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The Remote Manifesto (gitlab.com)
207 points by tosh 11 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 115 comments



> For example, onboarding can be more difficult when you're remote, because it involves more self-learning and you're not physically with your new coworkers and fellow new hires. This can cause the first month in a remote role to feel lonely, especially if you're transitioning from a traditional office setting.

As someone whose primary experience from going between jobs in IT is that almost the singularly most important factor is the social life of interacting with your colleagues, it strikes me as odd that this "Disadvantages" section is so brief. My experience is that a horrible job is bearable when your colleagues are great, and an extremely interesting and challenging job is horrible when your colleagues aren't a match.

You're asking someone to sell a large part of their life to you as labor, and there are no disadvantages beyond "a more independent onboarding"? It's almost insulting that this is even spun as an advantage: "Onboarding may be less stressful socially". First of all, onboarding is probably one of the most important things about a position period, but beyond that it feels like there are so many issues with not being accountable for your employees social well-being that it's hard to know where to start.

I would expect that a significant portion of the money that a corporation saves by having a "remote only" policy would go into alleviating the social issues caused by that same policy. I'm not seeing any of that here, which indicates to me a company that does not prioritize the well-being of their employees.


> but beyond that it feels like there are so many issues with not being accountable for your employees social well-being that it's hard to know where to start.

People looking for remote work - which today does require you to go out of your way to find it - are people who quite voluntarily and explicitly don't want the employer to provide social life for them. If colleagues and office banter is what one seeks, one looks for jobs on-site.

EDIT: Different people have different needs at different stages of their lives. Personally, I went from on-site to remote, but I do envision going back to on-site in a couple of years - mainly because nothing interesting (to me, c.f. my profile) seems to happen on remote jobs, unless you're an entrepreneur making your own interesting thing.


The thing is though with audio or video chat you can visit with your colleagues and office banter all that you (both) want even though you are remote.

Or you can do text chat in Slack about work or whatever interests you. Or interact in a 3D or VR office space. Or play video games if you want. Or meet up at a real life coffee shop.

You just have to get the other people to do it deliberately rather than everyone being automatically forced to do it by constant required physical proximity.


> The thing is though with audio or video chat you can visit with your colleagues and office banter all that you (both) want even though you are remote.

Technically yes, though in practice I haven't heard of it happening. There's something... different about it, more distracting. It takes screen space and the noises carry differently - including various grunts and burps that the person over the next desk in RL would not hear, but your Skype buddy will.

The kind of unstructured, background interaction between co-workers that naturally exists in offices is something very hard to replicate in remote setting.

> Or interact in a 3D or VR office space.

This I want to try so hard. I actually upgraded my PC recently with the intent of getting VR gear in the future, and a big motivation here is to explore the experience of shared VR workspaces.


My primary reason for desiring remote work is less time spent travelling and more interesting companies. The impact on social life on the job is the main downside.


You can work on very interesting things remotely, but it takes time/effort to find them & secure them. If you build a superstar profile, even conventional FAANG companies are willing to give you remote work for longer periods of time.


  I would expect that a significant portion of the money that   a corporation saves by having a "remote only" policy would go   into alleviating the social issues caused by that same   policy. I'm not seeing any of that here, which indicates to   me a company that does not prioritize the well-being of their employees.
With all due respect, I think if you feel that way it's probably because remote work is not something you would enjoy. I've been working remotely on and off for about 16 years, and continuously for the past 10 years, and I can't think of any social issue I've suffered as a consequence of this. On the other hand, I do know it has allowed me to be a lot more present for my children, since most of the times I can arrange the work hours as best fits their life. To me, a remote work is the best way to prioritize my well-being. Again, this is meant with respect, and I understand you may feel the opposite, I just wanted to offer another perspective.


Yeah, I think having responsibility for raising children influences this a lot - at the non-remote-friendly places I've worked, the senior people are disproportionately people who have stay-at-home partners taking care of the kids. If you either don't have a family or have someone else to do the bulk of the work of raising/caring for them, office work is just fine (and it gets you an easy social circle that isn't just your family).


> almost the singularly most important factor is the social life of interacting with your colleagues

I'd like to make a slightly different response than "I don't want my company to be responsible for my social well-being": I think part of what you're saying is less that your (pure) social life is derived from work than that work itself is a social experience and that helps productivity/morale.

I think many of the productivity benefits to being work-social don't apply in a remote environment. For instance, at my current non-remote job, one of my teammates is going through a divorce, and it's helpful for me to know that and how it's going so that I'm aware that he'll be out at random times to meet with lawyers or pick up kids or whatever, and that if I needed something from him and he wanders by my desk with his coat on, I should probably drop what I'm doing and switch context because he's heading out the door and this is my only chance to catch up until tomorrow. But if we were working remote, we'd just have some communication system that's geared toward async work, and if he needs to head out and be online at home, that's fine with me—I expect everyone to be online intermittently, and I only expect real-time communications during scheduled meetings. So, I don't need to know what's going on with his personal life, and honestly he might be happier not telling us.

