sudden appearance is enough to tip the bike). At the same time, they are usually the most reckless people on the road. They are happy to ignore traffic lights, passage priority, almost never signal a turn (when they do, I am applauding in my mind), and generally consider themselves invulnerable. Motocyclists can be reckless, but at least they stop at red and signal lane changes. Pedestrians are vulnerable, but careful. Cyclists are the worst of the both worlds. Yes, they risk their lives, but I am not happy to take their life and go to prison for nothing. There are rules for everyone on the road, including cyclists -- please do not ignore them, and we'll be happy.

As a pedestrian, I was nearly hit by a cyclist quite a few times while walking at the park. They are silent and can't be seen until the very last moment. I am also not happy about that. Some attach this ratchet thing to be more noticeable -- you are the real heroes. Unfortunately, I almost never see it in the wild.

I get plenty pissed off at fellow cyclists, but it's important to remember than just like with drivers, you forget the good ones the instant they're out of sight. The bad ones are a minority, but they're the ones that give you a reason to remember them.

I regularly here this lament from people who don't cycle, yet when I'm out I see far more poor behaviour from car drivers than other cyclists.

If you want to see what it's like from the other side without getting out on a bike have a look at https://www.reddit.com/r/BikeCammers/

The hate is entirely cultural, varies from city to city, and has nothing to do with how cycling infrastructure benefits everyone. About twice a week I get called a gay explative or cut in front of while in the bike lane on purpose just to screw with me (this is between Livermore and Pleasanton in the Bay Area).

When I lived in Oakland and would bike to Pleasanton for work (26 miles one way, taking BART back), the infrastructure was far worse but the drivers never gave me any trouble.

>"infrastructure" (painting lines on streets that have to be repainted periodically anyway)

Bike lanes aren't really for bikes - they're for cars. If a cyclist isn't afforded a lane, they'll take the rightmost lane for themselves. If enough bikes do this, that lane becomes unusable for cars. Rather than lose a whole lane to bikes, traffic planners cut off half to give to bikes, and give the other half back to cars.

Maybe bike commuters being more affluent is more of an effect of their habits than a correlation with their wealth. Car commuting is expensive!


Keep in mind - Real Estate prices are a driving factor in this stereotype. Biking to work is cheap. Living close enough to work that you can comfortably bike is often expensive (especially for families/households).

It's true. Go to Europe, poor people ride the bus the better-off use a bike.

I think it'd have to do because of things like getting a bike requiring a larger initial capital investment, plus there's the danger of it being stolen (which is smaller if you live in a nicer neighborhood).

Go to Europe, poor people ride the bus the better-off use a bike.

This was my impression from the United States, too, but then numbers made me look again, and I started to notice a lot of people who didn't fit my assumptions. The image that makes me think "bike commuter" is someone briskly riding a practical, efficient bike with a laptop bag of some kind, so I was ignoring a lot of other people who are often not carrying anything, not riding very fast, riding an ill-fitting bike or one not particularly suited for commuting. It never occurred to me that those people might be riding to work.

The DUI commute.

I think it's because navigating adult life on a bike is a skill people learn while going through university. For everybody else, bikes are just a stepping stone to being allowed to drive.

If you correlate cycling with wealth and education, I suspect that the link with education will be much stronger. It might even be a bidirectional causality, with people who can't wait for earning their first car being much less likely to "waste" years on education.

If we're generalizing to all of Europe, which is obviously unwise, then cycling is a skill used to get to school or college.

Unfortunately, I don't speak another language well enough to search for statistics outside Britain and Ireland.

This raises a funny distinction between the US and Europe...

Outside of urban areas of the US, almost everybody drives cars, which are MUCH larger capital investments (and a larger long-term expense) than bicycles, regardless of income level.

I biked to work in the Bay Area for awhile. The mediterranean climate here is perfect for it.

Except people here drive like maniacs. I was tired of feeling like I was taking my life into my own hands from people regularly going 20 or 30 over the limit and treating me like a road obstacle.

Off-lane bike paths are important. Sane driving practices are also important.

Absolutely! I'm in Chicago, where the weather is decidedly not mediterranean, but the biggest challenge for me is finding a safe enough route to ride on. The most direct route for me puts me on some pretty busy streets with a "shared lane" (i.e. an image of a bike painted on the road), but by adding about 5 minutes each way to my ride I'm able to spend 2/3s of it completely off of the streets thanks to our elevated 606 path and the lakefront trail. I often fantasize about some dystopian scenario that renders all motorized vehicles inoperable, leading to a utopian world where streets are safe to use for cyclists. Chicago gets a glimpse of such a world once a year on the "bike the drive" event where lake shore drive is closed to car traffic for a few hours and is filled with cyclists.

