We found it easier to grow and expand all over the world and didn't grow as much in the Bay Area as thought. Currently only 20-30 people of our 550+ live in Bay Area
Also as far as space goes, that is just one photo of the downstairs area of the space. You can see more at https://automattic.com/lounge/ and some early shots here https://customspaces.com/photo/uklO4BLxis/
P.S. I'm the guy in the green shirt in the photo, woo hoo!
If you have a completely remote team, you're paying at least something in productivity, because training people to be open to hop on a VC or chat at a moment's notice and documenting everything through email or a shared document is not trivial, especially when you're not used to doing things that way, and the costs are not zero.
Or you could do everything asynchronously to deal with time zones, but then you're introducing an inevitable lag based on overlap of working hours.
For a healthy, functioning organization, it might be worth it. However, if your team is already dysfunctional, having remote workers exacerbates the problem. (I have first hand experience)
Many office environments are noisy too, which doesn't always make them the best place for productivity.
In an ideal world, employers would allow employees to choose themselves, and for commuting-distance, remote employees to 'hot desk' when they want.
On yet another hand working in an office and having to deal with remote workers is also a tax on the local workers productivity.
Lost count of the number of times I've had to take time out of my work schedule to VC with remotes to solve misunderstandings that would never have happened if they were working in the same room.
Company I work at also has several people who have remote worked from the very early days and don't seem to understand the entire culture of the place and workflow has changed which throws spanners in the works at times.
The difference here is who ends up paying the tax. For remote work, the employer pays the lion's share of the "tax". In a traditional setup, the employee pays the brunt of the "tax".
With employees working remotely, the employer can also make big cost savings by needing a much smaller office space.
There's plenty of research as to the negative effects of commuting (e.g. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/urban-survival/201501/c...)
If an employer isn't paying me enough to cover travel costs and another offers work from home, it is a reason to switch jobs.
I suspect that and a dozen other tiny reasons are why work in office jobs tend to pay more than work from home jobs.
Remote work is a very recent phenomenon and as such, runs into a completely different set of problems that haven't been as thoroughly solved as a co-located working environment.
It's like picking PostGres/Mysql over Cassandra/Mongo. Sure, both have problems, but the traditional SQL solutions are stable and the problems have known workarounds. With NoSQL solutions, you might be one of the first people who are doing that particular use case, and you'll have to pioneer your own solution, at the expense of the company's business plan/profit.
For example, commuting has been instrumental in helping me lose 35 kg in 10 months, from size 46 to size 36.
I made the decision to always commute walking (30 minutes commute which I do 4 times a day because I also wanted to have lunch at home with my family). Once you factor in that your commute is 30 minutes instead of 10 minutes (or 0 minutes if you work at home), things are rather easy.
So I end up spending 2 hours a day walking, which turns out to be an activity that I happen to like a lot (its been a bit of an evolution, possibly inspired by the "Love what you do" approach to things as opposed to "Do what you love") and therefore I do not see it as a time waste at all.
I think that what worked for me (goal: increase activity) was to build the activity as a part of routine that was too inconvenient to skip, and then ending up liking that routine. I do not see anymore commuting as busy time, for me it is part of my free time, an activity that I do want to do. In other words, on weekends I now usually go hiking and I do not consider as busy time.
But it's not that simple, because the "remote tax" is paid by everyone, not just by those who decide to work remotely.
At the company I work for, we're spread around a few countries and are well used to working this way. But despite the benefits, not everyone chooses to work from home - not everyone has a home environment conducive to remote work, and some simply don't like it. We've got decent comms tools, and honestly, the 'remote work tax' is very seldom an issue.
Even meetings make more sense at your computer. Who wants to squint at an overhead in a room full of people? I'd rather get a close-up view of the presentation (screenshare) and be able to hear everyone clearly. I can capture screenshots, take notes, schedule follow ups etc.
There are frequent times throughout my working day when I ping the dev who sits next to me (or they png me) to ask if I'm free to chat "IRL" for 2 minutes, and if so we'll do a _very_ quick pairing session on a bug, or get input from the other on a design problem. These things are big enough that they are worth getting a quick check on from someone else, but likely small enough that typing out a more complete explanation, or even having to loop someone else into the full context, is prohibitively expensive. I don't think we'd lose out much from not having that ability - when the other one of us is busy we can't do it anyway - but I think the lack of it does cost something.