And the second-order effect is that when my team is communicative about what's going on with their lives and willing to let me be communicative about what's going on with mine, and we have matched expectations about whether you're there (both physically and mentally) between 9 and 5, things work well, and when they're not, things work poorly. But again, those expectations would be fundamentally different in a remote-first culture. So the fact that people would be less communicative about personal stuff would not be as much of a negative impact.


> I'd like to make a slightly different response than "I don't want my company to be responsible for my social well-being": I think part of what you're saying is less that your (pure) social life is derived from work than that work itself is a social experience and that helps productivity/morale.

You are absolutely correct, thank you for helping me phrase it.


I prefer to build my social life around the people I choose, not the people I am stuck with.


You ought to have choices to choose.

The problem with remote working is that you are stuck with Whatever people you already knew. And I say this as someone who loves remoting. But most of our friends in the new city we live in are the wife's colleagues and 1 or 2 ex colleague's of mine.

There was a thread in Reddit some time ago, about how difficult it is to make goodfriends on your 30s. Lack of options surely would exacerbate this.


Yes, you have to make effort to go on meetups and conferences, and meet your friends in other cities on your own. Your colleagues are perhaps a "convenient default option" to socialize, but it doesn't replace proper social life.


Thanks for this feedback on the page, particularly the disadvantages section. I recently made iterations to the page with the goal of making it easier to digest -- it was made up of very long, redundant, numbered lists where people had contributed bits here and there over the years. I made sure not to remove any content from the page, but did combine and trim any content that was clearly repeated multiple times, which is why the disadvantages section is the length that it is. We also added new links like this one (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/transition-remote-work-1-mont...) to try to give a more authentic look at what the first month in a remote role can be like — both positive and negative, and there are more on the resources page.

There was no intention of downplaying the disadvantages, but I’m glad to know that’s how it comes across so that we can make it better. To start, I submitted a MR to reformat that section to mirror the advantages section. There will be more to come, but I also want to call out that the page is editable and we want others to contribute to it and make improvements. It’s meant to be an ever-evolving resource. This thread will also be linked on the “Remote-work resources” page for full visibility.



This is a very bizarre conclusion to me. But I suppose I’m one of those people that goes to work, to work, not for a fraternity experience. I want to (and am) friendly with my co-workers but I don’t really want to be their friends, or have “social experiences” filled after my work day with more work stuff. I’d like the freedom to choose myself and sometimes that includes people I know from work.


This seems like something to fix. Remote work imho is the inevitable future and it is going to get better and better as more people join the asynchronous work model and people build services around remote companies (there are very few things currently , compared to the mountain of tools and services available to the corporate office). I m obviously biased, but like others here i think once you go remote you can't go back. As for the lack of office socializing, we can be creative there, it doesnt have to stop at slack and skype. I think gaming is a good fit to replace the 'experience' of a colocated office. A virtual presence (like a second life but for companies) can not only gamify the experience and make it fun, but it can also act as a map of the company and help orient everyone and give a sense of presence.


The primary objective of the employer is to get the work from employee and the employee's primary objective is to get paid well according to the market and skill. Having nice socially intractable colleges is outside the control of both the employer and employee. In my personal experience people who oppose Remote work are the people in managerial positions who does lack coding skills.


Nothing a company can do more for my well being than letting me work without having to be trapped in a social environment.


> It's almost insulting that this is even spun as an advantage: "Onboarding may be less stressful socially"

Going to a new office and meeting a bunch of new people all at once can be overwhelming for some people. Familiar surroundings can help make the transition to a new job less stressful.


I could never go back to a regular 8 to 4:30, with a timed lunch break and all that inflexibility.

I actually recoil in horror at the thought. Just the time wasted in traffic and associated costs is too much to bear.

However, hardly anyone at "the office" is looking to create a relationship with a 50-something senior dev anyway. Without a doubt we are the invisible workers at tech companies, if we ever even get the job in the first place, so that's actually another plus for remote.

However, I've never been the type to mix work life with a social circle, so I'm probably just buried in cognitive biases here.


While this is all about remote, and talks mostly about remote, I found the initial bullet list very interesting. In my opinion, only the very first bullet point (omitted here) is tied to remote working, and the rest are probably ideas you should take a good look at if you could stand to improve your own processes and workflow (whether or not you are or will become remote).

> Flexible working hours over set working hours.

> Writing down and recording knowledge over verbal explanations.

> Written down processes over on-the-job training.

> Public sharing of information over need-to-know access.

> Opening up every document for editing by anyone over top-down control of documents.

> Asynchronous communication over synchronous communication.

> The results of work over the hours put in.

> Formal communication channels over informal communication channels.


I agree that these bullet points are good ideas that can be implemented by any company that is striving to improve. I think the main reason why these fall under this "Remote Manifesto" is that they become necessary for productivity in a 100% remote organization, whereas a traditional company may not be as motivated to implement these standards.


>> Work clothes not required


> Work clothes discouraged.


