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Twitter Will Allow Employees to Work at Home Forever (buzzfeednews.com)
2953 points by minimaxir on May 12, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 1339 comments

I always thought I enjoyed remote work as an engineer/architect, I did it for 6 months by my own volition before coming back. I am extremely unhappy. I really miss being in the office with my coworkers and friends. I've struggled deeply with overwhelming sadness at the idea of not going back anytime soon. My work has suffered from a lack of dynamic interactions. I get lots of focus time, just like I did at the office, but working in the same building I live in has been brutal. Maybe I'm different than the average HN reader, but I'm a social butterfly and not going in to the office has been devastating to my mental health, my appetite, my motivation, and my overall interest in work. I exercise the same amount, I eat just as healthy (just less), but something is missing. If this field goes primarily remote, I will leave.

I have worked from home for the last couple of years. Prior to the Covid shutdown, I had generally enjoyed it. Once my children's school closed and my wife's work switched to work from home, my productivity has plummeted. I find it impossible to focus as every 10 minutes I have a young child running into my office, or have to listen to them yelling at each other (as all kids do). My wife has had a hard time adjusting and she is equally distracted by the kids and her frustration feeds mine. She is forced to be on conference calls for most of the day (I am actually surprised at how many there are, they are all calls with executive level people so she cant opt out. Almost all income producing departments have to pass through her team and they laid off her support staff) but is still expected to complete real work as well which she cant do now until the calls stop after 5. I have been able to get very little deep work done and find myself working until 2 / 3 am to accomplish the same work I used to do in a normal shift.

I feel very bad for my kids as all they want is to be able to play with their friends and do all the things they could before so I do my very best to not show them my frustration. Its a depressing situation all around but I am very grateful to actually still have a job while so many others have lost theirs. My kids ask me why I have to work so much all the time, as all they want to do is spend time with me.

I guess what I am trying to say is the current situation is not optimal.

My company (large-ish un-sexy software company you've never heard of) gave the software managers clear direction on this: "It's not realistic for people with school-aged children to be fully productive right now. Do not demand they take PTO or ask them to work at night. If they can only work five hours a day, that's what they can do."

I suspect it's unusual that my boss actually said that out loud, but I hope everyone is thinking it. This is a temporary situation none of us planned for, and it ought to be reasonable and expected to lower your standards until schools and childcare are around again.

We might work at the same company!

I lead one of our teams and that's pretty much the explicit directions my VP gave us. Actually, the entire leadership team gave those directions. It's made me glad I switched jobs 18 months ago.

Somehow I'm the only one on our team with kids but some of my team has had a difficult time managing the change from an emotional standpoint and I just treat it the same way. I don't expect them to somehow magically "power through it". They're normally very productive and I know this will pass.

By this attitude you can recognise reasonable employers that care about their employees, and are not merely looking to exploit them.

My company (large consulting firm you have probably heard of) gave us essentially the same guidance from the top. The culture was already one that discouraged micromanaging, but they flat out said they don't expect us to be as productive. Most of my team is realistically working 15-20 hours a week, and that's ok because our clients are doing the same and understand when we miss milestones.

I've actually been impressed at the amount of empathy that's been going around, at least when it comes to adjusting expectations. Hopefully it sticks around.

Exactly the right response. Sounds like management may be a bit sexy though, stable companies that treat their employees well are rare.

Basecamp's founders have been working hard to hammer this point (lower expectations and treat humans like humans) home lately.

Exactly the same thing at Arm.

We had an all-hands and one of the questions was "are we expected to do our contractual hours" and the answer was to do what you can.

Honestly very impressed by how they are handling this, at every turn they repeat that they understand that everyone's situation is different.

"If they can only work five hours a day"

I appreciate the sentiment, but five hours?! That's your example of an acceptable low level of performance for someone working from home with a child with no possibility of childcare?

I'm splitting card of my toddler with my spouse, and on my BEST days, I get 3 hours of actual work done. 1.5 is more typical, and that's only because the toddler takes 2 hour naps.

One of the reasons we built Squawk, a push-to-talk group chat platform, was for this very reason. Many of our team have young kids at home, and current chat tools require too much work to ensure you're muted and not spamming your background noise all over the place. Might be worth a click - https://www.squawk.to

Thanks for sharing. Three kids spanning elementary and middle; one is neurotypical, other two have different strengths and needs. My work space is a single car unconditioned garage, atop a stack of boxes. Yesterday I was inside between meetings for a total of 4 minutes between meetings and had reduced two of them to tears. Today I had to cut off my 1st grader, who was in middle of excitedly presenting me a LEGO she completed, because it was :59 after and I needed to get on a call. Granted, most days are a little more even, but it's hard to not feel like there's a choice between damaging relationships/reputation at work or damaging relationship with kids. They're of course not mutually exclusive, and kids are clear priority if it were.

