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Young People Are Going to Save Us All from Office Life (nytimes.com)
88 points by dpflan 28 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 121 comments

I work as a consultant, with sone stints in industry.

My 2 cents is: - trust me to manage my time as needed. If i dont have any urgent priorities, i will drop down a gear. If i have priority tasks, they will get done on time and to spec, guaranteed. - give me flexibility, it is worth more than money. Letting me work a day or two remotely, start or finish late can save me hours of commute time, flight costs, etc. It shows me you value me as a person, and not just me sitting in a desk. - understand that i consider my work holistically: for example, letting me bail early on fridays gives me a level of joy that helps me advocate for you as an employer and makes me forgive a lot of your shortcomings.

All in all, us young people are not doing anything revolutionary but sometimes se arr more willing to cut through the bs and take what we need in order to be able to mentally and emotionally give what is demanded.

> trust me to manage my time as needed

the 99% of jobs need the time to manage you, not the contrary.

they are not task based, they are presence or hourly based.

If you go to the bank, they need to be there.

If you go to the hospital, they have to be there.

If you go to a bar, they'll be there.

From x to y.

It's not about time management, it's about presence management.

> It shows me you value me as a person, and not just me sitting in a desk

Most of the time sitting at the desk is THE job.

The guys that clean my office before I arrive would love to be sitting at the desk.

> Letting me work a day or two remotely, start or finish late can save me hours of commute time, flight costs, etc

That sounds good, but apart from edge cases, living close to where you work is almost always a smarter move than commuting.

And most of the things you're talking about are easily gained with time.

To trust people you have to know people.

At my current job I had to punch in and out 4 times a day, 9-13, 14-18.

After 9 months, more or less it, became 2 times a day, when you arrive in the morning and when you come back from lunch.

Now I get in at 11 and go out at 17, with at least an hour of lunch break.

Nobody says anything anymore.

In the 90s, it was cubicles. The Dilbert and Office Space sensory deprivation chamber.

Nowadays, it's the noisy and distracting open office environments where you're scrunched next to people who you probably aren't even working with.

In the future, it's leaning towards remote work. Which sounds great on paper. But there's another whole level of tyranny with that. Only getting 15 minutes per day face to face with coworkers over video chat, the rest done asynchronously over Slack is very impersonal. Though maybe I'd trade that for being able to live in an actual house with a pool instead of squished into a tiny apartment.

I have been blessed to have an office to myself. The day they move me to an open office (read labor pit) is the day I only come in half the week and take the rest of the week remote. Face to face has its uses, but I can't get meaningful thoughtful work done if I don't have my own space. Judging by my observations passing by open offices, I'd wager most people have the same take.

I'm not gen-z but grew up with IRC and instant messaging as a normal communication modes. Asynchronous communication is not a problem at all. Playing MUDs and MMOs and spending a ridiculous amount of time online has taught me that personal connections do not require face to face interactions. Asynchronous communication allows me to choose if/when to respond. I find that much more preferable to office coworkers just popping in to say "hi" or needing to wear blinders and headphones just to get some semblance of privacy.

The biggest benefit of remote work is being able to live wherever the hell you want and do work that you enjoy.

Being able to work async and ignore everyone is a huge reason not to be remote.

It drags out simple interactions over time, very unfocused. In a company where everyone ignores everyone else leads to pits of ticket queues that never get resolved. Each team that does this multiplies the effect.

There’s plenty of benefit from being in the same place. Conflict resolution for one becomes far more difficult over the wire.

Mid 20's, first job was a small office, it was ok. Second job was in a cube farm, hated it. Current job is working remote, see my regional team once/twice a month. Been in this position for 1.5 years now and I'm ready for office life back, maybe that's just because i miss the social aspect, but i also get frustrated sometimes with not being able to get facetime with people. Would be nice to just grab lunch or hang out with people in different departments and see what they're working on.

Why can't you just message the people in other departments and ask them to Facetime you?

exchanging ideas in person works better.

after working home for 3 years, I missed being out of my house, even though I am not the most social person you'll find at my office.

I think the balance is some remote, when you fill it, and the rest in a real office, with real people.

secondly, go live close to the job, the closest possible.

it takes me 15 minutes now from door to door and it made my life much better.

I found semi-remote to be the best of both worlds. My office is a 35-minute commute (each way), so I work from home Monday through Thursday. I go into the office Friday mornings and leave after sharing lunch with coworkers to beat rush hour traffic. I have a membership to a coworking space if I need to get out of the house (which my company pays half of).

