Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Study Shows a Productivity Boost of Working From Home (inc.com)
583 points by mpweiher on May 11, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 295 comments



I think it depends on what you want to optimize for. If you want to optimize for individual productivity (and there are no trust issues) then sure, working from home is effective.

However, you may decide that the individual productivity loss of having people work in an office is outweighed by the group productivity and morale gain from having people working together. Here are some reasons from a holistic company perspective for requiring people to work out of the office:

- To more effectively add to the culture of the company.

- To take part in ad hoc training opportunities, either to teach someone who needs help, or to learn something from someone when an obstacle is encountered.

- To be able to attend in-person meetings or stand-ups when urgent things come up - without the awkwardness and delays of conferencing in multiple people.

- To provide mentorship to junior staff.

- To collaborate more effectively.

- To show clients/prospective clients, partners and recruits, a vibrant and energetic team and working environment that is worth investing in/joining.

- To build morale and a sense of teamwork and camaraderie.

At the same time, measures need to be taken in the office working environment to ensure that individuals can be productive, which means providing quiet working spaces, enforcing do-not-disturb rules, etc.

Last point. To anyone who is running a business where your employees can easily choose to work from home for any company in the world, such as software engineers: creating a vibrant company culture is one of the ways in which you can attract and retain team members. Many people like being part of an in-person team and working with each other on a regular basis. But if they're already working from home and rarely seeing their co-workers, what difference does it make if they choose to work for some startup out of SF?


This comment seems like a great microcosm of remote work discussions on Hacker News. You didn't dismiss remote working in a thread about it, but you tried (maybe imperfectly) to suggest times when it would be a good idea to not work remotely. It is not being received well!

In response most commenters are criticizing your point by focusing on whether or not it is technically possible to achieve any of those things while working remotely, which is not your point. One person has even accused you of responding to data with anecdotes and opinion, and another has called your comment BS. Yikes!

Remote work kinda seems like a religious topic now. If you don't provide an airtight, empirical justification for why you're not in favor of remote work, you'll hear from people talking your ear off about how everything you suggested is absolutely possible in a remote setting. "But you can mentor someone remotely!", or "You can collaborate super effectively on a remote team if you just do ..." People are talking about "valid reasons" to be working in an office instead of working remotely, as though remote working needs to be the default consideration. There's a disconnect here.

To conclude this pretentious meta-analysis of mine: I've worked remotely for four or five years now. I like it, it's cool. I can pick up groceries on a Monday when no one is at the store! But companies shouldn't have to defend why they don't support remote work. Universal telecommuting does not need to be the next step in our evolution as a society, and that's okay.


"focusing on whether or not it is technically possible to achieve any of those things while working remotely, which is not your point"

But...it is their point. They are claiming that this laundry list of desirable things are all lost if you support remote work. If they are achievable with remote work the post is irrelevant.

I've worked in offices where there was low morale, zero information sharing, little collaboration, and where the meetings were overwhelmingly just a giant waste of time (in the absence of productivity, meetings become a surrogate where you can point to the `accomplishment' of a meeting). I've worked with a remote team where we had fantastic morale and ridiculously good information sharing and cooperation/coordination. Vice versa. None of these things have to be limited to one choice.


> Universal telecommuting does not need to be the next step in our evolution as a society, and that's okay.

To be honest, given the rising costs of living in most cities, I'm kind of hoping it will be.


And the environmental impact and all round craziness of everyone sitting in traffic twice a day.


Not to mention the enormous environmental and social costs of having to move for a new job.


I have to disagree, companies need to be dragged kicking and screaming into the future. I for one don't even bother looking at job offers from recruiters unless they offer remote. (and I've turned down 30-40k pay increases because of it) why? because I love that I can go swim in a tropical reef this weekend. I can go hop around where my heart takes me and our that creative energy into producing better work during the week. That's not something you'll ever get with vacation days where you plan months ahead at the "permission" of your manager. Everyone should have the option to live like this and if we all refuse via collective bargaining, the big companies will find a way to make it work or die.


It's because us remote-workers can keep the Hacker News tabs open with nobody watching :)

OP is suggesting that the research is invalid because it didn't look at the company level productivity, which is then an excuse to validate his own preference. It's fine to have preferences, everybody does. Making broad claims is generally what gets you in hot water when communicating online.

It would have been more informative to have a specific example. Maybe his point is that it takes a lot of energy for him to figure out how to work together remotely, and that energy is better invested in other things like company culture.


I'm not suggesting that the research is invalid. I have no reason to think it is and in fact I believe - as I stated - that maximizing individual productivity by working from home is effective.

However, I don't believe that every company needs to optimize for individual productivity. It is entirely valid to choose to optimize for other things, such as group productivity, or collaboration, or culture, or really whatever the leadership of the company may want. And as an individual, if you want to work somewhere where individual productivity is maximized, you may certainly choose to work in a place with generous work-from-home policies.

Fifteen minutes ago, I ran into an employee in the kitchen. She looked stressed out. I asked her what was wrong. She told me she wanted to cry. I expressed concern - asked her why - talked her through the situation, found a solution, got her spirits back up, gave her a pat on the shoulder and went on my way.

Could I do this through Slack? Maybe. Would she have reached out to me proactively (instead of me reading her body language) over an electronic medium? Nope, not her - she's too stoic for that. Is it important to me to have this type of high-touch relationship with my employees? Yes, it is.

Now she feels better. I don't have a study that proves that she does, but I don't need one. Is she more productive being here today? Maybe not. Maybe she'd be more productive at home, feeling stressed out and overwhelmed. But I don't care about that - I want her here, feeling supported and encouraged.


For every touchy feely anecdote like this there are ten for the subtle stresses imposed by daily commutes.


The difference is that one side is trying to justify the traditional designed-for-repetitive-manufacturing-work office setup, while the other is trying to justify remote work. One side is content to point out that there are limitations to remote work while almost totally ignoring the limitations to office work, while the other does the inverse.

Both scenarios have advantages, and both scenarios have disadvantages. Whether you are willing to accept certain disadvantages or whether you actually value certain advantages brings in many personal values. Some people are exceptionally invested in office work because they rely upon their gregarious nature to navigate the working world. Some are exceptionally invested in remote work because they are introverted and constantly overruled by more aggressive colleagues (to the detriment of the business, not just themselves).

As many do not understand why offices are constructed the way they are, why companies are centralized entities, why authority is set up as a hierarchy, etc, its difficult to have a competent conversation about the whole thing. It's a big topic. And it's never as simple as 'this thing just saves us money with no drawbacks' or 'this thing just has drawbacks with no material benefit'. Such discussions need to be extensive, nuanced, and detached.

We really are in a position, however, where the differences in productivity and cost are so stark that in order to justify operating expensive centralized offices, they have to show either that it is Impossible to solve problems technologically with remote work, or that there are benefits to the centralization that are extremely valuable. Being able to keep employees, mentioned in the original comment, is an interesting choice. Since the 1980s, employee total dispensability has been top priority in management culture. Moving toward valuing employees and trying to keep them would be a monumental shift in corporate behavior and change all kinds of things all on its own. It might be advisable, though. As I see it, companies started abandoning everything they offered to workers in the 1980s.... right around the time computers came around and started making it practical for workers to leave and compete against the companies while undercutting them hugely just through not having an office to pay for.


Your comment is fantastic but this:

> Some people are exceptionally invested in office work because they rely upon their gregarious nature to navigate the working world. Some are exceptionally invested in remote work because they are introverted and constantly overruled by more aggressive colleagues (to the detriment of the business, not just themselves).

really is a gem. I think this really offers clarity into why there are 2 "sides" of this debate.


This is a great comment that sums up both sides.

One other point often overlooked is one of real estate.

If a company has a lot of value locked up in real estate it may not want it disrupted by remote work.


Personally I think a hybrid approach is the best. I go into the office every morning, get daily meetings done, show face for the boss, have lunch with colleagues, then head home at 1:00 and work remote until 5:00. This allows me to enjoy pretty much every benefit of remote work while still actively contributing to company culture and meeting collaboration which I prefer to completely isolated remote work.


But you still have to commute every day. Wouldn't it be better to work from home 2-3 days a week, instead of commuting in every day?


Going home at 1 would at least avoid the rush of traffic


If I didn't commute 40 minutes both ways, I would love that solution. As it is, I would love a hybrid, work from home 2 days/week, solution.


You know all those guys are extremely smart, easy going, are perfect writers, don't get upset when someone misunderstands them, have great personality that is easily conveyed through digital medium, and work with only as smart and awesome people as them.


> I can pick up groceries on a Monday when no one is at the store!

Definitely helps the traffic jam issues on megacities!

Also the flexibility to run errands to post office, banks, schedule service repairs etc. is just so tremendous.


I agree but I found a mixed strategy worked best. Monday, Friday in the office. Wednesday, Thursday out.

That way I can get a feel for the week on Monday and a retrospective on Friday. Plus Fridays is usually the "Culture Building" day (taking it easy, maybe having a beer in the afternoon, playing some board games). And Monday's are great to catch up with the team after the weekend, bring donuts or some snacks in the morning.

The middle of the week is when I can just work and be productive, as a developer.

Obviously this isn't a strict schedule. It's just definitely easier for me to pump out my own work at my pace, i.e. "Maker's Schedule". And there is absolutely value in being in the office with the team as you stated above.


> Monday, Friday in the office. Wednesday, Thursday out.

That sounds great. No more Tuesdays!


Never could get the hang of Tuesdays.


What about Tuesday?


All of these items can be done remotely. Training/mentoring/team work/stand ups/taking accountibility. Showing clients you have employees working might seem like it will help land some clients if you bring them for a visit but more impressive is having a global remote team you can conference in.