Having work and home contexts now collapsed into single environment has had the surprising effect where each interaction with the family during my work day triggers the subconscious thought of whether I just made a tradeoff between work and home -- and if so, was it the right one. In isolation the amount of energy each thought takes is negligible, but add up each interaction throughout the day, and day after day, it's been incredibly draining.

I dunno, my thoughts change daily on this topic. But this is my venting of for whatever day it is. usually I type these replies and never submit, but cathartic, if nothing else, to vent and post this one today.

p.s. agree, while not optional, still incredibly grateful to still have a job.

Yeah, not a day goes by during this compression of work and home life that I don't wonder at least a couple of times if I am a bad parent. Kind of (I hesitate to use the word) good to hear others going through the exact same thing. Kids just want to spend time with me but after the 4th time of them just coming to say hi in 10 minutes and the cursor still just blinking on an empty line on the screen I sometimes, regretfully snap and feel bad about it. My productivity is 25% of what it was and now I'm not worried about being laid off but rather fired for lack of production.

Note: I thought I had it bad with my office, that has no door, but you have me beat pretty handily.

I work from home and since about February my productivity nose-dived. It suffered before they closed the schools because of worry and constant news checking, etc. Then when the schools closed here in March I have been near useless. I have started to claw back some routines and some short spells of focused work lately but as the main carer for the kids, I have constant homeschooling, cooking, peace-making, MacGuyvering, Wikipediaing, Joe Wicksing to do for them. Closing my home office door last about on average 3 minutes, probably.

The other problem is the confusion of what day it is and that since I got not much work done during the weekdays I also work at the weekend, which before was a complete no-no. Over the long term, this lack of time off for them and me probably is not good.

Cut and paste. I have three kids and they span a broad range of ages. I feel lucky to have a dedicated home office with a door that closes, but that doesn’t stop the constant interruptions from my kids. I can only imagine the global destruction of productivity that is happening right under our noses.

It's been estimated by economists that we've now lost every production gain made since the end of WWII.

Do you have a source for this? I suspected that the loss in productivity has been enormous, but that's a shocking assertion!

Exact same boat here, we can't complain because we still have our jobs, we feel terrible because our kids are getting bored out of their minds and all they want is our attention, i don't know how long we can go on like this.

I haven't figured out how to be as productive as night as I would be in the morning, which used to be my best hours.

You simply can't WFH with young children at home and no full-time caretaker. My wife and I tried alternating 6-hour shifts of work and childcare, 6 days/week, and finally gave up and hired a nanny.

Your comment has converted me from a lurker to a first time poster. I'm in the exact same boat as you and just wanted to tell you to keep on plugging away and doing the best you can. Its all we can really do.

I got stressed out just reading your comment. I hope you're able to return to normalcy soon. :(

3 devs with kids I know all implemented shifts - since they only need to be in meetings occasionally they will watch the kids and work after that.

You mean, they will watch the kids or mutually exclusive work?

This is really interesting, and rings a lot of bells for myself as well. Are you in the US?

I think it is time for a lot of people for a relocation to somewhere with better-larger living arrangements, and better access to childcare (private or public).

And it also should give rise to gig economy around private tutors/babysitters/nannys - which is very useful, and actually could be fun for a lot of people.

Thanks for this comment, I'm empathetic and am in a similar boat. I'm curious if there are managers/companies out there that are expecting the same level of productivity from their staff during these times?

I for one expect lower productivity from my staff whether or not they have kids, and am adjusting delivery dates to account for this.

Other than having not worked from home for many years now (which I am very happy to do when it works out), your experience is highly relatable. For the kids, I'm sad and wish I could do something more for them. But work abounds.

In the exact same situation -- take it for what it is and have faith that being there for your kids is somewhat of a silver lining I say

Hang in there <3

> I really miss being in the office with my coworkers and friends.

Are you young, single, and live in an apartment? I have noticed a divide along those lines with WFH. As an older, married person, living in a house with a yard, I haven't worked in an office for any length of time for last 10 years.

None of my close friends are related to work. I like having lunch with my wife and going out back with the dogs when I need a break. I also have an actual office with a door in my house. The time I save commuting means there is more time to workout and cook healthy meals every day. And, if I really want to 'get out' the local coffee shop is 5 minutes away. The owner and her 2 employees are awesome along with great coffee and great internet.

Of course I may think differently if I was back in my 600 sqft apartment and single with few friends.

