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People don’t want to commute; they just don’t want to miss out (nohq.co)
201 points by dmonn 22 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 238 comments



I don't like commuting but I do prefer being in the office. It helps me maintain as much of a work-life separation as I can, gives the company a chance to provide me with a specialized environment to do my work (that I would otherwise have to provide myself), and greatly reducing the friction in having conversations with my direct team because I just need to turn around instead of chatting or emailing them.


Exactly, I've worked at a place that let me work home as much as I wanted and it went like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=co_DNpTMKXk (That Mitchell and Webb Look - Working from home sketch)

Maybe it's the fact that I don't have a separate "office", I just sit where I would do my computer stuff at home anyways.

If I need to be "remote", I go to a coffee shop or a library, anywhere but stay home. It's essential for my brain to have that distinction between "I'm at work" and "I'm at home".


From the article:

At GitLab, we don't force you to work from home, if you want to work from an office, we’ll pay for that. You can probably find an office space pretty close by, so you don't have to commute long. A lot of people when it's their first time remote working, they first do the office thing so that their family gets adjusted to it. And then also enjoy the benefits of your kids barging in on a meeting and distracting you, it's the best distraction in the world.


If your kids are over three or four years old and you have a separate dedicated office, they are old enough to understand that when you are "working" don't disturb you. Also, just because you are physically at home, your kids should still be in daycare or have a stay at home spouse just as if you were at work in an office.

There was one guy who was allowed to work remotely when he moved out of state and when he was on a conference call, there were frequent interruptions from his toddler. It's not professional and it happened often.


And then also enjoy the benefits of your kids barging in on a meeting and distracting you, it's the best distraction in the world.

Perhaps the first N times. When it happens the N+1st time it is no longer the "best distraction in the world"


When I was interviewing for my current job (to stop being remote) my 4 year old son barged in and started climbing all over me for the second half of a 30 minute video phone screen. That the CTO didn’t bat an eye at this was one strong indicator that she would be an amazing boss (she is)


That almost sounds like it would be a great way to screen potential companies! (But I don't have kids so that makes it difficult to implement for me.)


What? Your kids barging in a meeting might be the "best distraction in the world" an arbitrary number of times, and then after that it no longer is?

AFAICT this comment is indistinguishable from saying nothing at all


Mate, he’s saying that as much as you love your kids, it gets old at some point to have them constantly interrupting your meetings. Sometimes you want to finish the meeting and be done with it, so you can go ahead and actually spend some quality time with them without any nagging concerns leftover from work.


What I'm saying is it might be cute the first time it happens, but for all people there exists a finite limit where it stops being cute. That limit however is different for different people. I would however feel fairly comfortable saying that N<=15 in an 8 hour period for the vast majority of people.


I really like how thoughtful GitLab has been about this, but it doesn't really address the social aspect or in person working dynamic if there's no one else on your team in the same location. That's a tradeoff GitLab is clearly aware of and thought about, but for me, having "an office that's in an office building" doesn't exactly equate to "is in an office with coworkers".


My ideal arrangement would be going to office once a week, hang out with the team, hear the latest gossip, play some foosball/table tennis get some drinks and do focussed work the other 4 days. I am completely remote, so really miss out on the social aspect. But, that being said I am productive atleast 80% of the time, the rest when I am not , I don't pretend to work, am doing other things. That being said when compared to onsite work , where I was probably productive only 50% of the time, this is a massive improvement.not to mention all the free time I've for - kids,gym, sports and reading.


This is essentially my current gig for the last few months (my first "remote" job). It's about a 2.5 hour commute each way, but I plan on being in-office at least once a week. That day usually coincides with a scheduled 1:1 meeting with the boss, and usually a group thing with the team that happens to be on that day of the week. I took a pretty substantial pay cut compared to my last job, but still don't think I've ever been happier!


In the last 2 years, I've not had one case of the Monday morning blues :-) Enjoy the bliss!


When I worked in an office with people on my team, and my company, it was great.

The atmosphere was great, lots of chatting and collaboration with colleagues. I really liked it. It felt like going to work and hanging out with mates.

Now I work in a shared office space 4 days a week. I would rather be at home, it's depressing as shit when you are in a busy office and have no one really to talk to. So the days when no one else is there from my company, I just don't go and work from home. It's a bit tougher to motivate myself to work but I have a nice work space / home office setup and the work computer is a seperate computer to my personal one. So when it gets turned off, I'm done.


I feel the same way. I dislike the act of commuting if it's longer than 20 minutes or so (from "when I decide to leave" to "arrives at destination"), but really enjoy being in an office that's at least somewhat designed for work and is cleaned nightly. I also like lunch with teammates.

At the same time, I love being able to work from anywhere. I can visit family more often, take weekend trips with Tuesday flight pricing, save $500+ every Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I wonder if the (long-term) winning model will be something like self-organizing hubs + remote workers. If enough employees are in one location and express interest, create a local office.


I've worked in offices for about 15 years and I've never had a specialized environment even close to as good as the one I have at home.

Most companies flat out made us use Windows workstations, even though 100% of our work was developing for Unix/Linux and not for Windows.

Another company allowed Linux workstations but only CentOS, and we were stuck with 6 until years after 7 was released.

Finally there was the company that let me use whatever software I wanted, but had fixed-height desks that were simply too low to fit my knees underneath. Aside from that, it was the best place I've ever worked, but I had to quit after less than a year because my posture was getting noticeably worse just from having to use that desk.

Now I work at home and everything is set up perfectly. I'll never go back to an office, even though I have to give up more than half of my potential income to work at home, it's just not worth it.


> Finally there was the company that let me use whatever software I wanted, but had fixed-height desks that were simply too low to fit my knees underneath. Aside from that, it was the best place I've ever worked, but I had to quit after less than a year because my posture was getting noticeably worse just from having to use that desk.

I have broken down and just grabbed some bricks or cinder blocks to jack up such desks in the past. It does make me wonder why so many businesses draw the line and refuse to spend a couple hundred dollars to keep an employee that they are spending six figures on happy. This kind of penny-wise, pound-foolish thinking is endemic.


I couldn't adjust the height of just my desk, it was physically one long piece for the entire row of 5 people.


The quick fix for desk height is 4 or 8 concrete blocks. You can get half-thickness concrete blocks to make the height 0.5 or 1.5 blocks. For most people, 2 blocks lying flat with the holes horizontal is enough for standing at the desk.


At Amazon, for their legendary door desks, the solution was almost this. You'd open a facilities ticket and eventually a guy with a glue gun and slices of 4x4s in various heights would show up. He'd pick the slice height necessary to get your desk to the right height, place a drop of glue on each slice, crawl under your desk and raise it with his shoulders while sliding the slices into place under the legs.


This wouldn't have worked at this place because the entire row's was physically one long desk.


I find the same...I have a lifetime of equipment, specifically configured for how I work in my home office. Everything from ergo keyboards to multiple os/servers/monitors. I hate working on any other setup - typical office gear just can't compare.

Also, with all the cloud stuff, I don't even have to go to the data center anymore, further reducing my need to be on-site.

P.S. Lots of places open to tele-commute. You should NOT have to give up half your income to do it. If you get tired of the current gig, I'm sure you'll find a remote position with a competitive salary.


Well, competitive is relative, right? It seems to me the going rate in tech hubs is around $400k/yr. I have seen some pretty sweet remote gigs but not yet one that pays that.


Actually - thats total compensation. Its usually around $150-175K cash + stock. And 150K remote jobs are definitely available...AWS was just hiring TAMs at that range. AWS does require travel to onboard new clients though - so its more like 75% remote


Well yes, it's total compensation. That's the only number that matters at the end of the day. $150k remote job with no bonus or stock is still less than half of a $400k total comp package.


It can matter a little because of vesting schedules—you don't typically get the stock/bonuses as soon as you start, and it can take ~4 years (depending on the company) to start getting the full comp package. So if you leave a year after joining, you might get very little of the non-salary compensation and the final number may be closer to $150k than $400k.