You can't greet the client shake their hand and establish a connection over a video conference nearly as easily as you can in person. As a client I find myself paying attention to the little things. Did they offer coffee or water? Did they open the door? How was the handshake? Did they look trustworthy? If you are remoting in a global team it will be more difficult to provide the experience.


I love the idea that we want to find the smartest people we can find, and hire them. Then tell them they need to drive in to an office every day and fill a seat, on the .01% chance that a client might drop in.

Yeah that makes way more sense than just saying, "hey a client is coming in on Thursday, everyone assume your positions! And for FSM's sake, look like you're collaborating!"


How was the handshake? Surely you can't base your business decisions on such metrics?


If those items are what you judge the business by how would you rate IBM? Firm handshakes, trustworthy rep (sort of) but they never show you the workers.


Is this sarcasm? I can’t tell. If it isn’t, I want to cry or laugh or both one after another.


I tend to strongly agree. Online meetings for me are direct, initmate and focussed. If we are not prepared yet, we call it off in a minute or two and go do our homework before we decide to meet next time. Productivity, progress made, places where help and collaboriative work is needed, etc are keenly understood in a team.


You can also mute the guy who constantly wrecks meetings by being long winded and off topic. :)


In thech companies, the only valid reason to be in the office is that often times upper management (those who pay bills/salaries) are restless crowd that can’t sit in one place staring at screen and have grand desire to run around the floor watching people “work”.

The rest of your points are absolute bull shit that can all be done remotely.


This comment breaks the site rule against calling names in arguments. Please follow https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html when posting to HN.


"The rest of your points are absolute bull shit that can all be done remotely"

I disagree mentoring can be as effective when done remotely. The channel width of face-to-face communication is higher than that of any other method.

Furthermore, there are a lot of things that are communicated from senior to junior accidentally, for example, some simple efficient pattern of using the IDE, that would not get communicated in a remote setting. The skill transfer can happen of course any which way, from junior to senior, whatever - but serendipitous pairing is often the initial requirement for this skill transfer to happen.


> The channel width of face-to-face communication is higher than that of any other method.

Research to that effect? I know some people have that, I know I do not. So this absolute statement is already 1 datapoint (me) off. And I know others (who I mentor) who absorb mentoring far better via remote methods. When someone mentors me, I like to chew the information over, research it etc. This goes for most communication for work related matters; I absorb far less if it is told to me face to face than when I read it and have time to thoroughly understand it all.

I agree somewhat with the rest but that again can be done remotely: we develop almost everything while in chat; this acidental transfer is even far better than face to face imho. In chat someone says something like ‘I refactor this to that by hitting ctrl-something’ ; all people see it, not only the accidental junior next to you but all of them. And later this can be searched by others while the verbal incidental comms is gone forever.

I definitely see the need for face to face meetings, but far less than some people here do. And it would be good to have more research done into this matter: I simply do not see many programmers (and I managed 100s over my professional life) being productive in the setting you suggest. Looking and feeling busy yes (so for the bums on seats type of manager), but productive as in just getting stuff done, in my experience no. But that is anecdotal, like your view, so real research and numbers would be good.


"I simply do not see many programmers (and I managed 100s over my professional life) being productive in the setting you suggest. "

To be precise, I did not suggest anything else beyond people being in the same location. I agree the type of bullshit you describe is plausible in a typical corporate scenario.

Given the reproducibility crisis in modern psychology, I would be hard-pressed to claim most thing dealing with humans as better than "anecdotal". I pass along those anecdotes that I find useful. In this context literary references are not "academic proof" but rather probabilistic proof that someone else shares my view and that it might be applicable to third parties as well.

The face-to-face plus whiteboard offering the widest communication channel -anecdote was taken from Alistair Cockburn's "Agile software development" that can be referred from example here (just look at the graph):

http://www.agilemodeling.com/essays/communication.htm

I have no idea how true that is in the general sense, but personally I've found this to be true. I've had and continue having tremendously valuable whiteboard impromptu chats that have clarified a complex topic to all stakeholders, helped me to understand some issue and thus saving worktime, or just helped to create a shared symbolic context for a complex technical discussion that otherwise would have been imprecise and hand-wavy. The fact that you can draw boxes, point at them, and perhaps draw arrows between them in a shared physical space with people just somehow seems to make everything easier.


>The rest of your points are absolute bull shit that can all be done remotely.

But generally won't be. I work for a tech company, and heck, much of those things don't happen even between people in different sites. The two people in our team who are at a different site usually don't learn a lot of things we do simply because over here we all sit in cubes next to one other. When an emergency occurs, we over here will learn about it through osmosis. This is why we now have meetings dedicated for passdowns to the remote workers just so that they learn what we did here. The problem is that they only learn what we think they need to know.

So while I agree with you that everything can happen remotely (and sometimes does), I think it is more likely to happen in person.


How else will people know they're busy?


From the article:

"More than half the volunteer group changed their minds about working from home 100 percent of the time--they felt too much isolation."

And bear in mind that is from the group of people who _volunteered_ to work from home. It's reasonable to presume that a nontrivial number of people chose _not_ to volunteer because they valued in-person interactions.

So, I call BS on your calling bullshit.


I've worked fully remote before and I loved it. I got tons of work done, had time and energy for doing stuff after work, and generally flourished.

I'm in an office for a few days a week now with a new company, and I genuinely struggle to get work done on those days. I'm interrupted frequently, office mates love having very loud conversations by my desk, and I can't even fix healthy food on demand and instead drag in a lunch box like a child.

But, and here is the important bit, that's my experience. I have coworkers for whom the inverse is true, who would hate being remote at all, and see the office as the only space they can be productive in.

Just like shoes come in different sizes, so too do office working styles. My overwhelming complaint is that I have to fight tooth and nail to work from home, and I usually get the complaint "Well I don't like working from home, so you shouldn't do it either".

It's like I'm trying to justify being left handed. It's ridiculous. What works for me works for me, and I have direct stats that prove that on every basis (benefit of being a dev, work can be measured).


I work 100% from home. Altough I also feel a bit of isolation I kind of enjoy it most of the time and otherwise the benefits easily outweighs the negative stuff like isolation. But that is of course just me, there is no need to force people to work from home (unless the company do not have an office) but the issue is that most companies won't let you even if you want to.


I notice this report doesn't give the specifics. When they worked remotely, did they still have access to easy, painless, video conferencing? We have remote workers; we oftentimes broadcast them in a Bluejeans conference room on a TV near the people working on site, and it really changes the dynamic.

Similarly, I'd be interested in a survey after the fact to determine a person's social life outside of work. If people have an active one apart from work, I suspect 100% remote is more attractive. When a person's main sources of social contact are at work, I can see that taking a major hit; just water cooler chatter and shared lunches and things would be missed more if you don't have regular social activities.


This logic doesn't even hold the basic scrutiny.

0. The group productivity argument is completely unsubstantiated.

1. Trust in employees is fundamental, why even go there.

2. There are remote-first companies with great culture.

3. Ad-hoc training works great over Hangouts, I do it all the time.

4. Most meetings are not urgent. For sysops consider having a team on-call. Again it works great over Hangouts.

Etc...


Agree totally.


Exactly. While I love the flexibility of not having to go to the office once or twice a week, being alone all the time is very rough mentally.


Everyone is different. I work alone every day and have not had any difficulty mentally or otherwise. This is probably because I prefer quiet to begin with with and could never stand the office environment.


This might look like it's emotionally loaded response, but I'm just giving you tough love here:

> - To more effectively add to the culture of the company.

This is genuine question, what does this even mean?

> - To take part in ad hoc training opportunities, either to teach someone who needs help, or to learn something from someone when an obstacle is encountered.

This all can be done online and it's even better, if you have to focus on task and there are people constantly bothering you , or vice versa you interrupt someone, this does nothing but lowers productivity

> - To be able to attend in-person meetings or stand-ups when urgent things come up - without the awkwardness and delays of conferencing in multiple people.

In 15 years of work I've never had this issue, it's more managers' problem I guess, proving that they do something by visually showing that they do something - like organising meetings about nothing. And how it's less awkward to chase people around building than just set up meeting adding it to calendar?

> - To provide mentorship to junior staff.

There's this thing called documentation ;)

> - To collaborate more effectively.

We're not raising barn walls, there's a ton of tools to support collaboration

> - To show clients/prospective clients, partners and recruits, a vibrant and energetic team and working environment that is worth investing in/joining.

At assembly line in car factory, yes. Although this seems to be frequent theme in this industry: dress up and act busy because some big old guys are comming, we have to make good impression. Then there's this crowd of people pacing around asking random questions (imagine what kind, as for most of them 'the internet' is a blue E letter on desktop). Again, that's not productive working.

> - To build morale and a sense of teamwork and camaraderie.

Making great product that you can be proud of does all of this , or if you really cannot live without 'making great team' just set up some after hours go out or idk paintball or something


    >> - To provide mentorship to junior staff.
    > There's this thing called documentation ;)
Mentoring is somewhat more than telling someone to RTFM. A smart engineer who's willing to teach less experienced team members is extremely valuable. The people who are really good at it never see it as a bother, just part of the job. My experience is that it's not as effective with remote teams.


This comment is the epitamy of the tech industry... Responding to actual data with antidote and personal opinion. Followed by the crowds upvoting.


Not to be picky, just an opportunity to inform - the word you're searching for is anecdote, rather than antidote.

Also just while I'm here, normally I wouldn't point out spelling but, epitome.


Thanks. I would like to think I can blame auto-correct. v0v


At least it's a tech industry-only phenomenon right? In all the other industries, people are rational data analyzers with no bias whatsoever. If there's an epitomy of the tech industry, it's blaming ourselves for being uniquely bad at things we're actually better at than most.


I would argue that since this subject is about remote workers, the crowds upvoting is data. Think about it.