> Even meetings make more sense at your computer.
I think I'd also disagree with this to some extent. I think it's easier to get distracted at a computer, distracts others who work next to people who are talking into a mic on their computer, and can add overhead with connection issues (I find adding a remote employee adds ~3-5 minutes an hour of overhead, and they are involved less in the meeting). That said, we don't have computers in meetings other than the one that is running the screen, so people aren't getting distracted by (or working on) other things, and we have a tendency to (politely) walk out of meetings that we feel we aren't adding value to.
It just depends on the situation and the person. For some people it's great, for some okay, for some horrible. Luckily, there are a wide range of employment options so you can chose employment that fits your needs/desires.
Well, it doesn't matter if you get twice the work done, if it doesn't advance the team twice as much.
If you're working completely independently, sure, work from home. Contractors have far more leeway than salaried employees in that regard.
If you're working remotely but as an integral part of the team, it doesn't matter as much that you're individually getting twice the amount of work done, if it doesn't dovetail with team objectives. Without constant communication, which is facilitated by in-person interactions and communication, the team might actually be working forwards more slowly.
It doesn't matter if you're coding two features instead of one in the same amount of time, if the two features never hit production and the one feature does.
How is that any different that in office? In my experience, in office communication is often MORE difficult to document. Remote communication often happens via email, or text, and can naturally document in an informal way. Technical documents are no harder, or easier, to 'train' employees to create when working remotely or in office.
- Or you could do everything asynchronously to deal with time zones, but then you're introducing an inevitable lag based on overlap of working hours.
This is really more a problem with dispersing your team, than it is with remote working. You can have a remote work company with everyone in the same time zone.
Remote work carries with it a certain number of risks to be sure. But it's not nearly as risky as I feel like people make it out to be.
Exactly, because if everybody is colocated, you can pick up on subtle social cues and figure out what's important and what people are working on just based on what people are talking about. If you spend that much face time with people, unless you're completely socially stunted, you don't have to document things because people "just get it".
> Remote work carries with it a certain number of risks to be sure. But it's not nearly as risky as I feel like people make it out to be.
There are tradeoffs to everything, and I think on this board, things have swung too far to the other side. Remote work is not an absolute panacea, and carries with it costs. Just like NoSQL is not the end-all be-all of datastores, remote work isn't the right solution for many teams.
and then a year later when you have to figure out why something was done a certain way what do you do? or when some of the people that "were there" have left and nobody else remembers?
If all the discussions are written, there is no risk of forgetting anything: even working in an office I always send an email after a meeting or random chat to the person involved to document what we talked about, what was decided and why. I might also cc other people that should be kept in the loop, which is also something you cannot do if you just talk.
Remote working enforces discipline, which is good in the long run, but is not very rewarding in the short run and requires the pre-loading of effort.
Humans are really bad at making those sort of trade-offs. That's why many of us still eat fast food, smoke, and don't exercise.
Even though you're "doing the right thing", there are immediate up front costs for theoretical (but very real) benefits down the road. Even though you're doing the right thing, maybe an organization isn't quite prepared to pay the costs to do things that way. Hence, "work tax".
Also, my assertion that remote work is mainly for healthy organizations holds sway. It really magnified and focuses a light on an organization's details and flaws, and many people don't like that.
I ask because from what I've seen, the partially remote situations have generally been more dysfunctional than fully remote. When it's one person who missed the conversation, it just makes their life miserable; when it's everyone else, it makes -your- (the person with the info's) life miserable, and that leads to better communication processes and documentation.
My experience with Indian devs has been their English is as "proper" as anyone's, and their technical skill levels vary with about as much variation as in the U.S., where there are also plenty of not very good developers.
The thing is, once a company has decided to prioritize saving money on developers, they are probably willing to take devs who are really not very good to get cost savings (whether they realize it or not), and there are a lot of companies in India which exist to help them do that. If they wanted to hire not very good developers at cheaper rates in the U.S., they could easily do that too. Perhaps the people making the decisions fool themselves into thinking the rock-bottom-rate devs they are hiring in India are magically highly skilled, and somehow it's easier to fool yourself this way when they are on the other side of the world.
