My remote job was at a fully distributed company with good compensation.
I worked there for about five years, receiving only positive reviews.
Groups in the company worked in a very silo-ed manner — there was not a lot of work overlap or cross-team communication. But I loved my team and work so it was fine with me.
Once the company started struggling, they re-organized our group several times, and eventually a non-technical manager with more seniority than me was brought in.
Although I was highly effective, well-reviewed, and never had issues with other managers, the non-technical manager and I dealt with all of the classic issues that come up in this scenario: unrealistic deadlines and expectations, scope creep, etc. I tried to deal with this in an ego-less, professional manner, but he took our issues personally and lobbied HR to have me fired.
At that point, after all of the re-organizations, I was the only dev left on my team, and my other managers who I had good relationships with had moved on. I had no one to vouch for me. I believe that if I had worked in an office, in a less silo-ed manner, I would have had more opportunities to network with other developers within the company and my accomplishments would have been more visible, which would have at least allowed me to switch teams.
Instead, I was quietly led out the back door and disappeared.
In a remote company it's a lot easier to be fired. It's a lot more difficult to resolve interpersonal issues over IRC than face-to-face. There is a huge amount of value to passing people randomly in the hallway, by "the watercooler," or at a social event. These kinds of relationships are critical and are just not replicable via remote work.
My advice to you is that unless you are at the end of your career, or value working from home over your career prospects for family or health reasons, avoid working 100% remotely, even in fully distributed companies. The ideal is a situation where you work in an office, but have a flexible schedule where you can work from home 1-2 days a week, or 1-2 months a year.
However, I have worked remote for over 10 years in a 100% remote workforce and the company did not abandon me. BUT I did experience part of what you described: "(1) my networking opportunities plummeted to zero and...". This is the biggest potential downside IMO
>The ideal is a situation where you work in an office, but have a flexible >schedule where you can work from home 1-2 days a week, or 1-2 months a year.
This really should be the norm and encouraged practice at companies. I've posted this in other comments on this post, but if this became the norm I believe it would lead to less stress, better employee health, solve a lot of traffic problems - especially in IT where there is often no reason not to. You still get your face time for collab. Society would be better off. I really wish companies were incentivized to do this - especially in the bay area.
The real trick is to stay active in the industry; keep making contacts; attending meetups/conferences etc ; prioritize networking... Its too easy to be forgotten if you don't make those efforts.
I think we tend to make things black or white - remote is not the death of your career or something that cannot work. It just requires you to stay visible in the company and put a little more effort than usual toward networking and connections. Again, I think the ideal is remote/office split time. Spend a few days in the office and a few days WFH every week. I think this gives the best of both worlds (and something that I wish companies would embrace) and avoids a lot of the pitfalls of what you described.
I presume it's to prevent a throw away account editing an insightful comment into spam.
I'm actually in an arrangement of WFH 1 day a week right now. It helps a lot with my grueling commute, and gives me a day of mostly code work which is nice; but if there happens to be a need to schedule a meeting on that day, I feel that I concretely get less out of the meeting than I would if I was there personally with the team. Perhaps the team gets enough out of me from the meeting from what I have to say, so maybe it's fine, but I feel like if that happens a lot more often, I'd feel more and more out of touch with my team.
If one has to be in a certain geographical region for family reasons, it may be worth it to simply get a job locally, even if that pays less than what you would get at that remote job for some X tech company based in San Francisco but allows remote.
(The whole company doing this)
I know that analysis seems Machiavellian to some extent, but it's the honest truth. Society is never going to be a true meritocracy unless it's run by robots(and even then probably not), but I wouldn't want it to be like that anyway. As humans, we should be allowed to have other redeeming qualities work for us as long as we are forced to work for a living.
If it can make you feel better, an in office situation would probably have gone the same. Companies and team changes slowly over time, people move on.
This is incorrect as a general statement. I have reviewed several hundred resumes over the last 2 years on which software developers stayed at a company between 4 and 6 years as the median. In the Bay area 4 years is often the vesting schedule for people's first stock option (and it can be the biggest one people get) and I think that contributes.
When I see a resume with a bunch of 1 or 2 year engagements without that person being a contractor it always raises a flag for me to investigate that during the interview.