That said, unless you're not planning on sticking around for very long, I agree that the total compensation number is the one that ultimately matters.


Ah yeah, I didn't think about vesting schedules. I was under the impression that at least some decent portion of it would vest after a year, but I don't really know. My experience is mostly with financial firms who would simply pay a cash bonus at the end of every year. Far preferable IMO :)


The remote jobs have stock and often sign on bonuses, just like on-site jobs. AWS offers a full package (at the same rate ) for both on-site and remote. Other people I've worked for do similar (I've worked 100% from home for 20 years).

edit: remove unnecessary 'actually'. too much time on imgur :-P


One advantage of the academic/university space is that you may have HR policies where anybody can request an ergonomics review and have facilities provide an appropriate setup. You also often use project-specific funds and have more control over things like computer and monitor purchases.

Up and down my office hallway, I can spot height adjustable or convertible standing/sitting desks, various flavors of adjustable chairs, several kinds of adjustable monitor or laptop stand, as well as a wide range of monitor sizes and orientations.


It sounds more like you're better off with remote work because it allows you to escape a dysfunctional local market.

I prefer remote work too, but I'd get sacked before allowing some PHB to dictate my OS, or sit at some weird communal longdesk. It's so far from my experience as to seem like a joke.

You spent a _year_ at a place that made you sit at a fucking desk that doesn't fit you? My god.


The large companies I've worked at don't even have the notion of letting you install your own OS. You ask the IT department for a workstation, they image you one and give it to you. That's it. If you're a senior developer with friends in the right places, you can get administrator access.

> You spent a _year_ at a place that made you sit at a fucking desk that doesn't fit you? My god.

Sounds pretty ridiculous when you put it that way, yes :) but after all, what do we expect them to do? Tell the office manager that her beautiful design had to be screwed with just because of some senior engineer doesn't fit there?


> what do we expect them to do? Tell the office manager that her beautiful design had to be screwed with just because of some senior engineer doesn't fit there?

Yes. Literally that. Seriously. I ruined my hearing sitting in a server room for a year when I was younger. Don't fuck up your body for any company, you will regret it.

Also most countries have accessibility legislation of some sort. It's not just for "disabled" people, this sort of thing is normally explicitly part of it.


I expect them to find another employee. Or not.

It's really not my problem. I work for companies and clients that respect their staff. We both do better that way.


Wouldn't this theoretically support the middle-ground concept of coworking spaces then? They allow companies to be more distributed, but you're still working at an office rather than at home.

The more decentralized nature of coworking spaces means you can choose whichever one is closest to you, shortening the commute and decreasing traffic.

Sure you can choose a home near your company if you're just starting out your career or moving to a new city, but once you're in that city for a while, it's not feasible to move to a new home every time you move companies. Coworking spaces allow you that flexibility.


I like having the OPTION of going to the office or a coworking space. The problem, at least for me, with offices is the constant interruption that could easily be replaced by Slack messages that I'll deal with once I'm not in the middle of something.


I don't prefer being at the office. After 5+ years of predominantly remote work, I'm not going back to regular office hours. It's not even the commute, it's being at the office in an environment that does not promote getting work done.

I work for a 10k+ employee company with locations worldwide, so online communication is a must in the first place. In most projects I work, my closest collaborators aren't necessarily even in the same timezone as I am.

My work/life separation is simple: I have a separate laptop for work, and when it's closed I'm not at work any more. My remote work arrangements have tremendously increased my quality of life.

The difficult part is that many employers don't offer the possibility of mostly remote work. I tried looking for jobs elsewhere for unrelated reasons, but I ended up turning down the offers I got because it was 5 days a week on-site.


I have had a work laptop since mid 2017 - always issued by the company.

This is enough to separate work from life. No need for extra office space in your house etc. - simply add decent noise cancelling headphones to that and you're good to go.


Err not really at work I have space for a triple monitor set up at home I just have the laptop screen.


I used to have a 32" display at home but I got rid of it. I find that I'm much more focused and productive with a single display. Not saying it's going to be the same for you but it's just something to keep in mind. A couple of years ago I couldn't imagine getting stuff done with only my laptop screen.


No reason why you shouldn't have the same setup at home.

Or, IMHO, at all.


I'm lucky enough personally to have a custom-constructed dedicated office at home. Though, truth be told, I do a lot of my day to day work just on my laptop. The desktop is mostly for both work and personal AV/photo editing.

However, for a lot of people, their workspace at home is a table in a corner someplace and they don't really have room to setup a keyboard tray, multiple big monitors, etc.


I don't envy them, especially that I've been through such an arrangement and the second order effects got me in trouble at work more than once.


same for me, but instead of a separate laptop, i have a separate OS.

if i'm on linux, i'm working. if i'm on windows, i'm not. i don't even have VPN software on my windows install -- it's purely for entertainment.

other than that, i have a separate office on my apartment that i treat as my... well, office. i'm the only one on it during the day (apart from my dog, but sometimes a dog break is necessary) and my wife knows that if i'm here with my door closed, it's because i'm focusing. this arrangement worked pretty well for the past ~7 years.


I did a short (6 month) contract remotely a couple years ago. Parts of it were nice, and and I could see enjoying working a few days out of the week remote (although I'd prefer a shorter work day or work week tbh) I didn't care for fully remote. I rarely have reason to leave the apartment and it was just kinda depressing being stuck inside my apartment all day


But you could choose to leave your apartment to get lunch, do some shopping, or leave during non-work hours?


My work/life separation is a timer. I like timing what I do so I can compare with my estimates. The advantage of this is that once I get to a certain amount of hours in a day, I know it's time to stop as I wouldn't even be as productive as those initial hours if I continued.


I like how Gitlab promotes remote work, but I don't like that their salaries are based on employee's costs of living.

To me these seem contradictory. If remote work is so transparent, location shouldn't matter.

It feels like they're praising remote work only when it's profitable for them.


I work at GitLab. I work in NYC so my salary is "NYC based". If I moved to a lower cost region my salary would drop. So would a lot of my expenses. I'm okay with this. Do I move? No, because I like being in NYC.

I have coworkers in Nebraska. They make a different amount than I. They also have and own a house on that salary. Do they move? No, they like it in Nebraska.

It is not GitLab's job as a large remote company to "fix" global economics.

GitLab is a "small multinational". If you look at other multinationals (or even large nationals) like Google Microsoft, GE, Comcast, etc, I'm 100% positive you'll find that they don't pay the same in different cities.

It's no different. One step at a time. GitLab is offering remote. In 10 years, if local economies level out more due to globalization, this can be less of an issue.

Until then, I'll just keep reading this argument on HN...


This argument of “fixing economies” is an invalid premise - Gitlab is a distributed company, they don’t bear the costs of operating a business in each of those locales. The business operating costs, nor revenue, are tied to locale. Why are salaries then? Because it is cheaper to pay the Nebraska guy a discounted $80k instead of paying everyone the same NYC rate of $140k, and use “local economy” as the scapegoat.

If they were a brick and mortar business operating in all these regions, fine, costs vary and it makes sense that salaries would too. But they are just using the excuse of locale to grow their margins, simple as that. It’s their business, and employees can work wherever they want. But let’s not pretend they are doing anyone any favors with that policy.


Maybe you can move to NY for a month, get employed by GitLab for $140k and then work remote from Nebraska... :-)


I know people who did this with a bank I used to work for. Moved to NYC to get higher pay, stayed there for ~1.5 years. Then moved to Wilmington, Delaware (lots of banks there) where the cost of living is much lower but retained the same salary and compensation package.


I also work for a remote company, and my salary is not tied to location. I've lived in 3 countries since working for the company, and for me it makes sense that my salary doesn't change, I get what I get based on my experience and performance, not the place I happen to live at the moment.


Cool!

- What company? - What role? - What's your comp range indexed to? - VC Backed?