Because California, number one, and because everything costs 3-10X what it does elsewhere. I could easily double my salary if I moved to SV, but I'd have to live in a van in the parking lot like a hobo, instead of being able to afford a decent house and have a goodly amount of disposable income.
Remote work allows for a better diversification of work forces across regions. For example, if somebody who lives in Detroit because that is where they were born and family is can have the same high tech job as people in the Bay Area it helps Detroit be more resilient and flexible to regional business fluctuations.
You vastly underestimate just how cheap outsourcing is
This is anecdotal but over and over again, this was the scenario:
1. local firm collects bids
2. As courtesy firm tells us we were 2-5x more expensive than winner, winner is in far east.
3. 1,2,3 years latter firm returns to us asking if we can re-submit but on a more shorter timeline (maybe the project would have been 2-3 engineers for 6 mo)
4. We come back with a new bid that is 8-12x more, has a bigger team than we would have used orgiinally, less favorable risk analysis..
5. They paid us to take them on! Often-times we had to throw away almost everything their Bangladesh contractors had been working on for years (fundamentally bad schema, no unit tests, bad bad code)...
If engineers in India are, say, 5x cheaper fully-loaded than in the US; and some of them are awesome engineers; why are there not startups in the West competing to pay the rock-stars a Western salary but have them stay in India?
With all the close ties between the Indian IT sector and Silicon Valley I would expect it to be common practice especially among startups to try recruiting the best away from, say, InfoSys by simply paying them what you'd end up paying an inferior engineer locally.
As far as I can tell this is not done very often. Anybody know why? Or am I just not aware of it?
The hardest part would be to build a team of true startup hustlers, because the outsourcing industry has not been built around those types of people. Traditionally you have to have very strong top-down management and clear requirements since the mentality on the other end is to do what your told, avoid giving bad news, and maximize billable hours. This is something that large companies with established products can do a lot easier than startups.
In general the reduced execution risk is not worth the cost savings because you don't yet have a business, you are trying to build one. The safer bet for a startup very tight team working hand in glove where every employee is obsessed with the high-level product.
I've seen people who've got really cool sites to show that they've worked on in their spare time, or worked on with local collaborators.
Somehow, and it's hard to pinpoint how, when they try to work with someone in the West, it breaks down. Understandings that are natural to you sitting in one part of the world may have been completely missed by your remote guy in the East. Doesn't always happen, but it's enough to warrant a risk premium.
If you're paying them a Western salary, why not relocate them to be local? In my personal experience this is what I see happen when we do ID an engineer who isn't local but good
Doesn't that remove any kind of gain from outsourcing? What would be the point? You now have the downside of SV salaries and the downside of managing remote teams across the globe.
"With all the close ties between the Indian IT sector and Silicon Valley I would expect it to be common practice especially among startups to try recruiting the best away from, say, InfoSys by simply paying them what you'd end up paying an inferior engineer locally."
Usually those worth their salt aren't working for Infosys in the first place.
There's also control, if you outsource your whole project then why do your workers even need you? They could just do it themselves and cut you out completely.
I understand that this is just a single anecdote but I work with quite a few people who have moved here from SF – and have friends who have made the opposite move – and they have all reported something similar.
If you meant "overall net income", then the Houston dev would likely come out ahead after taxes and rent/mortgage.
Plus, you get to be out in the sticks, not cheek by jowl with a million other people.
It would be totally awesome to get a group of developers together and hack away at stuff not having to worry about going home for a few days.
lol to me this is the opposite of "totally awesome"
"work for us, never go home, leave your family behind"
Sadly, this gung-ho "for the company" attitude, which arises from a combination of naivety and boredom, is one of the essential characteristics that VCs want to see in prospective founders. It's one of the biggest reasons they push the "You must be young and pure to be an innovative founder!" angle, although most people aged 25+ can see pretty clearly that experienced founders would be a great benefit to any company. That experience threatens the VC game, so they keep it as far away as they can.
Well, it was the military, and you'd have to replace "hack away" with "non-stop exercise and dumb chores", but the analogy still fits I think.
The downside of working remotely all my days are at work, or is it all my days are at home :-)
Most people over 25 want to go home at the end of the day to their friends/family and don't want to live in dorms.
Older adults (aka anyone over 23) typically prefer to have their own space.