I think it is expected that we will see the full spectrum of reactions to this new work environment. Everything from : - whether you are living single or with a significant other - happily married or have your relationship just scraping by (As an aside, I read that China has seen a spike in divorces after their lockdown) - have kids or no kids, have teenagers or toddlers - have a comfortable home office or are working from your kitchen table and sitting on a dining chair - are introverted or extroverted - have great co-workers in a great workplace environment or if you dislike your office and/or co-workers - if you have a long commute or live a relaxing 10 minute walk from the office

... the list goes on and on.

It is not surprising that you will have every variation of the above. But my guess is that for the majority of the people, once they setup a proper home office, the would likely find working from home to be somewhere in the "mildly positive" to "really positive" side of things. Even if some disagree with that, at the very least, I imagine that most would agree that they would like to have the _option_ to work from home whenever they choose.

Speaking as a young, single and lives in an apartment person. As an introvert I've often relied on being present among people to kind of substitute for my social life. With that not being present, it really puts focus on the presence or lack of social network. I'm actually grateful in a way that it has forced me to reach out to people in my network, that I otherwise wouldn't have..

I might be some kind of extreme introvert, because I don't miss people in my office at all. In fact it feels like a relief, for professional reasons I've had to be more outgoing that I'd like to and that feels extremely tiring after a while.

As much as your boss might want it, your coworkers don't have to be your friends if you don't want to. The greatest advantage of working remotely is that you can choose who you want to spend your working time, lunches, etc, with. Maybe it's just yourself.

Age of children is also factor. I suspect people enjoy the escape an office provides when they have toddlers. I really enjoy having lunch with my teenage kids everyday thanks to Covid. Working from home has been a blessing.

Kids are a spectrum. The lockdown is so different depending on how old your kids are:

Infant = stressed, but manageable

Toddler = worst case scenario

Young child = second worst case scenario

Teen = enjoyable

As someone with an infant and a toddler, working from home, this hits the nail on the head. I have been working remotely my whole career, and I love it, but working at home _with_ children there is about 5x harder.

I have four kids under age 8, including a two-year-old.

Brutal doesn’t begin to describe it.

I've got an 11 year old and a 5 year old. Sometimes I tell the oldest to go play with his brother, so they both won't bother us.

This tends to work very well for about 30 minutes, and then they're in a fight.

So essentially: Kids are annoying. Babies are sweet though.

More or less. Young kids want your attention and don't have the capacity to understand why you can't give it and have to focus on something else for 8 hours, so they'll just keep interrupting you. Babies require your attention periodically for basic-life needs or general fussiness but nothing beyond that (which is stressful, but not intellectually taxing). Teenagers are likely a bag of contradictions, but at least they understand the concept of working all day and needing space to concentrate. You can reason with a 15 year old, but not a 5 year old.

I'm mostly solving this issue with my 3-year old by playing with her all day (save for an hour or two of meetings) and then catching up on work at night, at the expense of a bunch of sleep.

I'm lucky that my software job is mostly conducive to this...

Twin three year olds and a seven year old here...

My and my spouses co-workers seem to be split on whether or not they have young kids at home that they're supposed to be watching while they work. My spouse and I are lucky enough to have help watching our kids and seeing them more as well as getting those prep and commute hours back is such a blessing.

I ignored kids because that should not be typical of a long-term WFH situation. All of my WFH coworkers still use day cares, etc...

My kids are 1 and 3, going to work at the office was definitely the easier part of my day before WFH started! I consider it a good week now if I'm mostly attentive in all the meetings I have and get a modicum of actual work done.

> I like having lunch with my wife and going out back with the dogs when I need a break. I also have an actual office with a door in my house. The time I save commuting means there is more time to workout and cook healthy meals every day.

You have the life I want.

My 200 sq ft. microstudio has been absolute torture these last few weeks. I thought I was being smart and saving money - I'd pay much more now to be sheltered anywhere else. A house with a yard would be amazing.

Wow... I've seen larger prison cells.

>Are you young, single, and live in an apartment?

Not parent comment, but yes.

However, I do have friends outside of work. Obviously right now I'm rarely if ever seeing them, and certainly not all. Very occasionally we decide on a small coffee shop to go support at the same time and talk from a couple car spaces away for a few minutes just to engage in some kind of social behavior. It helps momentarily, but not consistently.

Going to work and making friends there, while not "IRL" friends, really helps work become a more fluid environment where you don't need to stress out all the time on structure. It gives breathing room. Some jokes lighten the mood. I personally feel like it's easier to discuss important topics when I have "friends" on my team or other teams who have a respect for my train of thought.

Also, while I do have a desk and monitor now, I work in the same room as my entertainment space (living room). So I'm literally in the same room all day. And no, I don't want to setup a workspace in my bedroom, that'd be even worse.