The way employers view "job hoppers" says a lot about the work place culture, speaking from experience on both sides and both philosophies. (One philosophy solely faulting the employee, the other philosophy recognizing the current state of the industry)
I try to understand that because I have a fairly good idea what the job can offer and the extent to which the job can be tailored to help align it with the employee's goals.
I try not to generalize. I start with the thesis that someone who loves their job and that job is meeting all of their current personal goals, will stay working on it until one of those two things changes. In my experience that sort of change generally takes years not months.
When people go job to job to job, it can be simple like they are trying to ratchet their salary up faster than the typical 'annual' raise cycle. It can be complex like they are taking jobs that meet some requirement they have imposed on themselves but they don't actually like those sorts of jobs. Or it can be something else entirely. I'd like to understand what it is so that I can gauge whether or not the person is likely to stick around long enough to have an impact or not.
If you flag every people who stayed less than 2 years at a company, good luck, there won't be any resume left.
It isn't the one job with the 'short' duration I wonder about on a resume, it is a pattern of short duration jobs. That is a pattern that I ask about when I interview someone whose resume shows a lot of different jobs.
There must be something wrong in this industry if 5 years is a lot. 5 years per company over a 40 years time spam yields 8 different companies.
That seems a lot to me.
Changing companies every few years helps to expand networks and learn new skills.
My perception is that the sort of people who stick around too long have a much harder time getting their next gig when their current job ends (as nearly all jobs do, sooner or later.)
Now, certainly, this has something to do with the fact that people who do badly in interviews tend to stick around longer once they do score a decent job, but I think it also has to do with the fact that interviewing and starting a new job is a skill, and improves with practice, like any other skill, and if you don't have any practice, and then suddenly have to interview in 'hard mode'  you are going to have a hard time.
I am one of those people who interviews better than their job performance would suggest, but even so, I personally would much rather swing for a better job while the economy is hot and get fired after a few months (and have to find a new job while unemployed in a hot economy) than ride a company all the way down during a downturn and then try to find a job while unemployed in a bad economy. Of course, that's not really a fair either/or; it's super hard to predict what companies will do well in the downturn while the economy is still doing well. I'm just saying that as long as the economy is hot, the consequences to losing your job tend to be small (unless you have a really serious problem with interviewing; I know some people that are actually really good programmers, but who are... disabled in that regard.) - when the economy is not hot, the consequences of losing your job are much greater.
It's so much easier to get a better job while you have a job than it is to get a job after you've been laid off, both because the new employer will think less of you if you are currently unemployed and because you are dramatically more likely to get laid off when demand for your job role in the economy as a whole is reduced. Getting a programming job in 1999? super easy. getting a programming job in 2002? extremely difficult.
I'm prepared to change jobs st a moments notice. My resume stays up to date. I keep my PluralSight account and my network current.
Also keep a savings account with enough in it to cover your expenses until you can get another job. In my neck of the woods (not on the west coast) for the last 20 years it's been about a month at most.
The only problem is that now, after running my own business for a few years, I cannot phantom the idea of going back to a regular job. In that sense, my career as an employee is over.
All the niggly details about office work in a big organisation now horrifies me. I had to assist a colleague with a government tender he was submitting last month, and even after one meeting with a government committee, I had to tell him I was out. Just spending a couple of hours in a meeting room with people that had no idea about anything going back and forth and playing politics and power broking almost had me running, screaming out of the room.
Its very similar to another scenario I am in. I haven't had television in our house for nearly 10 years, and every time I go to a friend's place and they have it on, I am astounded by the sheer volume and regularity of nonsense and ads being blared at you. When you are immersed in the situation day to day, it is easy to become numb to it and just accept it - but when you take an extended break from it and then come back, you really notice it.
And don't talk to me about commuting. I have friends that still regularly commute 2 hours each way every day for work. My commute is walking downstairs to my home office. I think of all that time people spend sitting in cars and public transport, and wonder about all the lost creative time they could be spending doing something with.
Or at least getting well compensated for the 1 or 2 hour commute each way. That's a lot of time-money value for a freelancer in a given month. Save on destroying your vehicle, save on gas, save the time, save the hassle & brain numbing commute, live slightly further out and save a lot on real-estate, etc.