And many people, surprisingly enough, don't want their job to be the sole focus of their existence.
Of my past work places--death star cube farms in old silicon valley to tiny rooms in sweltering Berkeley summers to shiny live/work lofts to giant sprawling disneyland like campus to noisy hipster coffee shops--that WordPress office would be up there in terms of a good place to work at.
The real story is the upward trend that if you give an inch, your employees will take a foot. If you offer telecommute, workers will not show up.
I've been freelancing and telecommuting the past five years. I've built my workstyle around chat bubbles, slack channels, video calls, and emails whether 2PM or 2AM.
I've built my lifestyle around that. As in I work around my life. Things just... get done without a direct measure of productivity anymore.
Sitting somewhere from 9 to 5 is like watching TV from the 2000's, ordering Netflix DVDs when we live in the 2010's with streaming Netflix.
And as one disappear, so does another and another. When you look around and realize no one else is there anymore it just becomes a ghost town while the virtual water cooler becomes more and more vibrant.
No ones goes to the office anymore, it's too lonely.
Isn't that the employer offering a foot, and the employees gladly taking them up on the offer, to the mutual benefit of both? It's not like they're helping themselves to a pocketful of pens and a spare monitor on their way home.
> I've built my workstyle around chat bubbles, slack channels, video calls, and emails whether 2PM or 2AM.
I'm glad that's working out for you, but the only things expecting anything from me at 2am should be my child, and Pagerduty if I'm on-call that week.
I totally get this sentiment but for me it's really nice to choose crazy work hours if I want them.
But - some people _choose_ to work at 2AM. They could be people still working at 2AM after starting at 10AM (I hurt for those people, but to each their own) or they could be people that started work at 9PM after a 6 hour break from working from lunchtime to 3PM.
Such is the beauty of the remote-working culture. Working at what some might consider "crazy" or "unhealthy" hours might actually be the result of having a healthy work-life balance, spending the "regular" waking hours with your family and enjoying life.
So a balance is struck - I'm here in the office the bulk of work hours, and I'm fucking uncontactable after 5 or on weekends because I'm living a young bachelor life. The other guys are available during the day but by definition not as online as me, but if something comes up after hours or on the weekend, generally one of them will be around and can pick up whatever the emergency is.
Maybe it's because we're a small company with a good CEO but things just kinda "work out" with unspoken agreements here. I hope I can emulate this in later jobs.
Wait, is there a way to make old conversations in Slack less painful to find and read? Anything more than 3 pages away is just not worth the effort for me.
The claim to fame so far is free archiving for public channels, often useful for open source projects that have accepted the trade-offs that come with directing a community to a free public slack.
Happy customers, products shipped, features delivered per team, bugs fixed, documentation written, individual git commits, are all direct measures of productivity that the good companies and managers track.
Time spent in the office, visibility, and even overall time spent working etc. are poor indirect measures that doesn't require any skill from the manager.
Happy customers is the only exception, but it's essentially impossible to attribute this to a team or an individual and is more of a company's health metric. You could just replace it with revenue.
>>> products shipped, features delivered per team
Will lead to releasing products that should never be released, or releasing too early, or creating a lot of features just to increase the counter.
>>> bugs fixed
Then why ship quality product in the first place, if it is more valuable to have easy bugs to fix later?
>>> documentation written
Can result in poorly written, or way too detailed documentation which will go out of date the next day.
>>> individual git commits
Some people commit more than a dozen of times a day and happily push them. Or you can create tons of commits that deliver very little value (e.g. adds a single comment), but increases the counter.
I understand that it is all well intended, it just seems like it creates a game rather than solves a problem. Some people are great at adapting to games and rules, some people - not so much.
Quantifying developer's work has been discussed a lot, and I am still largely skeptical about such low level metrics. Essentially, it motivates people to maximize the score, even if it means doing things that are only good for the score, instead of good for the company.
If you measure how much stuff got done on paper within its agreed-upon deadline, sure, people may skimp on quality in order to ship something on time, and it probably would've been in the org's interest to delay release until all the work was really done.
And sure, if you measure against the number of bugs opened against production versions, trying to incentivize the least number of bugs opened as possible, you may invite people dealing with issues through back channels, so that they don't show up in the metrics.
And of course revenue is more of a company-wide metric.