Hotjar. SRE Team Lead. Ranges are defined by the company based on the overall job market in large European cities. Not VC backed.


For those reading along I took a look at their hiring page:

https://careers.hotjar.com/o/customer-support-americas - this role is $45,000 to $62,000 (looking for EST, would be hired as a contractor)

https://about.gitlab.com/job-families/engineering/dotcom-sup...

For intermediate (of which you can go to senior) and you'd be an employee of GitLab in the US, so no dealing with self-employment tax etc)

- Florida $46,740 - $57,126 - Raleigh $54,940 - $67,148 - NYC $63,140 - $77,172

Very comparable except in NYC which is a higher cost of living. I'd love more data. I know Basecamp is doing the "everyone indexed to Chicago" which means that most regions are getting a little bit more purchasing power.


From my own experience in Raleigh: Entry level = $65,000 Mid level = $85,000

I would be quite let down with the pay range you have mentioned.


These are Customer Support Roles. Are you in support or a developer?


For Paris the compensation seems pretty low. No jobs are available though. How is living with $70k in NYC ? I guess it depends a lot on the exact district ?


If the office is in NYC, the company operates in the NYC labor market. And the rent for the office building will be set by the NYC market as well.

Gitlab doesn't have these constraints. They could pay the same, they just don't want to.


And they don’t have enough competition for this global labor pool.


"Different amount". It's less.

On the contrary, as a participant in global economics it has a responsibility to pay its workers fairly. No one is asking them to "fix" the economy, just to not perpetuate unfair hiring and salary practices like regional salary limits.

The work you do is worth it to GitLab or it's not. The value of the work doesn't change whether it's done in Nebraska or New York or Amsterdam.


Your argument here is the crux of the issue: what is "fair pay" for workers? For Tech, is is "SF Rates"? Or are SF Rates inflated because of market dynamics in the region?

Here's Glassdoor info about Google. I chose the following cities because Glassdoor said they had "high confidence". Consider it anecdotal:

https://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/Google-Software-Engineer-Sa...

https://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/Google-Software-Engineer-To...

https://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/Google-Software-Engineer-Ba...

- Glassdoor San Francisco SWE - "AVG Base - $129,065"

- GitLab Average at Intermediate: $160,000

- Glassdoor Bangalore Google SWE - ₹1,691,257 current exchange == $23,785.84

- GitLab Average at Intermediate: ₹3,406,961

- Glassdoor Toronto SWE Google - $119,055 CAD current exchange == $89,925.81

- GitLab Average at Intermediate: $114,075 CAD

(This doesn't account "perks" and RSUs and such which I assume Google's are larger, so Google comp can probably be 20-40% higher. Consider doing a search of your own with $company of your choice to compare.)

----

Do I want to live in a world where everyone gets paid the exact same for the same work, and everything costs the same everywhere because we have perfectly efficient markets, absolutely.

Do I think companies are dumb for making competitive wages for local markets? Not at all. We live the majority of our life in a local market.

Can workers find companies that are "outliers" that will pay them the same for their work no matter where they are? Yep.

Do I think that due to globalization and a remote work force over time we will have more evenly distributed salary. Yep.

All I want is for you (and others) to bring the same vigor for salary to any tech company thread as people do to GitLab's. We are a tech company that built our compensation model like many other tech companies (and other global companies). We also allow you to work where you live and want to pay a wage that is respectable in that region. Just like Google.

The next time a thread comes up for any company on HN, I want anyone reading's first thought to be: "I wonder if they pay people the same in different cities?" Let's talk about it more than just in GitLab threads, and we can start that acceleration towards perfect salary around the world.

Edit: I think it goes without saying, but I wanna be abundantly clear, these thoughts are my own, and I'm a longstanding member of this community first, and an employee of GitLab second. No one asked me to go on this rant this AM, I was just tired.


> Or are SF Rates inflated because of market dynamics in the region?

SF is very expensive. Where I live, my salary provides an extremely comfortable standard of living (I'm in the top 5% income bracket overall here). If I made the same amount in SF, I'd be hard-pressed to afford a small apartment.


It would make sense to pay you the Nebraska rate if you can't deliver more value than the Nebraska workers. This might mean that you leave, and then the company hires a replacement in Nebraska.

The NYC rate is justified if they work you harder or if your job requires face-to-face interactions in NYC.


Your argument will make less and less sense over time, as it s not globalisation but remote work that will equalise those wages of the IT sector. What you say sounds resonable today, but not in 2 years, as remote workers become more sought after, valuable and demanding


Your argument will make less and less sense over time

Imagine someone making the argument it is OK to pay less for X class of people, because we can get away with it. X being some historically marginalized, but now protected class. And they should be grateful because some other place pays even less!

It would be really nice if remote discriminating companies could not be called equal opportunity employer at the very least.


The calculator is fun to play with, but as someone from Europe, goddamn what's going on in San Fransisco? You get almost double the salaries compared to Germany/Sweden etc., and significantly more than in NYC - rent must be insane!


Yes - it is absolutely insane:

https://www.rentcafe.com/average-rent-market-trends/us/ca/sa...

(Note that is ~700 sq feet, not meters)

But, you also make literally twice as much money, so it easily offsets the extra rent.


This is the case for people with little need for space. If you are happy to rent a room and you don't need a parking spot, you get a great deal. Investments and mail-order items aren't any more expensive in San Francisco. Local expenses like food are break-even with a 2x price increase.

For people who need space, just forget it. House prices are roughly 10x higher than in the ordinary small cities, ignoring the difference in land area. Families need the space.

I know a former San Francisco resident, now in Florida, with enough space to raise sheep and shoot an AR-15 in his yard. He's not rich. He earns a salary as a good software developer, and he decided to buy that kind of space. It's 11 acres if I remember right. He couldn't have that in San Francisco, even earning literally twice as much money.


Yes. Rent in SF is off the charts. Also they (California in general) have a major homeless (housing) crises. Lots of NIMBYs blocking new building developments because of "their view".


They are not even hiring in Sweden (why not?). Is that a typo or did you manage to select Sweden somehow?


I'm happy you are at the good end of the status quo, but until people are offered to work anywhere they want before salaries are factored for location it is not remote work just good old exploitation.

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


It sounds like a fair policy. Why not live it up in some of the most expensive locals in the world?


Speaking in gross generality, the kind of educated talent they need probably live and want to live disproportionately in more expensive areas, and the lure of remote work at non-competitive salaries for the area where they reside is probably not enough. But I'm just guessing here.


> the kind of educated talent they need probably live and want to live disproportionately in more expensive areas

Really? My impression is that nobody wants to live in expensive tech hubs where they can't even own a place to live, but they can't leave because there is much less work elsewhere.


It's a mix.

There are certainly people who are convinced that they can only find meaningful work in a handful of tech hubs--first and foremost the Bay Area. I'd argue they're mostly wrong but you won't convince many of them.

However, there are others who genuinely like the Bay Area in spite of all its downsides for reasons that I even somewhat understand when I visit. The culture, the lack of snow, etc. Others are like New Yorkers who consider every other city a provincial cowtown.


> There are certainly people who are convinced that they can only find meaningful work in a handful of tech hubs--first and foremost the Bay Area. I'd argue they're mostly wrong but you won't convince many of them.

As someone who kind of feels this way, I guess it depends on how you define meaningful. I grew up and live in the Southeast. Its not like there arent jobs out here, but majority of jobs around here a corporate, "code monkey" jobs. Yeah, there are startups and some markets that are outliers, but its rare for me to see a job in this region and thing "wow this would be a really cool job". OTOH I've seen job listings for companies in say, the bay area or Austin that seemed really interesting (to me), from companies large and small and it just seems to come down to where the companies have offices.


You’ve never heard of the “dreaming of moving to the big city” trope? There are and have always been millions of people who want to move to HCOL cities even if they don’t have access to the jobs that would financially justify it.

The reason why doctors get paid more in underserved areas is because very few highly educated people want to live in rural Alabama, even if the houses are cheap.


