- A private office, especially if you have others in the house
- Being "away at the office" (e.g. uninterruptible) in the eyes of your family during work hours
- Healthy social outlets
- The ability to focus by turning off slack/phone/email for chunks of time without suspicion
- Not being the only (or one of a minority of) remote worker(s)
- A self-motivating, disciplined personality
- Good communication skills, and regular upward communication (e.g. showing/telling your boss what you did)
Honestly, I think my issues are more about being self-employed than about office vs home. If I just went to my own office away from home and worked alone, that wouldn't change everything. If I had set hours that I knew coworkers were online and we interacted in ways that focused on all of us helping one another maximize productivity, that set up would work well even at home.
In many companies, they are.
And even with "better office designs" there's also the daily commute.
There are ways to make commutes meaningful, like a beautiful bike ride along the river or a couple mile walk or carpooling with friends or good podcast/audio-book/music during a drive… but even with all this, long commutes eat up so much of life. Add in the insanely massive list of ills caused by car-centric life and infrastructure…
Probably the right balance is something like working one or two days a week in an office with appropriate flexibility on how to use the space. I dunno.
Meanwhile, people should put much higher priority on living close to work, above most other considerations about where to live.
This isn't only a work-from-home affliction.
This funny piece by the New Yorker describes it pretty well: http://www.newyorker.com/humor/daily-shouts/i-work-from-home
I trued working from home once where my desk was in my bedroom and it was awful because I was never _at_ work while simultaneously never being away from work.
If your remote position is for the convenience of your employer (no desk available in an office somewhere) you can calculate the percentage of your home taken by the office, multiply that by your rent, and deduct that when tax season comes which can help justify a slightly higher rent.
I did the tax calculation for home office and it ended up being wiped out by my total income(if I remember it scales for every $10k you take home) so it's not a freebie.
Homemakers get no respect, but you have to organize a lot of work yourself and make sure things happen, on time, on budget, etc. It is vastly more challenging to do it well than my corporate job was and everyone oohed and aahed at me when I mentioned the name of my employer. I had co-workers who had spent years trying to qualify for a job there and just having a job there was considered to be a feather in your cap by basically anyone in town.
Vs working from home, where every hour I bill (I'm a contractor) is a work hour, when I'm making progress on my client's problem. More efficient for everybody.
"No, you need to take the dog out - I am working"
"Ill just watch thi one segment of 'X'"
"Just a short nap to clear my mind"
There are far too many temptations to do other things at home - Each child is a 10x multiplier.
I don't have to commute, so I save money, get to have breakfast and lunch with my wife and kids (and help out), and after work I have time to cook us a healthy meal from scratch (I actually enjoy cooking too).
I have a fiber internet connection, so no issues on that front.
I honestly have far more distractions on the 1 day a week I go into the office (which is open plan and includes a co-worker who does little but chat all day...).
As someone who now manages a remote team, it can be tricky to help people adjust to working from home. Some people just have to have that physical partition because they or their family won't adapt. I recommend a co-working space for those people; that partition can be essential for keeping them productive and happy.
The other side of this coin is making sure you set that time aside for your family and personal recovery. If you had a coworker who never left the office, you should worry about ingrowth and their health. The same is true for a remote worker who seems to be always online and always working.
Personally even when working remote, I need to go to a cafe... I like being around people but none of them can interrupt me, no TV or couch or bed or fridge or pet or yard or porch in nice weather to distract me.
But I've worked with people who have been WFHing for decades. I envy their ability to do so.
You wouldn't be doing those things for your kids if you were at remote work (because it would be physically impossible as you'd be elsewhere). So why do them when working from home? Just because you can? No, close the office door and/or set clear boundaries.
The difference -- and the great benefit -- with working from home is that for the far fewer things that DO matter, you will be there for your children.
The meetings, the chats, the endless browsing
If you work in the living room, yes. If you work in a dedicated office that's off limits, no.
+: Get to define your own hours for the most part
-: Convince your partner and friends these hours are real and you're not just making them up as an excuse to ignore them
+: Can work in your pajamas
-: End up looking like a bum when someone swings by
+: Get to spend more time with the kids
-: Young kids (mine are 1.5 and 3yrs) have absolutely no respect for what you're doing (my boys seem to have some sort of sixth sense to tell when I'm debugging & they'll have none of it)
+: Team discussions and communication tend to have more thought and planning put into them
-: Some simple questions/coordination become games of phone tag and far-more drawn out then necessary
+: No commute
-: Home doesn't feel as relaxing when you've been working in it all day
For me, ideally there would be a happy balance. Maybe one and a half office days a week and the rest from home. I do mostly enjoy working from home.
The "work at office" negatives on the other hand are hard limits or require change of ways of doing business for the whole company -- commuting, meetings, fixed hours.
I'm just not social/agreeable enough to easily make friends or talk to strangers in random locations. At least at work, even though the work is often boring and I'm mostly working the whole day I still get to have some random interactions on a daily basis.