It's funny, just seven to ten years ago telecommuting in most of the US was still largely a fantasy premise. Often talked up, but the opportunities were scarce at best for most people. It's finally starting to deliver on the potential.
But for me, even a 25 minute commute (at the time) was too much for me. I know a lot of people who take public transport say they spend the time listening to music, reading a book or taking in podcasts - and that is great.
But for me, if I walk downstairs to my office first thing in the morning and I am not feeling it, I am glad I can reach back and pick up my guitar and play some scales or noodle away to get my brain into focus.
While I work remotely I will try to make savings of at least 300.000 USD in the next few years. These savings will be, for the most part, be invested in index-funds. An average profit of 7% per year should be more than enough to cover our lives expenses. In reality we should be able to live while spending much less, so the index-funds should still increase in value year-on-year.
So in some way I hope to 'retire' before I reach my 40 years of age. So there will be little concern if I will stay employable. At the same time I hope that from then on I can focus on my own projects, just for fun and hopefully some profit.
Even if we ever would separate, I wouldn't want to fight over the house - she can keep it. I would rest easier knowing our daughter has a nice place to stay. I would just buy an apartment somewhere else in Thailand. Apartments can be full property of foreigners.
But of course I do hope we will stay together.
Your landlord can take the property back after 30 years, contract be damned.
This is of course on top of the social deficiencies of working from home, and lack of networking opportunities that it presents. It gets lonely sitting at home all day, even if there is family around. That's not the same as having like-minded coworkers to speak to.
It’s both a blessing and a curse. I want to switch jobs but can’t imagine actually being away from home 10h per day again.
I’m going to look for something semi-remote, but it seems hard to find.
Edit: I should add I started the remote period when I had kids, and it means I can drop them off at 8 and pick them up at 4 and get a full days work done with zero time wasted in commute, and all evenings together with family. So while my job satisfaction isn’t the best, my overall satisfaction is good. Will rethink when kids are old enough to go to/from school by themselves.
My advice to anyone considering this is if you are currently in a company that is designed and built around face to face office communication - run, don't walk. You will almost always be a second class citizen that is slowly forgotten about. It's simply how humans work, and while I'm sure there are outliers I don't find them very interesting.
If you do decide working remote is important to you, I would suggest looking for a job where the entire team, (especially) including high level management, works remotely at least the vast majority of the time. These situations tend to work out rather well if you have the CEO/CTO at the top of the company holding remote work as a core company principle.
The communication structure of a remote worker vs. office worker company is vastly different, and companies ran remotely must establish very clear communication policies that look wildly different than normal. I've never seen a combination office/remote organization actually do much to change these policies when the first team goes remote - with completely predictable results.
One of my rules when I ran my company remotely was that practically everything was talked about in public chat channels so anyone could search/scroll up and read 30 minutes of backscroll to see what the emergency/whatever of the day was. I found some folks flourished in such an environment, but some folks absolutely detested it since they couldn't deal with being "called out" for a mistake in public. When those "mistakes" start being hidden in private chats is where fundamental cohesion problems start within remote teams, in my experience. Those sorts of things sort of simply permeate naturally through on-site teams, where there is no such action for remote teams if information remains segregated into a zillion private interactions.
I love remote work, and hope to one day build another remote-based company since I miss it and have some further ideas I'd like to try implementing to make it even better.
If I had to make one point it would be that remote companies need to be fundamentally designed and organized differently than non-remote companies and this fact is rarely recognized by most.
The acquiring company was also 100% remote so it was a great fit, and the resulting combined company has been doing quite well since which is a point of selfish pride :)
My first job had a remote team that I was promoted onto. They had a _very_ healthy culture that ensured remote people did not feel like second class citizens. I grew a ton and never once felt like I needed an office to be with my coworkers.
Using the soft skills I developed there, I continued to get new jobs as I grew and each one was an upgrade and also still remote. I never felt like it shorted me. But, without that incredibly solid base from my first gig and knowing how to handle being remote and create a good culture around it was key.
Now I work in-office in New York City and love it, I might go back to remote some day, but the pay increase (cost of living considered, even) was too huge to not go with it considering how much I love this city.
Finally, while I don't think managing a remote team necessarily needs to be more difficult than managing one in-office, I think the effects of a poor manager are exacerbated by remote work. A poor manager may not know exactly what everyone on the team is doing, or how to motivate individual members, but s/he can at least make sure everyone is there on time and appears to be working. Obviously this is a terrible approach, but with remote work you can't even do that. It's really important to be aware of the team's priorities, and how everyone is working toward them. Also, different developers will work better with varying amounts and flavors of oversight. While this is true of in-office teams as well, it's a bit easier to manage these differences when you have in-person cues to work from. So basically, for the most part, being an effective remote manager requires essentially the same skills as being a good manager in general; they're just that much more important.
ProTip: It really helps when your manger is remote as well. It's harder to bias themselves to preferring local employees that way.
Positive: I worked for a software company that had a solid mix of remote and co-located (in the office 3-4 days a week) employees. People and offices were located around the country. Since there were a solid number of remote employees, things like picking up the phone and web meetings were never an issue. No major issues with career or visibility. When we had a massive restructuring, many of the people I worked with moved to other remote positions and that helped me move on as well. Important: Traveling and meeting people in person really helps others remember you exist.
Negative: I worked for a company were there was an obvious headquarters. All decisions came down from there, and anybody who wanted to have a upward career in the company eventually moved there. Being at an office location outside the headquarters definitely stalled your career, and being remote was even worse for your career. Even people who had the option of being remote would come into the local office a lot for visibility reasons. Even if you were remote, it was useful to be near an office where your manager or manager's manager was located so you could meet them on a regular basis.
We spread our decision makers across 4 countries and ensure that there are multiple points of contact, otherwise you end up with exactly what you're describing. It's a real shame when this happens. Remote is harder and you definitely need to account for it.
At the place where I had a positive experience, there were two major factors.
1) Since so many people were remote and some teams were spread across the world, everybody knew information had to be explicitly distributed. There was no assumption that something that came up in a meeting would be later discussed at a secondary meeting, lunch, in the kitchen area, etc. The benefit of this was that people generally knew what was going on in project relevant to them. There was minimal hoarding of relevant information, which helped everybody feel like they were plugged in and not working for a very hierarchical organization.
2) Almost everybody on my team respected, trusted, and liked each other. This meant that conversations weren't forced and people always tried to help each other. Calling somebody wasn't an issue and wasn't seen as an intrusion. There were none of the games you see when you have to work with people you don't trust. From a network perspective, this was great!
I notice that you're a cofounder so I state an observation. In times of stress for a company (e.g. a reorg) please over communicate. The company where I was working went through a massive reorg. Everybody maintained their previous level of communication, which was fine from a project perspective. But from a "What is really going on" and morale perspective, leadership did very little because they never had to do it before and didn't realize the value of it. To them, they were communicating as they always did. In actuality, there was an information vacuum and a failure in leadership. In a remote environment you're always fighting the feeling of being left out. It's easier to feel isolated, lost, and that information is being hidden from you. The leadership only reinforced this and lost a lot of good people.
We also make sure folks understand that mistakes are allowed, not communicating is not. It helps we hired a ton of folks from our open source community. It takes a certain kind of hire for this to work well.
No real complaint, though. I was paid well, got a nice severance, and really didn't want the stress of climbing the corporate ladder anyway. Now I'm self-employed, part-time. All is well.
So there is a lesson here... :)
In some cases, even when I have nothing vested in a project, I feel like people get slighted by my lack of enthusiasm. (This is true even if I am willing to accept management's decisions. A sort of "disagree and commit", if you will.)
I face none of these problems as a remote worker, and I think this is a net positive.
The key for me has been to work for distributed companies rather than as one of the few remote workers on the team. This seems to make all the difference in the world.
It's been an amazing opportunity to level up my career and my skills. If you told me in late 2012 that I'd be doing what I do now, where I do now, I'd have laughed you out of the room.
That said I've had to work a little harder on things like conference speaking and attendance, in order to build up a network and offset some of what I miss from not being in the room every day with people in NYC/SF.
For our company of 30 people (I'm CEO), we're committed to being remote-first (we still have 5 people colocated at the HQ). However, the HQ is not our center of gravity. We've hired and promoted people who are not in or near HQ. They are Directors and VPs and the lead fully distributed teams. My goal is for us to provide more opportunity, give you more interesting work to do, and help you advance your career relative to other opportunities you might find where you are.
