Then, we had a big shake-up. A bunch of senior people left, and new "leadership" came in to "transform" our workplace. All WFH was cancelled in our division (in spite of still being officially encouraged by corporate policy). The big boss said "a 15 minute fact-to-face is better than a multi-day email chain". My response to that is "What about the other 99.9% of my work time, when I don't need to interact with anyone?" Sigh.
Since I had left the office, they had redone everything to be open plan, low walls, brighter lights, white noise over the speakers, etc. Contractors are packed like sardines, the noise is insane. We're also "Agile" now, so we spend a ton of time in useless meetings.
I'm not very happy anymore.
I asked for a special chair for my back. Started challenging our processes.
Funny thing happened. People started to see me as an important person.. an expert. I started to work from home again slowly.. then never came back. A year later others were encouraged to wfh because of office space concerns.
Get in there and make sure they regret pulling you back. Show your face everywhere. Make your voice heard. Take on all issues and then drop them.
Re: a special chair for your back... "Order high-quality materials which are hard to get. If you don't get them argue about it. Warn that inferior materials will mean inferior work."
Memories work in funny ways. The first thing that jumped to my mind was the Asterix book where the Romans capture the druid (Getafix, in the English versions) and want him to make the magic potion. He insists that he must have fresh strawberries to make it, which are out of season. He doesn't really need them, it turns out, but it delays the whole project as the Romans dispatch someone to points far to the south to try and fetch some and bring them back while they're still fresh.
In Spanish the druid is called Panoramix for whatever reason :)
In the TV show "What we do in the shadows" this is called an energy vampire. (you suck out other energy) Also a great show.
Seems like a quick route to the unemployment line...no thanks!
They must be either good, or you need to run away, fast.
'When possible, refer all matters to committees, for "further study and consideration." Attempt to make the committees as large as possible - never less than five'
I can't believe that people who are so out of touch with reality are still given so much responsibility at companies which they effectively unknowingly misuse to make everyone's life miserable.
There's nothing wrong about a multi day email chain. Sometimes it's the best communication tool, because non-critical/important things can be more efficiently being discussed in an email chain which doesn't disrupt everyone's work day. Secondly it is a nice way of keeping a log of ideas, thoughts and compromises which essentially lead to the final conclusion/solution. This gets documented for free and people can reference back to that email chain in the future which is hugely valuable, especially when the "big boss" conveniently likes to forget his own decisions.
Face to face lacks all of those nice features.
Secondly... there's A LOT more alternatives and other options inbetween F2F and long email chains. People can work 99% remotely and travel into an office one every couple weeks or per month for team bonding time.
Video conferencing is another great way of getting a F2F conversation done without the hassle of everyone being in the same physical place. More often video conferencing calls can even be more productive, because people are more conscious about the time spent in the call and also about the people who frequently contribute and those who just got invited along but never really participate. Makes it easier to trim attendees down to the ones who really need to be there and those who just can be sent a summary afterwards.
I can only hope that your new big boss will quickly get sacked and replaced by some young blood who has heard of instant messaging and video conferencing. Good luck!
Email chains can work for some things, but they mostly suck compared to face to face meetings. You never know if someone else is silent because they agree, they haven't read the whole email, or they haven't taken time to write a response.
Most things able to be solved by email chains are better off in some sort of issue tracking or wiki system.
A good meeting lead can make sure they get everyone's input in a face to face without necessarily putting them on the spot. Sadly those are few and far in between.
I worked with one and they were excellent meetings. They got ideas out, and predicted possible issues better than any other meetings I've been part of.
I was mostly just making the counter point, however to expand on this, at least with the email thread you can take longer to compose your response or go talk to someone about it if you think it's important. It's viewed a bit weirder to follow up a face-to-face meeting with your counter points in an email.
But I actually just think communication is hard for a lot of people. Locking people in a room and expecting them to come up with a decision is a pretty poor way to work. Combining both text and talking, and giving enough time between discussion and decisions is probably a winner.
Seriously. I’ve always been a very good writer but people in STEM often aren’t.