Everybody wants to live in expensive tech hubs. That's why it's so expensive: more demand than supply.


For certain values of "everybody." Lots of people have no desire to live in an expensive coastal city.


Of course, but the fact that they are so expensive is caused by the fact that so many people want to live there. It's the rising cost of living that provide a balance to that.


More specifically, everybody wants to live where the jobs are and the opportunity for career progression is.


For jobs, but also for many other things. It's where lots of things come together, lots of things happen. More restaurants, museums, night life, music venues, theatres, etc. Cities often have a long history, historical landmarks, etc.

I certainly wouldn't want to trade Amsterdam for the town I grew up in. Then again, my dad clearly disagrees. On the other hand, Amsterdam probably isn't quite as expensive as London, New York or San Francisco.


Well, not everybody -- I don't!


> My impression is that nobody wants to live in expensive tech hubs where they can't even own a place to live

"Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded."


I do wonder how much people really enjoy living in those places, versus rationalizing that it's actually great because they have to be there. At least if they want to earn the 3-5x salaries that one can get there, versus what is offered in different zipcodes.


Good point, but it's how the market goes: I have different demands in terms of salary, and I pursue them differently than yours. On the other side, if you have some sort of differentiating power (you're one of those 10x developers, for instance), then you can negotiate your salary the way you want, even if you could live comfortably with half the salary.


Yeah, there's no grand theory to location-based pay much as some would like to make it a fundamental issue of fairness.

There are some reasons to want the ability to hire anywhere regardless of salary cost. But, if you are going to pay everyone competitive Bay Area salaries anyway even if they work from a beach in Southeast Asia, there's going to at least be a bias towards hiring for nearby timezones, language fluency, the ability to get together physically on a regular basis, etc. You're essentially paying for it after all.

(And if you conversely pay a salary that's decent for a typical midsize city in the South or Midwest, you're probably going to have a lot of trouble attracting talent that can get jobs and wants to live in or near major US coastal cities.)

As others have said, GitLab is transparent about it which most companies are not. It does let you see that the best "deal" is to live somewhere that the salary multiplier is determined by a high CoL urban area--but then live in a low cost area of the same state.


For most companies, the alternative to CoL salaries isn't Bay Area salaries, it's the lowest salary they can get away with. In other words, people in the Bay will get less, people in the Midwest won't get more. Be careful what you wish for.


Arguably, Bay Area tech salaries at the big employers are somewhat of an outlier. They tend to be pretty generous even when you take CoL into account. (The same could arguably be said of some areas of financial services in NYC.)

But, even historically in the Bay Area, that's not really the norm. Compensation in high CoL areas is often higher but not really equivalent with respect to housing, etc.


> To me these seem contradictory. If remote work is so transparent, location shouldn't matter.

I don't understand what "transparency" has to do with anything here? Given that we know their algorithm for pay, based on CoL, it sound that they are being transparent?


Transparent as in that you're remote isn't an obstruction or hinderance, I assume, not as in transparent policies.


I agree. Just cause it's cheaper for everyone near me, doesn't mean my cost of living is the same. I could have a half dozen medical situations.


As someone living in Europe, I find it so weird that health insurance/expenses should be so tightly coupled with an employer.


Heh, yeah, from two perspectives: how many people are covered under an insurance company translates to leverage over medical billing (the insurance company wants to pay the lowest amount possible, and the more insured people they have, the more leverage, or so I've heard...) as well as the fact that paying for insurance out of your own pocket entirely is unfeasible, when I was contracting I was paying like $400 - $600 for health insurance I barely used (I can't remember the exact number, but it was a hit), just in case, now I pay less than $200 which includes my spouse. With $600 I could pay for so many expenses I actually use monthly.


You’re still paying for it. It’s part of your compensation. The last time I looked a couple of years ago, between what we were paying and the company it was $1000 a month.

as well as the fact that paying for insurance out of your own pocket entirely is unfeasible, when I was contracting I was paying like $400 - $600 for health insurance I barely used (I can't remember the exact number, but it was a hit),

If you assume you work 1800 hours a year and your insurance is $600 a month, it’s $4/hour you add to the amount you charge per hour. (Insurance is pretax).


I was working through a contracting firm at the time.


It doesn’t change the math. You should still insist on enough of a difference in your hourly rate to make up for paying your insurance. I’ve worked with contracting firms from both sides - hiring through them and working for them. They take enough of a cut from what they charge the client to have wiggle room to adjust your hourly rate.


That gig didn't work out for me either way. I don't think I'll ever head back towards contracting. But I will consider this in the future.


Not directed toward you specifically, but people over index on benefits when choosing between contract work and full time. Every benefit has a dollar value that you should you use when determining an acceptable hourly rate - that includes health, PTO, holidays, 401K matches, etc.

Companies don’t generally hire contractors to save money, they hire them because it is a lot easier to get rid of them. You should be able to charge a premium as a contractor not make less.

But then you better be damn good at budgeting, networking and keeping your eye on the market.


Yeah those are things I lack experience in. I have had less than half a handful of jobs as a software engineer. I hate having to leave jobs but if they dont give me any other choice...


As an American, Me too. A lot of the 20 somethings want that to change in America, but it's slow going.


I agree with OP for my own reasons, but you bring up a very good point that I hadn't previously considered, so thanks.

I've been working remotely from different parts of south/southeast Asia for almost a year now and my cost of living is comparable to my previous residence in Amsterdam. If I was paid less just because I'm in Asia now, I'd be a bit peeved.

I spend a somewhat similar amount on rent because I expect a certain standard of living. I also bought recently bought a new laptop, which ended up costing more than if I had bought it in most expensive countries. Last time I checked, most of the items I regularly buy (e.g. a cold brew coffee) cost exactly the same here.

You should be paid for the value you bring to the company. Your location WRT earning potential is none of your employer's business.


Yeah I 100% agree. I prefer the remote companies that remain agnostic to where you live when they determine salary (which is like all of them except for gitlab). It allows me to do things like move to smaller towns without established tech scenes and save money. Zapier and Duck Duck Go are both like this.


I don't so much mind that as mind that they do it as that their calculation's way off for where I live (others have reported same for other cities, IDK first-hand though). I can do (presumably) easier interviews (zero whiteboarding/leetcode horseshit, I reckon they probably do that) and get fully remote or mostly-remote work at like 20% higher than Gitlab will give me. They'd be more interesting than a lot of the work I get but I have a family and am willing to jump through exactly zero hoops to take a significant pay-cut, you know?

[EDIT] actually, looks like they finally fixed it so it's about right. Nice. Glassdoor info on their interviews still make it seem like way too much of a PITA for a lateral comp move, but that's better.


I'm not sure I understand this complaint regarding salaries. I personally find it perfectly logical that 2 employees who put the same effort and work the same, earn the same.

And by "earn" I mean once you deduct taxes, cost of living, and personal required expenses (education, kids, healthcare, rent..). The extra one keeps/gets to use after all those are deducted should be the same for the process to be fair.

Why would someone working remote earn more? That somehow doesn't really make a lot of sense to me.


You get to choose where you live. If you choose to live somewhere with a high cost of living, why does that mean you get paid more? Why is Sally worth $150k a year in SF but Bob, who’s identical in work performance, only gets $100k because he happens to live somewhere else? Your lifestyle choices shouldn’t effect your salary.


Because in that hypothetical situation, the company can hire those individuals at $150K and $100K respectively. Sally won't accept $100K given alternatives in the Bay Area and her unwillingness to move to $MIDWEST_CITY. And to Bob--who is very happy in his less crowded and expensive location--$100K looks pretty good, especially relative to local alternatives.

"Shouldn't" has very little to do with salary offers.


So clearly sally is not worth being hired, all things bein equal. It wouldn’t make sense for the company


If all things are absolutely equal other than Salary, the company only needs one person, and Bob will take the offer for $50K less--then, yes, they'll probably hire Bob. By virtue of having an expensive lifestyle--and, presumably, more local options--Sally has priced herself out of remote work for companies that genuinely don't care where employees are located.

Of course, real life is more complicated than that and all things are rarely equal.

ADDED: GitLab actually explicitly states: "All things being equal, we will hire people in lower cost markets vs. higher cost markets."


Sally might not have a more expensive lifestyle than Bob, but might be aware that a similar company is willing to pay $150k. And therefore not accept the offer of $100k.


Not a remote one playing by "everyone region has same pay-rate". Because if there is another one and paying more, then Bob, would also apply there.


I understand why it happens, I was replying to a post that says “everyone should earn the same”, which I disagree with.


I agree with this sentiment. Even having children is a personal choice, which one may choose to forgo in the interest of saving money for example. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you wouldn't expect to pay someone more simply because they choose to have 5 children and their family living costs are higher.


a lot of assumptions here. Cost of living is proportional to quality of services, or else people would move. Shouldn’t gitlab also pay more so that the people who live in cheaper cities get better food/schools etc?

Otherwise they re just subsidizing the rent seeking behaviour of crazy expensive cities

Wages and cost/quality of living are in a feedback loop. Remote work will net benefit the cheaper cities and will deflate prices in the expensive ones. I think that is inevitable


Gitlab actually pays really well (relatively to local companies) in lower cost zones, I don't think you can find any market in lower cost areas where Gitlab is only slightly above the market.


Well good .. when remote work reaches the tipping point, i expect wages to be fully equalized


I make social sacrifices by living in a low CoL area in the South so that I may save more of my income. Why would I make monetary sacrifices as well when working remote?


What if one employee has ten kids and another has zero?


With 12 kids, I like how you think. :-)


Your expenses are none of your employers business.


Does that mean I can buy a more expensive house and get a higher salary to pay for it? If everybody gets that option, then nobody is going to live in cheap housing anymore.

That's great for lifting everybody out of poverty of course, but how is this suddenly possible? Can we maybe give everybody a Basic Income to take care of all the cost of living stuff?

Also, if living in an expensive city doesn't cut into your disposable income, then even more people will want to live in those cities, driving housing prices up even more.

I'm absolutely sympathetic to the equality for all argument, but I suspect there's a reason why this is not how capitalism usually works.


Do people game that system? Start work in a high col area and then secretly move?


Or maintain two locations.


I think it's a requirement of remote work. You can't pay someone in Malaysia the rate of someone in Silicon Valley.

Don't get me wrong, I think everyone should get fair wages. But that's just not how it works in different societies. "Fair wages" means different things in different places.


why not? why should my work be paid less, just because i live in a cheaper place? maybe the life is cheaper here, but i end up spending more money to get things that aren't local.

in particular, if i want to keep my european lifestyle, malaysia ends up being more expensive than europe. same goes for most other asian countries. it gets worse with kids. education is very expensive in asia if you want to get the same quality as europe. and i also need to factor in expensive travel to visit family back home.

average cost of living is meaningless.

life is only cheaper if you accept the local living standards and if you don't have any family on another continent. so you are telling me that me having to accept a worse standard of living than you is fair?


I probably shouldn't have said "can't" be paid the same. Instead something more like "don't need to".

Up front, I believe everyone should be paid the same. I want that. But I do accept local living standards. I must - and therefore I am paid less. It's just a reality of our world today.

I think this conversation is about how global our economies are. Which I think are more local than people believe. Also keep in mind that cheaper living isn't always worse living, just cheaper.


same difference. i need to be paid the same, otherwise i can't afford working for you.

and i decidedly disagree that cheaper living isn't always worse. it is. that was the whole point of my post. traveling to visit family, sending my kids to a school with european standards, getting insurance for european quality medical care, all are expensive no matter where i go.

i have lived on 4 continents in dozens of countries. i have yet to find a place where a high standard of living was cheaper.

cheaper living always required trade-offs.


Exactly!


> I think it's a requirement of remote work. You can't pay someone in Malaysia the rate of someone in Silicon Valley.

Why not?

I understand why GitLab does it, it increases profits, but why can’t you pay someone in Malaysia Silicon Valley wages? If there was an individual contributor they wanted badly enough they’d break policy and I’d be surprised if there aren’t some people for whom exceptions have been made.


Basecamp do it. It's about the value you deliver for the company.


> It's about the value you deliver for the company.

Well, yes, but $1 in Malaysia goes a lot further than $1 in SV. So "equal pay" isn't really equal at all.

COL-adjusted salaries are perfectly reasonable in my opinion.


It's pretty equal actually. Work -> Reward. If you then go on living a life on a boat, meditate in a monastery, or enjoy hipster life in San Francisco are your choices and you pay for them accordingly. Please explain to me how one person working 5 years in the valley and retiring for the rest of the life in Philippines got "equal pay" with someone working in the Philippines from the start until they are dead.


What if I'm working for a global company based in Malaysia?

Would I be happy to be paid the regular rate of a Malaysian developer while I live in Silicon Valley? Or would I demand a higher pay? Does that mean everyone in the Malaysian office gets paid more? Does the company go under?

GitLab is in a weird position because they have workers in both. We don't chastise a local Malaysian company for paying the local rates, but we do for GitLab?

It's an unfair reality, but not an unlivable one. A cheaper lifestyle isn't necessarily a degraded one.

That still doesn't make it fair. I personally believe these global companies could step up and try to change that. But that's if it weren't about profits - which is is.


Basecamp HQ is in Chicago so $1 is worth whatever it is worth in Chicago.


But someone in Malaysia stills pays full price to connect to gitlabs.


I think that's great example of why this is a difficult conversation. Global commodities are typically fixed and can be prohibitive to some localities.

Who budges? Do the global companies lower their prices or do local economies step up and pay more? Or even are they able to pay more?


You could but you don't need to is more accurate. But both produce the same value.


> I like how Gitlab promotes remote work, but I don't like that their salaries are based on employee's costs of living.

Especially since they don't do region based pricing - everybody pays the same price worldwide, but they only pay cost of living salaries? Hypocrites.


> I don't like that their salaries are based on employee's costs of living.

I don't know, it seems fair to me. If you pay your workers in a high-COL area the same in terms of absolute money as those in a low-COL area, then the people in the low-COL are effectively making a lot more than those in the high-COL area.

What's important, in terms of business or personal finances, isn't gross income -- it's net.


Please see how did we start paying team members according to the location in the first place and why we did it here: https://about.gitlab.com/2019/02/28/why-we-pay-local-rates/


Then why don't you do region based pricing as well?


Customers really hate price discrimination, especially if the company has a reputation for transparency. Employees don’t mind regional discrimination so much (and if they do, they don’t work for Gitlab).


Not sure that reasoning flies.

Many more customers would be on gitlab if regional pricing exists. The profit number would go down though.

More candidates would apply to work for gitlab without the policy.

In both cases gitlab makes more money. Which is fine but spinning it doesn't seem right.


For our reasoning please see https://about.gitlab.com/2019/02/28/why-we-pay-local-rates/ and https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/people-operations/global-c...

TLDR; we want to pay close to market, and location still is a big factor in market wage.


Single data-point here:

As someone who's worked mostly full-remote for 5+ years and has been in an office for the past 2 years: I absolutely prefer being in an office with my coworkers.

Everyone has different priorities of course, but commuting and location-lock-in aside the office wins in all categories for me. I could technically be working from home whenever I want but unless I have practical reasons to work from home I always come in.

Interesting conversation, though. And I think that in order to make it work properly, you kind of need to be "remote-first" as a team (most communication digital) or you will be hit with chaos.

And I think it's really great that GitLab is going all-in on this. There are also many teams in the cryptocurrency/blockchain space that are fully remote, where the team members meet physically a couple of times a year for conferences or team retreats.


I hear a variation on this comment every time remote work comes up. I completely respect your preference, but I suspect the people who feel this way are a vocal minority. I've worked remotely for 7 years now, and find that the majority love it and would not want to return to an office.

Yet, it isn't for everyone. I think it is great to know which camp you fall in, and seek out work that lets you succeed in whichever environment works best for you.


I feel we need to speak up, yes. Working online, whenever you want is a change from which there is no going back for me. I get a chance of office fun once every two weeks and that just reminds me how inefficient waste of time it is. People should value their time more... after all it s the one thing we cant buy

I understand the other side but I attribute the downsides to the fact that modern lifestyle has not adapted. Americans seem to center their social life around work, so yeah thats gonna be rough if you go remote. Esp. if you work in a boring residential-only suburb. I think we re about to see lots of changes around this culture in the following years


I don't think the "remote vs. local workplace" dichotomy is going to last for long. Eventually we're going to figure out how to integrate both approaches into the same companies. At my job, we have one remote employee and it's incredibly painful. Removing even the tiniest bit of friction there would be greatly appreciated.

I think the steps outlined in this interview, oriented around taking small, iterative steps fast, is going to soon become the new norm for work, but that will require advancements in the state of technical architecture.

Microservices needs a new, language-agnostic framework. I'm excited for GraalVM, might be the only thing Oracle ever gets right.


My company already operates remotely even though half the team are in the office. It's not rocket science. Use Slack or similar, using Google Drive or similar, have daily or less frequent phone standups depending on the project/process and pick up the phone when you need to.


>At my job, we have one remote employee and it's incredibly painful. Removing even the tiniest bit of friction there would be greatly appreciated.

my rule for remote work, is that remote should be first. even if you only have one remote employee.

i also realized that this is actually a good thing -- because if someone get sick, has an emergency and has to work from home for sometime, it doesn't break the team's flow.


What do you mean by "first?"


i follow stackoverflow's definition https://stackoverflow.blog/2017/02/08/means-remote-first-com...

but i recently read circleci's blogpost on remote first, and it's really good too https://circleci.com/blog/what-almost-failing-the-gre-taught...


> I don't think the "remote vs. local workplace" dichotomy is going to last for long. Eventually we're going to figure out how to integrate both approaches into the same companies.

That should be the goal. Some people like full local, some like full remote, some (like me) like a mix. I would guess the majority fall into the later.

Companies should cater to all three, because A) its not hard to do, B) its cheaper for them, and C) they don't eliminate great employees.


It's not either-or though. My team is remote ~50% of the week. In many ways it's the best of both worlds.


Yes, the majority of the people who work remote, enjoy remote. I’m pretty sure the kind of person who likes it will typically seek it out.

I’m in the same position as the other person. I just quit my remote job for a local in-office position.


I guess the issue is many in office workers would rather work from home at least some of the time.


Have you seen a variation on this comment from someone who left gitlab? I'm curious how much people's affinity for remote work depends on the way the company does remote.


Urban economists have identified many agglomeration benefits from living and working close to others. One of them is knowledge spillovers and benefits from randomly bumping against each other. Not just in the same workplace but people working in different companies etc.

If you have a local meeting the immediate aftermath can be more useful than the actual meeting. You talk a little more and one-to-one with someone and exchange ideas and maybe you quickly go over some difficult issues.


What is your daily commute to work like? Is it 30 minutes round trip? I think this will influence whether or not you like working in an office all the time or not.


I spent a decade of at least 1 hour in and 1.5 hours back every day. That is a lot of time I wish I could get back in my life. When you work 8 hours + 2.5 hours commute it all adds up. Plus 8 hours wasn't really the amount it was more. Go in earlier to avoid traffic. Get stuck in a late meeting and work time increases plus more time in traffic.

I now work remotely and do enjoy some aspects of it. However, there is much to be said for the co-location of coworkers. If everyone on your team is in an office and you are somewhere else you lose part of the dynamic. You have to work harder to stay in the loop on things instead of just organically being in the know.


When I commuted I was lucky to keep it within about 30-40 minutes, even after I bought a house, for most of my time. I did have a year where I commuted 1.5+ hours each way 3-4 days a week.

I could take the train some days but still a huge chunk out of my day. I couldn't have dealt with that long term.


I sacrificed a couple of other priorities to get a flat within 10 minutes walk from the office. So yeah, no long commutes for me either way. I think around 30 minutes door-to-door is where I would draw the line, personally.


I became a developer partly because it looked like the best career for a nomadic lifestyle, for which I'd need to work remotely. But I ended up dropping the nomadic lifestyle and I can no longer see myself working from home without suffering from loneliness. Socialising is almost as important a motivator as salary in my case.


One thing that I don't hear mentioned much when it comes to remote work is that it's the easiest way to get your own office and bathroom. My office's bathrooms are full of motion sensors that don't work reliably (ideally, a toilet should not flush when I am sitting on it, and SHOULD flush when one of my co-workers walks away after leaving waste in it.. neither of these are usually accomplished). I am a lot more productive when I don't have to walk far to find an available and clean restroom.


Extremely underrated perk. Bathrooms are more than just a place to poop, they're a serene place of contemplation.


I work from home 2 to 3 days a week.

At big companies, it was pretty easy to do. Everything is electronic and formal. Still days I wanted to be in the office but remote was fine.

Small company where everything is in flux based on customer needs, it's more of a mix where we're making real decisions every day and really need those face to face meetings / I want to be there. Sometimes just to get that face to face time with someone new or such.

Really though it is not about size, it is about the job / how the company works, and that's OK. Different jobs, phases of a company's life, DIFFERENT PEOPLE and etc all lend themselves more to remote work, or way way less. There's no right or wrong more than there is inherently right or wrong code as much as you consider the existing system and make decisions about what works best given that system.


Quoting myself from before (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19788802)

Communication between team members is a huge issue in remote work.

It works if everyone is on site. It also works if everyone is remote.

But when some are at the office and some aren't, communication and information sharing becomes a lot harder. Mostly it's a process and tool issue, but still humans will rather just turn around and ask the team than spend a minute describing their issue on Slack/whatever.


>> Mostly it's a process and tool issue, but still humans will rather just turn around and ask the team than spend a minute describing their issue on Slack/whatever.

I actually find it harder to understand people who prefer to call/talk rather than describe the issue in text.

First, when you have an e-mail/wiki/Slack - you've got a proper paper trail on who's responsible for what. Second, you've got a conversation you can always return to - so that you wouldn't need to ask about the details again and again. And third - you can send this conversation to someone else and they can understand what's happening.

Basically - my point is that for the issues that are worthy of a long conversation, screen is always better. Especially if you can add things like diagrams (e.g. graphviz) into the equation.

I am mostly not happy about people who are currently older at the offices (40+) and who think that chats are made as a replacement for the phone (e.g. you are supposed to say "hello", wait, then "hello" again, then to communicate in real-time).

One of the best collaborations I had was with I was 15 ~15 years ago. We had an IRC chat with a wiki. The team was all over the globe - and we made things happen without speaking to each other in real-time. We used wiki for documentation and chat for most of the communication that didn't need history.


It's easier to whip up the problem layout on paper or a whiteboard and explain the problem, than start preparing a graphviz presentation.

Some things are just easier in person.

Again, this can be solved with tools (some tool that allows a shared drawing surface with video/audio for example), but very few people bother. I've seen $$$$ put into expensive 80" Surface screens and they're still used like a cheap whiteboard.


My coworkers and I made great use of a stylus, 2 in 1 laptops, and Microsoft Whiteboard for this purpose. It makes whiteboarding while remote very simple. In fact, it’s better than in-person whiteboarding because it allows for multiple people to write at the same time, and instead of everyone taking pictures with their phone when we finished, we could simply send out the screen to as an image afterwards, or pick up a session again later. Once we had this workflow setup, we found that no one used the giant, expensive Surface Hubs anymore, even in person.


Communication for a team distributed across NYC and Chicago is not really any different than a team that's NYC, Chicago and remote people here and there. Multiple locations is a problem companies in basically every other industry manage to solve as they grow and yet tech can't figure it out because we think we're different.