I've been working remotely (for companies that are not all 100% remote) for some time now and other than the occasional communication problems, there is simply no downside to it (for me). I am much more focused, I do better work, in a better health mentally and physically (I can exercise since I can organize my time), I don't waste time on commute.

The people I work with are interested in results and that's what I deliver. Other than that, they are not demanding that I organize my time in a certain way, or that I change the hours when I work, or anything like that. Of course, when I need to work together with my colleagues on a certain problem, I make sure that I adapt to their timetable.

They just care about results. And I think that makes the most sense. If one day I run a company, that's what I would care about: can this guy deliver? Yes or no?

Of course, one should be a decent human being - that goes without saying.

The whole "friends from work" thing doesn't make sense to me. I go to work to work, not find friends there. That seems to be unpopular opinion, but seriously, why do we mix those things up?


I’ve also worked most of my life in 100% remote companies. I also find this fixation on work being a social experience to be quite odd. I go to work to work. I have made many friends working remotely but it happened organically. But some of the people commenting here make it sound like a fraternity with forced (or strongly implied that you go) social events tied to your employment.


The whole "golf friends" thing doesn't make sense to me. I go to play golf to play golf, not find friends there. That seems to be unpopular opinion, but seriously, why do we mix those things up?

My point being, why do we do bother to do anything with friends? If you're going to do something, whether it be work or play golf, isn't it better with friends than with strangers?


You choose to play golf, you have to work. It seems imposing to those of us with outside social lives that our co-workers are looking to us to fulfill a non-work role in their lives.

A lot of the conversations in this thread are also very IC centric. If you're a manager, really being open and social with people in your company is more of a liability than something you want to do. Your reports shouldn't be your friends.


Because you choose your friends, the ones you want to spend time with.

Your coworkers are just the ones who you happen to be around a lot, for the most part.


My observation is that there are 2 schools of thought about remote salaries. One side will pay SF-based competitive salaries no matter where you are, are the other side will have a "cost of living" adjusted salary. Gitlab is in the latter group.

I recently thought about it, and was wondering if this could create some bias / unfair preferential treatment when interviewing and competing with other candidates. If candidate A is in SF, and another candidate, B, is in another cheaper area, and Gitlab is trying to decide between the 2 candidates, won't they be leaning toward hiring candidate B because of lower salary? All else being equal. I wonder if there can be some legal things into this.


> If candidate A is in SF, and another candidate, B, is in another cheaper area, and Gitlab is trying to decide between the 2 candidates, won't they be leaning toward hiring candidate B because of lower salary? All else being equal.

All else being equal, why would this be wrong? If I can buy a gallon of milk, a TV, or a car based on price/promotion why wouldn't/shouldn't a company be able to seek the best "deal" for them?


You raise a good point yeah, except I'm wondering if this is different since we are talking about people. I can think of

- salary parity requirements - location based discrimination for a post announced as non-based on location

Again I don't know myself, that's why I'm asking!


That bias already exists, if 2 candidates with the same skill apply and one is asking for a lower pay then they are likely to be picked over the other. Why pay more for the same skill? If you want to have higher chances of being accepted then lowering your costs so you can lower your required pay is a good strategy.

I'm fairly sure the gitlab ceo commented before that they don't want to pay people way way over the local average because it could cause them to have people who don't want to be working there staying because they could never find a new job thats competitive where they are.


> I'm fairly sure the gitlab ceo commented before that they don't want to pay people way way over the local average because it could cause them to have people who don't want to be working there staying because they could never find a new job thats competitive where they are.

This is a cop-out because ultimately whether you are higher paid than the local average is subjective, since a) in most areas, nobody really knows what the local average is, they just have a feeling for it, b) local averages are just that, averages, it's further difficult to judge what salary a specific profile of person (given years of experience, educational background, etc.) can expect in a given local market, c) it is entirely possible to underpay people who wrongfully believe that they are being overpaid, due to information asymmetry and not interviewing with other local companies on a regular basis.

If you're not keeping in touch with your employees, and their happiness, satisfaction, and motivation levels, you cannot possibly know whether your employees perceive themselves as being overpaid or not. And if you're not willing to pay significantly above the local average, you're not going to attract the best talent in a given locality, and since a large part of the motivation for all-remote is to hire the best people you can get around the world, refusing to pay what they could be worth just shoots yourself in the foot as you risk losing them to all-remote companies willing to pay salaries at what is genuinely the market rate.


Why pay more for the same skill?

Because people aren't stupid and when they realise they're being paid less than they're worth they'll leave, and then you'll have to go through the pain of recruiting someone else.


> Because people aren't stupid and when they realise they're being paid less than they're worth they'll leave, and then you'll have to go through the pain of recruiting someone else.

I just took a 20% pay-cut to go work somewhere I thought I might like. There is more to a position than the compensation package.


Sure, in those rare cases where you can find a company that really does interesting work (this is doubly difficult if you are limited to companies that allow remote work). For boring company A vs boring company B you are going to follow the money, I think (unless you actually work for The Boring Company).