But if you combine all of them - if your teams are hitting their feature development targets, and customers aren't complaining through established support lines, and revenues are up... is that not what makes a successful company?
The best way to avoid people gaming the system is to hire honest, hard working people who don't want to game the system. Then get out of the way and let them work.
In code we work in layers of abstraction. Large projects can be healthy when every layer is small enough to fit in your head.
In the same way, I think we could build a large company in layers of teams. Each layer should be manageable in the way discussed above.
Good modularity in code allows us to keep the whole problem in our head. Good team structure (requires good management) allows us to keep the management decisions at the tribe/human level that we are good at and not need the kind of mass, impersonal systems that lead to burdensome bureaucracy.
Of course, this kind of leadership and culture has to come from the top. It also requires that leadership explicitly avoid micromanagement, breaking the team boundaries. And requires continued commitment to treating your employees at every level like adults.
Of course, people are not code, but I think this organisational system of managing complexity can be applied to both.
It would be interesting to do some case studies, but I believe there are several large companies that have done this successfully, until top leadership changes (founder dies, etc.) and the new leader doesn't have the same trust of and commitment to employee/team autonomy. The dynamic changes, people notice and either leave or start gaming the system, etc.
First off, there's no allowance made for mentoring and answering technical questions. If you go head-down and socially punish anyone who disturbs you - even for good reason - you'll get more done and get a raise. On the other hand, if you annoyingly ask questions that further your project at the expense of distracting people around you, that also shows up in your project metrics and not your coworkers'. This will likely end up resulting in a really dysfunctional, non-collaborative culture.
Second, technical debt. There's two casual factors here. First is that hacking together stuff helps your projects in the short run, while hurting the organization as a whole in the long run. Basically, another example of externalizing the costs of shipping your features. Also problematic is that working with lots of technical debt in the code base will stretch out your estimates, since there's tons of tech debt and making slow progress is the new normal. You'll "hit your feature development targets", but those targets will be a fraction of what they'd be with a better culture.
Third, and related to the above, is deadline inflation. Your organization ends up rewarding people who are better at convincing management to give them more time to ship things. Yeah.
2) You don't need to adjust feature development metrics to get technical debt paid down. You set a target (e.g. 20% time to paying down debt), build a backlog of technical debt you know about, and either add the tasks to your sprint/version target (rewarding the team for completing them, like any other task) or come up with some other manner of getting them done, like Boy Scout code reviews (i.e. leave the codebase cleaner than you found it or fail review).
3) If you think you can ship better code by forcing arbitrary deadlines, then I hate to break it to you, but if the beatings continue, morale will not improve. And if you think you can substitute metrics and cash bonuses for good management skills to get people to work long hours so that you'll ship by the start of the holiday season (or other real deadline), then you don't understand how metrics is a tool for management and not a replacement for management.
It was ... not really efficient.
Developer performance can not be measured quantitatively. It's okay for a manager to look at these things, but when they go to an underperfoming employee the story always has to be qualitative and personal about the specific work they are doing.
It's hard enough to create a culture where everyone is focused on the success of the business without reducing people's work to easily gamed metrics. If you do that, you tacitly send a message that the true quality of their work doesn't matter and then you've shot yourself in the foot big time.
No it's easy; make everyone an equity partner.
I once worked with an entrepreneur of a very closely held small business. It was owned exclusively by the entrepreneur and his family, no employee had any share whatsoever, as far as I could tell. He often complained that employees lacked initiative, work ethic, etc. and didn't "treat the business like it was their own". Yep, that's a head scratcher.
Even if everyone has equity, if you put up metrics to measure productivity, they will be gamed, so choose carefully.
Employers have been eating up to 10 hours (2 hours per day) of unpaid commute time of employees for ages. Is it then really surprising that no one wants to waste time coming to work. If that time was paid, if commute time was paid, then maybe you would consider it. But it's a very simple economic calculation. It's like why am I paying for that time. I don't have to, so I won't. That 10 hours is 20% extra salary that is not paid.
And if your argument is that you could live closer, then the counter argument is that employers should have their offices in affordable areas where any employee can afford to easily live because rent is cheap. Not in the middle of downtown because that's what their peers or customers expect.
Now that same 15 min takes 1.5 hrs. Because everyone's now here.