Probably because of the readership, a lot of the discussions tend to assume small companies and teams.

As you say, while companies take different approaches, most large companies (or even medium large companies) has offices all over the world, teams that have grown and morphed through acquisition and reorganization, etc.

I have a couple different offices I could go into--daily if I wanted to--but most of the people I interact with are elsewhere and many of the people I do work with in those offices spend most of their time traveling and in meetings.

The situation may be different for small development teams of focused projects, but I'd be working across timezones every day whether I was in an office or not.


> “I'm scouting for companies who are all remote because they have a much easier time attracting and retaining talent”

Is there any data to support this, especially considering that compensation is usually the number one way to attract and retain talent, and remote workers are often not paid well (even after adjusting for cost of living) compared to on-site teammates doing the same job but physically present in an office location?

There are rare and uninformative exceptions sure, but largely remote work pay sucks for doing the same job. The company is treating you like basic needs (quiet & private workspace, avoidance of crushing commute) are perks that should be offset with lowered salary, even though the salary is for the job you’re doing.

Edit: Gitlab apparently even publishes their own policies about this:

- https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/people-operations/global-c...

It actually smells like outrageous bullshit pay policy to me. That’s actually kind of sad given they are held up as an example of more healthful & open-minded work policies.

I can say for sure I’d rather deal with the downsides of an office commute & environment than to be paid less than a teammate doing the exact same job potentially solely because they are choosing to live in a higher cost region. That’s a pretty clear signal the company is looking for fungible, cheap talent and views remote as a cost-cutting tactic, not some corporate ideal.

> “If we start paying everyone the highest wage our compensation costs would increase greatly, we can hire fewer people, and we would get less results.”

Wow, what complete horse shit. So what about companies located in expensive urban centers that don’t offer remote positions? All their hires are at the highest local rate, yet companies like these are thriving, hiring plenty of talent, growing, etc.

I see the “location factor” between San Francisco and NYC is 0.85. I would be laughing my way right off of that negotiation video call...

I am frankly stunned to learning it’s such a sham with Gitlab!


> Is there any data to support this, especially considering that compensation is usually the number one way to attract and retain talent

I'd also like to see some data to back this up, but intuitively it makes sense to me at least. A lot of engineers want to work remotely, yet there are disproportionately less remote positions available.

Remote work is a huge deal for a lot of people (including myself), and many would happily trade a somewhat lower salary for it - no commuting means you save money, get more sleep, and more free/family time. I've been remote for several years now, and little things like getting to have breakfast and lunch most days with my family really matter.


> https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/people-operations/global-c...

Yikes, would never work for gitlab after reading that and the relocation chapter.


Yeah, the relocation policy is bonkers. I think it’s just indefensible for them to do anything other than to take the highest local rate they pay and use that as the rate for all locations. If it incentivizes people to move to low cost areas, great! But I suspect employees who like city living will be perfectly happy continuing to pay higher prices to live there, as long as you’re paying them well.


As others have noted, it may be "bonkers" but salaries that are partly determined by where people live are absolutely the norm for the vast bulk of companies with multiple offices.

The only thing that makes GitLab exceptional is they're very transparent and upfront about it down to the specific numbers--some of which admittedly seem rather off.


I don’t think this is actually true for software and knowledge work companies. It is true for commodity labor.

If you’re an expert in a special database system, a company is going to have to pay you what you ask, regardless of whether you’re interviewing for that company’s NY office or Boulder, CO office or working remote from Alaska.

Companies that don’t do this, whether hiring remote or hiring into different office locations, generally aren’t investing in employees but are looking to cut costs with location arbitrage, and get reputations for being bad places to work, lacking compensation or career growth.

Gitlab is welcome to just be another one of these crappy companies, but it seems like they aspire to be seen as some type of thought leader, which is at odds with a pay policy that is at best mediocre and at worst actively exploitative by design.


Companies will bend or break a lot of rules for unique individuals that they want/need. But that doesn't apply to the vast majority of their employees including even fairly senior technical staff. Heck, plenty of the big tech employers are still generally resistant to remote work at all although they're slowly relenting in at least some cases.

I stand by my assertion that very few large employers ignore location when it comes to salary offers.


> “I stand by my assertion that very few large employers ignore location when it comes to salary offers.”

I agree with you but only because most large employers enforce commodity models of labor, and only far up the hierarchy do you get to unique employment requirements that break commoditization.

This doesn’t fit Gitlab at all though. They are still in a phase where very few employment needs are commodity.


> see the “location factor” between San Francisco and NYC is 0.85. I would be laughing my way right off of that negotiation video call...

Dallas is a 0.800. I'd be all over Gitlab if I still lived there.

Meanwhile, New Jersey and Virginia have the same factor as Alabama and Mississippi (0.633).

I don't oppose the idea, but I want to know whose ass they pulled this table of adjustment factors out of.


This explains how GitLab calculates the location factor: https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/people-operations/global-c...


London, UK is a 0.628 which is laughable.


absolutely bonkers. london was one of the most expensive cities i've ever visited -- can easily compare to NYC.


Isn't this a product of the different exchange rates people use?

From what I've seen, if you want to buy something large like a car in the UK, you can approximate the cost by taking the American price and converting it using the official exchange rate, which is...1.23 at the moment but often higher.

But the salaries I see advertised are generally as if the exchange rate were 1:1.

So I think wherever this factor comes from, it's not new or obscure, and at about 20%, it pretty much explains the discrepancy here.


I hate commuting. I like being in the office around people once I get there though.


I sort of agree with that, but currently work 100% remote and hang out with neighborhood pals after work.


Even as a full remote employee for the last 3 years, I still find GitLab to be head and shoulders above others in their approach.

The emphasis on _async_ communication stands out. So many places basically think "we have video chat and slack! done!". But then you realize that the east coasters all got together at 5am west coast time. If everyone is used to at least recording, then just notifying the channel "hey we chatted about X", it helps a lot.

At the same time, I still feel if offices were just nicer spaces, people wouldn't be as pro-remote. Every office I've been subjected to (over 15-18 years, it's been several) are rather ugly, distraction-laden environments. I'd be ok to go work in an office, but, almost every tech office I've been in is both depressing and full of stupid interruptions.


Doist exist. Their new tool (product of dogfooding) reflects the ASYNC communication requires much more than any other communication tool.


I hate commuting, and I definitely don't feel like I'm gaining anything in particular having to be in the office. It's just the inertia of expectations that keeps it up.

The best schedule, in my opinion, is one day in the office, to deal with meetings and planning and such that actually benefits from face-to-face, to four days remote, for actually doing work.

This is 2019; you can always jump on a video call. And even though I do have a private office (with a door!) at work, my office ar home is less prone to incidental interruptions, and the network connection is more stable.


A while back I was on vacation while also doing contract work. I remember exploring Montreal, banging out designs on hostel or cafe wifi, exploring the city and meeting people while also being productive when i felt like being alone. It's probably the happiest memory I have of that year.

Would have loved to pivot to that full time if the guy I worked for hadn't turned out to be unreliable. It's still a fond fantasy to find an arrangement like that again somehow.


I've done a few stints where I traveled and worked full-time. I'd use the weekends once a month to move between airbnbs in different State/Cities and it didn't affect my work at all, 9-6+ m-f I was available and online. It's actually my favorite way to work. I can show up in offices when necessary, specifically target staying in cities where there might be a satellite office if I need to, etc, then move on once I feel the urge.

I'm not sure Gitlabs COL rule caters to this sort of situation at all. I'd prefer an employer to have no concern whatsoever as to where my "permanent" residence is, albeit that of course complicates HR/legal things.


Just changed jobs from a job that was 10 minutes away from home, in a quiet cubicle, to a job 70 minutes away in an "open concept" office - and it's painful.

Before that I worked completely remotely for years and I miss it so much. Unfortunately this isn't really a thing so far in Singapore as far as I can tell (The previous job was being proud about an initiative that introduced one day of remote work for select people. One day per month).