If you want to spend more time on video or audio chat then you can. There is literally no reason it should be limited to 15 minutes.

I'm 27, never had a "proper" 9-5 type of job, and I've always wondered how do people with these types of jobs do things like taking their dog to the vet. In my country if you ask for time off to take your dog to the vet you'll definitely get weird looks. So how do they do it? Just lie and say you need to go to the bank? Just let their dog in pain?

It varies dramatically. Some people have to endure scorn from their managers and lose pay in order to handle important tasks in their lives. They may end up losing their jobs. Other people come and go as they please, just leaving a polite note for their coworkers about when they'll be back (or not). It's all dependent on the employer and manager and, in some cases, state laws.

What I find confusing is how you imply that "going to the bank" is an OK reason to leave work, but taking a sick pet to the vet is weird? What country do you work in?

How could people working 9-5 raise a family, including taking the kids at school and to the doctor?

It's a well preserved secret, nobody knows how they did it.

It is clearly magic or sth like that

Spoiler: they do like everybody else's does, they ask for some free time for family.

You have the right to it, even in shitty US

Your bank has the power to stay in business with only 10am-3pm hours, your dog has the "power" to bear the pain until you get up the nerve to lie and say you're going to the bank.

I've heard that in the advanced nation of Germany lots of useful businesses aren't open when ordinary workers have time to go visit them, such as banks and electronics stores and grocery stores. If you work an extra hour for some reason you can't pick up food except at a stall in the train station?

As a "late" chronotype living in Germany (Bavaria specifically - different states have different laws) I can confirm this. Also, the government makes lots of other decisions on the putative behalf of the individual. There's more involuntary tradeoffs (imho) that don't necessarily work out in your favor. The argument is that it's better for society, but implicitly that means everyone has to subscribe to the same narrowly defined concept of society.

Depends... at my company (financial/legal services, multinational, quite a corporate environment but... in the EU) nobody would ever make an issue out of taking your dog to the vet. Dentist? No problem. Any medical thing, anything with family... hell, even getting a package delivered early, not a problem. Think once or twice a month, missing 2 hours in the morning or late afternoon.

Unless it's structural. Take your kids to school every morning and come in late? That has to be talked through properly. And if you go home early every week because your fashion items are going to be delivered, that's not okay.

Other people take vacation hours for this kind of stuff. (we get 25 days a year). Others will work an hour unpaid overtime here and there, and compensate by going home or getting in early at other times.

In general it's just not an issue really, you just notify upfront and not be there, and make sure not to do it more than twice or so a month.

It really helps that working from home 1 day a week is becoming more of a thing though. You're more flexible that way.

I just send an email to my team lead saying "I'll be in late/leaving early today because X".

(In my experience) in SF for programmers as long as you're there for standard / scheduled meetings you can come and go as you need. But that won't be as true for other locations or jobs that are less in demand

I’ve never had to take time off for the Vet or doctors appointments. Including a lot of doctors appointments when my wife was pregnant.

I ask my boss and he says ok I hope your dog is feeling better. 8-5 Megacorp job.

What have you been doing if you haven't had a 9-5 job?

Since getting my degree and entering the actual workforce (rather than summer employment and the like) I have always had a flexible schedule. I pretty much won't work for a company that would withhold that from me.

What I like about young people is their unapologetic way of asking for things whether they deserve it or not.

Sometimes, it's cute. "I'd like a day off" out of no-where. Sometimes, it's ridiculous. "I'd like a day off to go day drinking with my buddies" Sometimes, it makes me re-think what and why we do things. This is how we move forward. Case in point, "I'd like a day off. I need a mental health day because someone tried to break into my house last night and I'm freaked out"

Mental health days a total luxury, but if you think about it, there are days we need off because we are going to unproductive regardless. It can be abused, but it can also be useful. Context and Manager discretion matters.

Young People aren't going to save us from the office, but they are going to challenge our assumptions and it's our duty to listen and change the office as needed.

As a former entitled young person (still entitled, but not so young anymore), I've made it a point never to ask for a day off. I will tell employers when I am taking a day off.

> asking for things whether they deserve it or not.

> Sometimes, it's cute. "I'd like a day off" out of no-where.

This is a troubling attitude, and I hope it's not what you meant. Does their compensation agreement include PTO? Then they "deserve" their day off. There is no other requirement. There is no explanation or justification needed. As an employer, you may request that I reschedule my PTO if there is an urgent business need, which I may or may not do if possible. But I've never understood the attitude that someone needs to come up with a reason to use the compensation they've rightfully earned. Would you hold their paycheck over their head and demand a reason why they should be allowed to spend it?