Who pays for that?
You can move Google out of Mountain View to Bumfuck, Idaho. Then you lose the centralization and plugging into the network.
But to be honest, most prefer it this way. This crazy doo-dad lifestyle of fighting that 3 hour traffic. Because the thing is, if you work hard to win (or more likely you're just fortunate enough to win), then you get to enjoy central networking, get to enjoy the year over year growth of your property, get to enjoy the convenience of job hopping, get to enjoy that the smartest and the brightest all want in on this action.
So I don't know. I paid for my own uniforms in the marine corps. Someone should be sending me checks!
Measure productivity, don't police time.
If you as an employer are getting less results from telecommuting (while also not being able to attract better talent, which you should) then of course it's a loss, but I would like to see those numbers. I for one produce better results at home, even if I were to spend 2 hours on hn.
But - if it's downvoted for the allowance part, somebody is sending checks... eventually. I totally got the OP's intention with the phrase - well taken - but for folks that are interested:
$1900 initial for the Marines (following actual activation so you'd have to do the initial out of pocket) then ~$633 / yr after.
The onus is on the employee to optimizing getting to point X by time Y. Whether that means living closer or leaving earlier, they make that call.
I suspect if commute time was indistinguishable from work time as far as pay goes, employers would still want to encourage employees to live closer to work in various ways.
Look at it in another way -- you're basically penalizing the employees that don't spend time commuting by paying them less money. In practice I've seen this kind of phenomenon with smoking. Many years ago, in the army, the smokers got smoking breaks whereas the non-smokers did not. Soon almost all soldiers were smokers!
That had a direct impact on at least one person I know's decision to move further from the office.
It's a perverse incentive for the whole destructive car lifestyle that has you sitting utterly depressed in some metal death box surrounded by millions of your peers in more death boxes as you slowly trample through cities (picking up a few of the locals on the way and leaving them dead by the roadside) to your job.
Playing with this idea a bit: do you view the clothes that someone (only) wears to a traditional in-person office as rightfully the responsibility of the employer? Lunch?
I found this because I had a vague memory about a case about time spent "closing down stores" but maybe it was this or something else.
Perhaps there's some deeply technical reason that it makes sense, but the conclusion seems absurd to me based on common sense.
Finally, respondents’ claim that the screenings are compensable because Integrity Staffing could have reduced the time to a de minimis amount is properly presented at the bargaining table, not to a court in an FLSA claim.
The petitioner brought the claim under FLSA. It sounds really bad on face that the workers have to do this as a condition of employment, but imagine if instead of this pat-down, the complex property was really big, and employees had to walk an extra 25 minutes to their station because public transit could not access those roads, no employee cars were allowed, and no shuttles were provided. It boils down to a worker/employer bargaining dispute, not a labor violation.
https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/13-433_5h26.pdf (page 2 as numbered)
I.e., blame Congress.
In Germany if some safety clothes are compulsory by law, the employer has to pay for them: http://www.business-netz.com/Arbeitsschutz-und-Arbeitssicher...
> As an employee I'd factor in the commute when making decisions about a job.
Meaning you make concessions to either where you live or where you work. Isn't that a sign that it's not completely your choice? If all jobs could be done from home you would have all choices of housing available.
> do you view the clothes that someone (only) wears to a traditional in-person office as rightfully the responsibility of the employer? Lunch?
Same reasoning here: The only way you're not making concessions is if you happen to like the clothes that fit within the dress code of the company (if any).
And as for lunch, I've done IF for a few years (stopped a while back), and it's really difficult if you don't tailor it around work when it comes to work lunches, fitting meetings, available restaurants around work if you don't bring your own lunch, etc.
I don't have much problems with either of it, as I've accepted it as status quo, but it's obviously not a free choice.
Well yes, I mean there are many things about my job and my life that aren't completely my choice if by that we mean I have to make prioritization decisions and tradeoffs. Not being forced to work from any specific location eliminates one of the constraints, sure.
The point was more about the idea that commute time should be compensated for those whose employers to require them to come to an office. That's not obvious to me. Suppose, for example, I chose to live 2 hours away from my office. Should I be compensated for the 4 hours per day I spend commuting?