I feel that one is data collected about productivity, and the other is a community survey. That's another form of data, but I personally wouldn't hold it nearly as high of an indicator as other data.


What does "actual data" mean? All data is actual. A study is not the termination of a logical argument. Its a model that someone thinks best explains the gathered data. Most studies don't go anywhere. People keep doing them so we get better and better and eventually stumble upon something useful.


Most gamers will object to the last paragraph. There are really a lot of strong friendships without ever meeting in person. Back then eben without ever hearing each other's voice. I've been working for a startup at the other end of the world for 2 years now and rejected lots of much better (remote) offers because I like the team... Which I've never met in person.

But I grew up in that ICQ/IRC/Forums culture and as a teenie stayed home alone for weeks while my parents were on vacation, didn't bother me. So certainly a personality thing. Now with wife and kids, my remote working times are the only lone times I have,so I love it.


One of the reasons companies like to have employees under one roof is to instill a "gung-ho" attitude. When employees know each other from face to face interactions, there are stronger bonds. These bonds help with employee retention.

When employees are remote, they are in essence contractors, with less emotional commitment to a company. When employees aren't as invested (other than financially), retention can be harder.


That works both ways. If there is someone you just don't like at work, having to sit next to them every day really crushes morale.

>When employees are remote, they are in essence contractors, with less emotional commitment to a company. When employees aren't as invested (other than financially), retention can be harder.

Being able to remote will keep me at a soul sucking company a lot longer than having to drive through rush hour twice a day. Believe this: if you hire someone as a remote programmer, you will get better access to better candidates for less money. Consider it a competitive advantage.


True, but to a company, that's not as important as social cohesion. That's how companies get employees to overwork, to take work home, etc. Social cohesion is the glue that binds employees to their job, instead of the employee realizing it's a job. It's no different than getting free massages, or soda and snacks.


> At the same time, measures need to be taken in the office working environment to ensure that individuals can be productive, which means providing quiet working spaces, enforcing do-not-disturb rules, etc.

For me, this is the key point. We do NOT have a quiet working space. We are disturbed constantly. :-(


Ah yes.. we should sacrifice productivity for the sake of "vibrant company culture", whatever that means.

I have been working remotely in a large company and allow me to refute your points.

> - To more effectively add to the culture of the company.

If your culture is already remote, or shifting towards it, then it's a non issue.

> - To take part in ad hoc training opportunities, either to teach someone who needs help, or to learn something from someone when an obstacle is encountered.

This works just as well remotely. In fact I would argue it's even more efficient, one can take advantage of super quiet places in a private video chat.

> - To be able to attend in-person meetings or stand-ups when urgent things come up - without the awkwardness and delays of conferencing in multiple people.

In person meetings, stand ups, team sync meetings are 90% waste of time. Short meetings can be performed quickly in a video call. Notifying team members of something urgent is also very easy.

> - To provide mentorship to junior staff.

Again, the point is passing along information, whether it's done in person or online makes little difference. In fact if it's done online, I would argue it's more efficient because is a digital trail that one can trace back

> - To collaborate more effectively.

If your team members fail to collaborate remotely, they will fail to do so in person. Remote has nothing to do with it.

> - To show clients/prospective clients, partners and recruits, a vibrant and energetic team and working environment that is worth investing in/joining.

Partners and clients don't care how "vibrant" your team is.They care about how good your product is. This point makes no sense

> - To build morale and a sense of teamwork and camaraderie.

This is hands on SV startup mentally. In person office drinking parties does not create morale. Morale is created by hard work, strong vision and leadership. All of which can be accomplished remotely.

The point I'm trying to get across is this: It all depends on the organizational structure. If it's correctly in place, it works very well. As long as there is a clear communication hub between all members, a company can succeed remotely.

[EDIT] spelling


> Again, the point is passing along information, whether it's done in person or online makes little difference.

But it makes a huge difference for some people like me. Information passed verbally just doesn't stick for me. For some reason it's not properly recorded in my memory and if you ask me about if half an hour later I would have forgotten 80% of what I was told.

Now give it to me in writing, and I'd probably remember it until the end of days.


Is your point that you're less likely to get information in written form when working remotely?


No, the point is that what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for someone else.


Remote working only works well for a certain type of person. If you're that person, good for you. There are few people who are self-motivated enough to work remotely. Most people need and want daily human interactions with co-workers. All the problems you dismiss as non-problems, are only non-problems for you.

Ultimately, in either case, you can't tell someone they're doing it wrong if what they're doing is working for them and they're successful.


Having worked for both remote and "butts in seats" companies, allow me to refute your rebuttal

> If your culture is already remote, or shifting towards it, then it's a non issue.

What does this even mean? How is it a non issue? You are vastly underestimating the nuance required to get from A to B, mainly, from in-person to remote capable.

> This works just as well remotely. In fact I would argue it's even more efficient, one can take advantage of super quiet places in a private video chat.

This is opinion. It works for some people, but for others, part of communication is body language and being near someone. It's actually science. These "non-verbal" communication indicators are not as well communicated through a telepresence.

> In person meetings, stand ups, team sync meetings are 90% waste of time.

Sounds like some more opinion, as well as something that can greatly vary from company to company.

> Short meetings can be performed quickly in a video call.

HA! Have you seen the sorry state of affairs that is telepresence software?

> Again, the point is passing along information, whether it's done in person or online makes little difference. In fact if it's done online, I would argue it's more efficient because is a digital trail that one can trace back

Again, sounds like you are projecting your own personal opinions as some sort of fact. The digital trail point is a separate issue, and a valid one, the rest of the point is opinion.

> If your team members fail to collaborate remotely, they will fail to do so in person. Remote has nothing to do with it.

Opinion.

> Partners and clients don't care how "vibrant" your team is.They care about how good your product is. This point makes no sense

Oh, oh yes they do. You obviously have not been in a meeting where you have one of the big 4 Telco's in your building (I have), and you are giving them a tour, and they are impressed by your "amazing work culture" (your buildings and office are just as much as "marketing" as your sales pitch -- some people seem to miss this point), then you land that multi-million dollar contract, making it all worth it.

> This is hands on SV startup mentally.

Having never worked in SV myself, this seems like again, more opinion, and varies from place to place.

> The point I'm trying to get across is this: It all depends [ on the organization structure.]

You are very right -- it most certainly, almost always, depends.


> This is opinion. It works for some people, but for others, part of communication is body language and being near someone. It's actually science. These "non-verbal" communication indicators are not as well communicated through a telepresence.

For people like myself who struggle to understand body language, when everyone else in the room "gets it", forcing people to explain in detail removes ambiguity.


Culture is bullshit. Professionals working together in a project vs a factory or plantation.


What's your point here ?


Not GP but I think that the point is that the whole "corporate culture" is mostly bullshit - you wouldn't expect factory or farm workers to form a "culture" and "take pride in their work" or "share company values", so why are you expecting all of this from knowledge workers?

For me the whole "corporate culture" thing is just an attempt to brainwash people into accepting lower salary, because "we are changing the world here".


Ya I don’t think I’ve ever been in a “corporate culture” that wasn’t a facade.


I think when I was younger, I wanted to believe in it. But, yes, now that I'm older and I reflect, I don't think I've ever been part of one that wasn't fake.

There are the owners/middle management/laborers. To trick the laborers into thinking that they are part of something is pretty brilliant though.


Oh it absolutely is. Want to see evidence? If a client or someone important comes to visit the office, management asks everyone to wear nicer clothes and "clean up your workspaces." If culture was so great and beneficial, they sure make a point to hide it when it's important.

Total facade.


In your view, is there a difference between micromanaging authorian culture compared to a consensus-driven culture where the employees all trust each other?

I've seen several different companies from the insidr, and each one has had vastly different cultures. Usually it is an implementation of the CEO/upper management's views of what "corporate culture" is. There's still usually a facade, but that facade is not necessarily disingenuous.


The couple of times when I worked for companies that openly talked about employees and corporate culture, it was basically stated as "come build the culture we all want" but put into practice as "come build the culture that we all in management want and do not deviate."


I think they meant the (lets call it "emergent culture") that teams develop over time not really the corporate "urah" one.


First para hits the nail on the head. The issue is: trust between managers and employees.

Also, "work from home" paradigm will only succeed when management paradigm changes from managing time to managing outcome. And changing that management style is not easy. Managing outcomes requires managers to understand not only the strategic agendas set by the bosses higher up but also the technical paths to achieve them confronted by the "serfs" under. It also requires that managers themselves are empowered to make decisions on budgets and execute on outcomes - managers who can't make decisions daily without checking in on higher up bosses for authorisation will be unlikely to agree to a work from home scenario.


Trust is a continuum. If I'm a manager, I can't afford to know every single detail of what you're doing. Managing outcome sounds nice, but suppose I assign you a task that I think will take two days in my limited understanding, and it takes you two weeks. I have to figure out the cause. Some common ones are:

1. Neither of us understood the full complexity of the task at the outset. If we want to improve, we'll have to put in more work upfront to figure out the problem.

2. You're less capable than I thought you were -- it just takes you longer or you make more mistakes than I had expected.

3. I didn't adequately describe the job to you, and you spent time going down blind alleys and readjusting trying to figure out what exactly I want.

4. You're a slacker, you didn't work very hard on it and so it took longer.

It's easy to say that I should manage outcome, but if you repeatedly fail to achieve the outcome, what should I do? It depends on why. If you're remote, you're going to say it was #1 with a fallback position of #3. If you're in the office I can probably get a reasonable sense of whether or not it's #4, and if it's #3, we're naturally going to communicate more and so I'm more likely to fix it sooner. This is why office space in SF costs so much.