Sometimes company policy can get in the way of mental health days if you call them that. They will usually want to think of it as a sick day instead of PTO. While I know not every company does this, every company I've worked for requires a certain amount of notice for PTO which depends primarily on how much PTO you plan to take off. However when I use sick days I tell them I'm using a sick day and don't ask.

I consider someone lucky and fortunate if they have sick days in addition to PTO days, if either at all. Yes, American.

How does a “demand the day off” system work in a 24/7 work setting?

Hospitals are closed on Christmas? Hotels don’t clean or rent rooms on Jan 1? Planes don’t fly on Thanksgiving?

You coordinate with your coworkers and figure out who is willing to work when. The employer is responsible for providing sufficient compensation to make someone willing to work on those days. Not everyone celebrates Christmas or Thanksgiving or any particular holiday so having that day off may be less valuable to some than to others.

Who is doing the coordinating? What if too many people want off on a certain day?

My point is there doesn't exist a 24/7 business I know of that would be able to survive if they simply let employees "demand" days off. You can't rely on a bunch of coworkers to sort out who is working when. You request days off, a boss checks the schedule to see what can be moved around and whatnot, and then approves it.

I have yet to see a 24/7 business that works any other way.

I'm middle aged, a Gen X'er. I've always taken time off, on my schedule. "I'm taking this Friday off." No reason the Boss needs to be aware of, I won't be in the office. I'm sensitive to the calendar and deadlines.

"Sick. Not coming in today." This one should be obvious - is there some overriding concern that Boss wants to risk contaminating the entire office? I hope not...

This whole "asking for permission" thing bugs me. Sure, there might need to be a conversation if something in my personal life comes up and me taking tomorrow off to deal with it would impact an important meeting or a deadline. But anything in advance, and especially well in advance, is me courteously informing Boss that I won't be available to the company on that day/week/whatever.

Another GenXer here. My first meeting with my team's manager at my first job out of college, he was very clear: you don't need to ask for time off, you tell us when you'll be out, and you don't need to tell anyone or take any PTO if it's going to be for less than two hours. More people need to hear this, it seems.

I'm a middle aged manager with several brand-new grad hires. I try to be open, accommodating and flexible; it does not work. They are one of:

1. confused and frustrated without a (rather strict) set of baseline rules to guide them,

2. push to the boundaries of my flexibility to see how much they can get away with (not unlike my pre-teen kids)

3. Totally oblivious/naive about what is acceptable in the broader corporate-esque working world - Example: Will the company buy me a laptop [to attend a one day bootcamp]?

I guess it makes me a crusty old fart, but I have no interest in advancing this style of work management and will be long gone before I'm forced to accept this new world

I don't really want to have a debate about this on HN, but I do have some points of curiosity:

What kinds of work are you hiring for? Are these young/newly minted CS grads looking for SW jobs?

If they're new grads, they're gonna push boundaries - academia is so different from the workforce. The naivety I'm sure is just inexperience. Acting like a mentor instead of a Corporate Suit can rectify their expectations.

P.S. On equipment purchases: my last three companies provided laptops as daily workstations (is this uncommon?) - they went home every night (yay business continuity policy), came to the office every morning. And traveled to conferences and bootcamps as needed. If your company is providing desktops, I think it comes down to whether this one-day bootcamp business is a personal enrichment exercise (at the employee's expense) or whether the company is compelling attendance. Obviously in the first case, the employee should be using their own hardware - in this case, maybe it's a bit entitled to expect a hardware purchase for the event.

I get that some types of teams have to coordinate coverage. But, yeah, I’ve always tried to be aware of what looked to be better and worse times over the next 6-12 months and just made time off plans accordingly. This is over the course of about 40 years.

This comment took me by surprise. Taking a day off "out of nowhere" - cute? Using your vacation day to drink with your friends (or insert literally anything) - ridiculous? I don't think you're trying to disparage the concept of days off being used for casual things, but your tone makes it seem like you're so used to an environment that does that you take such a tyrannical sentiment for granted.

jamesb93 28 days ago [flagged]

I would assume most people on hn are American and with employers and a culture that is very anti holiday.


The main issue is that in the US, you have to be lucky enough to work at a company that is generous with things like taking a day off. ou have to be lucky enough to get paid vacation, that they are covered by FMLA, that you might get any pay at all when you are sick. Your drawn-out divorce proceedings and child custody hearings might cause you issues with your job because of attendance. And so on.

This luck is spread out: Call centers are notorious for having brutal attendance policies. Some retail places have decent policies for vacation. Even if you get vacation, you might not be able to take it as you please, regardless of notice - no 2 week trips to Europe for you. And so on.

Just because you've not worked at these places doesn't mean they don't exist or that they aren't peppered across the states.

The reason for this is because unlike in other countries, these things are not encoded in laws. If you are lucky, you don't live in a right to work state or have to take low-paying jobs. These increase the chances of not having some of these things.

Where I'm at now, there are laws about this stuff. I had to take time off from a temporary factory job because I broke my elbow. It Was Paid. McDonald's workers get the minimum legal vacation (4-5 weeks, I can't remember) and get the same sick day benefits as an office worker. Parents get extra time if they need to take care of their young child - how much time depends on things like age of child and if you are the sole caregiver or not. Every woman gets maternity leave if they have a child and no one is going to be stuck to an employer because the health insurance is good and someone in the family is sick.

Oh, and by the way: I'm american and now live in Europe. It is pretty easy to compare these things that I now have a right to but didn't in the US (indiana). Might talk to some of your countrymen in different walks of life to better understand what is going on under your nose because it seems to me that you are quick to dismiss people's experiences elsewhere but are blind to the ones around you.

Um, other countries actually have laws / regulations / entitlements around PTO/annual leave. America doesn't. Literally any day off is a gift from your employer or something you've negotiated, not something guaranteed to you by law.

When it's guaranteed by law, it's a totally different dynamic. You accumulate your PTO. You put in requests. They are usually approved. You don't need to provide an excuse. You carry them over the next year if unused and you get them paid out when you leave your job. This is what Americans don't understand about this concept.

On the flip side, people don't just wander in and out of the office and disappear when they feel like it (as senior people in the US tend to do) without telling anyone. Everyone puts in leave requests even for an hour, even the boss.

> No, you are not better or worse, europe or wherever you are from is not better or worse

Yes, work rights wise Europe is much better.

Full stop.

It's not anti American sentiment, it is what it is.

Do you a right to paid sick leave?

I mean, by the law?

No, you don't, it is worse.

Do you have the right to holidays?

I mean, by the law?

No, you don't, it's worse.

Do you have the right to a proper maternity leave?

I mean, by the law?

Almost, but not really.

WHO reccommends at least 16 weeks, you have 12.

In Italy we have - mandatory, 100% salary - 2 months before childbirth, and 3 months after.

But it could be extended if the doctors say so.

If the mother want, and doctors agree, she can take less time and that time can be used by the father.

This is by the law, nationwide.

Doctors BTW are free and prepaid by taxes, so any woman has free support before, during and after the delivery.

Even if she has no money.

So yes, USA is worse.

I work for a startup in DC, we have 6 random holidays in august because people weren't taking enough vacation -- I guess that's an anti-pattern with unlimited PTO ;).

There are good eggs in the US. People overwhelmingly write to complain on the Internet.

How many holidays a year are people taking in practice? Something close to the 6-7 weeks that is standard on Europe?

I routinely take PTO for 'mental health days' and have for many years. No, the company I work for doesn't need to know that; just that I need the day off. I am a very firm believer in taking these days off of 'doing nothing' help prevent my own burn out. Highly recommend for others in the office life. Just take a day off with no responsibilities and nothing planned. Relax, sleep in, enjoy it.

Oh i would love to.. but i would get swamped by work from family side...

Take a day off from work, but don't say anything to the family and just take a rest for the day?

I've never turned down a request for PTO from someone who had some, including at a company with "unlimited" vacation. I don't see why my priorities about what one should do with their free time should apply to others. And if it were ever a problem that a person wasn't fulfilling their role adequately, it doesn't really matter why as long as we can get on a remediation plan.

PTO is purely discretionary; I've never turned down a request.

Lately I've been dealing with a lot of "can I work remote while I go visit my girlfriend for a week" or "I need an entire sick day to go to the chiropractor"... it gets old because my more senior devs do not make life so painful.

That's sounds pretty reasonable as long as they get their work done? Someone on my team went remote for a quarter for personal reasons and this was at a giant 40 year old company.

Does your company not allow remote? The first request sounds entirely reasonable unless they really mean pretending to work.

all of that sounds reasonable?

what's not reasonable about working remotely? I mean as long as the work is done an they are available in their normal hours?

Same thing about doctor visit - it is their sick day, they can decide what they want to use it on.

> what's not reasonable about working remotely?


You are going around with company secret data.

You are moving them outside of the company network, which is heavily controlled.

Not all businesses thinks it's ok to put data on Amazon S3.

Don't get me wrong, I agree with you, but they have their reason, the most important of them is "things have worked until now because we do the things as we do them, what if we change and things don't work anymore"?

Fear of change is a real thing in big established businesses.

That would only make sense if people were primarily using desktops, which really is not the case except for high end workstation needs like video production.

Every company I've worked for, people are using laptops and bringing them home at night, so I am very skeptical that this is the reason.

Older people are just less honest with their employer, they don't actually take off less time in my experience. Perhaps there's also a thing we younger folks could learn from their experience.

Less honest? No. Less forthcoming might be a better way to say it. I tell my supervisor I'm taking time off and never say why. I might tell her I'll be reachable if there's something urgent; but, that's it.

Tomato / Potato :)

"I'd like a day off because we have a PTO bank of days that we're all free to use as long as we give enough notice"

At my current team you are not expected to show in the office as long as you are delivering results. You can take entire week off if you want. We have weekly in-person sync ups, makeshift scrum teams that form and break on a weekly basis, and people are usually on slack 24/7 sometimes working at evenings or weekends if they feel like it.

Fwiw I'm probably working more then I usually would at 9 to 5 workplace, but realisation that the company is treating me like a grown up adult makes me happy. I can't imagine being back to my previous corporate work environment, even the thought of it fills me with dread.

That is a great point. As a Gen 'X', it is still very hard for me to ask for anything. Young people don't seem to have that problem. We should definitely learn from them.

> asking for things whether they deserve it or not. > Sometimes, it's ridiculous. "I'd like a day off to go day drinking with my buddies"

Why wouldn't a young person (or any person, for that matter) deserve something, like a day off? My time off is my time off, if I want to use it to go on a wholesome family vacation, or a 3 day bender, it doesn't really matter.

why on earth wouldn't you grant someone a PTO? Seriously, like it's part of the employment agreement. And, usually, there aren't enough PTO days in there anyways.

Or maybe just move to a country where workers have rights?

In Europe you'll find a lot of them, you don't have to ask, you have the right to it.

For example: I have 28 holidays, 8 hours of payed leaves a month (you can't use more than 4 hours at a time), sick leave up to 6 continuos month, after that they start cutting your salary but you can't loose your job and they have to keep it for you up to 36 months. You go back one day and the counter resets.

And that's for everybody having a full time contract, is not something special for high paid management (on the contrary, usually managers have way higher salaries, but less guarantees)

> "I'd like a day off to go day drinking with my buddies"

Why is this ridiculous?

This seems like a very honest way to ask. They're just trying to take a day off to have some fun and relax (which is perfectly reasonable). But they're not making up an excuse about being sick, or having a family obligations, they are being clear that it's a low priority bit of fun giving their Boss a chance to say something like "We're going to be swamped today/then, how about Monday when we'll be slow?" I wish more employees/employers could embrace this level of mature honesty.

Go drink in the evening when the company isn’t operating

Edit: so sensitive! I guess I’m the only person here that gets PTO :)

Can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning.

Better get off HN, worker-bee. Your company is trying to operate, and you're not contributing!

I’m happily taking PTO and not running my personal life by my manager for permission to drink.

You don't understand the dynamics of proper day drinking. If you drink early you get your hangover in the evening, then have a good sleep and a hangover free day after. Day drinking properly done has definitely its benefits - even for the company.

Why? Why is the company's operation more important than my friends? And why is that company so incompetent I can't take a (contractually agreed upon) day off without endangering its operation?

You're not my manager


A smart company would see this as a win. By getting more flexible work schedules and locations, people are allowing work to happen during what would have been off time, even during vacation. For a lot of jobs this probably works out to more work getting done than a forced 8-hours-in-the-seat plan.

It really has to be part of the company culture and a top-down process. If the higher-ups are on the forced 8-hours-in-the-seat plan, then why should the employees get more freedom than them? There's an unspoken "if I'm going to suffer, so are you!"

Besides the obvious flexible time benefits, this shifts a lot of accountability and responsibility from upper management down to lower levels. It's also a nice perceived "gift" or "compensation" from up on high without having to pay out actual monetary raises or bonuses.

I've worked at way too many places where ppl just chill at home most of the time.