There are a non-trivial number of factors that go into picking a job such that I sincerely doubt I would ever find myself going "Well, that one is offering 10K more per year." Off-hand:

- Size of company, size of department, size of team

- Future prospects, both in terms of company's market and my own growth

- Type of work, e.g. maintenance vs. active development, "rescue" mission vs. greenfield vs. boring brownfield.

- Composition of team, leadership, etc.

- Industry, e.g. do I find it reprehensible vs. tolerable vs. interesting

Perhaps I'm the odd man out here, but I've never been in a position where salary was the material factor in picking one job over another.


Disclaimer, I am a GitLab employee. But IMO this isn't really comparing apples-to-apples, since we're specifically talking about remote companies. Sure, someone may have 2 job offers from 2 different remote companies, in which case the company offering SF rates has the advantage. But I'd argue that would be a fairly rare case overall given how globally competitive remote work is.

What's probably more likely is that someone is comparing Local Company A vs Remote Company B (this was my case), with the compensation rates being fairly equal. Then, the decision is "am I willing to be paid less than a coworker in SF for the opportunity to work remotely?" I was fine with that trade-off personally, and I'm sure a lot of people who are attracted to remote work would be as well.


> when they realise they're being paid less than they're worth

Some observation though:

1. If you're still being paid more than local offerings, it's still worth pursuing.

2. More remote-only companies mean more global-scale competition. In the long run, this would mean that people would be paid equally among the various location (so yes, they'll leave).


or low moral because people feel like they have been screwed or it's unfair that some coworkers are paid more.


What is less than worth though? $1 in my city goes a lot lot lot further than $1 in silicon valley. Sure, I could move to SV and get paid 400% more but I would end up with a worse quality of life and be poorer. I want to stay where I am and from what I have seen gitlab pays thats quite good for my city.


But usually salary negotiations happen once an offer is given, so candidate has already been picked. The company really need to explicitly act in bad faith to be choosing the cheaper candidate. Here I'm probably more mentioning a bias more than bad faith (although bad faith could also happen).

I get the point of Gitlab about having zombie employees, but at the same time other remote companies offer SF-based salary. So _as a remote worker_ you could decide to get a SF-based salary instead of locally adjusted one.

I get both sides of the argument and really don't know if a side is more right.


Surely they can fire people at will? I recall something similar though it might not be from GitLab. A long list of justification why is it good for remote employees and the local economy not to be paid on pair. It was smug and insulting.


Hi! Did you mean of https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18443561? Also, there's a blog post about why GitLab pays local rates https://about.gitlab.com/2019/02/28/why-we-pay-local-rates/.


> I'm fairly sure the gitlab ceo commented before that they don't want to pay people way way over the local average because it could cause them to have people who don't want to be working there staying because they could never find a new job thats competitive where they are.

This is a lie. They pay people that live in lower cost-of-living areas less because they have greater leverage over them and can get away with it. End of story.


My remote gig has several people who are pretty much digital nomads -- they move around often, travel even more often, and work from various states. We all get paid on the same scale (north-east coast based) so there's no issue; but, how would Gitlab handle this? Change their salary every time they log work from a new location?

Even with that, it seems arbitrary and unbalanced. One person's cost of living paying for a mortgage in the city, raising children, or having college debt is very different from another's renting a 2 bedroom with their partner in midwestern suburbs. You might say that it's not the company's duty to compensate you for the financial impact of the life choices you make, yet they're doing exactly that by adjusting compensation based on the broad geographical area one chooses to work from.

I guess for our situation, the folks on the east coast have the worse deal as their rents/mortgages are higher than remote workers' in other states, but the pay is also competitive for that area so there are still people choosing to be local. On the other hand, if my pay was lower I'd just find work with an NYC or SF based company that is remote or happens to have an office in my metro as they tend to pay higher salaries.


> My remote gig has several people who are pretty much digital nomads -- they move around often, travel even more often, and work from various states. We all get paid on the same scale (north-east coast based) so there's no issue; but, how would Gitlab handle this? Change their salary every time they log work from a new location?

Here's the documented process for the relocating while working at GitLab: https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/people-operations/global-c...


yes "nomad" vs "remote" (implying remote but based somewhere) is one of the argument for the other school: pay same rate because what if people are nomads.

Gitlab has a process for relocating, so it counter the following argument, but with that kind of location based salary that pushes people to try and game the system. Get hired while saying you live in an expensive area and finally move somewhere cheap.


> but with that kind of location based salary that pushes people to try and game the system. Get hired while saying you live in an expensive area and finally move somewhere cheap.

Doesn't this somewhat conflict with the idea that companies who pay local rates are going to discriminate against people who live in higher cost-of-living areas? Because if that's true, then yeah you could try to game the system by asking for a SF based salary, but the trade-off is that now you're less competitive. You'd have to be pretty confident that your skills were top-tier enough to offset that I guess.


We want to hire the best candidate regardless of cost. We do optimize what potential candidates we approach. We focus more on diverse hires when reaching out ourselves. Diverse both as in geographically and underrepresented minorities.

BTW Our blog post about our school of though https://about.gitlab.com/2019/02/28/why-we-pay-local-rates/


Thanks for addressing the point!

Just to be clear, I'm not accusing Gitlab of doing this, just using Gitlab as an example of what could be happening! :)


You're welcome. And I didn't feel accused. In fact we might document this clearly in our handbook so people don't feel confused.


Could you please list some of the type I companies? I'm at the other end of things and find they are non existent, but maybe I'm searching in the wrong places.

Remote is not a protected group [0].

[0] https://elsajohansson.wordpress.com/2017/09/13/what-does-a-w...


I don't have a list, but Basecamp is the first one that comes to mind and is vocal about it.

More and more startups today advertise that too. Github might?

I think today most SF-based remote companies offer SF-based salary for what I've observed. But I'm not active on the job market so I can't tell for sure!

edit: a quick google search returns a few good links, including some recent HN discussions.


Thanks, but Basecamp is very vocal about not hiring though and I don't see any indication GitHub/MS would be offering anything comparative. I'm fine with links too, if you have any please share.


Isn't that part of the point? Being remote allows Gitlab to hire the less expensive candidate, assuming equal suitability for the job. That's good for the company.

If that's translating into other biases (race/gender/age/etc), then that's a bad thing, and perhaps someone could make a legal case against it. But it seems a little odd to complain that an employer is biased against you because of a choice you make to live in a place with a high cost of living.


According to most employers I've talked to, cheaper salaries is usually not high on the reasons why remote. It's usually more access to more talents, etc.


I don't know about the legal side but if this is legal, it's pretty much a no-brainer for the company.

Assume that candidate A asks $90k and candidate B asks $80k. Let's also assume that each employee brings an equal amount of value to the company, let's say $100k. So, the company makes 100% more profit off of employee B even though they are paying only 11% less.


Here's a good read for everyone wondering why GitLab pays local rates https://about.gitlab.com/2019/02/28/why-we-pay-local-rates/.


The SF candidate forces the employer to reside in SF and pay big prices due to centralization. The employer also must allocate SF space to contain the SF employee.


I feel like that whole Remote issue has become too binary. Either people advocate for complete remote option OR employers mostly don't provide any flexibility when it comes to work location or schedules.

I personally believe that human interaction is a key to our well being since humans are not designed to stay in a remote room/office somewhere by themselves. I am not quite on the 100% remote thing to be honest and of course I hate employers who provide absolutely no flexibility.

Why not offer the best of both ? I don't have a job and run my own company where we are remote (multiple locations) but I try my best to have people in office as well and ensure that we are not going crazy sitting in some room/hotel/beach/co-working space by ourselves without any interaction with other team members in person. If employers start offering flexibility with work schedules, most people won't care if the job is fully remote or not. We just want flexibility. Most employers don't get this. It is always a binary game. Let's go fully remote OR let's not go anywhere.Why is it like that ?


I think the main issue is that if the company is not 100% committed to remote work, the extra effort it takes to have everything documented and written will probably not happen, and the remote part will not be successful. So it seems like it's just easier to make remote successful if everyone is remote. Kind of like quitting smoking cold turkey vs saying "I'll start by smoking less".

I've been remote on a non-remote team, and I definitely felt all the cons of remote much more than on a full remote team, because well, that's when you actually end up isolated. Everybody is having face to face communication, building stronger relationship, meanwhile you kind of get forgotten because you are not present.

If everyone is remote, then everyone is in the same situation and there is a better balance.


+1 to this.

I've been working as a remote contractor while whole team was on site (to make things more difficult, on different continent and different timezone - Europe vs US). I think I'll never do it again (working remotely while the rest of the team is onsite).

Now I work with a fully remote team, and it's great ;)


Glad to hear this! I've been in the same boat and will never again join a local team as a remote member. I love to work from home and be alone, but that was too much, really.

Now, I do really like remote work because of the freedom it offers and always thought if I ever get another job, it should be remote. Glad to hear you say that fully remote works well while you had the same troubles as me on a non-fully remote team!


Exactly, from what I have seen gitlab seems to have this figured out very well. From what I remember they have slack groups and video calls where employees can have casual talk about non work things so they can get to know each other better. I can't see this happening at my company if one person went remote. The most I can see happening is someone doing remote once a week so they catch up on the rest of the days and spend one day focused alone.


That's right. GitLab has Group Conversations [1] every day at the time when West Coast and Europe overlap. The most-wanted hours in the company to organize meetings are dedicated to talking about different areas of the company and learning how they're performing. We also do a Company Call [2] every day, which comprises about five minutes of announcements and 25 minutes of people chatting.

Our Coffee Break Calls encourage team members to spend several hours a week socializing and building a relationship that's separate from work. Since working remotely can also lead to team members never meeting in person, we have a visiting grant [3] to cover transportation costs, and every nine months, the entire team gets together for the GitLab Contribute (ex Summit) [4]. The next Contribute happens in less than a 10 days and I can't wait for it!