> but suppose I assign you a task that I think will take two days in my limited understanding

Why would the manager be the one making estimates? That's a task either for the team, if applicable, or for the implementer.

edit: I work from home, every sprint we have a planning meeting where we do the estimates together, my manager isn't even involed in it.

Only if we're expecting to exceed an estimate by 20% do we contact the project manager (not my manager) so we can figure out how to proceed.

How we work: we have a bunch of tasks available that we create during the sprint planning and we pick them as we have time, some may be marked as priority. My manager only hears from me if I'm ever blocked for some reason and need him to either get in touch with the person that is blocking the task or similar, otherwise we don't.

For us at least the manager is someone who enables us to spend our time productively, generally speaking he'll have no idea what I'm doing most of the time. I guess you could say we're self-managed.


Assuming that "the "manager" knows his 'stuffs', should know that TaskA requires 5 hours, and TaskB requires 1 hour. Now to that add a 20% for interruptions, emails, etc.

With my team(s) I (almost) always knew (more or less) the time for various tasks.

I was also expecting any feedback/'negotiation' to happen at the time of task assignment OR as soon as someone can see that deadline is at risk.

I know that Tasks from Tasks vary, but hey, this setup requires knowledge from both parties AND trust.


What I've often experienced is the manager estimates what he wants to happen (typically fairly arbitrary or based on company goals) then the team kills themselves trying to accomplish the timeline because they don't like to fail. This is great for short term productivity but long term leads to attrition and spitefulness from the team. I'm not saying it's not possible, but make sure what you think is happening, is happening (good sustainable estimates vs. constant crunch time estimates). Of course, situations warrant crunch time, but I've seen departments in a constant state of crunch just by the nature of their sprints. The saying goes, you can't sprint a marathon.

Also, depending on the organization, a 20% buffer seems on the low side. If you can guarantee zero distractions throughout the day, outside of 1 or two meetings a week, 20% is probably ok.

FWIW, if the developer makes the estimate, he is more likely to live up to it, because it's not just some number someone pulled out of their ass. I'm not saying that's you, I'm just saying how I've seen it happen time and time again. I like to think I give good estimates, but like you said, it's a negotiation and if a dev says it will take longer, it will take longer. They most likely know the codebase way better than some manager does.


> should know that TaskA requires 5 hours, and TaskB requires 1 hour.

I contest this. This assumes the manager is also some sort of software engineer plus I don't understand why would there be any negotiation: a project asks for an estimate and we give it based on how much we feel it's going to take, there is no negotiation; either the project manager accepts it or reduces scope and we make a new estimate, my manager is uninvolved.

I suspect this might be a work culture thing: in my country managers aren't timekeepers, their responsibility is making sure we have all the conditions we need to be productive and be "invisible" otherwise.


> should know that TaskA requires 5 hours, and TaskB requires 1 hour.

> This assumes the manager is also some sort of software engineer plus I don't understand why would there be any negotiation:

We have whole methodologies based on the premise that we (software engineers or managers) are incredibly horrible at estimating software.


the project manager will know the timeline breakdown while your manager may not.


In practice, being a slacker when working from home is not really an option. I know very well that if I don't perform well enough, I'll be fired. Why should I take the risk? Also, when I realize a job is going to take longer than expected, I notify my boss immediately and clearly explain the reasons. It's not that I wake up after two weeks that I'm 12 days late - I probably realize something is wrong immediately or after a couple of hours at most.


It works for you, it may not work for others. Unfortunately slackers do exist (I know some people who boast their ability to be unproductive and deceive their boss) and working from home may make cheating easier.


It is easier to cheat in person because you can put a show where it appears you are working but remotely your work is the only thing to judge you on.


You will never be blindsided by #1. Because if the person finds it will be more complex than initial estimates they will tell you ASAP. If they don't, the problem is #4, not #1.

You -should- never be blindsided by #3. Because that's why daily standups exist. That's why tasking out a story. If the person is going down blind alleys, the -process- should be what brings that out, via daily standup or whatever. No amount of colocation will fix that, only explicit communication. You're not going to passively observe someone going down blind alleys.


If you assign a task that is estimated at 2 days of work and it actually is going to take 2 weeks, it should be pretty clear way before that 2 weeks has elapsed. At that point you could get a second opinion from another employee in the same role as the assignee. That kind of difference in LOE vs actual development time should be rare. If it isn't, then your team needs to spend more time researching LOEs up front, getting solid requirements, and assigning tasks to someone that has the proper experience to complete the task on time.

I've worked as an engineer for a company that had ridiculous engineering turnover rates because engineers were treated like children, and management would always give these kind of excuses where one guy was a slacker one time so everyone has to abide by ridiculous policies around required office hours. If you want to retain talent and accurately measure employee performance, you need to put effort into measuring outcome rather than working hours.


If I want to make a 2 hour task take an entire work day, I will do that whether I'm in the office or not. Sometimes devs need to coast a little. The notion that they will just continue to vigorously attach a backlog of monkey work is silly.

It's ok to treat adults with respect and empathy. Knowledge workers need more latitude to manage their pace.


> Also, "work from home" paradigm will only succeed when management paradigm changes from managing time to managing outcome

Problem with this is that it puts the burden of bad estimates on employees. They'll end up working more hours to cover the mistakes in estimates in order to meet the expected outcomes. And that is exactly the same issue that makes freelancing suck, except that freelancers charge more in order to cover for those unexpected situations.


Almost all estimates are based on past experience. So good luck with such estimates when you are entering new domain or even new tech. I honestly believe that there is no need for estimates. Your delivery date is set by the customer or the market or competition. So it's a lot healthier to work backwards from that date and figure out which of the features can be delivered, than to breakdown the work into quite meaningless chunks, figure out the estimates for those chunks and god forbid, build a Gantt chart.


how do you figure out which features can be completed by the delivery date, if not by estimating?


In some cases, you'll have a specific client that wants something specific and you'll just have to make your best guess. But, at a lot of companies, there's no specific client who needs feature x by day y. Estimating in those companies is almost always a waste of time, a nonsense exercise designed to make managers feel like they're in control of the situation.

I come to work at the same time every day for the same amount of time every day and I work on our product that whole time. What's going to get done is going to get done. If a situation requires more, then we'll work late. (And it's almost always obvious when something is important enough to require this.) The process of guessing how long each task is going to take is a complete waste of our time. Of course, we do it. And management thinks it's super important, because they spend their days making spreadsheets and Jira filters based on those guesses. But, the reality is that it simply doesn't matter one way or the other.

We make a bunch of guesses, then we do the work we were going to do anyway and it takes as long as it was always going to take, and then at the end we have another pointless meeting, called the "retrospective," where we talk about how good or bad our guesses were.

It's like a Tennessee Valley Authority make-work program for under-challenged product managers.


Think of a video chat feature for a code pair website. Maybe you can deliver it faster if you build a central server based video chat model using a standard VP8 than if you go WebRTC and a heavily customized codec.


> managing time to managing outcome

A task will take the time that have been reserved for it. That is inefficient. Changing to a result-orientated approach where an employee is giving weekly or daily tasks (if it isn't too complicated - which is really a good question) would also mean that if an employee is finished with his weekly tasks after 3 days, he gets to go home. For many seems counterintuitive (fixed time management is essentially used from the first day of school and is pervasive in society) and it does have it own difficulties changing. For instance, how does co-workers feel when one fast employee always gets to leave early? How easy is it to pick tasks for employees?

Freelance programmers are one group where this result-orientated approach works, not sure it can be extended to other sectors easily.


I don't know about you, but when I finish the stuff I have tasked for the [time period], I immediately start building tools that scratch itches I've had. Some of these have gone on to be rather impactful where I've worked, and I'd never have built them if my time were tightly managed.


I don't think "managing outcomes" means your tasks are strictly limited to what your manager you you could finish and then you'll go home.

In my situation, at least, there's a never ending list of tasks to accomplish.

If you finish the "must do now" tasks, it's expected that you'll let them know and pull something else off the pile; not that you'll do nothing for the rest of the sprint.


A lot of our work is done on a "Time and Materials" basis, so going home means that the company can't charge my rate to the client. Getting done early only helps my list of tasks and gives me more work to do. We deliver early and get on with the next project. There's little incentive to get done early.


I'm continuously surprised how little attention social status gets here. People seem to always assume that all decisions in IT/Tech/SV are entirely or mostly due to economically rational factors.

I think remote work is yet another example where social status play at least some part, if not a significant. Employees, probably especially managers, will of course see their social status diminish if everyone were to be remote. In an extreme case we're going from an in-person small kingdom to a somewhat depersonalized title online.

Even beyond remote work, I think there's quite a few examples in tech, and white-collar work in general, where social status seems to trump economical rationality. But maybe it's hard to admit and thus best left out.


Social status IMHO is the single driver for most of middle-management decisions. Just as when an athlete says "It's not about the money...", it's always about the money.

For managers, social status is supreme. This status is measured in numerous ways; salary, trophy spouse, cars, office location, etc etc. Deny this at your peril.


> Also, "work from home" paradigm will only succeed when management paradigm changes from managing time to managing outcome. And changing that management style is not easy

I've been working 75-80% from home for several years now, and I've had 5 managers during that time. Before that, I mostly worked in an office, but my managers were located in another country. In that whole time, even having some terrible managers at points, all of my managers were more focused on managing outcomes - it always just seems to come naturally.

I'm in the UK, working for a Norwegian company - maybe things are just more progressive here than in the US?


>maybe things are just more progressive here than in the US?

Probably. For many in the US, managers tend to do very little to actually help things, but take all the credit (and rewards) for the positive outcomes. I suspect the US is successful in spite of how we do business, not because of it.


For some managers its not just a trust issue but also about loosing control. So even if they trust their employees to work hard from home they don't feel comfortable with the idea.

I don't know why that is happening, but I have seen it first hand.