I'm in SoCal and even with our own bike lanes I refuse to bike to work. I'm 2 miles from work and will walk every now and then but never bike. 3 months after starting my job I was coming home from work one night I saw a guy with a mangled bike laying on the side of the road. Later I read that he died shortly after being hit. The driver of the minivan that hit him wasn't paying attention.

Maybe if they were protected. But, even then I'd still be hesitant. Drivers just don't care.

> mediterranean climate

Have you been to the med?

In less click-bait-y headlines: "A record 2.6% of American employees now go to their jobs without ever leaving their houses".

In more absurd headlines: "A record 2.6% of American employees now transfer to their jobs INSTANTANEOUSLY."

Did the title change?

"More Americans now work full-time from home than walk and bike to office jobs" sounds like context, rather than click-bait.

I found the headline a bit ridiculous to say the least. It seems to suggest that working from home is particularly popular, until you realize that the US probably has an exceptionally low rate of people walking or biking to office jobs. So this really just says that working from home is gaining some popularity.

It make it sounds like it's a lot, when the reality is that there are very, very few people who walk or bike to work in US.

IOW: Less than 3 Americans out of 100 are not afraid of physical activity *

* not taking into consideration people living too far from work to walk or bike, which would skew numbers a lot, since majority of people can't walk or ride bike to work because it's not within reasonable distance

I've been working from home for 10 years; our entire company is a virtual office. For me, there's far more positives than negatives, but every personality is different. Some people can't handle it. Sometimes work invades personal/family time, and sometimes it's the other way around.

I miss the social, in-person part, but I spend more time with my family. And we have enough calls, IM's, and occasional in-person meetings that I'm satisfied. But then again, I've also been known to not go outside for a full week and it doesn't phase me. ...which reminds me, it's Spring. I'm going to go take 5 to lie down in the grass in the backyard and watch the clouds until my next meeting starts. :)

This is fascinating to me. I've been working from home for about 4 years now. With only the later 2 years being 100% WFH (I had office time the first 2 years).

I really wish I had your same relaxed feeling about social interaction. More than being outside, it's the random social interaction I miss. I notice more and more it's having a negative impact on my health. I feel less motivated, less energetic, and downright depressed some days.

I attribute it to the fact that, like you, I can go a full week without going outside... But unlike you, it really is starting to hurt me. In a given week, I'll have face to face conversation for as little as 30 minutes. I've never considered myself a very outgoing, or "extroverted" person, so this has all been something of a surprise to me. I would never have thought that random social interaction could be so important (for me).

I definitely feel my family helps a lot in that regard. If not for those interactions, I'd want an office job.

Meanwhile 56% of people who work or study in Copenhagen commute by bicycle.

European cities are much more compact than American. Americans want to live in suburbs in their own houses and drive cars, Europeans have no problem to live in apartments in city and use public transport or bikes. It's generalization, but it goes back to history how European vs American cities were built, so it's nothing really to be proud about, of course ideal would be having house close to downtown but that's just not realistic, in Europe you can have at least apartment, in US usually you don't have even this option in many smaller towns.

Many Europeans nowadays can't reach property prices in cities and are forced to live in suburbs where they end up commuting by cars, same as Americans (I can see that in my family, my sister and cousin rather build house outside and drive cars + switch to train, personally I am against this since I don't want to be taxi driver of my children, so I opt for apartment in city in walking distance to subway, but I am the weird one because I prefer apartment over holy grail - own house, but my sister can enjoy her 1 hour commute and she is extremely lucky her work is next to train station, otherwise it would be like 1.5 hour one way which I say no thanks, I didn't travel that much even in pretty big Beijing).

I doubt they have the hills I have to contend with. I don't want to show up to work drenched in sweat.

For random comparison...

Copenhagen: http://en-us.topographic-map.com/places/Copenhagen-8017438/

Pittsburgh, PA: http://en-us.topographic-map.com/places/Pittsburgh-800970/

San Francisco, CA: http://en-us.topographic-map.com/places/San-Francisco-92496/ (note that the entire scale of the Copenhagen map fits in the bottom 1/6 of the SF map)

Hmmm... I get that, but... A place I worked at provided showers, mainly at the instigation of people who biked to work. Thirty years ago.