If I had a dedicated office room that'd be nice. If I had a more normal house where I had space to walk between areas like the kitchen, dining room/area, living room that would help.

But I do not.

No, I am married, with a house and a yard, and 2 dogs.

This is a very American way of looking at things. In many countries singles live with their parents and families live in apartments and the country is not so vast and big so your social circle can go with you all the way from school just because they still live around. So the level of isolation and space can vary and not necessary depends on the parameters you have mentioned, however in the individual level it is pretty correct, the level of isolation and convenience will dictate how happy a remote worker is. Personally I have found that a mix of 2 days at the office and 3 at home works the best for me.

The current situation has unfortunately eliminated some options like co-working spaces that might otherwise alleviate this issue for you.

I'm optimistic about a "work wherever works for you" future. That might mean the company's office, or your home office, or your living room couch, or a coworking space, or a beach, or your parents' house, or a friend's place. It might mean all of those at different times. The current situation has made it clear that remote work is pretty viable, but it's destroyed the element of choice that is so important to mental health for many people.

I think it's good for you to realize this is how you feel.

I, on the other hand, get a lot more focus time here, at home, than in the office. Every little 'ding' sound, every little 'hey, when did you get home last night' conversation, every time someone turns on or off the lights, all of that and much more just rips me out of my concentration.

I've been able to focus _a lot_ more from home. It's good for me to realize this as well.

Feel free to stay in the office when you're finally able to, and I'll work towards staying at home, if I'm able to. That way, we're both happy.

I'm not sure I enjoy this argument. Why is getting distracted by a friendly face so bad?

Nothing wrong with a friendly face, its more that it can throw you out of your flow, especially when trying to debug some code. This describes it best:


This for me is why WFH suits me so well. In my morning I get around 4 hours of pure uninterrupted coding (as long as I stay off here or reddit).

Nice comic! I think I face this trouble less because I document everything extensively. It costs a bit of time, but every bug I investigate will have notes on my notepad/a google doc to go along with.

Some of us are more likely to worry about work not getting done than others. When those same people also have less general need for social interaction, that 'friendly interruption' feels like a selfish demand to meet your greater need for social interaction at the cost of my own need for lack of worry about the thing I get paid to do.

My case is similar to BossingAround, sometimes I wonder if I have https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misophonia, every little sound irritates me.

EDIT: I didn't really drive my point home. It's not the friendly face that bothers me, in fact if it was a friendly face then it would hurt me less. But it still hurts regardless.

It’s selfish on behalf of the distractor.

When using async communication the person can wait until they’re out of the flow and respond. This is one of the great things about email, and the worst thing about Slack.

I was using Slack a few years ago and I didn't have this issue. Everyone who chose to use it had IRC experience, and so immediately treated it as a fancier IRC. That includes a lack of expecting an immediate response.

But I can definitely see how people who didn't grow up on freenode et al might come in with different expectations around Slack responsiveness.

for me slack is an async function. its on silent, the entire time. And my time slices are large (2±1 hours)

I try to do this too but Slack updates the favicon when in do not disturb. It’s like catnip, plenty of dark patterns

There's an option in the Preferences to "Show a badge on Slack's icon to indicate new activity" which, when unchecked, may stop the behaviour you're describing.

Well, how about doing just the work and working less hours a day, because of fewer distractions and see your friends after or before work?

Sounds more sane that forcing an office environment, where I understand that everyone wants to socialise, but why spent more hours for work than necessary?

Because flow...

My social life does not intersect much with my work life.

Do you perhaps live alone in a small apartment? I can see how working from home could be tough on a situation like that. I live with my family, in a house, with a garden, and I absolute abhor the idea of resuming a daily commute. I hate our office, and I love my home.

I am definitely no “social butterfly”, though.

I live in a small apartment with my dog. I don't get out enough, it does make you depressed after a while. Luckily I have a some friends that work from home in the area. We take turns going to each other's house for the work day. Gives you a change of scenery while you work, and someone to interact with while working. Although a lot of it is sitting in silence in the same room, just having another human around can boost your mood. At least for me this does wonders.

I think I overall enjoy WFH, that said, my quality of life would be greatly improved if I lived in a larger home rather than my one bedroom apartment.

I've seen some people predict that a surge in home buying may follow the pandemic because people will realize how much better off they would have been in a larger space.

I will go ahead and move into a 2 bedroom in the next few months to allow me to have a more private office space.

I suspect that a fair number of people will be rethinking downtown all I need is somewhere to sleep housing choices when their lease renewals come up.