“If companies want hackers to be productive, they should look at what they do at home. At home, hackers can arrange things themselves so they can get the most done. And when they work at home, hackers don't work in noisy, open spaces; they work in rooms with doors. They work in cosy, neighborhoody places with people around and somewhere to walk when they need to mull something over, instead of in glass boxes set in acres of parking lots. They have a sofa they can take a nap on when they feel tired, instead of sitting in a coma at their desk, pretending to work. There's no crew of people with vacuum cleaners that roars through every evening during the prime hacking hours. There are no meetings or, God forbid, corporate retreats or team-building exercises. And when you look at what they're doing on that computer, you'll find it reinforces what I said earlier about tools. They may have to use Java and Windows at work, but at home, where they can choose for themselves, you're more likely to find them using Perl and Linux.”

http://paulgraham.com/gh.html


> hackers don't work in noisy, open spaces; they work in rooms with doors.

> They work in cosy, neighborhoody places with people around

Which is it?

That article did not age well.


Oddly my most productive place is the train -- especially the shinkansen (I'm in Japan). My next most productive is MacDonald's. It is super weird. However, I think part of the productivity increase is due to it being an unusual place. I don't live anywhere near MacDonald's and I only work there when I visit my mother in law (who lives in a fairly big city). I couldn't possibly afford to travel on the shinkansen all day (although the prospect of travelling for 8 hours and then spending the night in a new city every day is really compelling -- One of these days I'll go up to Akita or somewhere that will take a whole day :-) ).

I like working from home, but I actually hate the fact that I'm basically forced to work from home every day (because I live in the countryside). Quiet is nice, but quiet all the time is a bit hard to bear. At least for me.


I know a person who can sleep only on a very noisy street with open window (including night clubs with loud music until morning). YMMV


> Which is it?

The statements are not contradicting each other. The first statement is on the in-building level and the second one is on the out-of-building level.


It's both. The whole point of that quote is that the programmer is in control when they work from home. If they want to work in their quiet 2nd bedroom with a door, they can. If they want to be around people, they can go to their neighborhood coffee shop, and work there.

But most importantly, they can leave those two locations when they feel like it.


I guess it's about the freedom to have either one at the time your prefer. Quite environment doesn't exist at open offices. :)


Counterpoint: I work in a very quiet open space office and I like it. If people want to chat they go to the kitchen. Have to say however that other departments are intolerably noisy.


Counter-Counterpoint: In my almost-never quiet open space office, if people want to chat, they do it at their desks. Right next to my desk. I don't like this. However, with enough people complaining, it has slowly been getting better...


> Quiet environment doesn't exist at open offices. :(

fixed that for you


As usual, the workers and managers are playing different games. As a developer, it's easy to assume that productivity is the game. Form a strong team and add business value through execution, right? Wrong.

Management is playing a game of consistency and control. Blanket policies are the name of the game. I don't care if you are 100x more productive at home. I can't have all these other losers asking me why they aren't allowed to work from home. God forbid I consider a stratified policy where some people get privileges that others don't.

This is why small companies move the needle on innovation, because they don't have to cater to lowest common denominator of 5000 people. Large companies are ruled by old men, and are beholden to status quo.


Wow. This really highlights the differences between a small company and a large company. I have a hard time justifying keeping B- employees on my team, I couldn't imagine calling people under me in the org chart "losers" without having an active plan to remove them.


Yeah, it's fairly gross. Insurance and banking are chock full of corporate cockroaches. They can hide for years without adding any real value. But boy, do they want their fair treatment.


Some managers play the game of productivity. But many who do probably find that they work themselves out of a job.


PhD student here so take my opinion with a grain of salt. I personally love the fact that I can choose to work at home or at the office.

I can really concentrate at home (private room where I feel comfy) but on the other hand it is also significantly easier to distract yourself from work. Netflix is just one tab away and there's no one to look over your shoulder and whisper in your ear "Don't watch Netflix when you're working".

It also depends a lot on my mood. When I feel down and worthless because my research feels like its going nowhere I distract myself more easily. If I feel optimistic like I'm a predator hunting some prey because my research is leading somewhere fruitful I can work anywhere with great focus without the need for distraction.


That last sentiment really resonated with me.

I'm currently working somewhere that more or less requires a typical M-F 9-5 schedule. I often don't feel in the "mood" on various weekdays, while some weekends I get that "predator" feeling you described and can code non-stop for hours on end. However, since I need to be in the office M-F I more often feel, and give in to, the pressure to not work weekends lest my family and social life/general well-being suffer.

I wonder how many productive hours I've lost due to this conundrum, and beyond that how many productive hours have been lost in my company or the modern workplace.


> the pressure to not work weekends

It's interesting that you describe feeling pressure to not work; usually I think people talk about feeling the pressure to work.

But I know what you mean. It's hard to know how to balance the two. On the one shoulder is a little voice saying "Don't be a sucker and spend your free time making money for the company! It's just a job! Go have a life". On the other is the pride of craft, and the thrill of having a really good idea that you want to see to the end.

I've been thinking a lot about this, not least because my relationship was a bit strained last year due to both of us probably putting too much emphasis on our work. I don't know if ultimately one side or the other is the right answer. Doing good and creative work is important and fulfilling. But friends and family are equally important and fulfilling. Maybe the only way is to carefully guard against either one predominating.


I think the big dirty secret is that even in the office, there is a need for down time. The problem is that my options are limited, so I sit at my desk and look at the same stupid web sites in a clandestine manner. Or I get up and go for a walk, and try to get some fresh air. But my office building sits on an interstate and there are no walking paths or benches in sight.

At home, my breathers are more energizing, which is the point.

I can't believe how ridiculous it is that managers feign surprise when they are told that a task estimated at 4 hours will take a calendar day to complete. That is the nature of the work.


> I can really concentrate at home (private room where I feel comfy) but on the other hand it is also significantly easier to distract yourself from work. Netflix is just one tab away and there's no one to look over your shoulder and whisper in your ear "Don't watch Netflix when you're working".

I don't understand people with this problem. The problem I have is switching off from work

> If I feel optimistic like I'm a predator hunting some prey

That's like me trying to find a seat and socket in the office.


> Netflix is just one tab away

Tools like https://selfcontrolapp.com/ and https://freedom.to/ are really helpful here.


If watching netflix helps you work go ahead.


I think the point was to watch videos exclusively, not just to run something in the background.


Participants were not even selected random

Enter Bloom, who helped design a test whereby 500 employees were divided into two groups--a control group (who continued working at HQ) and volunteer work-from-homers (who had to have a private room at home, at least six-month tenure with Ctrip, and decent broadband access as conditions).


Came here to find this. Precisely what I thought - I think that some people work better remotely and some work better in an office setting (like myself).

If you ask people to volunteer for remote work then people who are better remote workers are likely to volunteer and more likely to work harder to prove it can work.


Still interesting that people who volunteer for remote work are more productive on average than those who prefer office work.


And cheaper of course - no need for a desk ($2k/yr), means they should be paid more.


Have you ever seen the accounting side of this?

I've previously seen accounting docs at a major defense firm I worked for. They tallied the exact dollar amount spent on each employee's square footage of office space on a monthly basis.

Furthers the argument you make.


Well it's fairly simple - we have a building that only has office people in (not many, but some)

The cost of that building divided by the number of people there.

There's then power, heat, cleaning, etc, but that's all small fry compared with the rent or opportunity cost of an office building.

The technical infrastructure (Cisco switches don't come cheap) is probably offset by the cost of supporting remote infrastructure, vpns etc.

The cost per deal in central London is on the order of $10k-$20k a year. I'll take that in cash thanks.

http://www.cityam.com/233082/london-office-rents-tube-map-he...


The paper mentioned how randomization (a lottery draw on odd/even birth dates) was done among employees who expressed interest. So it is a randomized experiment.


Randomized but drawn entirely from the pool of candidates who expressed preference for working from home.


Yeah you're right. Randomization at least ensures internal validity of the study as applied to people who are interested in WFH. Whether it generalizes to others is an open question.


If control group is selected from people interested in WFH they have incentives to validate the study too.

Or if the opportunity is presented as a privilege they might be less engaged to begin with?


I don't know what it means to "have incentives to validate the study". The study is useful but the participants are biased and that will necessarily influence the results.

> Or if the opportunity is presented as a privilege they might be less engaged to begin with?

Very likely, but even ignoring that, the sampling bias means that the study is confirming that people who want to work from home do better with that arrangement, rather than demonstrating that work from home is in general a better arrangement. If you want to study X vs Not-X and draw your sample population entire from the group that prefers X, you will like find that X is better in whatever ways you choose to measure: happiness, productivity, retention, etc.

Imagine you want to study open office floor plans vs private offices. If you include only open office advocates in your study, you'll probably find very different results than an study that includes only private office advocates.


> If you ask people to volunteer for remote work then people who are better remote workers are likely to volunteer

And people who are better in-office workers volunteer not to go home :) I guess this does mimic real life, no?


According to the paper, the random selection was done on participants who expressed interest.

> Approximately half of the employees (503) were interested, particularly those who had less education and tenure, their own rooms, and faced longer commutes. Of these, 249 were qualified to take part in the experiment by virtue of having at least six months’ tenure, broadband access, and a private room at home in which they could work. After a lottery draw, those em- ployees with even-numbered birthdays were selected to work from home, and those with odd-numbered birthdates stayed in the office to act as the control group.


But all participants wanted to work from home. Good on them for assigning groups randomly but there is still bias in the pool of candidates.


The journalist made a mistake. The paper says:

> After a lottery draw, those employees with even-numbered birthdays were selected to work from home, and those with odd-numbered birthdates stayed in the office to act as the control group.