In my experience these kind of people just chill in the office if they are forced to come in, but appear busy by proximity and association with their coworkers. When the most important metric is work-done and not butt-in-seat-hours, it can actually be easier for (effective) managers to filter out the ineffective employees.

Were these effective teams/companies? It doesn't sound like it. What went wrong? Could you see it working right?

Life is grinding. We grind an office life because it's more comfortable than grinding the earth to grow food. We grind the earth because it's more comfortable than grinding the wilderness to gather food. We think we'd like is to roam the wilderness while expending the energy level of an office job. Not possible. No grinding, no life.

To turn it around, if I'm going to grind for you, I had sure as hell better be properly compensated for the grind. If I hustle to get you what you need, you bet you're ass I'm going to expect a commensurate return. If there isn't a mutual benefit to my hustling, why would I put it in? What makes you so entitled to my time and effort that you can't make an equitable exchange for it?

Absolutely! Forget about you and me, the best grind is for one's loved ones.

Tangential: there's a theory that hunting and gathering is more productive per work time than ancient farming.

Farming won out because it favors centralization of power: it is more productive per area, so the chieftain can better keep an eye on a larger group, and it increases switching costs, so farmers will put up with more abuse.

The weird part is that the modern type of grinding gives you multiple orders of magnitude more rewards but to have access to the better way of grinding you need to increase your costs by multiple orders of magnitude.

There are pitfalls in this approach as well.

Each second of my work time is tracked via Toggl, which creates a good few second order effects.

For example gone is "pooping on company time" - even when I'm in the office.

Also it's currently 23:12 in my timezone and I still have more than an hour of work to do. This is something that happens more often than I would like to admit.

That being said having to actually go places to work and arrive there at a specified hour at that would be hell for me.

9-6 is slavery. Slaves never had the luxury of choosing their time.

I wouldn't exactly call it slavery, but it's indentured servitude at the societal level. There's no company forcing anyone to work for them, and society technically doesn't force you to work, but if you want to be a part of society you're almost certainly going to be doing something you don't like from 9 to 5 and commuting for 2 hours. You can stay on the plantation and have your basic needs met if you willingly serve the system. I'm not making a value judgment by pointing this out, but that's the way it is.

> but that's the way it is.

And the way it's always been. And the way it will always be as long as humans are self-interested and in competition with each other for resources. Welcome to life (it's the same for all other species, btw)!

This is an embarrassing comment that lacks any understanding of what slavery was actually like.

Not really, it's a very old observation. For example, Cicero observed that "whoever gives his labor for money sells himself and puts himself in the rank of slaves"

And there are many types of slavery that are not chattel slavery.

> And there are many types of slavery that are not chattel slavery.

Exactly! The sort of slavery being referenced here is "wage slavery," and it derives straight from Cicero's line of thinking. The idea here is that the vast majority of humans in a developed economy need to work. In particular, people without the resources to start a business themselves have to work for someone else. Although there is theoretically a choice of employers (there may not in fact be due to locality of the labor market), one nonetheless has to work for someone else, selling their time. If one wants to survive, one is not free to leave one's job.

This lack of freedom is the essential notion of wage slavery. That some wage slaves are better off than others is irrelevant: house slaves in the American South were often treated better and had better working conditions than field hands, but they were still slaves.


So said Cicero, who was born into a wealthy family of property owners.

So, people who both owned slaves and employed laborers, and were in a position to see the equivalence, but lacked the identity-group reasons either slaves or laborers would have to see an illusionary difference?

I’m having trouble parsing the second part of your response. Would you mind rephrasing it?

My point being that Cicero was free from a life of (physical) labor only because of the presence of these laborers/slaves. Property ownership enabled and paid for these intellectual or artistic pursuits.

I think the parent's response is clear, and that they should not rephrase it. In fact, I'm having trouble rephrasing it (without having to explain what "group identity" is).

Here it goes, nevertheless.

People are social beings. We like to find "our" groups, and feel pride in being members of them. Examples of such groups: political parties, nationalities, religion, fans of a particular kind of music/artist/clothing style/tv show, hobby groups, etc).

Because of that, we feel bad when our groups are conflated; we feel it erases a part of our identity. Waged workers in this example feel pride in being not slaves, however nominal the distinction is.

This effect is even more pronounced because in a stratified society (which the Roman Empire was), as a waged worker, you could be confused for a slave, but not for a member of nobility. (We feel the most animosity when being taken to be a member of a group that resembles ours the most. Tell a Ukrainian that culturally, very little differentiates them from a Russian - and be prepared to be lectured on just how wrong you are.)