My office is a wework so it's literally like 1000 times better than my shitty apartment. I just have to worry about so much less at the office. Free barista coffee, washing up and cleaning done for you so you're not messing up your workspace. I miss it a lot.

isn't wework an unsustainable business that will shutdown pretty soon?

That isn't clear yet. Money in/out this month was about 80%/target, so they may pull a rabbit out of a hat.

> Money in/out this month was about 80%/target, so they may pull a rabbit out of a hat.

During the middle of a worldwide lockdown? The only explanation I can imagine is a substantial decrease in operating costs due to disuse, but that doesn't strike me as enough to offset the cost of rent.

What am I missing here?

I don't know!

I just gave their topline reported results.

EDIT: https://www.bisnow.com/national/news/office/wework-says-its-...

I have the same feelings and I think a part of it comes from the fact that it's not exactly possible to meet with people after work (not counting Zoom/Skype/Whatsapp with friends). It's not the remote working that is depriving us of our joy of socializing - it's having to stay home after.

Absolutely. My work has been better than ever due to not being in the office and not having to do a horrible commute (min. 45 mins each way, usually more). The evenings are pretty dull, though - no jam sessions or martial arts classes can run, so my hobbies are on hold.

I fully agree with you. Although office interactions play a big part in socialization, I think most of the uneasiness I feel right now is due to the fact that I can't even socialize outside of work, or with non-coworkers. Not caused by remote work per se.

You are not alone. We often under estimate the value of workplace bonding. Planning a dinner for the team when we have been through a tough development cycle for a couple months for instance is incredibly rewarding. It vastly improves the quality of collaboration and the way people engage with each other. Helping them communicate in an informal settings and find better ways to connect with each other even on an emotional level.

Remote work takes all of it away and adds this invisible burden to navigate through your teams thought process. That alone is a huge factor for me to make sure there is a balance between remote work and office visits.

Like you, I don't think it can be done away with entirely. But, seemingly, I don't see this quite as binary as many here do. This doesn't have to be an all remote or no remote proposition. This could easily be a three or four day a week, remote position, with one day set aside to come in and have meetings/Agile development, what have you, team spirit a awards, maybe lunch. The days could be scheduled out so the real estate needs would be smaller than the company is, as a whole, making it beneficial for the company on a cost level and it helps with traffic congestion levels (assuming there were mass adoption).

Because that still means you have to live near where you work and that gives you a small home (at least if you live in a large metro area) due to the real estate being scarce and expensive.

But having 2 people work from home increases your required footprint and yet you live in the same area as before. If i need an additional 20sqm in or near London, that is going to be expensive.

True, but if you're only travelling one day a week you could probably stomach a longer commute on that one day than if you were doing it 5 days a week. I guess ideally there would be some variety in the way jobs offer home working, then people could choose for themselves and hopefully that would take some pressure off housing markets in metro areas as well as giving a sense of connection to employees/employers who particularly desire that.

My official office (which I rarely go into) is about a 30 minute drive away. But to your point, we have another office in the city. It's not really that big a deal for me to take commuter rail in now and then (or drive in early). But it's still about 90 minutes each way.

OK for a day or so a week. But that's a huge chunk out of your day if it's a daily thing.

True, but this also prevents the problem of (or worry of) excessive outsourcing. The company I work for has been actively trying to outsource my department's jobs for coming on two years now, with quite a few vendors, moving about 20 percent of us to managerial positions but the work quality is not of a high enough standard. So with that and the time difference, I'm not overly concerned, but this would at least put away such concerns. Plus, as noted above, there is something to be said from some face to face interaction.

I worked freelance for a number of years and I found that I am the same as you; I miss the social interactions.

Since I had no options to work in an office - I didn't have one - I decided to start working in a co-working space.

The co-working space cost me money I would otherwise not have spent but the impact on my mental health was great. I got a regular group of "colleagues" and it clearly divided my home life and work life.

I would definitely recommend it once we're all out of lockdown.

I'm surprised nobody has really pointed out - living through a lockdown and global pandemic is a hugely stressful, scary, and isolating experience. Especially if you're living alone, or with roommates that you're not very close with. I'm pretty introverted and I still feel that way, don't be too hard on yourself for having those feelings.

I would be cautious about overfitting too much to this exact scenario though. Normally even if you were working from home, you could still have a very active social life, get lunch with nearby friends who also work from home, do activities after work, go out on the weekends, etc. I know people that are extroverted and have really enjoyed working from home.

And even if it's really not for you, as other comments have pointed out, there will still certainly be co-located workplaces in the future. Even if almost every company were to go remote, you're definitely not the only one that likes being around other people and I'm sure companies will accomodate this (whether it's a small optional company office, or paying for employees to use a co-working space like a We Work, etc.)