Yes, you're right. I wasn't arguing for a mandate, but merely questioning the status quo. But if I could change it, I guess I would say;
Not if you have the choice to work from home instead. Otherwise, I don't know, maybe? Obviously no one wants to pay wage to someone who chooses to live hours from work, but likewise if my employer forces me to be somewhere far away when I can get the same work done remotely, that's equally bad.
Of course both parties has the choice of switching employer/employee, but I digress.
Clients expecting you to be there is a perfectly valid reason. Peers isn't.
Butts in seats is an indirect measure of productivity.
I find that (typically) being remote forces you to make tangible, valuable progress as there is no room to hide behind "showed up on time, sat in a bunch of meetings."
There will never be a perfect system for all people in all roles, so YMMV.
Remote or not, it can be very difficult to get things done when you're waiting on input (or output) from a co-worker who's not on the same schedule as the rest of the team.
There are some tasks where you can work on blocks of time at any an hour of the day, but there are also tasks and time you need to be available (whether it's voice, chat, video) and responsive.
That sounds to me more like a poor problem deconstruction and task distribution. For problem deconstruction though, I agree that team discussion might be desirable, thus -- availability requirement.
Curious what you meant here.
If that's the tradeoff I think I'll keep commuting.
I think the benefits of working remotely are still poorly understood, and long-term the companies that are being built remote-first are going to have a significant engineering advantage over those that bolt remote working on after the fact.
Better to just pick and choose who you want to keep.
Doesn't matter. Failing public companies like IBM and Yahoo don't care about better vs. worse employees; what they care about is reducing costs, and that tends to make better employees more likely to be laid off, because they're more expensive. Wall Street doesn't give a damn how good your employees are; it just wants them to be cheap.
From the companies perspective, downsizing via changes on remote policy they spin a negative news headline into a positive ("Yahoo no longer allowing remote" vs "Yahoo lays off 2,000") and it is way lower risk in terms of labor law.
So your argument is that the employees that choose to stay must be bad because there can not be other reasons for their decision but the limits of their career prospects? Even if that might be true to some degree, I'm afraid that if you use this logic to guide yourself it will someday backfire badly.
Obviously highly employable people will leave, but the company saves the risk of strike, lawsuits, bad press etc. that come with lay-offs.
But cheaper if they pick themselves.
First, you have more layers of (mis)communication with remote since non-developer/engineering stakeholders won't be able to know whether their points and concepts are properly being understood by developers. Body language and tonality (voice inflection) are lost online. There are ways to minimize miscommunication through agile and lean processes but that needs to be in place before working with people remotely.
Second, tech companies might be known for having lavish office spaces so their employees want to be there. If their employees want to be there then it is easier to attract and retain them. On the other hand, bad egos can easily zap that synergy if not properly kept in check.
Attracting and keeping human capital is a very difficult problem not just in tech.
We do Slack Audio/Video and Zoom when we need to get in touch and talk things through. That being said, the loggability and searchability of text conversations also resolves a lot of miscommunications.
It is easier to do that if you are not fixed to the people in a 50km radius and can choose the cream of the crop of the world
Most companies that I worked for had this problem and only one of them was remote.
If your process is "Lets go to the devs and ask what I did wrong", you have big issues in your company independent of the location of their employees.
I would think you could just say "No, I was hired to work <here>. If you want me to relocate and I don't want to, you can let me go (which comes with unemployment, etc)". I certainly wouldn't voluntarily resign without compensation.
Now spare a thought for those of us sweating in the digital wasteland that is Australia.
Every so often I have to walk over to my fridge and nudge my 4G modem to improve the signal strength. I have a script running 'round the clock to reset the darn thing if the connection drops completely (this somehow it fixes it). I need the 4G connection because the copper wire to my house is so broken it can no longer support an ADSL signal.
Fibre is apparently coming in like... 2019? It is expected to run at a maximum of 25Mbps.
Needless to say, remote work is not exactly on the cards.
Fast internet is definitely possible in Australia, although right now, you might need to move to get it (alas). It's also not yet cheap (but we can partially expense internet, and you can also write it off for tax).
But I'm lucky, and I get that. We play the broadband lotto, and it's not easy to win. If I move I no doubt will be back in the ADSL2 world hoping I'm close to the exchange.
I'm holding my breath for when the NBN finally rolls through my area. Even 25Mbps would be acceptable at this point.