So, waged workers, then and now, would have reasons to vehemently identify themselves as "not slaves", and thus they would be biased in assessing the differences, seeing all of them as significant.

Ranks of nobility would have no such bias.

That's probably a better explanation than I would have posted.

His background doesn't affect the truth of his statement.

People who work 9-6 can choose not to. There are plenty of people in my neighborhood who have gone this route. It doesn't seem like a great tradeoff. People can also choose to work somewhere else. Life comes with no guarantees that it will be easy or pleasant. We all like to complain about this fact, but here we are, still alive, voting with our feet.

In a capitalist system you are either an asset that can be leveraged or a liability.

I think most people aren't seeing the forest through the trees here.

Why do we work? To take care of our basic needs so we can have as much time as possible to live life, with the maximum ability (usually in the form of money) to do what makes us happy. Humanity has fallen into a trap where we think that we NEED a job. We need to take care of our basic needs, and nothing more unless we want to.

We're getting to the point where, if we applied tech as such, it can start to handle most of our basic needs for us. Instead of having the mindset that robots are "stealing our jobs," why not look at it as a robot has opened up a lot more time for us to live our lives? We're unable to look at things this way because humanity has not yet reevaluated the way it integrates money and technology into society. A few people or companies are allowed to control the tech humanity has invented, and we're forced to pay them for its use. Tech is supposed to make our lives easier and instead we are allowing it to make our lives harder and more stressful.

Money and labor within society need a complete overhaul ASAP. I think young people are simply waking up to the fact that their lives are finite and they can't wait 400 years for such changes to occur. It's now or it doesn't matter.

Young people are the inexperienced, they're the ones who're gonna get squeezed into whatever shape employers set up. I used to think we were in for a big corporate culture shift, to more informality, more power to the worker, more acceptance of neurodiversity. That was in college, but my opinion completely switched once I entered the workforce and realized how the levers of food-controlling power work to either filter out or implicitly threaten any behavior that isn't suitable for the goals of those at the top.

One thing I see as potential issue is isolation. Unless you have great social life around where you live, this kind of remote work becomes too lonely. Another thing is that I just dont see how something that requires group discussion and white boarding can be done without any time commitment from other remote employees. For work that can be done in silos may benefit with this kind of approach. May be I am wrong.

Glad some companies are coming around to to this. People have different values and work styles, and for too long there has been just one option on the white-collar work menu: 40-60 hours, mostly at a desk.

There are people out there who make a choice between an unauthorized day off, and suicide on the lunch break ...

> A client calls me at 8 o’clock at night and I’m happy to talk to them

It doesn't look like saving us from anything. It seems horrible.

I think it only sounds horrible if you frame it as "I was forced to do work at 8pm and had to be in at 6am the next day." What the article is describing is more "I got a call at 8pm and decided to work on the issue that evening so I could sleep in the next morning, run some errands and come in to work at noon." It might not be for everyone, but doesn't sound to bad to me.

Right. When I was a graduate student, I had the freedom to work on my thesis project whenever I wanted. The only weekly obligation I had was an afternoon meeting with my advisor. That meant I often slept in late, stayed up late. I did my groceries mid-afternoon because I liked that the grocery store was not crowded. Some days I wasn't motivated and did not work. The compromise was that I often worked evenings, sometimes until 11PM, and I did work most weekends as well. I could organize my schedule however I wanted, but no time was "sacred". It didn't feel unhealthy though, it actually felt pretty natural.

Now, I'm a salaried employee, and I feel annoyed if someone expects me to work past 6PM or on weekends. I feel like I need that time to rest and get my mind off of work-related stuff. I probably need that time in part because I'm expected to get to work in the morning, and deliver a largely uninterrupted work day. As a grad student, I worked from home, and if I was working on a difficult problem, I could just take a break and go lie down on my couch for 15 minutes if I needed to. This isn't an option now, and not being able to take breaks when tired or unmotivated feels pretty unnatural.

How do you decide how much to work in a week, or when to stop working each day?

Personally, it feels like having unstructured work hours leads to an implicit competition between everyone to do the most work humanly possible, and any leisure hours begin to feel almost sinful.

Goals. You work with management to define what needs to be done by when, then set your schedule to maximize your personal productivity to meet those goals. You generally can't really have that kind of flexible schedule without organized/effective management. But it can be a win for Management because the idea is that each employee is maximizing their own productivity, potentially letting the employee have more free time (while still meeting goals) which makes them happier, more well rested, and thus even more productive. In the long-term your more productive employee will get more done.