Don't think it was a mistake as much as a way to increase clicks. Nobody would be interested in the title "Stanford study shows people are more efficient when they work where they prefer"


At my job, we do Monday-Wednesday-Friday in the office and work from home the other two days. It seems to me to be the perfect balance between the coordination and social benefits of being in an office and the freedom and productivity gains of remote work. I'm surprised more companies don't try this kind of schedule.


This is excellent.

Combined with some basic rules like no meetings on Fridays it can quickly become a simple and effective company culture.


I'm starting a new role next week and that's exactly the schedule I negotiated.

The mix, I think, is good on a social level. When I used to work 100% remote, I found myself walking to the grocery store just to see other people.


I’m not sure realism/positivism is the best approach to empirical data on this.

Only one of my workers is more productive from home, in the IT department almost all the workers are more productive from home.

We haven’t done any research on the causality, but the personality’s profiles for or digitization and IT departments are vastly different, so too is the work we donald the way we go about it.

If you looked at us over all, there’s 20 workers in my department and around 60 in the IT department and around 55 of the 80 are more productive from home.

The setup I personally use to gain the most out of my employees is letting them work their own hours the way they want. I don’t check their hours but trust them to put in the hours they need, and they do, in fact the biggest problem is getting them to only work the 37 hours they are hired to put in.

Sometimes they come in late and leave early, sometimes they work from home and I can tell by what they produce they spent half the day doing something else. But then sometimes I’ll get an email at 2am on a Saturday because someone found his/her coding flow at an off hour.

This would be extremely unhealthy if I required it, but my employee satisfaction went up from 4.3 out of 7 under the previous manager to 6.3/7 under me and our performance output nearly doubled.

Working at home is fine, but I don’t think you can truthfully say that it works for everyone. I think it’s important to leave the option open along with other options in a framework that encourages team work and communication, and then trust your employees to do the right thing and only intervene in their schedule and where they want to work, when you begin to spot trouble.


> Sometimes they come in late and leave early, sometimes they work from home and I can tell by what they produce they spent half the day doing something else. But then sometimes I’ll get an email at 2am on a Saturday because someone found his/her coding flow at an off hour.

god bless you for this insight.

As a contractor I've worked at multiple places, and my current gig cares more about 'asses in seats' than output. It's incredibly demotivating, having come from an environment where output was the goal.


As a contractor, you are under no obligation to be an ass in any seat, and if client says otherwise you can point them towards IRS reclassification.


Not really true, it’s easy to make the case that work must be done on site. Company policy prevents source code from leaving, or network resources are not available outside the office or something.


In the US, it's illegal to require an independent contractor to be on site or to even set hours. It's a purely output driven venture. The government sees it as a form of tax evasion, so companies need to be mindful of it.

https://legal.uncc.edu/legal-topics/contracts/contract-check...

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/employers-must-follow-s...

https://www.reuters.com/article/businesspropicks-us-findlaw-...


Betting OP meant "on contract" versus a 1099 contractor.

Maybe I'm wrong. If I'm not, he/she has very little say in their environment. At least that's my experience.


As a contractor you can also be fired. Most states are at will employment. "Bob wasn't performing and we had difficulties reaching him when needed"


No, as an employee you can be fired. As a contractor, well, that all depends on the language of your contract... it can be broken or not-renewed, but it's closer to losing a repeat-customer than being fired.


> the biggest problem is getting them to only work the 37 hours they are hired to put in

When I started working from home 10 years ago, this hit me hard. I used to work about 10 hour days in the office. When I started working from home I was working 13-14 hours most days.

Over time that lead to burn out and that made me even less productive. Some of it was because I felt a little guilty working from home so I put in even more effort to ensure people didn't think I was goofing around. In hindsight, that was unnecessary and a bad way to handle my insecurity... my bosses trusted me fully.

Secondly, when you always work from home... you're always at work! So, it's important to have that distinct work time and personal time otherwise they bleed together too much and you just end up working all the time.


It’s important to have a separate computer, and ideally a completely separate room, where you do ‘work’. When your office hours are over, the work computer goes off and you exit your at-home ‘office’. That’s helped me separate work and keep my sanity.


> When I started working from home I was working 13-14 hours most days.

Was this pure development because that seems so unfeasible (at least for me).


Yes. That was before I had kids. It was not a good life no matter how you look at it.


>Sometimes they come in late and leave early, sometimes they work from home and I can tell by what they produce they spent half the day doing something else.

Honest question.

You say you manage 20 people. How are your able to judge for 20 people at least weekly if the work they did was in line with your expectations?

I feel like I basically have to read and understand every line written by each developer on my team in order to really get a grasp at whether they're productive or not.

Sometimes people produce very little code but maybe that little code solves a very hard to find bug.

It's something I'm really struggling with as a manager:

My boss asks me if the people on my team are worth their money and I am really not sure how to answer this.


I manage a mix of developers, architects, project managers and business processors/developers. I measure their productivity on team results compared to their team predictions as well as my own experience. I do have a long history of doing development projects in the public sector with a primary focus on increasing efficiency and benefit realization, but a lot of it is honestly gut feeling and softer management strategies where I encourage openness.

If people aren’t feeling well, maybe they are going through a divorce, maybe they’ve run out of motivation I want them to share it, so we can help them get to where they want to be or give them time to process.

I guess I could have a single inefficient worker and never spot it through measurements, but I typically notice because it changes the team dynamic and the way people interact.

I understand why this would worry some managers, but I don’t believe you can apply factory line thinking or strategies to brain-workers because it doesn’t suit them, especially not if you want them to cooperate in actual teams and not just be a bunch of grouped individuals competing not to be measured as the bottom 15%.

I am Scandinavian though, and our work-culture is very different from the American.


> I understand why this would worry some managers, but I don’t believe you can apply factory line thinking or strategies to brain-workers because it doesn’t suit them, especially not if you want them to cooperate in actual teams and not just be a bunch of grouped individuals competing not to be measured as the bottom 15%.

I agree and I hope you're not suggesting that I'm doing that.

My problem is that "I trust my gut" doesn't work very well either as a strategy fot me because I just don't have that body of experience to draw from.

So I'm a bit lost.


For development stuff like planning poker works in that it gives you an estimate to go from. Maybe they exceeded their estimate for good reasons, but it’s a good place to start a discussion from. It also makes your programmers better at estimating.

For things like project management you have schedules and plans.

And then there is always customer/client satisfaction.

Aside from that you also have a boss who has expectations for you, are you meeting those? If your boss is not just satisfied but happy with your perfomance output you’re probably doing well.


So, at my company, we have yearly reviews. Instead of looking at how productive people are from week to week, people are allowed to vary in their productivity throughout the year. Theoretically (although this never happens in practice because humans) an employee could deliver enough tangible value in the first half of the year and take the rest of the year off. It is the employees’ responsibility to show how productive they have been. That productivity is preferably measured in relatively tangible terms (backed by data), such as number of customers impacted, cost/revenue changes, or time savings. This requires a lot of trust, and places a lot of importance on the hiring bar, but it pays off.


It depends a lot on the type of work you do and the company setup.

As a developer in regular software companies I like working from home one or two days a week. That gives some nice focus time while still giving enough days for meetings and communication.

Working from home 100% probably only works in remote only companies (like GitLab), otherwise there a huge information gap.

In general I'd love to see a right to home office as a law. That could help to cut a lot of emissions and useless commuting back and forth.


It doesn’t need to be at an entire company level. Where I work, some teams are mostly co-located, others are more distributed, some are pretty much fully remote. And things can shift over time.



This really needs to be higher, and the paper actually read by us, as it addresses the nature of the work, the study size and methodology, as well as sociological issues. All things that these other comments speculate about

Crucially it's not IT, the work is a call centre travel agency (and it's also in China).

"First, the job of a call center employee is particularly suitable for telecommuting. It requires neither teamwork nor in-person face time. Quantity and quality of performance can be easily quantified and evaluated. The link between effort and performance is direct. These conditions apply to a range of service jobs, such as sales, IT support, and secretarial assistance, but they are far from universal. Second, the firm can closely monitor the performance and labor supply of the employees thanks to its extensive centralized database. Team leaders and managers could generate a report from the database of the performance of the team members daily and easily detect problems in individual employees’ performance. Third, the extent of WFH was limited, so that it did not require a significant reorganization at the workplace. Team leaders continued to supervise their teams with a mix of home and office workers without any major reshuffling of team membership."


Geez, a call-centre? I thought "virtual call centers" are common nowadays, i.e. you can be at home doing laundry, when the phone rings, it will say "Call for $COMPANY", you pick up and say "Hello, $COMPANY, Angela speaking, how may I help you?"...


I work from office (40min train) and some days from home. Home working enables me to recharge quickly and stay healthy. Office is good for seamlessly collaborative work. If I had to choose just one mode I would go for "home". It's just saves huge amount of time and energy. Feels much healthier. You can still collaborate fairly well if you have internet.


I have worked exclusively remotely for a couple of years in my career and I'd say the perfect world for me is this hybrid. I can go to the office when I need or want, it's better to collaborate, to do pair or mob programming and to get discussions going on.

Working from home is great when I have a clear view of priorities and the task at hand but I sorely missed the social interactions of an office when I didn't have the option for it.

As most things in life, it's a spectrum, there are some people that probably work much better away from the office, personally I still need sometimes the social aspect of work to be my most productive self.


Did their sample involve men with a 2 year old at home that constantly needs their attention as long as they are at home, and thinks that when their father is sitting on the laptop, he's making pink and blue spheres in paintbrush?

Honestly, I can achieve little at home these days and feel like I'm doing injustice to both, work and the kid.


Honestly one of the biggest motivations I have to work from home which I otherwise dislike is to be there for my children when they're 2.

Especially since where I live (Israel) like most of the world men and women are still usually not equally responsible regarding child care and I personally think remote work could help with that (as well as personal motivation to be there for my kids).