There are showers. It's just not for me.

Now I'm dragging a set of clothes/shoes, soap, towel/rag, hair brush, razor, shaving cream, etc to work? Probably should wear sandals in the shower unless I want foot fungus. Then what do I do with my wet towel and stank clothes? Stuff them in a bag where they stink worse? Hang them in my cube?

Then I head home and have to put on my stank clothes and get all sweated up again. Time for another shower I guess.

And that's not mentioning the time in transit, probably an hour a day round trip by bike. This is why I live close to my work. I can drive there with all the street lights and park, portal to portal in 10 minutes.

I bike about 18-20 miles round trip every day and I spend between an hour and an hour and ten minutes on the bike (total, not one way). I bring a change of clothes, lunch, and macbook in a waterproof backpack. Shower once in the morning when I get to work. I get my exercise and my commute done at the same time and I don't have to pay for/maintain/fuel/insure a car. On the off days that I don't feel like cycling or the weather is insane my wife drops me off or I get an uber.

This is my opinion and it may ruffle some feathers but if it takes you 10 minutes to go from door to door in a car and you don't have a disability, you shouldn't be driving to work. At least not every day.

Or how about heat? Ok, maybe I'm biased here...

/I call Phoenix, AZ home...sigh

Aarhus has hills and a 48% bike share.

Looks like not much over a couple hundred feet and Copenhagen is flat as a pancake.

An e-bike solves that problem.

Well of course, its safe there!

In the US we don't have the bike path system yet. Riding a bike in a US city is insanely dangerous.


... because they can not afford to buy a car.

Have you been to Copenhagen? Would you prefer it look like downtown Atlanta?

Yes, I have been there. But winters are cold & rainy and cars are taxed to oblivion.

Maybe that's a good thing.

and because the city has great bike infrastructure and has great (i.e. not hot) weather for biking

The biggest hurdle to biking and walking, for those who are already comfortable doing those activities, is showering. I don't want to show up to the office drenched in sweat, making the work area smell like a gym. And there are some things that you can do, like the wipes and that, but they don't feel anything like a shower. The more offices that either put in showers, or locate near gyms and places that do have showers, the better.

It also doesn't help that most cities and towns in North America aren't designed with high standards of bike safety. I live in one of the biggest cities on the continent and our council has taken DECADES to implement bike lanes downtown despite the rise in population and car usage.

You don't have to bike like a madman when you commute. You can bike at a moderate pace 10-12 mph (roughly 4x walking) pace and not break a sweat.

Where I live, at certain times (say middle of July or August) I could walk down the street at midnight, and get heatstroke if I don't carry water with me.

/dead serious here

The 400 foot elevation gain in my commute respectfully disagrees.

My 13 mile route concurs.

If you're not fit or live in a hilly area then you can buy an electric bike to avoid sweating.

Electric bikes are crazy expensive, though.

They are more expensive than normal commuter bikes but you can still get a decent one for under $1000.

"Nearly 8% of programmers now work from home, following a staggering increase of nearly 400% since 2000."

Could working remotely reach a tipping point where it becomes the default? I could see it happening in the next 20 years, the advantages are too numerous. Most of the downsides are typically related to the inherent friction between onsite and the offsite workers, meaning companies that start out as remote-first will have a big advantages over companies that later add remote working options.

The biggest downside to me is decreasing the ways to make a friends and being social. I worked remote for about 8 months and I got bored seeing the same room in the day and the night. Of course not having a commute is an amazing thing and environmentally friendly, but I felt very disconnected from the world.

I think once working from home is the norm something will have to exist to allow for meeting new people besides the status quo.

I had a long conversation about this with my Dad yesterday. He is an attorney who spent years working in fairly large organizations. Now he works from home most of the time.

I like how he explained his experience. He said that working from home removes many of the day-to-day negatives, such as a boss on your case and having to wake up even if you feel terrible. On the other hand, he said working from home also removes many of the positives, in particular, working with other motivated people.

I've tried for a couple of years now to get a group to work on side projects. The idea was to use video calls to meet and then work in a decentralized way. I've found it to be very difficult to keep the motivation high. Projects just starve to death. I wonder how different it would be if we had met in person.

I am working from different coworking spaces for some time now. I think they actually (can) have the positives that your dad and others are missing - working alongside motivated people, causual smalltalk, you can make friends. I really like it but it is some luck to find a fitting location.