I had a chuckle today when I saw a restaurant in the Perth CBD was using a Vividwireless 4G modem. I would have thought the middle of the city at least would have a decent wired connection.
Both get 100 down, but Telstra Fibre only offers 5 up. The NBN on the other hand has 100/100 sync available if you want it.
(Actually, if my employer weren't providing me with a proper monitor, I'd be refusing to work on the grounds of the occupational health and safety risks of working primarily from a laptop for an extended period of time.)
At the San Francisco office, there's a table with cinema display monitors you can plug your laptop to, they're just out of frame on this picture.
I'm 100% sure the people on this photo are not using the external monitors because they don't want to. Some people prefer a consistent workflow everywhere (be it at home, the office, Starbucks or at the beach) and you can't quite get that with an external monitor.
Source: Worked at Automattic
Miss you Marco!
Miss y'all too <3
But thinking back on it, some of the most productive programming time I've ever had happened on a netbook with a 10 inch screen. For some reason, having limited workspace made it much easier to stay focused and avoid distractions. Maybe because it was impossible to have my attention drawn away by the HN tab open on my second monitor. :)
Attention and focus are a bit different for everyone, though. I could imagine many people feeling unbearably cramped if they were working on a small screen all the time.
This is news to me, can you explain a little more why using a monitor is better than working primarily on a laptop?
I use an external monitor from time to time, but I'm too mobile to have that be a "default". With the laptop setup, I have consistent experience wherever I'm at.
That said, I'm typically reclining (feet up on desk, leaning back, sitting in easy chair, etc) for most of my laptop time, and perhaps the experience is different from just have it on a desk most of the time?
I saw a physiotherapist at one point and the best advice I got was to get someone to take a photo of you in your "usual" position. You can analyze that yourself or bring it to your family doctor at your next appointment if you are curious.
First result I found with Google: http://education.qld.gov.au/health/pdfs/healthsafety/laptopu...
Actually I got the monitor during a time I was an employee. But I knew that such gigs don't last forever and I sure didn't want to cope with packing it up and sending it back.
The upstairs section has a lounge-type area with meeting booths and working tables, designed for the 20 or so people who actually use it regularly.
There are some images of the upstairs area at https://automattic.com/lounge/
The long desks are what kill it for me. That's one seating arrangement that I just don't think I can get on board with unless forced. I worked like that for some projects in college and I always felt so distracted, and I really disliked what seemed like a complete lack of privacy and isolation.
I think being remote with an office setup is the best you can get. I can go in at any time I want, and still have the nice environment to work from of.
Being remote doesn't necessarily mean no offices.
On those days it is nice to have another place to go to.
I now have a quiet, private space to work, and a nice 5-6 minute bicycle commute :D
It costs a little bit (~$300/mo for the space & utilities - yay for small-town-Ohio pricing), but it's totally worth it.
I have worked "from home" for years and have much better mental health (and therefore better relationships) if I have a separate space to work from.
No the goal is to reduce head count with out laying people off. Companies that go from Remote to Non-Remote do it because it is an easy way to reduce head count with out having to Lay people off, it is a methodology to force people to look for work elsewhere.
People that can not relocate or have built their life around working from home can not or will not make the transition back to working in an office easily. As such they will seek out employment that better fits their needs which is ultimately these companies goal because they want to avoid that "XX Company is laying off X,XXX people in the next quarter" headlines
Isn't the article suggesting that Automattic is doing the opposite? They are allowing people to work remote? By your logic, this would be to help retain workers, right?
While the headline is about Automattic the actual article covers more than just them
There are countless researches clearly saying that open spaces are bad for productivity yet for some reason they always win. And it's easy to see why, you only have to throw buzzwords like collaboration, team-work, open ... and done.
But really, I love my job but I wish there were options for living in subsidized accommodation.
You use the dorms as a low cost local alternative to homeownership.
This is a baaaaad idea.
Unfortunately, everything does not always go well, and some ideas are better at handling that than others.
The second biggest problem was that companies used their company towns to force their social agendas on their employees. George Pullman would spy on employees' homes and firevict anyone living a lifestyle he didn't approve of. Tenant protections and anti-discrimination laws can take care of that (but we do need to strengthen our laws first... they're not quite there yet).