I work from home, and my wife looks after our children during the day.

Working from home has been great for us all - we get to have breakfast and lunch together every day, and I'm around to help out at those times (if you've got young kids, you'll know meal times can be stressful at times!).


I don't think it's possible to work from home and look after a child at the same time - that won't give your work or your child sufficient focus.


Of course it's not, sounds like the OP has a problem with discipline, both his own (actually work rather than play with child), and the child (who hasn't been told to leave alone)

I'm assuming that there is someone else actually looking after the child, you can't leave a 2 year old alone for more than a couple of minutes (and even then you have to keep one eye on them)


I'm amazed to see some people here on HN could be that judgemental. You don't even know me and you somehow think that I wouldn't have asked my kid to let me work alone. My wife is there all day to take care of the child, and even though she does everything she can in her capacity, I don't know how much can you discipline a 2 year old who just can't resist being with her dad. Not sure how understanding/wise toddlers are in your part of the world.


You need a home office with a door that closes (and maybe even locks). You also need to be explicit on your work hours with your family. I have none of the problems you have identified.


Agreed. I've been working from home for 10 years and my wife and I homeschool our 7 kids. When Daddy's in his office he's not to be disturbed. And I absolutely love being able to be around to help and enjoy those special moments.

There are times when I'll message my team "Beautiful day here - I'm taking the kids to the park for a couple of hours." and then shift my work scheduled to after the kids go to bed.

I wouldn't trade this for any office job.


Very similar situation as you. Kid will love to hop on my lap and play with the mouse. He's even participated in a few conference calls! Luckily, his grandparents are nearby so I will drop him off every single day. Huge peace of mind and doesn't get in the way of work. I'm considering day care now as I don't want to continue to burden the grandparents (they say they love it, but they have lives too!) Is day care an option for you?


Yes, it's an option, but my wife is a stay at home mother so she takes care of her mostly. It's just that my kid can't resist knocking my door to see me or talk to me. And I'm surprised to see all others who are chiming 'discipline', she's just 2, so not sure how much can we discipline her right now.


That's sweet. I can see how that can be tough though, how do you say no? It'd be a welcome interruption for me, but I think I'd be able to shut the door/block it out when needed. My wife is home during the summers (works at a school), so I could have her play interference as necessary.


Yes, it's a welcome interruption for me too, and that's all the problem :).


I think 'discipline' is the wrong term. Rather 'training'.


I worked from home large portions of the time from pregnancy into middle school twice and this was never an issue for me. My office was always off limits to the kids (no hope of baby proofing anyway), I had structured work hours where my wife knew to push note cards under the door and I would address them when the time was appropriate. When the kids were unable to be quiet, and I was working on tasks that needed deep focus, the wife took them to the park.


Do you live in a 1-room home?


Nope. Whenever I try to work from home, I work from a separate room, and close it - but then the room does not have an attached bathroom inside, and there are other things (water/food etc.) for which you have to come out - and once she knows I'm at home, she will bang the door every few minutes to come in, to talk or play with me.


That's a teachable moment and one you can fix.


This has to be a different strokes for different folks kind of situation (the modus operandi for parenting) but just in case you truly are in need of the answer: discipline.


Just chiming in to agree with the other posters. This behavior can be corrected.


I think it's important to be cautious here. People have the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one's preexisting beliefs.

So we need to look at the issue in a rather more elaborate way and look for both its upsides and downsides.

For example Ray Dalio may have not succeeded applying this technique to his own company; Bridgewater. Because for him, creating a culture of radical transparency and truthfulness is so important. I wonder how he would be able to create such a culture and preserve it if the employees were not working in a common building.


On the other hand, it is also imaginable that working at home away from everyone else makes communication harder, and more opaque. Or it can make you lonelier. Not every company has policies and culture that makes it conducive to work from home.


> lonelier

How can being at home ever make you lonely when it gives you more time to focus on relationships that actually matter.

Am I alone in thinking that those who expect any kind of meaningful bonding at work are misguided?

Yeah, one can enjoy smalltalk and the like but I'd much rather change that for a chat with a friend or my dad early in the morning.


> How can being at home ever make you lonely when it gives you more time to focus on relationships that actually matter.

Not all of us have kids or live with our family, and as such those 8 hours of office work are the only option for having a human presence around us during the day. Working 8 hours trapped in the loneliness of your house's walls each day, every day can be quite unsettling in the long run.


In my experience even family men get frustrated with working at home. Sure, 1 or 2 days per week is fine, but more than that is generally too much.

Work is probably the most common (or even exclusive for some) way adults meet new people, especially people they wouldn't otherwise meet. It sounds dumb when you don't experience it, but after spending a month or two working at home it start becoming apparent that you are getting too detached from society.


It's likely that you are the only one working from home in your household, so during working hours you are all by yourself.

By "relationships that really matter" I suppose you mean family. Those bonding happens outside of working hours anyways, so whether or not you work from home you can always relish those relationships.


I am a single, mid-20's male and I did work from home for a year for a software company. It was pretty isolating. I tried to work from cafes or co-working spaces daily, but it was not the same.

Now I WFH 2-3 days per week and the rest in the office which is more ideal. My commute is pretty brutal (~1.5hr) so WFH can help me get more done on those days.


Social people enjoy both chatting in the morning and having company during the day.


This, I could not imagine having nobody to talk to or shoot the shit with at lunch or while taking breaks. It's a great way to de-stress for me


> makes communication harder, and more opaque.

This is true is obvious situations, but also false in some interesting ways.

While physical proximity helps for communication within a team for instance, it also makes it harder to know what happens in other teams, as they also communicate offline.

That means for instance that if you want an idea of the status of a team you'd have to physically go there (are they super busy ? is half of the team off for the day? are they under stress or not ?). If the team is in another building there will be enough enough friction that you won't bother except if it's important.

In contrast, having more people remote would allow to peek into their room and see their exchanges.

You'd also catch some issues or insight on stuff that they wouldn't be discussing with other teams otherwise for instance.

Basically, there is a lot of indirect advantages to have people chat by text instead of direct communication. Does it completely offset the other shortcomings ? I don't know, but it's still a pretty nice effect I think.


>makes communication harder

It does, but working in a noisy office makes concentration harder. As a developer, I communicate maybe 5% of the time but code 95% of the time; so what you are saying is true, but it's such a small part of what a developer does.


Library etiquette = staying quiet, don't disturb people

But suddenly if you are programming, reading and writing code, you require less concentration?

TV dramas show people talking over their desks and try to convince people this is what being productive looks like, but that's far from reality.

Joel Spolsky said it in 2000: "Do you programmers have quiet working conditions?" https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2000/08/09/the-joel-test-12-s...


As a manager: some people can work from home, and some just can’t. The problem is, you don’t know which is which when recruiting, and firing someone even remotely in a protected class is a huge hassle.

Even so, if I were to start a company today, I would try very hard to hire remote, for many reasons, the most important of which is this would dramatically expand the talent pool, and (I believe) lead to less stressed employees and better results. People who lack intrinsic motivation typically don’t perform well even in the office.


> As a manager: some people can work from home, and some just can’t. The problem is, you don’t know which is which when recruiting, ...

Interesting! So, has it ever happened to you to hire a remote worker with a proven track record (say, 3-5 years, references checked) and then realize after some time that this person "doesn't fit the bill" for working remotely for you?

(If it has happened, I'd be interested to know details -- was it because of the specifics of your company's procedures, or something else?)


I had employees who would ask to “work from home” and then not actually do much, hoping I won’t notice. But good managers do notice, of course, especially when some of the peers work from home as well and turn in reams of high quality code at a rapid clip.

I never had anyone who had a track record of _remote_ work specifically, though.


Relative to an open office environment, working in a gas station bathroom is more productive.


I knew one of you would be in here.


I had work from home. Never again in my life. Going to the office helped me to split the time in my day and mark when work and when I can rest. Also, when stressed a coworker can help much more easier than from home. My home is my home, my office is my office. Never mix these places.


Worked from office..never again.

Stuck in traffic, too many distractions, co-workers complains and politics. If I don't want to work from home I can go to a cafe or travel while work. Never mix socializing with work.


There are people who prefer the office, there are people who prefer the home. Surely not forcing everyone either way is the right approach?


You're right. At the beginning I'm was very happy, but after two months I wanted to go back to the office. I was lucky because nobody forced me a choice.


I've worked remotely for my last two jobs, and in general, love it. I live in a city I love, and the companies I've worked for are in places I really don't want to be in, physically.

What I don't see, however, is a "third option" that I'd really, really want: the option, say, one day a week, to work in a shared space, with people related to my domain.

My company actually has an office that's in a suburb of where I live now. But it's inhabited by people who work in completely different functions and unrelated products. So going there would mean... I'd just basically sit there and chat with my coworkers online all day. Maybe have awkward superficial conversations in meatspace with a sales member, but I find the chats are just not very interesting, because I end up spending all my time explaining what I do, instead of actually having a conversation.

Again, what I'd love, is a shared space with other software engineers working on different products or tech. Sure, there are always issues of IP and privacy, but, I'd guess that the random watercooler conversation with someone tackling a very different kind of problem would be valuable. The added bonus of networking would be useful too.


Have you tried a coworking space? Look into it! I'm actually trying to come up with a way to regularly do this and expense it, just got to pitch it the right way :)


Yeah, in the end, I guess I'm just trying to find ways to justify a budget for a coworking space. Seems like option that's not frequently discussed when researching remote work.


The arguments against remote work often remind me of the arguments that we used to hear against Amazon vs brick and mortar retailers:

"Amazon is never going to replace them because people like too much the social aspect of going to the store and maybe bump into their neighboors".

Yes, of course, working from home is much more productive. This is true for creative professions especially (like software development or content creation), where the ability to focus and concentrate is essential for getting anything done.