There's no way it's the same as being colocated in the bay area, but overall we think we can provide a more fulfilling life both inside and outside of work.
- keep active in the industry; keep making contacts; attending meetups/conferences etc ; prioritize networking. Its easy to fall into the work from home and never network/socialize with others in your field. This is critical if you need (it will happen) to change jobs.
- if the job is remote and the company has a central office where some (or all) of your co-workers work from, make an effort to show up frequently so everyone knows you are alive. If you are not seen you risk being forgotten or at least considered forgotten.
- Don't move so far away from industry hubs (or cities) that you are tempted to stop networking. In other words living in BFE can be a very bad thing unless you have already built a good network and/or have very good discipline to do it.
BTW I screwed up on all of the above and now I am paying the price. :( So, don't do what I did ;)
HOWEVER - with all that said. I really wish more companies would encourage WFH at least a few days a week. As a matter of fact it would be great if it was incentivized to push companies to do this. This would have a huge impact on traffic, stress, employee health and still give the opportunity for in person collaboration (which AFAIK is the main reason companies claim to hate it). I think it is insane that this is not even on the table especially in places like the bay area...
I have personally found that my network is my own personal currency. I can control how valuable it is and how big it gets.
Being a connector of people puts you in a valuable position.
The second time I worked remotely a few years later, I officially worked at a satellite office but my team was located about two hours away. I did great with my own team but couldn't break through the politics and old boys club - not really old boys but they all hung out and had unofficial meetings and all of my ideas had to go through officials channels.
This time around, I usually work remotely 2 or 3 days a week. I'm the tech lead for my department but I also need to get some coding done. I over communicate with higher ups just so they know what I'm working on. With the level of autonomy I have it's easy to silo myself and bring code and ideas from down high if I am not disciplined.
I also notice anytime I'm not there for awhile, like when I went on vacation for a week, a bunch of contracting consultants started pushing their ideas around and were derailing our architecture based on their "theories". I have to be in the office to make sure I keep things on track.
In the positions I usually go for now, face time is important. It's a balancing act between getting things done and building relationships.
The idea of getting up early, getting into a car, driving an hour, and sitting at a table with 20 other people surrounding you in one of those open offices that are all the rage today... just kill me now.
This may sound trivial, but being able to take a dump in total privacy and comfort any time of the day is amazing.
I get to be home when my daughter comes back from preschool, make lunch in my own kitchen, and when I clock out for the day I can get right to spending time with my family. Unless I am absolutely in need of work RIGHT NOW I will not take another position that requires I go to an office, even 1 day a week.
It's very important that the organization is well equipped to handle remote workers (i.e. more than just one or two people are remote). The local people in the company should take pains to make sure that the remote people are included.
As a remote person, it's important to make sure that you communicate often. Deliver well, talk to people, make yourself visible by being a part of things that matter. Look for ways in which things could be better, because they always exist.
Make sure your manager knows your career aspirations, and let them help you with that.
Do spend time in the office and with your coworkers when you get a chance. I've made 4-6 trips per year over the past 9 years. Face time does matter, so take advantage of it!
At many (most) companies, there is a ceiling for remote workers. If you want to be a VP, you'll almost certainly need to be at headquarters. I have had engineering, management, product management, project management, and architecture roles remotely, though, so there is a lot of possibility available!
Here's the thing: If you are in your twenties, are offered decent office jobs, and you don't have a wealthy family to back you up, choose office over freedom. Later when you put something aside you can try to get some freedom without risking going broke.
Freedom is no fun without backup. Freedom also means free to get exploited.
To mitigate issues the best thing is to live in a city with a good community oriented around your specialty. That way you can take part in user-groups, small conferences, etc. That is you can network in-person, outside of work. It also allows you to find local jobs where you can start in person and transition to remote.
Also focus on small to medium sized companies. Companies where you can make a visible impact and there isn't as much of the politicking as there can be at larger corps.
The worst thing is to live somewhere remote, not near jobs or a community. You don't want to get in a situation where you have no options if you need them.
Not saying that you can't build stromg work relations remotely but it's just different.
Personally, I find it's been overall a net benefit to my career, though that's not to say remote work is for everyone, or that every company is structured to provide career opportunities for people who work remotely.
I actually wrote in more detail about my experience and the things I've learned in the process which have helped make remote working work well for me. https://adityamukerjee.net/2017/10/03/remote-work-2-years-in...
In terms of within-company career, working remotely (unless everyone does) will impose a drastic cost on possible advancement. And in my case, a hard ceiling on my title.
Why am I ok with that? Because if you view your career in a broader context, not necessarily specific to the company who currently pays your salary, there are trade-offs. I have less commute, but less mentorship. Etc.
It really depends on the company, and also how you view your career.
I figured that I can always work on fun projects in my spare time and find fulfillment this way, especially since living in a country where the cost of living is terribly low allows me to have a bunch of free time. This was preferable to living somewhere where I can have a great career but not much else I liked, so that's the choice I made.
Even if it had, I'd still take this extra time with my young kids over a raise. Every. Single. Time.
Speaking personally, it's been great these past 5 years. The advantages of remote employment are substantial. To me, it's worth about $20K a year.
I haven't experienced the harm to my career that some have mentioned, but maybe I'm just lucky. My group is a tiny "intrapreneurial" startup within a large corp. and we are judged more on results than on just showing up.
Advantages of working from home:
- 10-15 hours a week of extra time to use as I wish.
- saves thousands of dollars a year in commute expenses, wear & tear on the car, etc.
- extra security and convenience of someone being at home all day
- more flexibility when raising children
- exercise at noon, then shower (no more "Do I skip the morning shower and hope I'm not too smelly at the office before I head to the gym?")
- set up your workspace exactly as you like it.
- you can shake things up once in a while, and go work in a café
- you can travel more frequently and work from whatever location, to save your vacation hours or avoid having to ask permission.
- the coffee is exactly the way YOU want it
- off-site workers are less visible, hence require strong management support to avoid problems others have detailed here
- too easy to gain weight
- spouse or children are distracting
- "work day never ends" syndrome.
- you miss out on "five minutes in the hallway" quick check-ins and over-the-shoulder teamwork
In the first one, all my peers were remote and we established close and lasting relationships that remain beneficial to this day.
In the second, corporate HQ was local, but my manager wasn't, so I rarely went to the office. It was the nature of the place not to have good relationships - seriously dysfunctional. Remote or not was the same, and I preferred to save the commute time and not soil my karma.
In my current gig, my hiring manager was remote but left, so I've been visiting the office every week or so to have a better relationship with my local new boss. I work in a large team, but everyone I deal with is remote (sales for a very large company) so those are the important and long-term valuable contacts.
I work remote because anyone that meets me quickly figures out I'm not an "ideal" employee, meaning my mindset is very much entrepreneurial. Remote work is a great way to use my skills, expose me to many techs and approaches, and focus on getting shit done.
Remote work doesn't harm my career growth because I don't really see programming as a career. I give value for the money I'm paid and I move on to the next thing.
When I'm done working for the day, I go eat, come back home, and do other work to make money. When I'm not programming, I do other things.
No, because going remote opened me up to opportunities I previously didn’t have. It has been fantastic for my experience in terms of communication, mentoring, and in learning new roles (e.g taking responsibility for infrastructure).
In that sense, my career has blossomed!
On the other hand, I believe that progression would be a struggle because remote work can create such a massive comfort zone that it takes a lot more effort to break out and network than it does if you’re co-located. It can be very isolating and difficult to break out of that lonely routine.
With hindsight, I wouldn’t go remote again unless I had the full network of both professional and personal support to healthily sustain it.
It's also more difficult to say if you're short-changed - IRC ties are usually not strong enough to exchange that info.
All in all, it's easier to get too comfortable and forget that you haven't been progressing enough.
Unfortunately, the old saying "out of sight, out of mind" comes into play. And the more out of sight, the more out of mind.
They pay me to keep doing what I do. I don't see it as some kind of career path.
In the side I'm continually doing coursera courses and learning other languages or computer science fundamentals just in case the jobs change.
It's a pretty lonely existence and really hard to work consistently, but you get to see your kids grow up.