[1] - https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/people-operations/group-co...

[2] - https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/communication/#company-cal...

[3] - https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/incentives/#visiting-grant

[4] - https://about.gitlab.com/company/culture/contribute/

I am sorry for the long list of links, just wanted to share as much as possible so people are aware of what the regular week at GitLab looks like :)

(I am working for GitLab btw)


At my previous job, I worked 3 days in, 2 days out, as the only remote person on the floor. I didn't have any project-related problems because of that, and while we already used in-room group chat for some percentage of conversations (both work and non-work), this was never 100%, so I felt incredibly out-of-the-loop on office banter. Not the worst thing in life, but it made me feel a bit like an outsider. Now I'm contracting and collaborating with other remote people, so things are much better.


The company I work for just updated their policy to allow each team to pick their own schedules. I'm currently working 3 days in the office and 2 at home. It's been great so far and allows for the best of both worlds. I get the distracted office banter and face-to-face relationships as well as focused productivity at home. I'm really into it.


On the contrary. I do not want human interaction, and working remote is the only way I can stay sane. If I was not in tech I would be in a vocational job where I work alone.


The article addresses this: "The only way to not have people in a satellite office is not to have a main office." You need to have no main office to have a remote-friendly culture. Otherwise you have second-class citizens who aren't privy to in-person conversations: even if you have good electronic communications system, people are going to just say stuff in person because it's easier. So if someone's looking for someone from a team to do something, they'll be more likely to pick someone in the office. Otherwise you'll have less attention to whether meeting rooms have working AV. Otherwise you'll keep an expectation of people working synchronously during working hours, and the remote benefit of "if you need to take care of your kids/run errands/etc. and work a little later, that's fine" doesn't materialize: it might be acceptable but it's not normal.

I think if I were applying to your company and I knew that you and your buddies were working together in person and that I was living in a different city, I would be so concerned about being out of the loop on conversations and whether that would limit my career growth that I wouldn't want to work there unless I could move to your headquarters.

(I'm not sure I buy the "room by themselves" argument; I'm quite happy working in coffee shops or libraries. And the article points this out, too. Certainly one thing a company could do with its unspent office budget is reimburse the cost of coworking spaces. But also, the traditional office arrangement before the open-floor-plan fad was that you're working by yourself in an office with a closable door or at least in a cubicle with limited sight / sound. And that seemed to work fine.)


My employer explicitly doesn't care where I work from or when or how.

So some days I'm focused at home or at my desk, some days it's (endless) meetings and usually I go in, some days (especially when in a design phase) I walk, think, and work in various parks and cafes... and some days I go to the office and sit in the common areas with a big PLEASE DISTURB sign around my neck. I'd rather not have to give up any of these.


> but I try my best to have people in office as well and ensure that we are not going crazy sitting in some room/hotel/beach/co-working space by ourselves without any interaction with other team members in person.

Funny, because I feel like I'm going crazy sitting in this loud open office (because my employer does not offer flexibility).

I agree and would LOVE to have the flexibility to work remotely sometimes.


The biggest challenge is implementation of Remote at scale. It is fine if you're running a remote company of 10, but with a remote company of 50 it becomes a very detailed and documented process. You're pretty much spending "overhead" on supporting the remote working norms, documentation and principles, and all of that is a similar effort to running an office, but with completely different skills and people required.

So maintaining both an office and proper remote working norms is expensive.

I think this is the biggest challenge, which companies have uncovered after trying to accommodate remote working employees in regular centralised or distributed companies, and seeing whether it is efficient or not.


I don't buy this argument. The things you have to do to support remote workers are the things you should be doing anyway. I am currently in an office gig after 10 years remote and I explicitly tell people to pretend I'm not in the office so they will have to document their conversations with me, and I won't have a conversation where decisions are made outside of the confluence wiki where we keep our project requirements and technical documentation. It works wonders (but I am sometimes viewed as a bit of a monster).


However much I like Gitlab, the “disadvantages” section is a joke. Working alone with only video, chat and email is a huge fundamental change in how work is done and I’m pretty sure we as a society don’t really know yet what impact it has on social development, interpersonal skills, empathy, sympathy etc. they should at least acknowledge that.


I'm a GitLab employee, and before working here always struggled with remote work. There's a tipping point, though, at an all remote company where when everyone is remote, the communication structures of the company adapt to having clear communication through video, chat, and email. We do a lot of video chat here. It's hard to describe what it's like, but it certainly doesn't feel like we're all locked away in little boxes with only awkward or indirect ways to interact with each other.


I'm not discarding your personal experience. It might be great. I just have questions on how easily remote working is glamourized by the Silicon Valley / Tech crowd. If I were really cynical, I'd say it's just a massive cost saving effort by tech corporations of which the long term impact is still very vague. I'm not that cynical, I enjoy working remote too on some days, but you catch my drift.


> what impact it has on social development, interpersonal skills, empathy, sympathy etc.

Why is work supposed to provide for that? It's not kindergarden where, in addition to "activities" (ie. job assignments), you're also told who to play with.