It's very demoralizing and stressful to have your day split up into 1000 random interruptions, very hard to code or write productively in those circumstances.

Most meetings are useless and this is especially true for standups, and deep down we all know it.

In most companies, people get to their desk and just start emailing people 3 meters away, might as well do it from home.

All this wasted time, unnecessary facetime and excessive long hours, polution caused by transports, wasted time from peoples lives comutting, simply in the name of doing things the way that they where always done.

Remote work will be very common in 10 years, the economics are there: people want it as they want a better life, they save money, and the companies save money too.


Problem is, you could have said your last paragraph 10 years ago too. So while I hope you're right, it's far from clear that your arguments will win now. Still lots of companies building massive campuses instead of distributing.


Things that have gotten better in the last 10 years: ubiquity of high speed internet, tools such as voip, screen share, chat, cloud hosting across regions, lower cost of home office hardware like monitors

Things that have gotten worse: traffic and congestion, real estate prices

The needle is moving in the direction of wfh, I definitely believe that those that embrace it will be ahead of the game.


I said exactly the same thing in 2010, and I've worked away from the office most of the time for 6 years (not necessarily working from home - I visit a lot of locations for work, next week it's Windsor, last week was Nairobi, Moscow's coming up early next month)

Because I have to be able to work from anywhere, it makes working from home easy.

I may see the rest of my team on the 22nd, and we have an away day to a supplier on the 30th.


I find it bizarre that most of companies I worked with had recognised working from home as a privilege and it was mostly frowned upon by colleagues who for any reason had to work in the office. It was also not recognised that people working from home got more things done and thought of compensating employee extra for using their own space, internet connection, electricity at home was a fantasy. Some employees that tried to force others to be in the office often had problems at home and office was their escape. If work in the office would have become optional, then that would have been their bad dreams come true - if their spouse for example learned they don't have to come every day. This has a big impact on people who don't have problems, but also don't want to be subjected to open office shenanigans. I think solution would be to pay employees more so that they can either rent their own offices or cover the use of their homes. That way those who don't want to stay at home could have their own private space to work in.


I think that the productivity boost may be somewhat binary -- some people are AMAZINGLY more productive at home vs an office environment. For me, I've personally struggled with the home environment at times.

The shared team construct of an office setting helps me get over my common obstacle of procrastination. When I do work from home, I've used some forms of productivity and accountability tools to get over that barrier.

These have included services like Focusmate [1] which lets you schedule co-working video sessions with a partner. That has been incredibly helpful for me, getting me to move immediately to working on whatever the difficult task at hand is.

[1] https://www.focusmate.com


I would also like to see long term effects on one's career progress when working from home.


Or even the long term productivity boost. How long does it last, and why?


Full remote engineer for 7 years here.

I don't think it ever stops. If I had to venture an answer as to why, I'd say "fewer interruptions" - most interactions are asynchronous (email, IRC in my case but slack just as much). The only times I need to have synchronous discussions are either our "watercoolers" (social face-to-face over google hangouts) or the eventual meeting.

Note: the companies I've worked for in this setup are all committed to 100% remoteness, and understand that keeping meetings to a minimum is a good thing (note, not abolish - but make sure "meetings" are only called for when actually needed).


Distractions are indeed costly, and productivity (as in technical throughput) i can see increase quite a lot. That might end up keeping one happy for quite a long time - i noticed my happiness for a day depends a lot on how much stuff i got done that day.


Very good!

I work remotely a few years (about 8 years) and it definitely changed my life. Less traffic time, more family time and all the advantages we already know about remote work. But there are a few butts in all this.

1- You definitely need a good working environment at home, no use sitting on the kitchen table with your notebook. 2- A certain level of self-discipline is required for those who will work remotely to avoid procrastination. I know a lot of people who can not work at home, it turns into Facebook and Netflix. 3. Remote work is a culture that has to be applied to the whole family. For a long time, and even nowadays, because I was at home, people thought I was at ease and / or their disposition, which caused some friction. The remote worker has to make it clear to family members that at that time it is as if he is not there.

Other than that, I think it's very valid, and I think it's good that everyone could work remotely.


We've got a lot of experience running a remote team, in fact, we wrote a guide/book on it: https://zapier.com/learn/remote-work/

We certainly don't claim to have all the answers, but we've found it makes people pretty happy and we all seem pretty productive. If you want to give it a go, we're hiring! ;-) https://zapier.com/jobs/


I've been working "from home" for two years now and I've learned a couple thing. Living with family is huge because it really relieves the burden of loneliness as well makes you feel safe, which makes it a lot easier to take bigger risks in your work. Living with my girlfriend has been great, but it was terrible when she had a 9 to 5. It really throws you off to live with people on a 9 to 5 schedule imo because it's a totally different mindset and increases perceived social isolation.


I've been working remotely for 10 years now. I've got 7 kids that my wife and I homeschool. I'm never 'lonely' <grin>.


Guess the answer needed a study but to me it was answered when Yahoo killed work from home options back when they tried to give it another go. We all know how well that worked.


I can confirm the part about feeling isolated after working remotely for 7 years. I try to compensate by going to co-working spaces or cafes and working from there.

Another thing that doesn't help my situation is that I'm mostly working alone on the project that I'm working on. I tried to compensate for that by volunteering my programming skills for an NGO.


Solo projects are no fun. When I get bogged down with it, I will usually set up a call for info with coworkers and just talk through it with them. That brainstorm time is re-energizing and helps me get over the humps.


Isolation led to mental health issues for me as well. What you describe sounds like a very good solution to that part of this (Also: Meetups).


Yes, I've also started going to meetups.


I wonder at how this would vary across industries and also company sizes. I'm surprised the study had positive results at a relatively large firm. I think its easy to imagine working-from-home gains in small firms and startups where typically there's a much stronger selection for highly motivated and enthusiastic people. It's not clear the same would result in a huge firm where you have less of that selection.

Also how does one measure productivity? (this is probably a naive question as a relative neophyte) An article I found on this says they were 13.5% "more efficient" but I'd love to get the details on what that means. Its a travel agency so are they just booking, scheduling, organizing, etc? Would love to see a similar study in a SW dev environment, alternately something less tech focused but collaborative...I dunno but something creative most likely.


of course it's a productivity boost, but is it healthy for the worker?


1. Poop any time you want 2. Take a nap vs. pretending to work 3. Less stress - no dealing with assholes in person, now you can simply click away. 4. Spend time with kids 5. No driving needed, avoid polluted highways, more sleep, less stress, less frustration. 6. Eat healthy home made. No need to ingest preservatives every day. 7. Keep sanity by working only when you are most productive vs. pretending to work when you can't get anything done. 8. Less stress from seeing asshole "managers"


Working at home offers very little protection from the pains of working for the wrong company.


I am most productive in early mornings and late evenings. Should I go ahead and tell my boss that I won't be doing anything mid-day and they should be cool with that? Name one place where people will okay this.

I can already hear the argument - "but, working at home doesn't mean you can take the afternoon off!!!" I'm sorry to say this, but anyone who thinks they are 100% productive all throughout the day has not had to try hourly work where you get paid by the hours you work and not by the full day. Hourly freelancers know what I am talking about. I will go on record to say that most if not all people can NEVER function at 100% capacity. To believe that looking busy all day long = working is just wishful thinking, ignorance or foolishness, take your pick.


So your fictional boss trusts you enough to allow work from home but somehow does not trust you when you propose to work early mornings and late evenings?

I can not comment on the hourly freelancer part, but as I understand the US law that keeps getting cited in this thread: "it's illegal to require an independent contractor to be on site or to even set hours".


Yes, but it makes it more tolerable.


No commute, homemade lunch, more family time...?


Home gym, quiet working environment with walls and a door, ability to receive online orders, monitors as large and high res as I wish to pay for, fridge and kitchen to myself stocked as I wish. Friends and family nearby if you want to lunch with them.

You bet it's healthier. Except perhaps slightly increased exposure to the three germ incubating kids under 5 that live here, but there's not much I can do about that now apparently.


Not to mention: able to live in a large, comfortable house in the country side in the middle of nature (if that's your thing).

EDIT: I think kids-flu is hard to avoid at that age, home office or not :P


> slightly increased exposure to the three germ incubating kids under 5 that live here, but there's not much I can do about that

You could homeschool them.


My cycle to work and back is half an hours hard cycling each way. I am in good shape since I started this job. (Previously it was a <10 minute roll down a hill followed by 15 minutes cycle back up).


no doubt there are positive outcomes! I guess what I'm speculating about specifically is a reduction in the number of people one socializes with in a collaborative way and a blurring of the line between work and home that may affect a significant portion of the work-from-home population in a negative way.

for me the best situation has always been being a few minutes walking distance from the office. work stays at work, home stays at home, no commute, no bullshit.


More distraction, less diverse social interaction, more requirement for stringent routines (assuming for a percentage of people)... It would be interesting to weigh up the pros/cons.


Wait, these are cons to working from home? If you get distracted at home, you probably get as equally distracted at work. I have been working from home for close to 5 years now and for me it's been the exact opposite - less distractions, more work done in shorter amount of time it would take me to do it in the office. Less social interaction - sure, but it doesn't have to be that way. Social interaction lost one place can be gained elsewhere. Stringent routines? What's wrong with discipline and having the ability to engage and disengage when you please?


Modern employers provide better lunch. Family time isn't necessarily quality time.


I disagree with your first assertion :) And I have a long daily commute which takes a lot of time and energy that would otherwise be available for my family. I'd argue that the little interactions throughout a workday at home are more valuable than few or no interactions from the office - quality time or not.


there's the life/work balance that is different and can stretch negatively but it has a lot of value


Less likely to catch a cold.


Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: