And the lack of ability to "get around" all day is a benefit, let me tell you. Your mind would be thrilled if you said "no, I can't do that" more often. It sounds like your workspace is pretty noisy but your rush-hour commute might be contributing to your bad days more than you think.
As far as workspace, we have that new fangled open office (read: too cheap for even cubicles). Granted it's a startup and there are much better things to spend money on, plus rapid growth, etc. Everyone has to wear headphones and the biz always comes in to talk.
I'd still rather remote. It solves all problems, and I can walk and socialize on my own time. Let's be honest, most work chit chat is either about work, or petty and shallow.
Chit chat at work wasn't always annoying and disruputive. Well maybe to some it always was, but the workplace is usually an intersection of some interesting parts of your personal community, ie the mutual suffering everyone else goes through for whatever reason, to be here in this office 8+ hours a day. Sitting around all these people existing in chairs, who in their digital worlds totally forget about the noises they're making in the real world.
Your work chit chat is what you make it, is what I'm trying to say I guess. If your office is totally extroverted and won't give anyone any peace, look around for other people who aren't into the prescribed "work culture" and work together to make one of your own. At least your work days might be better.
I've never worked somewhere that I couldn't get to within 20 minutes by walking or cycling.
I felt a pressure to always respond to pings and phone calls instantly, lest it be thought that I was slacking off. I felt guilty about going to the bathroom, let alone eating lunch or—god forbid—getting coffee from the Starbucks right outside my apartment building.
Yet at the same time, I wasn't very productive. If I hit a question or wasn't sure what to do next, it seemed to take forever to get "unstuck" without being able to walk over and have a conversation with my boss live. Phone and IM just didn't cut it. As a result, and beyond the "on-call" pressure, accountability felt low.
So it was the worst possible combination of a high pressure to be "present" for long/strange hours (some of our bosses were in Europe) combined with boredom and low productivity. There were instances where I didn't leave my apartment for days, and I looked like the guy in the second frame of the Oatmeal comic in the article. Thankfully, I lived with my girlfriend (now wife) who probably kept me healthy and sane.
It's only looking back that I realize how unhealthy this was for me, to the point where I'm typing this comment and thinking, "Holy shit, that's bad."
Years later, as a people leader, I'm a proponent of remote work, though feel strongly that there's no replacement for sitting physically* next to someone 20%+ of the time. I'm also extremely aware of the need to enable remote workers with process, technology, and culture to help them be successful. Without that foundation, people may have the same experience I did, and I don't want to put others in that position.
(* Video technology has made this better, and I know there are virtual presence technologies that can replace physical presence, but I still don't think there's a replacement for in-person human contact.)
Yea there are different challenges. You have to over communicate and be available, but availability doesn't mean 24/7. It really only applies to working hours and the occasional on-call shift. If your boss wants to get ahold of your on a Saturday night, that sounds like a company culture issue, not a remote work issue.
On socialization, I can understand the feeling there, but for me the solution was to find social circles beyond work. For me I have my church community and also meetup groups with other developers in a similar field. If you don't have those already you will definitely be feeling the loneliness.
Other things I do is have a dedicated office space that I only use for work, to create at least a semblance of home/work separation. I also have a pretty disciplined morning routine that involves working out (at the very least, taking a walk), reading and actually getting dressed. I've found just jumping out of bed onto a call is a recipe for disaster especially if it becomes ingrained as a habit.
I also work partial days from coffee shops (I also feel bad if I spend 3+ hours in a seat after just buying a bagel and an americano.) I'll often go there in the morning to also promote the work/home separation.
The other thing is that I work for a relatively small company and they bring me up to the office every few months for a few days, so there is a time to connect with people in the office. If you are 100% remote and never meet people in person I feel it could be a bit more difficult to make connections with people.
Overall, I really enjoy it, I do wish I could go into the office more often. Having a 2 office/3 remote weekly schedule would be my ideal situation - do meetings and socialization in person then have the distraction free time provide via remote work. I'm not sure how many companies would be into that idea.
I think you are exactly right. Additionally, I think having a variety of social circles beyond work can help broaden one's support network, which can reduce the disruption of changing jobs or being let go. And it's fun to have a wider variety of friends with common interests.
This should be the norm not the exception.
The impression that I get is that this idea of socialising at work is stronger in the US.
I have a family and a stay-at-home wife, though, so I'm really not looking for socialization through work.
My work is very strict about keeping normal work schedules (it's not flex schedules) to avoid issues like this.
What is most difficult for me, is getting inspiration. I work remotely for myself which is different than those work work remotely for others, and have a boss to report to. So...I'm struggling with how to get unstuck right now.
As far as 'never leaving work,' I change up my work locations. Sometimes I'm at Starbucks, other times Panera's, and sometimes I'm at home.
As far as degradation of social skills, I'm going to assume that was an attempt at humor, and not really proven lol :) Seriously though, yesterday I realized that I definitely don't socialize the way I used to. I went to panera and ordered at the kiosk with my card. Later on in the day I went to Target's 'self check-out.' It's almost as if we don't have to interact with humans as much these days.
I used to work remotely most of the time, unfortunately in my current job this isn't very practical. I really miss the solitude though. Having to sit in an office surround by humans is the worst part of having a job in general. It wears on you and after a day at the office I am completely exhausted to the point where I feel like a zombie most evenings.