I don't mean anything against you personally but I am strongly disapprove of people who socialize excessively at work. It is distracting, annoying, and worst of all passive-aggressive because you can't stop someone from socializing with you without making yourself seem unchill, throwing your career in the trash. You also can't take a break from socialization or else you make yourself a target.

In sum, the social aspect really is the worst part of engineering in Silicon Valley, and I have half a mind to do something on my own so I no longer have to entertain mediocre engineers with terrible interests.

So, I would love to work for a place that was fully remote. It would be paradise to me.

I work at an agency where this is understood. It's headphones on all day. Socialising happens at lunch and if you don't want to join in you can have your lunch early or late. Socialising also happens after work and you can go home if you don't want to join in.

Part of the reason this happens is because every task is estimated and timed. Over time the estimates have become fairly accurate so you can't get away with dossing the whole day.

I'm no social butterfly but I feel the same way. Working in an office gives me regular light social contact that would be very tiring to get otherwise.

I never liked working from home before this whole covid situation when the office had a lot of interactions.

But with the whole office working remotely, virtual hang out sessions, asynchronous communications, everyone joining remotely for office updates etc etc. I hate to admit it but I quite enjoy it now. I feel more productive. If a company sets up the right culture for remote work, it's not that bad.

Working from home is a challenge, there’s no doubt about that, but assuming some return to normalcy, you don’t have to work from your house or apartment.

Remote work means you can work wherever you want, you can go to a coffee shop for a few hours, you can head to your town’s local library, a coworking space. You can take an extended trip and live out of a van.

Once starlink is up, if you can get away with high latency, you can work from the middle of Greenland if you wanted to.

Working from home, which is really working from wherever you want, is about the flexibility and control to work how, when and where you want.

I do hope that large tech companies like twitter leave their offices open, because that’s also a piece of the remote work puzzle. Just like when we switched from cubicles to open offices, it would be nice to be more thoughtful about remote work AND an in office hybrid situation.

> Once starlink is up, if you can get away with high latency

Off topic but, the latency will be better than cable. They're low altitude satellites. There was even talk of using Starlink for New York / London HFT, because signals travel faster in space than they do in fiber optic (some fraction of the speed of light).

I am sorry to hear this.

It sounds as if you are like one of my sons.

I miss the "buzz" of human interaction that TV in the background never gives, but I can usually get that from Starbucks.

I'm an introvert, and I've been doing independent consulting over the phone for clients for, gosh, 7-or-so years now, and I love talking to my clients, but I don't want to be in the office with them.

One of my sons is about to go bat-shit crazy. The other loves his ability to get tasks in the morning and focus.

I guess we are all wired different.

I was in the process of putting together a "Remote First" business plan, for my next venture, where -- there simply was no home office.

But reading comments like yours really brings home how bad an idea that might be, because I'd be losing out on incredible talent by doing so.

BTW: My current main client has an office (mostly shut down), but I've made it a point to take out a different engineer for lunch (of something similar, depending on the lockdown harshness), 3 times a week (we're small, so I tend to take out everybody for lunch, including my boss) about every six weeks. That's not enough ... but it's the little things that make you feel connected, right? We had a young (28 y.o.?) superstar that was about to lose his shorts release week about two weeks ago and simply bringing to my place with pizze and Netflix and Nintendo (we got shitfaced and he beat my ass at Super Mario Cart), it was good. He felt better, I felt better, nobody got laid, and we both woke up refreshed...

I think you have a solid point that people need people. But, my question is: Can this be done virtually?

I'm a USian, but I lived in Japan for over 10 years, and my mother always wanted to see me, but I never understood why, when I could read her voice better over the phone than in person. She wanted to see me because she could read my body language better in person than over the phone (which I did not like, actually), but is there a way via which you can feel connected without being in the same room? My girlfriend (I live in Texas) is in Taiwan and we have pretty engaging conversations every day and she comes to see me (or vice versa) about 10 times/year. Would that kind of work satisfy you, or do you literally need to see people every day? (As an introvert, I guess I don't know how extraverts work).

Anyway - A bit more disclosure than I usually do - but I am sincerely interested in your perspective.

Some others have already mentioned it but you should give some co-workings a try. These are some of the benefits I've found:

- I chose a co-working space that was more aligned to the type of person I am in terms of the people there, style, philosophy, etc.

- I've met a lot of people from outside my industry which I quite enjoy.

- I get to socialize with people I don't work with, so conversations are not about work gossip which is also great.

- There's tons of activities organised in the space. Work/career talks, informal art talks, hikes, beer fridays, concerts, food sharing, etc.

- It's a 5min walk from my house.

Of course, this is all covid-pending.

Many comments that I have read here take one side or the other. Maybe we need to realize that it is just the right thing for some and doesn't work for others. Realities in life are often complex.

I hear you.

WFH without a choice to come to office is pure suffering. I really miss the interactions with my coworkers before COVID. I also miss time I can grab a book from the shared book-self and find an empty office and just do reading for one hour.

If I have a choice to go back to office, I will take it anytime.

This time is not a great example of Remote working, it would be as sad and stressful (maybe more) if you were forced to live in the actual office and share the same space with all your coworkers every day without being able to leave. on top of the actual stress given by just looking at the current state of the world.

We're not just working from home, we're working from home while there is a pandemic

I keep reading your comment because it seems intense and sincere, and ... I don't know what you mean. What's the difference?

I mean, like being under rubble in Battery Park after 9-11, waiting 3 days for the people to dig you out as your batteries die is stressful, but that's not really the same as hiding from a virus that won't kill you, is it?

EDIT: Re-reading my comment, that 2nd paragraph sounds snarky. It wasn't intended to be. I guess I just don't understand your comment. Would you be kind enough to clarify my mind? :-)

My wife always worked from home.

But now, she works from home and then can't socialize after hours, except virtually. She can't go anywhere or do anything. Shopping is the only time she gets out, but she didn't like it before and now it's even more stressful.

The difference (unless you have kids or a noisy house) isn't the home bit, it's the not-home bit. For people who aren't introverts, this is a very, very tough time. Their basic needs aren't being met.

I'm lucky that I'm an introvert. This has been a pretty good experience for me. I have no commute, I get more done in the same 8 hours, and all my socializing can be done in my own home. I miss going places a tiny bit, but only the places that have things I can't do at home. (I'm talking Disney World here.)


The difference, at least for me, it's that I'm more worried for several other things than work and I cannot be as productive as I was before.

Also some people have kids at home because schools are closed; my SO for instance is also at home, while usually she's not, and the apartment is not bigger now that we're two; sometimes I need to go to the grocery at specific time because otherwise is crowded...

And even worse, as other comment mentioned, some people would have sick family and / or friends.

There are many things that make this situation different than a "regular day working from home".

Thank you!


You said: "I'm more worried for several other things than work and I cannot be as productive as I was before."

This makes sense - I have some acquaintances who have parents locked up in long-term care facilities that they haven't seen since February - and this is taxing both the parents and the kids/grandkids that can't see them.

You (also)said: "There are many things that make this situation different than a "regular day working from home"."

You bring up several good points. I was focused on the "working from home" part, I've actually been more concerned about the funemployment people, for which I do food-bank work (Whole Foods, HEB (it's a grocery store in Texas) and Bank of America (who would have thunk?) have all been very very generous), but there are other "factions" of people with other concerns that my brain was kind of glossing over somehow.

I already said "Thank You", but I really do appreciate your clarification. It broke open some blocked thinking pathways for me.

No problem ;)

it might very well kill the person you were responding to, or their loved one were they to bring it home.

supposing that's not a concern, and you're not emotionally impacted by the possibility of hundreds of thousands of additional deaths from this, most folks will be stressed out by having their routines disrupted.

so now multiply that stuff happening to you, by a factor of it happening to your boss and all of your coworkers, and now everything else is just a bit tougher.

Of course, I am. I have parents and children and neighbors and grandparents and the like. It's not that I don't care - it's that I simply didn't understand the upstream comment. I was asking for clarification on the intended meaning.

Please, if you need help, there is the PTSD hotline for people who are having problems dealing with this new-new situation we are going through: 1-800-985-5990

Just commenting to say that I feel similarly to you, and I seem to be the only one among my coworkers that feels it to this extent. Good to know that there are others out there.

It might be due to your home sitation as well. I have my wife and kids, so I have the opportunity to go and chat with them or grab some lunch. I remember when I WFH'ed on my own as a singleton and I did not like it as much, as I was on my own for a good 8 hours a day. We are very social creatures. You only have to look a prisons. You're surrounded by criminals, quite a few who are manipulative / hostile or just hard work from untreated mental conditions, yet the form of punishment is to place you on your own into Solitary confinement.

If you were working from home under normal circumstances you could still be a "social butterfly" after work. But anyway, you have the right attitude when you say you'll leave if it goes remote and you don't like that. That's exactly what people should do. Fixing your problems usually starts with yourself.

As someone on the more extroverted side, I see office work as an easy source of meaningful social stimulation / bonding (well, assuming I like my coworkers) with little personal setup required on my end. Although the in-person component can be a distraction, I mostly saw it as a source of energy and creativity. I met some of my best friends at work.