It's not about what it's supposed to do. Any time spent among people and communicating with them affects your interpersonal skills, whether it's work, family outings or kindergarten. And human beings have thousands of years of being predominantly among other human beings.


> And human beings have thousands of years of being predominantly among other human beings.

When working remote there's still interaction with other people (just through different channels). And then there's that time outside work, which - under normal circumstances - is the majority of the time people are awake.

The alternative to "butt in seat in the office" (which can be pretty non-communicative, for example when in an open plan office where you mustn't disturb anybody) isn't "never interact with anybody ever".


So go work from a coffee shop or take a walk. I'm not sure if anyone has told you, but it's not been normal for humans to go to an office five days a week for 8 hours a day for most of human history.


> Working alone with only video, chat and email is a huge fundamental change in how work is done

Is it? Since the dawn of time, plenty of jobs were done solo for most of the time.


There are plenty of existing jobs where people have to spend many hours by themselves. Think about truck drivers, they may spend weeks alone with nothing more than a few minutes chat to a fellow trucker they see at a truck stop.


That‘s not true. Truckers have radios (at least in Europe) and they they are interacting with other truckers in radius of ~10 miles. I had radio in my car and and it was even entertaining sometimes. I could ask advice, ask for fuel when I was empty, ask for police checkpoints. On private channel one can have virtually private conversation.


We should invent something like that, 'radio', thing for computers


Those solo jobs are a small minority of the workforce.


Trucking is the single largest job category in the US


truckers are outside, travelling, visiting places, constantly exposed to different circumstances and people.


I'm a GitLab employee, and I appreciate your concern for the disadvantages section. I think that we could enhance that section a little more to include other common concerns such as yours.

While I'm of course biased towards remote work, I can see the validity of people concerned with feeling isolated by working remotely. GitLab provides an option to pay for a coworking space for people who don't like working at home or by themselves. This is one way that you can mitigate the isolation issue while still maintaining the benefits of remote work.


Thanks for this feedback on the page, particularly the disadvantages section. I recently made iterations to the page with the goal of making it easier to digest -- it was made up of very long, redundant, numbered lists where people had contributed bits here and there over the years. I made sure not to remove any content from the page, but did combine and trim any content that was clearly repeated multiple times, which is why the disadvantages section is the length that it is. We also added new links like this one (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/transition-remote-work-1-mont...) to try to give a more authentic look at what the first month in a remote role can be like — both positive and negative, and there are more on the resources page.

There was no intention of downplaying the disadvantages, but I’m glad to know that’s how it comes across so that we can make it better. To start, I submitted a MR to reformat that section to mirror the advantages section. There will be more to come, but I also want to call out that the page is editable and we want others to contribute to it and make improvements. It’s meant to be an ever-evolving resource. This thread will also be linked on the “Remote-work resources” page for full visibility.


Honestly, people adapt, and they are still social creatures like they ve always been. On the contrary, i find the fact that most people's social life ends after they leave the office to be deeply troubling.


I wonder how some of the all remote companies handle the legal side of things when it comes to paying salaries and contracts.

I've been working as a (partly remote depending on customer) freelancer/contractor for 5 years with my own legal entity setup in Europe to do invoicing and handle my finances. I'm not willing to give that up yet but the thought of working for an all remote company for a longer period than the typical 3 to 6 month contract sounds interesting.

Are these full remote companies flexible in regards to this? Are they open to me keeping my own business entity and invoicing them while still being regarded as a full member of the team?

edit: For example on the Gitlab jobs page and salary calculator they clearly state that for my home country they expect me to be an employee of their Gitlab BV entity which is a no-go for me.


One option is to outsource this to another company, e.g. a US-based company can set up an arrangement with a European company to be the official employer and to handle all the legal stuff, and then to fully dedicate that employee to the actual employer.


Depending on which country you and your employing entity are in, this could end up netting you all of the disadvantages of self-employment with none of the benefits.

E.g. in the UK, HMRC will determine your tax status based on, amongst other things, how much control your 'not employer' has over the work you do. So if GitLab were to treat you as just another member of the team, you'd run a big risk of ending up treated as an employee for tax purposes, but without any of the rights accorded to employees.

TLDR - talk to a tax professional who understands the regulations in both your and your "not employer's" jurisdictions.


I agree with this comment.

I'm wholly in the US, so maybe my experience is unique to me. Bit I was freelancing for quite a while and then one of my clients ended up buying all my time.

IMO, there weren't any benefits from remaining a contractor once I was working full time. We ended up cutting my pay a bit to account for a shift in taxes and that worked out better for both me and my employer.


If you were individual 1099, then no there is no advantage really. And you have to pay self-employment tax. If you were B2B 1099, there are ENORMOUS advantages. My average effective federal tax rate on ~$250k/yr is right around 1.8-2.2% because I'm 1099 B2B and have a great tax attorney and accountant. Obviously on paper I make like $30k a year or something stupid like that, I don't know. My attorney adjust things monthly or quarterly as necessary, starts new LLCs or whatever is required.


Wondering the same things !

Also, it's not really "employed" if you are still a freelancer / business contractor. You can leave when you feel like you want to leave, so the employer has the risk of missing people to finish each projects...


I get that, that is why I ask. I'm interested in becoming a full member of the team and fully integrate but I would like to keep my company setup just for the legal side of things & payment. I don't mind having a longer term contract with a well defined termination period etc.

Another possibility would be to become an employee on payroll and keep my company active on the side but that makes things more complicated regarding taxes and I would lose the benefit of receiving all payments through my company and keep most of the money in there to reinvest and build its assets.


I work 100% remotely, or has been working like that for the last couple of years until recently where I work 80% remotely.

One thing I've noticed is that going into the office that one day is incredible enjoyable. I think I've been a bit too isolated since I don't have that many friends either and work on side projects as well.

But, working 1-2 days in the office per week feels like the optimal experience. You get the social part with meetings and you get the work alone part where you may concentrate on tasks.

I really enjoy working remotely though, it has reduced my stress levels, increased my spare time and made it available to live in a cheaper place far away from the city centre.

Things like this I enjoy, even if you're not an remote advocate the option should exist for people who want to work remotely like me. Unfortunately, too few companies allows remote work to the degree I've been lucky to get. Maybe it's time to move some repos to Gitlab!


I've been working remotely on and off for the past 6 years, and I agree that having a peer group where you can casually chat about "tech stuff" is one thing you definitely miss out on by isolating yourself at home.

A couple of my remote-peers work from co-working spaces which seems like a good way to avoid home distractions (my first-born is on the way shortly) and still have this connection to like minded people, so I plan to start doing that too.


These are personal anecdotes, but here at GitLab we recently started recording our personal stories about how remote working changed our lives. If you're interested in remote work you may also find this interesting: https://about.gitlab.com/company/culture/all-remote/stories/


Working remotely has been the greatest thing for me. I'm more productive, less stressed, and generally happier. I can't see going back to an office even for way more money. It's just not worth it. I agree with all these points although I don't think video is necessary or should be used unless there's something to see other than people's faces.

I do wonder how they manage payroll and taxes in fifty countries though. Also how they set salaries. Is there a link to that I may have missed?


>Also how they set salaries.

At the bottom of each job type on the handbook they have a formula and a calculator so you can see how much you would be paid and how they calculate it. Its a combination of the job title, your skill level, and your location.


> Remote is not a challenge to overcome. It's a clear business advantage.

It's an advantage if and only if you overcome the inherent challenges, and despite this tagline they list disadvantages in the article. However, you structure the whole organization and its operations around dispersed, remote workers (as they seem to), especially emphasizing asynchronous communication, then I can see how this can avoid the traditional pitfalls of remote workers in a synchronized, co-located environment.

Speaking of async communication, it is ironic that many traditional organizations with standard work hours and co-located offices also rely so much on email, an asynchronous communication method that is incredibly painful in an office environment, yet it seems like such a clear benefit in a remote setting. That is, it's like the two long-existing constructs - email and the combination of colocating and synchronizing work hours - are in direct conflict.


"Opening up every document for editing by anyone over top-down control of documents."

Does anyone want to comment on this? I don't feel qualified to judge, but isn't this throwing the baby out with the water? Can't privileged access be managed remotely by some network authority, i.e. access granted, revoked and logged?


Depends on your area of business certainly, but for us (all remote social) it’s a huge time saver. There’s version control and a culture of editing in “suggestion mode” to save us if something goes wrong. But having to wait x hours for someone to get into the office because they’re in another time zone so you can edit what you need can be a real time waster.

At the least you often lose the train of thought or edit is never made, which can be even worse than losing the time.

HR and other sensitive docs excluded of course.


Interesting, I know the variation of this from https://www.remoteonly.org and didn't realise it was associated with gitlab


I started working for GitLab back in October 2018, and was inspired to start looking into remote work because of https://www.remoteonly.org. It wasn't until your comment that I learned that GitLab maintains that project [1]. Thanks for pointing that out!

[1] https://gitlab.com/gitlab-com/www-remoteonly-org


The advantages are discussed more, while the disadvantages are just a paragraph. I think with this article it's a case of 'reason is slave to the passions'.

I genuinely want to know the arguments against.


The manifesto mentions:

> Evolution of speech-to-text conversion software - more accurate and faster than typing

Last time I tried I wasn't convinced. Anyone here is really using that to program, write emails or write Markdown?


I only use it for quick slack or instant messages with my team when I am otherwise occupied. Maybe I'll make a run at it later today when I have to do some documentation.

My experience has been that they're not great and every sentence requires manual editing. Though, on Android, at least, it has improved noticeably over the last couple of updates.


This matches my own experience. Never thought of using speech-to-text for chat. Will try it :-)


> Despite all of its advantages, all-remote work isn't for everyone.

Yup. I remember the horrors of applying some "remote-friendly" positions. Such organizations are somehow even lacking basic organization skills to arrange an interview.




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