In my experience, nothing except "bugs" and "customer support issues" are better in an issue tracking system. Issue trackers add too much overhead for end users, and the "structured data" features encourage people to adopt processes that require every user to think about what level of the hierarchy some issue belongs at, what tags to assign, who "owns" the issue, etc. For most communication, there ends up being a serious impedance mismatch between the structure of the data in the issue tracker and the natural flow of communication.
What I like about an email is that it allows you time to digest the information and then respond to someone.
I like a combined arms approach. Start an email thread and if there is no timely reply, or consensus is getting hard to reach, walk over to the other person’s desk for a chat or call a meeting.
nothing against yearly meetings, but would hope people have ways of getting together more often if the group decides its necessary.
Maybe it's because the lower info bandwidth but higher emotional bandwidth (?) forces a kind of expedience you can't get otherwise. This seems especially useful in open-ended, "planning" conversations.
Maybe you can hold on to a lot of that with video/audio conferencing, but lag and tech issues are always salient. (But I'm technologically proficient and physically lazy, so I'd still rather deal with those than going somewhere.)
I have seen it in dozens, maybe hundreds, of execs I have interacted with over the years, including people I have worked very closely with.
Sometimes it is varieties of dyslexia, sometimes ADD. Could be any number of other "disorders."
It's not a preference/policy. It's just how they engage. Often it is best to recognize it, and engage with them on the terms that work best for them.
And of course this is not new. Illiterate leaders have been with us since there has been literacy.
If my participation is actually needed in the thread, I will be inevitably @mentioned by someone, and the email stays in my main inbox folder.
Why did we end up coming back on-site? My manager (who works in Finance!?) couldn't explain to the higher-ups what we have been up to (very non-technical person) and they decided we were too disconnected from the rest of the company. Never even had a chance to plead our case or discuss alternative options... not sure how much longer I will be here.
Show that you were completing X number of tasks per month, and after a couple months show them that your productivity is down 10-20% in terms of tasks completed.
Make it extremely easy to present, and if your Manager agrees to work with you on it, make it look like the work to compile this report was all theirs. In other words make them look good and do their job for them.
My FAVORITE EXAMPLE in the road map for Star Citizen. That game's development is at an agonizingly slow pace, but if you were the Manager who put together their roadmap it would be instant promotion. It's goddamn BEAUTIFUL. And their is no way the team could be fucking up if the Roadmap looks this good.
I would really have more respect if they just came out and said, "we're going cheap."
I'd join a company under the condition that they allowed flexible hours and wfh. Then 6 months later managers would change and all of a sudden the way we'd been operating would no longer be acceptable. Always the person leading the charge towards eliminating wfh and remote work is some non-technical idiot who wants to make his mark by demonstrating his "leadership skills" and has no idea what engineers actually do.
So D don't even take promises for flexible hours and remote work seriously anymore unless it's a fully distributed team. I hope the trend of increasingly distributed workforces continues to rise so that developers don't have to deal with this "ass-in-seat" nonsense anymore.
I mean, I've taken remote jobs for which I could well be living 200+ miles away. Saying 'come in to the office' - lol, sure, perhaps once a week or something for a catch up.
If my boss suddenly decided to no longer employ me as a software developer and instead "pivoted" to making hand grenades or something equally random, well, yeah, bye then?
Might be lost in translation - but agile shouldn't require a ton of meeting time and should work fine remotely. And hey, one of the principles is that you give teams the environment they need to get the job done, not the environment management thinks they deserve.
Unless you mean "Agile" as, say, UK government terms it, also known as waterfall. In which case, yes, you can expect to be required to be in meetings all day in a terrible office space. Feel my pain.
The only constant between every Agile organization I’ve been in is the forced meetings. Everything else was up to interpretation.
I mean... sometimes you need to course-correct, no? And cross pollination is useful, isn't it?
"Just Shut Up And Get It Done" workflow means that people might be spinning their wheels building the wrong thing (or duplicate things) in their silos.
Come on, there's got to be a few meetings to synchronize vision, scope, etc. within a team.
One thing mentioned in Sutherland's book on Scrum I rarely see repeated is the idea of also delivering happiness, and the sprint "kaizen" (or "improvement").
One person on our team suggested the daily standups were dumb, and we should try dropping them as next sprint's kaizen idea. Everyone else disagreed, but he felt really strongly against meetings, so we did it, it was only one sprint. And it turns out he was entirely right, at least for our team. We kept it that way until eventually that project was completed and the team was shifted around to other teams. We can't convince any of our new teams to try any of these things, but the same dynamic also isn't there to really encourage that.
Moreover, for certain types of work (such as, for instance, building platforms) a forced "design" and specification phase would probably be a net benefit. As they say, "half a year of coding can save you two weeks of planning". Except when you also release your shit to users you can't fix your old design mistakes because everyone depends on them now.
I've started rotating agile manifesto principles in my email signature as a slightly passive aggressive way of trying to get the message across. It's not working.
One of the crazier things that has happened.
When the XP folk said "we do a standup", the idea was that meetings are useless and awful, you shouldn't have them, but if you're going to have them, then let's "encourage" brevity by having everyone stand.
Add a few decades of agile certified consultants, sc(r)umification and now "agile" means "lots of meetings".
Teams which constantly re-prioritise items which some fake product manager came up with a few months ago is not agile.
I don't disagree with this. However,
>True agile teams never need to do backlog grooming. If a team has a backlog which is so big that it needs grooming, then they are not agile. An agile team build something, releases it to its users, and afterwards react to the immediate feedback/next important request.
This is like saying the first test should always fail because the tested code doesn't exist. While that's a good start, it usually takes a few sprints to release anything useful; especially if you have any hardware involved. Therefore, having a number of stories in a backlog really helps, especially if you do have to re-prioritize because hardware is delayed, etc.
Our team uses backlog grooming to point tasks and assign them "definitions of done". This is done to solve two problems: getting everyone on the same page as far as how the task will be done, which also speeds up diff reviews, and to determine if the task should be split up into smaller tasks.
When would you perform these tasks?
> Teams which constantly re-prioritise items which some fake product manager came up with a few months ago is not agile.
This is not at all what we do with this meeting.
I agree 100% that it's not Agile.
It seems nowadays the "standing" up has become some weird ritual that one must undergo, without questioning, as a sacrifice to the gods of "Agile".
All the practices have a purpose. If they don't fit, don't do them. Figure out what works for you. Adjust, adapt. Think!
No, the planes of productivity will not come to your fauxgile wooden landing strip.
I was talking to the CTO of a large non-tech company and he was so excited how the whole development organization had adopted agile. Later he told me that after the conference he had to fly to a huge meeting where they plan and schedule out the next 6 months to a year of development work.
Good thing we have better tools for videoconferencing than ever. I can have a 15 minute face-to-face with anyone in my company, no matter where in the world they are.
> The most efficient and effective method of
conveying information to and within a development
team is face-to-face conversation.
They fail to realize that when it was written in 2001, communication technologies were far inferior to what we have now. So that face to face should be updated to something like "immediate" or "real time".
You should absolutely be keeping documentation. However, you should not require hundreds of pages of specs and design documents before a single line of code is written.
Instead, documentation should be written at the same time as the code, and should follow what is actually needed for and by developers and the organization rather than being subject to a "gate".
It's about writing the right documentation. Some of that documentation is harder to write: For example, writing a specification that can literally run against the software, like in behavior driven development. (This is one of many potential tools. It may not be applicable for you.) It may look like a wiki. It may look like a set of UML diagrams and a formal spec. It depends on the team and the domain of the problem.
The problem that the manifesto was talking about was one of documentation as a deliverable that was not properly updated and only written to pass a requirement of the process.
% where working code != the code will work if all stars align and no invalid data is input and comprehensive documentation != a single typed character more than what is forced out of your tortured fingers by those who have to support your code at 2AM
I love my job :)
* "Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done." implies that the ops team also needs to be given the environment and support they need from development.
* "Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility." where "technical excellence" implies an understanding of working code that isn't dependent on valid data.
* "At regular intervals, the team reflects on how
to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts
its behavior accordingly." means that if ops can't do its job, then the development team needs to reflect and adjust its behavior accordingly.
So, sadly, they tried. We just went too far in the other direction in some organizations, and that needs to be stopped. If it isn't working, change it - agile shouldn't be in the way.
Anyone who just says "We do X, because that's how Agile recommends it" is not actually doing Agile.
My neighbor owns a consultancy. They’ve started shipping the Meeting Owl camera to their bigger clients to improve their meeting experience. It’s has a 360 degree camera, eight directional mics.
The camera stitches together a full view of the conference room up top, with the bottom 2/3 intelligently shifting the focus across multiple speakers. It will even put a whiteboard into the focus of the frame, if someone starts drawing. I thought it was pretty cool.
Disclaimer: I just thought the product looked cool after my neighbor mentioned it. Nothing more.
It often comes down to the one person who actually knows the specific flavor of videoconferencing walking around and fixing everything for everyone, and everyone remote just mumbling and leaving the meeting.
As I work at an Apple shop, I wish Apple would come up with some decent videoconferencing application that would work with our Apple TVs and MacOS (no, Facetime does not count, neither does Zoom and it's glaring vulnerabilities)
Wireless routers are the biggest culprit. Convince people to use a wired connection and be amazed how much better video conferencing suddenly becomes.
To the conferencing software's credit, it's generally user error. But when you have 10 people in a call, and only 2 of them really understand or even care about their conferencing software setup, things break a lot. I have to explain the concept of changing your recording device more than once a week. Usually to the same people again and again.
The only problem with remote is that incompetence is much more visible.
It's a relatively simple problem to solve. The amount of conference call failures I've experienced working remotely for an all-remote team is substantially lower than when I was working in-office, despite I'm probably on 5x the number of conference calls now.
When I'm hosting a video call I prefer google hangouts. Works OK without installing apps.
It could be they really believe that. But it is often one of these real reasons:
1) They want some people to quit, but they don't want to lay them off explicitly to avoid looking bad. The idea being some employees won't relocate or enjoy driving to the office every day so they'll just leave.
2) They think people are lazy and don't work when they are at home. So they want them in the office to supervise them.
3) It makes them feel important walking around and seeing all their subordinates right there in one place. Sometimes it is just as simple as that.
W-what? I know some people swear that white noise makes them concentrate better, but forcing everyone to listen to white noise? Wtf. I'm not even sure that's legal from an occupational health & safety standpoint.
Instead of investigating the social fixes to the problem (asking people to take phone calls in private rooms, having arguments/meetings in private rooms, enabling sidetone in noise-cancelling headphones so people don't scream into conference calls), the proposed answer is a Simple Little Widget(tm) they can buy that will fix everything: the white noise generator.
Except now you have a layer of white noise on top of all the loud conversations. And white noise doesn't mask human speech at all unless it's louder than the speech itself. So nothing is fixed.
Offices for the important people, high cubicles for semi-important people, shorter cubicles for the peons. White noise generators to reduce the excess conversation interruptions. (It didn't help me, my cube was outside one of the few large, unallocated meeting rooms, which got used by everyone at MSFC. I got to listen to the meetings until I started working from home.) Oh, and the AC goes off at 3:00p.m. to save money. By 5:00, everyone still working is rather sweaty.
Don't make the mistake of thinking management is mistaken and just needs to be educated. The big shake up, changing WFH and open office plans are all giant neon signs that say management is attempting to line their pockets off the misery of their employees.
and of course, word-of-mouth / loose social connections.
Linked-in recruiters. Say what you will about the constant cold emailing, if you set sane guidelines for them (only interested in 99-100% remote positions with comp above $x, using y or z technologies) there is an entire industry of people who will go and do a lot of the work for you. Just make a copy/pasta of your desires and reply to their copy/pasta with it; ask for job descriptions up front along with comp ranges, once they show something you like you can move forward with actually getting on the phone with them.
This shouldn't be your only lead generation tool during a job search, but it is a ruthlessly effective force multiplier.
AngelList has the largest amount of remote jobs right now out there
(Disclaimer: work at AngelList)
I found a less serious crowd compared to indeed or linked-in about hiring now. Previously when working full time I connected with a founder over a two year period and ended up working on a year long project.
What's the best way of connecting through AngelList? Are most people connecting over a period of time or do you find most are using it like a job board where they try to fill a position asap?
Also having a good reputations with other engineers who also work remotely, they'll get you in places you wouldn't have heard of otherwise.
I'm fine with open spaces, but this would be the final straw for me
The offices where it's worked best were not open, though. They had thin doors/walls and a small speaker (also doubled for the fire alarm/etc) in the ceiling of each office. The white noise was unnoticeable until it was off or you really looked for it.
The main advantage was that you no longer heard every conversation on the floor. You'd still overhear bits of things in the adjacent rooms, but that's hard to avoid. When the white noise stopped working (happened every few months), you could hear every voice on the floor and every phone call...
All in all, it sounds like torture, but done well, it's actually a really nice way of damping distracting ambient conversations/etc.
For me, blowing fans are unpleasant. Piped in white noise would be torture. Like gratuitously flashing strobe lights into the eyes of someone with night-blindness.
Maybe this could be used as the basis for ADA complaints against open offices? I can't understand why anyone would think that's a good idea, but then again, I don't understand open offices either.
(I also prefer 2-day email chains to face-to-face conversations, because I can both understand what I read much faster than I can understand listening to speech, and refer back to it later.)
Everybody seemed to like me except the PM who was either a little Kruger Dunning or straight up Peter Principle. He wanted very much for me to know how smart he (thought he) was. Pessimism != smart (something I have to remind myself of regularly). In an interview I'm supposed to be convincing you how smart I am, not comparing dick sizes.
I have no doubts that particular brand of insecurity that looks an awful lot like ageism cost me that job. But dealing with a boss who is uncomfortable around anyone who has more experience than them, especially with that tin roof of an office space would have been torture. Bad fit all around.
But it's rare that I find a place whose business model is terribly engaging. The hazard of experience is that a lot of problems start to look similar, a lot of verticals sound more meaningful than they really are, and you won't devote the rest of your life to making up for how you got the money in the first place. If you even get the money (I've skipped step 1 and gone onto step 2), which statistically you will not.
In an open office, that is. The dentist is less painful.
What if it takes you 4 hours to come up with a good answer?
Contractors in general might be better off working in an office if they aren't in a gig which is well paying. As remote work takes off, a greater percentage of those people may not be getting paid enough to make working from home a viable option, yet they'll still have to fake it. Sure, you might have the problem of your car breaking down on your way to the office because you can't afford maintenance. But at home you can still run into computer issues or a spouse who makes your life difficult. I think we tend to imagine WFH scenarios as being well paid and cushy, but there's that other side as well. WFH could still put up barriers between people who can afford it and those who can't? OTOH, affording working from home is way cheaper than affording to move.
This truism seems to never get old. It's carelessly tossed about but never proven. It's mostly just accepted as-is and hardly ever challenged:
Why is it better?
Do you really have be in the office every day, the whole day, just because a situation where a "15 minute face-to-face" is required might come up?
If so how often does this happen?
Why does this need arise?
If you have to clarify matters in personal conversations all the time doesn't that tell you that your company's processes and communication behaviour are lacking?
Developers are smart. You might con them into a bad idea in that 15 minute meeting, but someday they'll figure out they've been had. Most won't take it lying down.
In my experience, and talking to my peers, engineers don't come straight at you when they feel slighted. Especially if you're a big talker. They may not even gloat when they feel that the odds have been evened up. Not all 'bad luck' in companies is just bad luck. Some of it is work stoppage or malicious compliance by someone with a grievance who doesn't enjoy confrontation.
Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but being remote does not exclude having face to face meetings. There is (finally) easy and reliable technology that facilitates that very thing.
Highly diverse timezones can be a problem, but I've never know anybody working remotely to resist attending a relatively rare video conference call in order to quickly hash something out.
The big boss would not like me. I follow up all conversations with an email. It eliminates the he said/he said conversations. I have an email that I can refer to as needed.
 Boss seems to be appropriate here as opposed to manager or something. Doesn't sound like they manage well.
If you're not tight with your manager (or whoever else is a strong dotted-line with power over your employment situation) then it's time to move (or at least make your discomfort known).
If only we had some sort of technology that allowed us to be able to get ahem FaceTime ahem while remote.
What a wondrous world that could be!
I agree with that. But 15 minutes phone or video call works just as well as a meeting in person.
Speaking from experience, I’ve been working from home for 8 years now.
Haha about sums it up
Its not supposed to be that way though
I'd prefer remote work, too, over sitting in an open floorplan office, but I'd much prefer an actual office to either one. The easy "why" is: despite all the drawbacks, a lot of us will do pretty much anything to get out of an open floorplan.
But, there are big advantages of remote work over private offices:
1. Lower cost to the company. Private offices are expensive to build and maintain.
2. Less commute time to the employee. Private offices still require commuting which impacts the environment and the employees personal time.
3. Job flexibility. Home workers have (or will have) more options for employment.
4. No relocation expenses. Relocating an employee costs a few thousand dollars, hiring them and letting them stay put is cheaper.
5. Maintain ties to community.
6. Distribute income geographically. Offices concentrate incomes into a small geographic area. The effect is compounded by global companies as the worlds revenue streams feed into a single area. Think about how inflation and costs are out of hand in Silicon Valley.
- Accountants/lawyers are also expensive to employ, and remote workers that live in N different states will require accountants/lawyers that are experts in tax/employment laws of said N states.
- Requires much higher quality of team communication and coordination (of requirements, workload, work scope, expectations, etc), which can be hard to achieve.
You're just pushing that cost to the employee. Are you paying them the amount saved, to furnish their own private offices? Or are you just penalizing the worker to save a buck?
> 3. Job flexibility. Home workers have (or will have) more options for employment.
I have not seen this. Most companies still don't offer remote work.
> 4. No relocation expenses. Relocating an employee costs a few thousand dollars, hiring them and letting them stay put is cheaper.
Again, maybe it's different now, but I've worked at several tech companies, and never been offered "relocation expenses".
> 5. Maintain ties to community.
What does this mean? The company? The worker? It seems like the company not employing local workers, and the worker not leaving their house, would be worse for community all around.
No, like an actual community. Like people who live near each other and don't necessarily share a corporate brand but take care of each other and share memories and build traditions. People naturally have communities based on place, so getting hired and forced to move for that job disrupts communities. It's better for the everyone's social and psychological well-being to stay put.
This one does seem to be a relatively common thing, at least in recent job posts I've seen. I can imagine it's not all that common if you take a step back, but quite a few companies have given what I consider very generous monthly stipends for use in personal offices or (co-)workspace expenses.
I agree with the rest.
I mostly work from home and incremental work-related expenses are pretty small. Maybe I buy some computer gear I wouldn't have if I worked at home less. But the expenses are pretty much trivial relative to commuting.
I have gotten to know my neighbours from nearby houses much better after starting to work remotely, because I spend much more time on the nearby park.
The problem people have with remote work is when they don't change their lives to embrace its flexibility. When they try to emulate their office life, just in their home. Not only does that not help them reach their peak efficiency, it completely misses out on the opportunities of remote work.
I guess you're blurring the line between "full-time from a stable remote (home/coworking/etc.) office" and full on "digital nomad".
I work full-time remote and I think there's a huge difference between working from a stable office and wandering around working from a camper van or ducking out for personal travel while on the clock? It's hard to imagine that the latter type of employee would be ready to quickly respond to incidents, to sync with their team on short notice, etc.
Sure, if you take business days off to fly across the country, that could go badly. But I tend to travel on weekends. And my family understands that I might get a message and go hop onto work for an hour or two.
Most of the remote workers I know would turn down a job that expected 8 hour shifts of "butt-in-seat"-style working environments. The whole concept of "on the clock" is alien to how my teams work.
Where I work, we have core hours (12-4 Eastern) that everyone is supposed to be online, but otherwise your schedule is up to you, so it allows considerable flexibility. In practice though, it's even more flexible. Part of remote work is that you're no longer glued to your desk. Your output is what matters, not where your butt is.
So as long as your commute is 10 seconds home office beats real any time. At least until we get the whole teleportation thing nailed down.
I dislike commute in general, but as long as I can read a book or use a laptop over it, it can be even more productive time than spending it at home.
But that same commute in a car sucks ass, so your point stands.
I'm not saying I couldn't do both of those things when working from home, merely that as an added bonus of working out of an office I end up doing those things more often.
This year, however, I've started working from home a lot. I like it much more than any of the above and generally get so much more done. I can relax and breathe in my own home. Make some tea and sit in the garden when I need to think. My focus, productivity and well being have been through the roof. It also helps that connecting from home saves me an hour's commute each way.
Some things can't be done effectively over VPN (mainly working on Xbox or PS4 specific bugs), but for most tasks it's great.
An hour commute is just nuts. According to statistics I found, that's more than double the average. I've worked at places with a 5 minute commute, and they're great. I realize not everyone has infinite flexibility in where they live, but a workplace would have to be pretty amazing in every other way to make me spend an hour every day getting there.
I've worked at places that had a garden or park right outside, and it's terrific to go out there and think. Why don't all knowledge worker offices have this? When I look at what the big tech companies are building, it's certainly not that they can't afford a garden.
We used to know this. Do an image search for "university campus" (those other places where people sit around and think) and you'll see buildings in a sea of grass and trees. Yet do an image search for "company campus" and it's all steel and glass, with greenery only to fill in the small useless spaces between the parking lot and the building.
What good is a workplace for thinkers, if it doesn't include good places for thinking?
You say an hour is terrible and talk about an average. Average for whom and where? I live in Sweden, 30km outside of Gothenburg. It's a nice 15 minute walk through a wooded area and along a stream, then a 25 minute ride with the commuter train. On the train I read the latest articles while listening to music or play on the Switch. Once in Gothenburg it's a ten minute walk from the station to the office.
The office isn't terrible and has a lot of good things going for it, including a beautiful rooftop terrace. It's also quite social, filled with people who very passionately share my interests and with whom I play magic over lunch.
The main issue is that it's very busy and I often need peace and quiet. Even when I had my own office and could think uninterrupted it still wasn't as good as being home. It's the comfort of being home, with all my things and a beautiful house in a peaceful neighbourhood with a large garden at the edge of the forest. It would be unreasonable to expect an office in the busy downtown area to be able to compete with that. Also, when I need to think at home I often do household chores, and then they're done and i can spend my whole evening playing with my kids or spending time with my wife.
My home workspace is an airy attic office with a view of trees and houses. My downtown office is an open-plan wreck with exposed pipes and broken chairs. I am pretty certain which one is more conducive to productivity, let alone which one means a higher quality of life.
I come in to the office every day because my wife stays home with our 3 kids. Work from home when home is four people that want your attention doesn't work out very well. The few times I tried it, everyone just got frustrated that I was present but not available.
Maybe in a couple years when the kids are in school working from home will seem appealing. Honestly a ten minute commute and the entire office to myself twice a week isn't half bad.
The trick to making family understand when you're on the clock is training them to treat the closed office door as though it was locked. If you come out of the room, your attention is free game at that point, but once that door is closed, you're not home. Takes awhile of effective communication and discipline, but once enforced makes remote work incredibly enjoyable, even with family at home.
Having worked from home when only a partner OR 2 kids were present, I can only imagine the additional pressure faced by that situation.
But speaking as a single parent of school-aged kids, summer vacation is... a challenge.
Of course, I've arranged my home space around this. I have an "office" at home, with a door and everything, where I can work. I still do a hefty amount of my working in coffee shops, though, which is somewhat akin to the open office experience. I also preferred remote working back when I first started it, and was just occupying my kitchen table or couch.
If I was in SF and thus able to access our office, I might well go in sometimes. But I suspect we'd top out at once a week, or when I really wanted to catch up on that hot nonprofit gossip. Commutes really are horrible things.
Why would you prefer an office to home? The only situation I could imagine where I'd like to occasionally go into an private office would be if I were single and living alone, so I could see people occasionally.
I've worked in private offices, home office, open floor plans and small shared rooms. The worst are large open floor plans. My favorite have been offices with rooms for 2 - 4 people. That's the sweet spot, I think.
My favorite of all is mixing that with WFH. e.g., Office M/W/F and WFH Tues/Thurs.
That being said, you have to invest in it. Have a separate room with a door. Spend some money on good ergonomics. Have a good, stable internet connection.
I think I was probably very blessed to have such an understanding and flexible company to work with, because thinking back, that was pretty crazy.
I suspect you mean private office at HQ, or alike. To which I'd say... that'd be a hell of a lot better than tradition or open office layout. But you'd still lose most of the remote benefits for what I suspect is little gain.
I rather not use my time to commute, and prefer working at home, some cafe, or even nearby park or restaurant terrace on sunny days.
Haven't seen this as an issue for awhile. I'm old enough that when I started programming I had to wear a tie to work (it wasn't a 'tech' company). Over time and different jobs it changed to golf shirts and khakis to now where if anyone wears more than shorts/jeans and a t-shirt we think they are going on an interview.
There's a large gap between "the small fraction of workers who are remote love working remotely" and "everyone loves working remotely". My wife works remotely, and likes it a lot. I've worked remotely, don't like it at all, and am back in an office.
(For me, I'm just happiest if I'm in the same place as my coworkers. The place I worked at remotely seemed to do everything right, but I still felt disconnected and lonely.)
It also really depends on the job and the company. If remote working means never going off, I think it's a company culture problem rather than a problem of remote working itself. It might be true that since remote work is relatively new the boundaries and the culture might not be fully formed yet for many companies but I think everyone that works remotely should realize this and set expectations and boundaries accordingly.
I also may enjoy going to an office more if I actually had an office with a window where i could feel comfortable instead of staring at a gray cube wall and listening to my loud neighbors the whole day.
Not everyone is cut out for a 9 to 5, not everyone is a morning person, not everyone likes sitting in a chair all day. But they deal with it, because it's their job. The same will be 100% true for WFH, cut out for it or not, they'll adapt and make it work.
There's huge wins for working remotely that everyone has already stated but the isolation factor is real, especially if you're single.
It might seem fun for a while (couple of months) to not wear pants at work and be able to put in 4 super productive hours of work before 10am if you wake up early and those are great things but I have to wonder if working remotely has long term mental health issues.
To get human interaction I force myself to leave the house (I walk a few times a day for exercise), have some friends and hobbies, run errands etc. but it's not the same as being out of the house for 8-10+ hours a day. I'd like to see a test done on single people who have been working remotely for 5+ years and seeing if they have higher levels of general anxiety than anyone working a job where they need to commute full time.
Even if you have a private office where you spend 95% of your time alone for ~8 hours, that's so much different (arguably better) than not leaving your house or apartment except for occasional short duration activities.
I later moved to a city in southern California, which was a more suburban environment. It wasn't walkable, you had to take a car everywhere and I didn't know anyone other than my partner when we first moved here. I now was in a situation where I had to re-establish my social connections without my previous activities (I had stopped being involved a few years before the move) and I also didn't have a work environment where I had also made many social connections over the years.
For the first 5+ years, this was fine, I was able to make a handful of new friends but many of them started moving because of cost of living and starting new families. At this point, I feel like it really started to become determinantal to my mental health. Honestly, it took a long time for me to even notice and admit it was affecting me, but eventually, it was pretty debilitating. This wasn't the only source, but it was a major factor to be sure.
That being said, after being back in the office for 2 years (they have pretty strong no work at home policy) I am ready to go back to remote work. I loved the benefits of remote work but I also now am much more aware of the importance of getting out and finding more social activities to balance this out. Also, I wouldn't go back as a consultant. Having a rotating cast of people you interact with made it much harder to form longer-term social bonds and also there was never dedicated time planned to meet in person at regular intervals, as a lot of remote-first companies do.
I love and really miss the flexibility of my schedule and if I can find an environment that supports stable interactions with people and I continue to re-engage in more social activities outside of work, I would jump back into remote work in a heartbeat.
* Rent a co-working space
* Work out of coffee shops
* Make an effort to have a social life outside of your job.
Second, much harder, is the employer support. Direct manager of remote workers should know how to manage them (which is a rare skill) and be interested in doing it. It means parceling work in a larger, independent chunks, planning integration and communication as needed and spotting and resolving problems early enough with no/rare face to face contact (and face to face does help for this).
Fail either of those and working remotely is inviting failure. My 2c.
You'd be wrong to suspect that. I am very productive at work but I just end up getting distracted at home. It is hard. It's a mentality thing. Additionally, when I'm at the office, I can talk to another person and just ask a question in 5 seconds that would take possibly hours to get a reply otherwise.
I've thought about this a lot, and for me, as a remote working, I believe I have about the same amount of productivity as in the office. But instead of water cooler talk and socialization, I find I'm able to take care of chores and keep my affairs in order so that my free time is more free. It makes me much happier to work remote, simply because when I socialize in the office and commute, I find I have no energy to keep my affairs in order.