In my cubicle it's often so loud I would be better off working in sports bar during super bowl:)
Just give me a small office. It's even ok having a team with two or three people.
Now, I have the best computer with 2x 5K displays and a all-in-one super fast printer which is always working--at home. I've never had such a setup at any office. And video call based meetings with screen sharing are more productive than real meetings.
Why an office?
I made friends at the office, dated here and there, met my later co-founders. However, I have made only a handful friendships at the office. So is it of value? IDK. An office is a mixed bag.
One of the key advantages I've found working from home is that when I want to take a break, I'm inclined to get out of the house & walk around the neighbourhood. I'd often choose to work from a park instead, getting sunlight & fresh air. When I was doing that earlier this year, I was getting up to 16,000 steps a day, and that level of walking significantly improved my health.
It really makes sense.
You can't have people coming and going.
When my girlfriend was out working, I was productive at working my personal projects, but when she came home, made herself a meal, started some chores or cleaning up, or even stood there next to me, I just could not work.
So the reality is just that you move your office to your home, so you will actually need a larger place to live.
But I guess it's still cheaper and more ecologic to do things that way, so actually you would get a raise.
What I would like, is a simple software that blocks a list of website of my choice so I can stay productive. As long as it is self imposed, it would feel okay.
Offices are designed to keep you there and focused on the work as much as possible. At home I have my pets, wife (when she's not at work too), things I like, in a location I chose to live. People call these distractions but they're your life at least as much as your job is. At some point, working at home, I'm going to stop and pet my cats, go for a walk with my wife, sip coffee and read a book, visit a friend, whatever. When I have kids, I will get to be there and see them grow up.
When you're able to get a good amount of great work done because you have that uninterrupted time, it makes the idea of working 8 hours 'just because' seem stupid and opposing your productivity and your happiness. I get more and better work done these days. I make more money, for both myself and my clients, working from home, and I much more rarely need sick/mental health days because I'm basically happy and healthy all the time as a result of working from home.
The things I miss, like socializing with a team, I can get other places. I still talk to other devs during the day, just on the phone, over video chat, or something like slack. I go to meetups dedicated to the things I'm interested in, chalk full of smart and interesting people. I have friends to socialize with, many of whom are from those meetups, so I get to talk about tech even more if I want to.
Basically, the downsides for the employee/worker are heavily, heavily outweighed by the benefits in my opinion. I also think that's the case for companies as well, but only have my own small experience as a very small employer to back that up so maybe someone else could comment there.
Another is that you don't have any chance to rub shoulders with the higher-ups, so to the extent you are on their radar at all it's usually because you either delivered something awesome very recently, or they see your name next to a figure they'd like to spend on something else. This can negatively impact career development.
Also, depending on where your remote work is done, you can end up with an advancement problem: much career development in tech is done by changing companies, and most significant salary increases are backed by the prospect that you might leave for more money. If you work remotely, or work locally from home and insist on keeping it that way, then your options for changing jobs are much more limited.
In terms of the company I think they lose out in two specific areas:
1) Brainstorming, which I think is better done in person.
2) Mentoring, which ditto.
However I agree that WFH, with the right people, is a win-win situation for the employee and the employer.
In the ideal case, i.e. if we factor out the employers, what we do is not so different from what novelists do. Of course it's not the same, but the physical aspects of the work are remarkably similar when you think about it.
And where does the novelist usually work? In a home office if they can.
So while I am sometimes frustrated with my (very privileged) position as a remote worker for a software company, I try to remind myself that in the ideal version of the work I do, I already have the ideal workspace.
(And yes, in the ideal version the Programmer codes for four good hours a day, just as the Novelist writes for about that long before going out into the world for inspiration and Life.)
I very much agree with this as an ideal case.
The voices saying "software should always be written by a team" are very loud at the moment, though.
(A reasonable number of novels are collaborations, but the authors generally come together "organically" rather than being thrown together by the publishers. Closer to starting a contacting shop with a couple of friends than the standard software team setup).
But how many people who wished to be writers ended up working in advertising, or government, or someplace else where they do write a lot, in collaboration with others and subject to requirements handed to them by their bosses?
I think most of us write software the way a copywriter writes copy at McCann. It's great to make Creative Director, but...
I can't really see copywriters doing the kinds of "team rituals" (daily standups, etc.) that are de rigueur in parts of the software world -- but maybe I'm wrong about this.
I used to commute by bus - 70-80 minutes one-way trip. After I bought a car, which shaved a good 20 minutes off of that time, I noticed my productivity went up. A friend of mine even went as far as to move to a place close to the office and that changed the quality of his life(and naturally productivity) considerably.
To me the hardest part about working remotely is managing distractions and monitoring your health - I found that without a daily march to the office it's much easier not to notice that you have e.g. a fever and are too weak to work.