<my experience as a remote software developer>
I've only worked for one company full-time after graduating and transferred to 100% remote after moving out of state for my spouse's work. In the span of time that I worked remotely, I became something equivalent to a maintainer ("core reviewer") on a decent-sized open source project, got promoted to a senior dev at a fairly large company, and helped launch an internal analytics service. I also have a network of former coworkers and open-source contributors that will help me find another remote job if I need one. My skill set is well-rounded, and I enjoy my job.
In terms of what I've given up, my salary is lower than what it would have been had I worked in a major hub like the SF Bay Area or Seattle. I probably pair program less than I would have otherwise. My soft skills have slightly weakened, but that may just be this profession. Outside of work, I've also had to work really hard to maintain a social life and stay mostly healthy. An extroverted spouse helps a lot. It's very easy to slip into not leaving the house or not exercising, and I've seen quite a few people develop both mental and physical health problems from the lifestyle. It's not for everyone.
However, costs of living where I am are much lower, so I feel very lucky. About 6 weeks time off next year is great, too. I've been fortunate enough to avoid the health problems I described earlier.
In any case, if you want to optimize for:
- Salary, regardless of cost of living
- Larger professional network
- Management track
then working in person in a tech hub is probably better.
If you prefer:
- Lots of freedom / setting your own schedule (mostly)
- Extra time (0 commute, you can use that commute time to work more / improve your skills too)
- Living wherever you want
then working remotely is pretty nice. Like other people mentioned, it's also very important to find a company that does remote well.
About 100 or so people were laid off. Me and one other person moved across the country and now work in an office. Hasn't done anything to better our communication. However, I can't complain.
I went from being a remote work with no health benefits, no vacation time, no 401k. It certainly had its advantages: I could go out and travel to different places, and as long as I had an Internet connection by 6 PM - 2 AM EST, everything was great.
As for moving into the office: they paid for my relocation, added 401k, health benefits, other benefits, paid vacation time, salary negotiation, and at least I only live about 5 minutes from my job.
So... I was upset to no longer work from home, but on the bright side: I got moved to a place where I could actually afford to buy a house. Got to experience driving across the country. Can't say it harmed my career at all, but on the other side of the bright side: I have a house that I don't get to be in for 8-9 hours a day.
I am slowly figuring out that the onus is on me to do things like, say, flying out to conferences so I can make up the difference. My advice would be to have a plan in place for dealing with geographic and self isolation before you accept the remote job offer.
As far as learning from others, I worked in office for the first 5ish years as a programmer. I learned a lot, but there is only so much you can learn in a tech department of 2 people. To offset this I secured a budget from my boss to purchase learning material, and go to conferences. In my personal time I occasionally go to tech meetups, and work on side projects. I am introverted so I wouldn't attend conferences and meetups if it wasn't for the fact I work remote.
Has it hurt my networking opportunities? NO! In fact it has helped them. The first 3 years after switching to remote, I made friends with programmers at several other companies, through the above mentioned educational stuff. These new friends at one time or another all promised to help me get a job at their company if I ever needed it. After that I started traveling. I went to 7-8 countries a year, living a location independent lifestyle. In just over 2 years I have made many new friends, and contacts. Some have taught me new things, and others have offered me contract work.
Has it hurt communication, and bonds with coworkers? Yes. With the other tech worker nothing much changed except he complains about my time shifted schedule when he can't reach me at noon, and praises that same schedule when I fix a down server at 3am. :-D With the non technical workers there seems to be a disconnect. I have done several things to offset this problem. First I show up at the office for 1 week every year to reconnect. I try to bring everyone a small trinket from some far off place. While at the office I initiate a performance review with my boss. While out of the office, I do many small things. Things like, initiate some small talk before the end of a 1 on 1, reach out to a coworker with a call instead of an IM, etc.
I have had very high growth remote work periods when I was engrossed in a good project and working with a boss who consistently engaged with me electronically (despite being in the office himself) and pushed me.
But teams and projects change. Unless remote connection is really engrained in the company, that is when growth does not come so easily but requires intentional effort outside.
So yeah, remote work definitely harms your career growth in terms of an employee, but also enables you to discover other opportunities, which improves your personality.
For reasons I won't get into, I went remote after working for a company for a couple years. What I gained in flexibility I lost in advancement opportunities. In my view, unless you're a very rare commodity, the workers closest to the organization are the ones most likely to be promoted.