I guess I was lucky because in my field I was able to do well without overworking myself. I enjoyed my project and how much I worked was based on how motivated I was. I did leisure activities when I felt the need to. I know people who are grad students in deep learning though, and it really seems way more competitive than what I'm used to.

In my experience it never works this way. Its almost always "take time off _later_" but later never comes.

Yeah, it reminds me of the principle of how the harder you work the more work comes your way to meet your level of efficiency. It's basically the same thing but applied to when the work gets done.

True, but this article is talking about shifting norms and the future of work. Doesn't seem like too crazy of an idea to hope/work for a future where the norm is a set of goals for your week/month and you being allowed to largely set your own schedule as needed to achieve them.

It seems crazy in the context of an economic system which combines both a psychotic pursuit of profit and productivity on the part of an ever smaller ownership class with the utterly dull minded petty desire to be dominant of your average boss.

What the article is getting at though is that the younger generations(s) entering the work-force seem to be less willing to accept that "psychotic pursuit of profit and productivity". This is why so many people seem critical of Millennial's work ethic -- they have trouble understating that someone can simply be unwilling to sacrifice their own health an happiness in order to make their employers more profits.

Change can seem impossible the face of entrenched opposition, but change is inevitable. It's never crazy to hope for, and work towards, a positive change.

Speaking from personal experience, if you allow out-of-hours calls, they creep in and become the norm. Then you're expected to both be at work during work hours for meetings and to take the out of hours meetings too.

This can be perfectly acceptable, I was happy to do it for a previous employer. I was also compensated for it.

I don't think that's what the article is describing though. It's talking more about allowing off-hour calls/work/etc, but dropping the expectation of being at work during "normal work hours." Just a general flexibility to set your schedule as long as you're getting your work done.

The way it happens is:

1) you get asked to take out of hours client meetings.

2) those become regular.

3) you end up on a project which is high priority.

4) those have daily standups to make the schedule.

5) that becomes regular.

Congratulations, you've now got both out-of-hours and in-hours meetings, frequently at 10AM and 10PM. Even if the offset is a "Tuesday/Thursday WFH", that will eventually become consumed by a scheduled something in the face of some time pressure.

For example, we have regular "no meeting weeks", and the team just scheduled one. However, everyone on Project Y, had daily standups. We were even told "no meeting week doesn't apply to you".

Another piece of well-earned experience is what happens with a company phone out of hours. When I did that, I got pinged by well meaning ops people when they started looking at their bug queue. The only problem? I was in GMT-7, and they were in GMT+3. If it's important, they can page me, instead of messaging me.

Again, I can be happy to do this. If I believe in the company mission, and/or I'm compensated for it. I need to negotiate with my partner, but that's what being in a relationship is all about.

I'm not at all discounting your experience; mine are quite similar. I was just saying that what the article is discussing is not how things are now most places but looking at a possible projection of a trend seen in some companies that appears driven by a new generation entering the workforce.

Basically the premise (as I interpret it) is that younger generations have such a drastically different relationship with their employers and work-life balance expectations that it may not be possible for employers to make the kind of demands and "take-backs" your describing because they would just not be considered acceptable anymore. It's basically a positive (and I think more accurate) interpretation of "Millennials don't want to work hard" that says "Millenials aren't willing to sacrifice their health or happiness to make their employers more profits", and looking at what employers may have to change in the future to account for this.

That has not been the case for me. My personal cell phone number has been on my voicemail for a decade now, and I get about two calls a year, generally for system outages or weird issues for a user with a deadline, or for true special cases.

We have automated monitoring of services, and except for the core routers and environmental monitors, all SMS notifications are disabled from midnight to 6am. 'tis lovely.

The quote literally says "and I'm happy to talk to them."

This is about flexibility and a change from strict 9 to 5 office hours. You can't have your cake and eat it, too. If you're not available from 11AM to 2PM, you still have to complete your work - maybe you don't need a full 8 hours to do it, but it needs done.

Naturally if client calls aren't your thing, steer away from that kind of work. Maybe instead you don't mind writing code at 8PM or doing research at 8PM.

When you're young and lonely and clueless many unhealthy/unsustainable things can make you happy. Happy isn't the be-all, end-all of how work should be structured. Many people regret making tradeoffs they were once quite happy to be making.

No, they are not.

They are just going to make things miserable for the next generation, like everybody else do did.

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