Reflecting on this time I don't think I would have done it differently. I'm certain that I'm more productive and happier at home. But as you gain family responsabilities, i.e. wife/husband+kids things become considerably more challenging and unavoidably productivity decreases. Today with two kids and wife, I know I am still way more productive than I would be on an office, but also less productive than I was 10 years old. The reason I think I am still way more productive working from home has been discussed over an over: much less interruptions. Also, something that is not discussed that often is that ( if you are a professional - some others would say dumb ) you end up working way more hours at home.
That holds true as long as we are talking about engineering work. However, I don't think it is true when we move above the management scale. When you move into more managing roles, even if they are technical management (architect, lead, CTO, ... ) things become very challenging at home if your company is not fully distributed. Many things that were natural when you were an engineer start to feel awkward like having all team members on physical site and a manager on a different contintent, having all managers on a place but you on a totally different part of the world, etc. etc. It is very easy get out of the loop and keeping up with everything becomes stressful.
I think working from home in general is great but it needs to be part of the company's DNA.
The comment that "makes you happier and massively more productive" reads to me is if that line was written by someone still in their 20s.
Higher-up managers tend to worry if they don't see people at their keyboards, in my experience. (More visible with open-office floor plans.) So if it's just 1 or 2 days, they tolerate it better.
I stopped reading here. "All" wrong? "Nazis"?
Different people have different needs and experiences. Some people are social and need other people's interaction to function. Some people need more guidance on their work. Other people will be happy if they were alone in the world.
Open plan offices have advantages and disadvantages, to know them helps to create better places to work, or if an open plan office is right for your type of business.
In my experience open plan fetishism is clearly management driven.
E = size of engineering team
C = round trip commute (45 *2 ~= 90 minutes)
P = Productivity increase per day
H = Avg hours worked per day per engineer
(E*C)/(H*60) = P
For a 20 person engineering team:
(90 minutes * 20 engineers)/(8*60) = .1875 or 3.75 more engineers or almost another working day per week.
* My routine decayed over time and work and rest became too intertwined. I felt too stressed while relaxing and too lazy while working.
* As an extrovert, long days at home in front of the computer are isolating.
* Collaboration with coworkers was so difficult that projects often took much longer than needed, delayed by "phone tag" and simple misunderstandings that usually took 24 hours to correct, vs 30 seconds in an office.
Of course, working remotely does have advantages and there were some times I was very happy to be doing so. I'm surprised it hasn't become more common for companies to offer remote work allowances. Say three months of working remotely a year, and working from the office the rest of the time. They could specify "all hands on deck" weeks, for the busy times of year, and otherwise employees could schedule remote time like they schedule vacation time, they'd just get a lor more of it.
I'm single. I look forward to the social aspects of work. Maybe if I had a family that would be different but I doubt it.
At work I can compile our 100k file program on the corp distributed build system. It's at least 100x faster than building at home. Sure if you're doing web stuff maybe your laptop is ok or maybe you're doing backend and ssh is all you need get into the system. I was working on a giant desktop app. It took 1 to 4hrs to build at home.
At work I have a 30inch monitor, a 24inch monitor, and a workstation class PC with 12 cores, 64gig of ram, 256gig SSD, 3TB of storage. At home I have an gamer PC with 16gig of ram. The work machine is much faster.
Also when I worked on AAA games working at home was basically impossible because there are terabytes of data modified by the artists daily and I need access to that data to do my job. There are also dev kits that have to stay at the office because of NDAs etc. I'm sure other programmers have similar requirements.
Usually if everyone works remotely if better, but if you are the only one its not so good.
It's way better than open plan office.
I think the ideal would be 3 days remote, 2 tops at office with everyone on the same day at office so you can integrate or make pair programming sessions.
It's not mentioned, but if the employees' salary has a variable component and the more they sell the more they earn, then eliminating their commute and giving them an extra 1-2 hours per day to sell travel services, and thereby earn more money, will certainly increase their productivity. I would be interested in knowing if that is the case for these workers.
What if the workers were instead, say, an AP/AR department at a fortune 500 company? Would they see the same increase in productivity? The same decrease in turnover and absenteeism? I am not arguing that they wouldn't, only that I'd expect different types of work to have different degrees of improvement.
News reported that - insinuating that work from home doesn't work for those companies. however it is a known fact that it was a round about way to lay off some people without actually doing it directly.
Not drinking too much
Regular exercise at the gym
Obviously this doesn't count for everyone, a single mum forced to do a 2 hour commute might be worse off having to go to work. Same for some personalities.
The article seems to be hiding the source? Is it in the TED talk? But from memory the Singapore company employees did non-teamwork work, fairly menial labour.
And it's a really old study, that was talked about years ago.
Care to cite some?
(Although I'd argue that averages shouldn't matter here, it ought to be about what works for the individual -- and the constant "team, team, team" refrain in contemporary management speak seems like a somewhat-deliberate attempt to distract from that).
I've been working from home for 8 years. It is good for my mental health and it is very good for my work. Working in the office was the opposite.
So much depends on how studies are conducted, who runs them, and who pays for them. Perhaps, too, people like me were too busy working to participate in the studies.