As for the loneliness thing, that's something I've never understood. I don't even know what it feels to be lonely. There have been times in my life where I've been alone for months and I never felt anything that I would classify as 'lonely'. If anything I would call my current condition the exact opposite of loneliness: I have way more social interaction than I can deal with and that's with me actively trying to reduce it to the absolute minimum possible.
1. Focus - learn how to 100% focus on your work, filter out any distractions
2. Socialize - find some nice hobbies involving other people with completely different backgrounds for the time you saved by e.g. not commuting
3. Pause - don't overwork yourself; having computer in front of you is enticing to cram more algorithms, experiments etc. into it - just put a firm boundary on the amount of work you do in a given day or you risk long-term overworking issues
I was following this for over 5 years and had the best time of my life working remotely with 0% office time.
* Create a really pleasant and tidy work space for yourself. My work life improved considerably when I did: http://ma.rtijn.org/2016/01/03/standing-desk.html
* Be among people. This is part of 2. but worth pointing out. I work at a co-working space 2 days a week, and at cafes some mornings. I don't care that I don't actually interact much with folks there. Being among humans is enough to break the isolation.
* Take care of your body. Don't do any work before you have given yourself time to wake up, shower, get dressed, have breakfast. Set a timer to go for a walk around the block. Have a glass of water on your desk at all times. Eat healthy. These things apply to all desk workers, I just feel it's even more important being remote.
* Start the day checking in with a colleague. Doesn't need to be about a work problem or question. Just see how folks are doing at HQ, anything special going on? Just having a laid back conversation with a colleague before you head into the day helps start me off with a positive, social attitude.
* Build confidence that not being always-on is okay as long as you deliver. Work on trying not to read too much into the phrasing of chats / emails.
* Insist on good practice in meetings. It's very easy to ignore someone not in the room. If you can, have them project your video on a screen so you're "there". Remind people to speak up and to point a camera at whiteboards etc.
I'm probably forgetting a bunch of things. Good topic for a blog post that focuses less on the drawbacks and more on recipes to make remote work a joy. Any links folks can recommend?
This sounds fantastic, where can I get such a gig? There's really nothing better than being given a more-or-less defined task, and being free to just go get shit done, without interruptions, or waffling, or hemming and hawing about whether it should be done this way or that way, by people who have no understanding of the technical realities.
Thank god it's a work-from-home Friday. I predict I will get far more accomplished in four hours today than I did in the 40+ I was in the office Monday-Thursday.
But whether you're in the office or not while writing that code is completely orthogonal to whether you have the context & requirements to do it. A good organization that's built for remote workers can communicate all of that without people having to be together in person. Likewise, a bad organization will have bad development & requirements practices whether you're in the office in person or remote.
The big difference is that it's easier to ignore distractions when you're remote so once you have your work (mostly) defined then it's easier to get into flow when you're by yourself.
Seriously, do you really think that something that cannot be worked out over slack/confluence/phone call can be worked out in person sitting in the busy office with all kinds of distractions and stress caused by commute in/out....
The most efficient way to communicate specs is through a document, so I have something to reference. I'm not going to remember everything said in a meeting unless I immediately start working on it. The spec document should be exhaustive, clear and easy to follow with no dangling questions unanswered.
If you can get a spec writer that can do that, you're golden.
Not only is the 5% important, as every "only 5% left" tends to be, you are completely ignoring possible developer questions.
You do realise you do actualy need some form of requirements, otherwise what are you doing, just writing code with no goal?
Granted it doesn't need to be a big up front document, but some of those slack/confluence/in person meetings will ultimately be around "so, guys/gals for this next proposed , feature, story (requirement), w/e, this is how I'm achieving it". Oh, and as for non functionals..
Having spent years working remotely with office focused teams, the nuances of these discussions are the ones that get missed by the remote attendee unless everything is set up correctly.
This will most likely still happen, just over Jira, chat, and code review comments, making it more painful (as the bandwidth is lower) than in real life.
This article does a pretty good job bringing up the issues I came across early on, but there's way to mitigate all of these. Some of them are cultural fixes for the company; don't hold it against people when they are slow to respond to chats. It doesn't mean they aren't working hard, it might just mean they needed to poop. Stuff like that.
Some are things you have to do yourself if you need a change; for me going out for lunch is a big one that helps avoid fatigue of constantly being at home and helps me have social contact because I arrange to go to lunch with friends or family at least once a week.
Another one is that I have dogs; so I have company here at home with me. That might not work for some people but it's something that helps me.
Lastly, we do pair programming at my company. So I'm on voice chat with people a lot during the day.
You might or might not have co-workers that are cooperative or not, who interrupt you a lot or not, who make everybody's life easier or not.
You might have or not a good family, a good chair and desk, a good headphone, a good coffee break, a good lunch.
And everybody that is on the other page will think that you aren't doing as hard as you can, and if they were in your sittuation (remote or local), you should do better.
let me rephrase that for you
> In the end, the stress of remote working or working inside a cubicle is caused by the same group: you
Yet even if I was able to recreate a workplace with my favorite colleagues, ideal collaborations, and the best on-site perks, I would still prefer to be remote most of the time /at this stage in my life/.
Reflecting on this led me to boiling it down to 2 key reasons:
1. I have a natural drive to want to do my best work. After 24 years of working full time (about 20 doing roughly what I do now), I have a good idea of what that takes.
2. Having children changes you fundamentally in so many ways that a meaningful discussion probably isn't possible without considering what that means.
Working remotely isn't perfect (especially during long school breaks...), but it does facilitate most of what I want given the need to trade my time for money.