As long as GitLab continues to pay location-adjusted salaries for remote employees, talented employees don't want to work at GitLab either.


They can only do that as long as there aren't many remote companies who compete for workers. If remote work becomes more mainstream they will have to compete globally. There are already tech companies that don't look at local salaries, but it's still far from mainstream.


Agreed. This is a nice article about some of the problems with remote pay based on location: https://dev.to/sam_ferree/why-i-think-cost-of-living-pay-for...


What a shitty post.

>That apartment in the bay area has great weather, it's above a fun little Thai fusion dive bar, and within walking (or public transport) distance to some of the worlds largest tech conferences and meetups. Meanwhile, an employee in Iowa has to drive an hour for a P.F. Chang's and has to wake up 5am to shovel his driveway 5 months out of the year to get his kid to school.

Could we inject just a little more Bay Area condescension for the flyover states?

To be clear, I understand the visceral appeal of the fairness argument and reducing two locales to a single ratio is incredibly simplistic. But ultimately, almost every distributed company lets market forces set different salary ranges--which may or may not be a better approach than a preset ratio.


And if you make a higher than average salary in a lower COL area, all of these "remote" companies want to give you a paycut for some reason.


The reason is clear: it's saving money by paying you less than what you're worth.


How do they ensure that their employees actually live at that location and dont just have a po-box or a buddy there to score an extra 20k a year? When you work remotely home is subjective.

This is sort of a case of malicious compliance.


Well, for starters, you're probably violating the law because the residency you're claiming for tax purposes, etc. isn't your actual residency. I expect you're also in violation of your employment agreement. (And I very much doubt you're going to keep this a secret especially if you do any travel.)


What if you start at a low salary because you live in Mississippi, and later decide you want to move to NYC. Do they automatically give you a raise?


According to their policies, if you want to relocate, you have to tell the company which will choose to extend you a new contract or not.

(Presumably this partially relates to salary but they also make the point they're really not indifferent to location. They take things like timezones, proximity to customers, etc. into account.)


So, essentially, even though you're "remote", you are tied to your current location and you're their bitch. Reject companies like GitLab, don't work there, don't support that.


Some companies are more flexible than others, but it's pretty common that "remote" employees can't just pickup and move anywhere in the world they feel like it. Honestly, if one really wants to have that kind of flexibility they should probably consider consulting.


GitLab hires all "employees" in non-mainstream locations as contractors anyways. So, legally, it is consulting. But they treat you like an employee anyway. Legal grey area?


I don't really care about the legal status. I was suggesting that, as a truly independent contractor, you can set your own rates and if you're fulfilling your contract remotely you can certainly choose to charge the same whether you're in SF or a beach in Thailand.


I stopped reading when you claimed you don't care if it is legal or not to treat someone as an employee, but hire him as a contractor instead.


I care if it's legal or not. But hiring people as full employees requires certain legal structures/organizations to be in place in a location. There are costs associated with setting up those structures. This often doesn't make sense if there's only one person in a country or other such political entity.

Small companies do indeed not expand geographically for this reason--or hire through a partner or other entity that is already established there.


Why? What company doesn't adjust salaries based on location?


They still pay very well in lower cost areas.


Sort of.

If you have the skills and experience gitlab is seeking you could work for any bay area company for $160,000 or more remotely or $200,000+ locally (sv/sf)

This ensures gitlab will get average, some good but very few great employees. Most will flock to google/facebook/etc and by pass gitlabs when they are paying double.

In lower cost areas they are coming in at the top end but a lot of places are hovering in that range.


Anybody who doesn't grasp why location-adjusted salaries are a thing is probably not worth hiring.


Is it only me or the article font is really hard on the eyes? Why the web designers (looking at Microsoft as well) insist on using such thin fonts?


Looks great on my monitor.

Designers always have the best hardware, perhaps that's why they overlook how their designs are rendered on 'typical' machines.


Light font weights are often reasonable on Macs because of its stroke thickening, but for most fonts the light weight should never be used for body text other than on a Mac.

Lato 300 is too light for body text.


Interesting to know! I switched to Open Sans 300 for now and looked at it from the phone, hope that makes it a little easier on the eyes!


Because designers decided that this[0] is terribly ugly and instead we have to put up with all possible crap, with thin or small fonts, low contrast between the background and foreground, and otherwise unreadable text.

[0] https://web.archive.org/web/19980126185208/http://www.gnu.or...

https://web.archive.org/web/19980126185208/http://www.gnu.or...


I switched to Open Sans for now. It looked okay on my machine (also not really a web designer, forgive me!). I hope it's more readable now.


Looks like you only changed the font that will be loaded from Google Fonts; styles.css is still using Lato:

  * {
    font-family: 'Lato', sans-serif;
  }
For clarity, the complaint is primarily about weight 300, not about the font family. Open Sans is a little better than Lato at weight 300, but it’ll still look quite poor on many devices.


Check out practical typography for some quick and easy tips to improve the typography: https://practicaltypography.com

Personally, I would ditch the header typeface too. You can surely find something which is fairly unique while still being legible.


Damn, that article is hard to read.


I've noticed a link in my work between accountability, comfort, distraction, and productivity. If I'm too comfortable, I let myself get distracted. If I'm in an office, I can get distracted by others. If I'm not next to someone working, I may not hold myself accountable and slack off.

But if I'm not too comfortable, and not too distracted, I can be more productive. To do this, I have to turn off slack and e-mail, and go to a room which isn't very comfortable and has no distractions. Ideally there would also be other people in there for the same purpose, for accountability.

At work we have these "focus zones" where a conference room is booked for 2-5 hours a day. You can go there and just work in silence with others. If I turn off slack and e-mail, it works well. The only problem is the chairs are almost too comfortable, and conference tables aren't ideal for working on laptops.


I don't want to commute, but I do want to work in the same physical place as my coworkers.

"Missing out" is one reason, but not the biggest one. The biggest one is that I prefer to have a clear physical/psychological separation between being "at work" and "at home".


What I would have wanted to hear from the interview is if they have junior developers and how are they handled. If “Remote People are a Manager of One”, how can we expect junior developers to manage themselves. Hire the best and they probably could, but they need to be mentored.


I don't want to miss out on the commute as it takes me out of my home environment out into the world, it provides exercise and I can see, hear and feel my colleagues and the inner workings of the company in high resolution stereoscopic 3D. It's not an either/or thing, I am happy to choose a day in the week to work from home. I'm impressed though by how GitLab took the virtual or remote corporation idea to a very practical implementation you can branch everywhere although I'm skeptical about the climate tax caused by the yearly flying of the employees. How is that offset?

In either case, with VR and AR maturing GitLab's groundwork will be gratefuly re-used with in the future.


Interesting article, especially when it's readable using Firefox reader mode.

The comment by Sid about investors seeing remote-only as an additional risk something that never really crossed my mind. Gitlab truly are pioneers in going remote-only at this scale.


@dmonn, as I see no any contact info on the NoHQ page, only to the Twitter account where you encourage people to upvote your submission: could you do us a favor and remove the meta refresh from the noscript tag on your pages? Thanks.


Done!


Personally I like a very short commute, ideally a 5-10 minute walk through a park. After having worked remotely for 5+ years, I absolutely need a separation between 'personal space' and 'work space.'


I still haven’t found alternate of discussing an issue with colleagues in person on the whiteboard and finalizing solution. It’s just faster and better than any remote collaboration tools.


Well, why does this guy bring investors into the story? :)


  <noscript>
    <style>body {
      display: none;
    }</style>
    <meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0; url=https://www.nohq.co"/>
  </noscript>
Why on earth is this there? It’s on both the blog post and the front page of the website, so it throws you into a redirect loop.

I’m baffled and curious as to why that got there in the first place.


Holy crap. This must've come with a starter template. Gone now. Sorry!


Thanks for the rapid fix!


Seems like they've removed it now, maybe they noticed they were DOSing themselves ;)




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