If you value flexibility, work remotely.
If you value advancement, it's probably best to stay at HQ (if that options is available to you).
But recently I started working from a coworking place. And that’s great too. It’s only an 8 minute walk, which I love as it helps me to reach my daily step count. And I get to talk to some interesting people.
The company has traditional offices, but I’m one of the few employees working remote (note: that I used to work at the office)
Since relocating, I’ve been promoted several times in significant ways and genuinely feel connected and valued at the office.
A lot depends on the company / team I guess. But for me, there’s been little downside and tremendous upside.
This allows me to have the flexibility of a remote job, but the social benefits of an office ( and without the drama in my case). I have also found it invaluable for networking.
We do projects with distributed teams, including the customer teams, so it is impossible to get everyone on the same physical location.
Never do 100% remote, at most 50% max, always keep a sane mixture of on-site and remote work, soft-skills and networking are quite important.
if your goal is to be an actual manager (not to be confused with a PM) then yea wfh can impact that prospect. most companies I've dealt with (not all though) explicitly required anyone who had direct reports under them to either be in the office every day or at least be located within a reasonable distance from the office and come in couple of days a week.
I think that it largely depends on the company. Because remote work doesn't Just Work -- it requires plenty of regular effort to make that happen. Some companies excel at that, and others, well, suck at it. So if you consider doing, ask a lot. Ask a lot about processes, how decisions are made, why the company decided to go remote, etc. There, you can't really generalize everything under 'remote work is good for you' or similar. Just like working from an office doesn't automatically mean that it's good for your career.
If the company went the remote path in order to access untapped talent from around the globe, communication is heavily written and async, that's great. Ask for specific examples, as pretty much everyone says 'yeah, we are all about written communication!'. If the company provides money to setup your own private home office for maximum comfort and productivity -- even better. That shows that they really care. After talking to a few companies and comparing them, it's easy to tell where a company falls on the 'good for remote' spectrum.
Is it sustainable long term (7+ years) is a whole different matter and I don't have an answer to it. Probably completely depends on the person.
To answer your questions
> Especially if the team is a mixture of remote and co-located people?
I work in such environment and I'm very happy. But I understand how in some cases it can end up really badly. So just do your research.
> How have you tried to mitigate that?
Just do your best to pick the right company. Because if you join one which isn't great for remote work, then it's unlikely that you'll be able to change how it works.
This is my personal experience so far:
* More available jobs, especially for something which is not full-stack web-dev (SRE side of big data/analytics is my niche). Which is great for developing my technical skills and adding some lovely things to my CV;
* I feel overall more positive about work and life in general, which is a result of good time flexibility, not having to commute anywhere, setting up a solid home office, etc. While not directly related to career, this huge! It reduces chances of burning out and similar negatives as well.
The main and very obvious con is non-existing serendipitous networking with people. But that's largely due to my own choices - I could go to a co-working space, etc but I chose not to. Living with my gf helps with having decent social life. That works for me.
So all things considered, that's a solid net positive.
And, I guess, obligatory plug, we're hiring :) https://heapanalytics.com/jobs
Don’t get me wrong, it has its downsides other than the career advancement thing. But commuting and sitting in an open office with no privacy does too. On balance I prefer it.
If you’re lonely, get a dog.
So it is about the choice, life circumstances and some people like to advance, you don't have to.
Republicans were entirely unable to end the ACA, despite majorities & the Presidency. Its latest enrollment period saw a massive sign-up. The likely scenario coming up near-term, is Democrats take the Senate & possibly the Presidency (not the House). Healthcare will see gradual stapled on improvements that basically guarantees everyone coverage. Each time the Democrats acquire majorities, they'll put more pieces into place. It's most likely to start out as guaranteed catastrophic coverage for the middle & lower middle class (poor people already have free healthcare), that's the next logical step from the components the ACA put into place. It'll be a messy process, that will ultimately end in guaranteed coverage (most of the top 1/4 will keep variations of employer coverage that provide various perks). As each of these pieces get put into place, Republicans will find it nearly impossible to take them back away from people (as we just witnessed, it was wildly unpopular when Republicans tried to get rid of denial of coverage protections for pre-existing conditions).