I think you hit the nail on the head here - there are lots of folks who view work as a way to be social and make friends. I wonder if a lot of it stems from the fact that sometimes you have to relocate for a new gig, and making friends at work is easier. I suppose it's also good to have friends at work when times are tough.

That's never fit my definition of work though. Work is where I go to work, to get stuff done with motivated people. I mean, I'll be friendly with coworkers, sure... but I didn't necessariliy choose them. Kinda like highschool or college - these people are around because they were placed there. A friend of mine called this "Friends of geographical convenience" once. I have lots of people I get along with at work... but would I invite them to my daughter's wedding? A child's graduation? Would I loan them money if they were desperate? Would I help them move? Could I count on them to help me in troubled times? Probably not, cos people move on from jobs pretty quick. Work friends are kinda like Facebook friends. My real friends and I share more common interests than just computering. ;)

That said, I do have a couple of friends I met through work. But that's different than using work to find friends, I think.

Maybe I'm wrong. I don't know. Just thinking out loud I suppose.

>I wonder if a lot of it stems from the fact that sometimes you have to relocate for a new gig, and making friends at work is easier.

I like this. Because it could lead to some interesting demographic shifts as more people go remote and where they live becomes less important to work, and more important for other things, like making friends.

For example, I like pro wrestling. I know that wrestling fans are overrepresented in Orlando, FL. If I already work remotely, then it would make sense for me to move to Orlando to be around people who have similar interests.

This could apply just as easily to religion, politics, hobbies, and other things once income is less tightly coupled to geography.

Well with the time saved from your commute, you could get involved in something locally.

You could talk to your neighbors...

...who are all working in their offices, because most of them aren't programmers.

Despite being rather introverted, I have a fairly active social life outside of work. Nothing against my coworkers, but I would work from home full time if I could.

When talking to companies I am always surprised by how many are not friendly to fully remote employees, even ones who work on online collaborative tools.

I think this is where a lot of remote workers fail to adapt, myself included for a few years. Remote working has its disadvantages but it's not unsolvable. Nowadays, I make it a point to go to local meetups on a consistent basis, which actually allowed me access to social networks far outside the limited network within my company.

What's nice is that it forced me to learn how to make friends outside of typical environments (work, school). It was far easier than I realized, and now I regret not doing it earlier in my life.

Meetups are awesome.

I highly recommend board game meetups! There are lots programming related meetups as well.

I go out to cafes half of the time - even if it's just 4 hours or so. That said, it's relatively easy/quick for me as I live in downtown San Diego. There's literally 5 cafes within a 2 block radius of my condo and probably a couple dozen that are great for working out of within a 5 mile drive. I'm not super social but I regularly strike up conversations and occasionally form friendships while I'm out and about.

It makes a big difference how flexible your schedule is. I used to work from home and could take a few hours to see a museum/movie/etc in the middle of the week. Saving 5+ hours a week in commute time frees you up to be a lot more social as long as you actually leave the house regularly.

The flip side is I also had weeks when I never left the house or really spoke with anyone, but as long as that's not your normal schedule it's IMO not a big deal.

PS: I know some people who really got into online games with that schedule. An MMO is not quite a social life, but it's easier to maintain if your hours get wacky vs. the local culture.

"Social" is not the same as "coworkers". There are people to meet beyond work.

I've been a remote employee for 2 years now. I strongly believe that the majority of people will not be able to mentally adjust to working out of their home. It's only human nature. There are days I feel like I will go insane if i spend another 10 minutes in my apartment. Then I'd go to a coffee shop and just relax mentally while feeling like part of society. And i'm an introvert.

Indeed. A good amount of humans are social creatures and need interaction. A coffee shop is a good idea. You don't even need to talk to people. Just being immersed in a busy environment is good enough sometimes.

if i dont speak to humans, even for a short while, I start forgetting how to.

being immersed isn't enough, if anything it feels more alienating to me

When I worked from home I did much more in terms of extracurricular activities. I am working in an office now and after a day of dealing with people I am exhausted and just go home to collapse. I think my social life has suffered a lot from working in an office. Yes, I interact with people but not really on my own terms.

But working from a cafe is still pretty much 'working from home'. It has many of the upsides of working from the non-remote office with the upsides of choosing your environment (e.g. what kind of cafe are you looking for?).

If I were young and single, even today and even as an introvert I'd probably seek out places to work on site. Work, not social stuff. I'm old and settled these days so when I can get remote gigs, it's great.

I have a wife and kids, so its nice to visit with them on my breaks if they are around.

This is a key difference if you don't have kids yet. I am rarely lonely, even if I never leave my house.

In the early 2000's I thought it would be more common now. It looks like by the time it gets to where recruiters understand what I'm asking for, it will be time to retire.

The best thing about working from home is no one knows/cares where you are working from. If you sick of your home office, go somewhere else!

I have spent the last two summers working remotely from Europe. My favorite office was a houseboat in Amsterdam!

Its good for my wife and kids to go on trips too. I bring a extra screen and they (mostly) respect my workspace.

I am more happy and more productive after becoming remote. Its been 4 years.

One downside of full time working from home is that the WFH workers are faceless, and easier to cut if it comes time to lay off employees.

It's harder to tell the worker you eat lunch with every day that you're laying him off than the worker you only know via video chat.

This is true. As someone who's worked remotely for the last four years, I can say that you want to be in the room for decisions that are made in the room.

For those who are thinking of going fulltime remote, I recommend doing so at companies where everyone works remote, or on teams where everyone works remote. Freelancing and contracting can work too, if you don't mind the extra hustle needed to line up clients.

But being the only remote guy at a company full of cubicle dwellers is just asking to me left out of important discussions or being the first to be fired or blamed in times of trouble.

By extension you could say that working with a remote office would make them easier to lay off as well.

I'm sure there's some truth to it but I think it all comes down to perceived value. If you're in someone's face everyday reminding them of how valuable you are, it does make it seem you are more valuable. A remote worker or someone working in a satellite office is going to have a more difficult time tooting their own horn.

That said, I work from the main office and we have an additional three offices spread across three different countries and I don't feel that it would be easy to lay off someone in one of those offices anymore than it would be to lay someone off in my office. Each person has a specific skill they're bringing to the table and without them that work wouldn't get done.

Perhaps if there was real or perceived redundancy in job skills, the situation might be different but then you've got redundancy and if times get tough, someone has to go anyway. Now we're just talking about who. If there are 10 people on a team and only one of them works remotely, well, that might be the person who gets cut first but if you have 10 people and 4 of them are working remotely, you're back to the same issue of their perceived value to the organization. Whether working from an office or working remotely, the people who have done the best job at standing out are the least likely to get cut.

I thought that it was still common practice to fly employees to the same place so that they can meet in person? It's been part of the onboarding process of every part-remote company I've been involved with.

working at home is great for me because its super efficient and i dont wrap my identity in my work. so it pays bills, then i can use the free time to do social things and things i care about

I wish I didn't feel in the way when riding a bicycle on the road. So I walk instead. Oh well. Then my next fear is being confronted by strangers asking for a lighter then money. It's not so bad though, I just feel anxious to be encountered.

> my next fear is being confronted by strangers

Don't make eye contact, eyes straight ahead, walk with a purpose.

It's that whole guilt thing. This one guy kept insisting he was hungry/homeless like it was my problem. But first he asked for a cigarette, then a lighter, then $1,$2,$5 ahh... I had just gone to a store and had a bunch of singles/quarters for the bus.

Could I spare a few bucks sure. Do I waste money on myself sure.

I remember one time I was scammed haha. This old lady's like "You're a good boy, you had a good mother." Haha as they walk off with $20.00 for "gas" where I could have pumped gas into their car but insisted on cash.

Oh well I just think if it's my time it's my time.

Not being afraid to say no works too.

I think this might be pretty damning on how unwalkable and unbikable America is.

i think this would be similar in bigger European cities too, it's just too far to ride bike especially if you live in suburbs

That's just because fewer Americans than ever walk or bike to office jobs.

ok as if everyone is cognizant of the magnitude of people who walk or bike to jobs.

Why am I not one of them? :(

Why don't you find one? weworkremotely or stackoverflow careers have a fair amount.

Not in my experience. Last time I looked on weworkremotely I think I saw fewer remote-relevant jobs there than I have fingers on one hand. ("Remotely-relevant" for me means just searching for C and C++.)

Two biggest issues I had walking, later biking, the last leg of my commute were the air pollution and time.

Still, it was good exercise. Now that I WFH exercise has to be more deliberate.

Confucius say, Working from home much harder after having baby.

And here I am, thinking the comment section would be about how unhealthy Americans have become...

When I work remotely (a.k.a. WFH), I exercise on the treadmill at lunch every day. I feel better and my blood test numbers prove it. When I have to work in an office, I am too tired to exercise when I get home and my health suffers for it.

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