I've been working from home for about 2 years, a legacy consequence of a few acquisitions. Despite its perks, I don't think that I would've stayed with it past the first year if not for 1) a local set of friends that I could still take breaks / lunches with 2) going to the corporate office once a month for about a week which allowed me to form a nice social network in the mothership city.

But covid-19 stopped both, and I'm stuck with this ennui that's been hard to shake.

I've been very interested in remote work, like you said you were, and I'm worried about the same issues you discuss here. However, one of the things I've seen that I hope will mitigate these issues is the idea of not working at home, but still working remote. For example, getting work done at a coffee shop or public library, instead of home.

I'm worried that mixing my work and personal life too much will be a big strain on my mental health, but I plan to work at home as little as possible in the future, while still trying to work remote to avoid having to commute and enjoy a more flexible schedule. I hope this idea will help you!

I love the flexibility of WFH but worry about people's mental health in the long term if too many did it too much for too long. (Once the pandemic is over)

I ranted about this today [1]. For many the separation of home and office is healthy. Different people, different social interactions, etc.

And for many, an office is where they make new friends, meet their partner etc.

[1] https://twitter.com/flurdy/status/1260602214038593536

Long ago, I thought remote working was awesome. Then I learned to appreciate working in a team, and I thought remote working was overrated. When the COVID crisis hit and we were forced to work from home, I was surprised how much more productive I became. But that was the first couple of weeks. The focus is wearing off, and I miss my team and the office environment. It helps that I've got a really cool team.

I totally gree with you.

I think the best case (for me personally) is both... 2-3 days per week from the office, and 3-2 days from home. You talk with people, socialize, hear all the gossip (from non-work related, to work related - eg. aout someone who's working on some interesting new project, etc.), but still don't have to drive to work 3 times a week, and can work in your underwear.

What I do is to treat work as work only, while cultivating a rich social life outside of it.

I still have some friends at work, but to be honest: I never really did well with random people, usually those that I consider friends I chose since we have similar interests/vibe/philosophy.

As counterpoint, I love working from home. Pre-COVID I'd usually work from home 4-5 days a week. My focus at home is always way better than in the office (though a noisy open-plan office and a culture of interruptions is a factor as well). One nice benefit around focus is that when I'm having trouble focusing at home, I don't feel as guilty (or try to cover it with make-work) as I do when I'm at the office in the same situation.

I'm also a very social person, but my non-work time is my social outlet (though I still get some "lower-quality" social time over Slack and Zoom during work hours). When the company was smaller (a couple hundred people, now we're over 3k), I certainly spent more social time at the office. But these days I prefer to just work hard during work hours, and meet up with friends (who are often also co-workers) after work.

But at the same time, I love that working at home gives me the flexibility to cook lunch with my girlfriend or take a break for a walk or even just stare out the window in the middle of the afternoon. While my commute isn't bad (25 min transit ride or 45 min walk), I don't mind getting that time back, either. Instead I can get up and go for a 30 minute run, and start work at the same time.

So the COVID rules have left me in roughly the same situation as I was before, at least work-wise (I miss seeing my friends like crazy). Fortunately I don't have kids; nearly everyone I know with kids is finding it impossible to juggle them being home all the time with getting their work done.

It's really interesting though to see how this sort of thing affects people differently (and I'm genuinely sorry you're having such a bad time!). I expect the incidence of work-from-home will increase a lot even after we've stopped social distancing, but there will still be a strong (but newly-flexible) office culture.

There are only 5 days a week anyway - so you used to be a remote worker pre covid. This is not a counter point.

The original discussion is about whether or not remote work is enjoyable. I too find it enjoyable and have done it, generally, for about 4-5 days a week for years now.

I'd like to say that I'm enjoying it too. If my coworking space was open I'd feel compelling to go because otherwise I'd miss out on interesting conversations and connections.

But with FOMA out of the way - I'm happy as larry staying in and having those same conversations selectively and remotely.

Have you tried a co-working space, even if just part-time? You get the social interactions but can work at the "office" or home as you wish. And if conversing with a co-tenant, you have no concern that you're dragging down your own business by distracting a colleague!

I'm the opposite. I think it's just a personality trait. I'm more introverted and socially anxious so I feel much more comfortable at home by myself. I've been remote for 8 years now and I hope I never have to go back to an office.

I'm an extreme introvert and I've found WFH to be very challenging. Part of the problem is that the engineering team at my startup is still figuring out what to build and design sessions over Zoom feel incredibly frustrating and unproductive compared to a shared office with a whiteboard.

I can't imagine forced remote for all employees would ever become the norm. It feels like likely that companies would move from dedicated offices to leasing co-working spaces for those that want it.

I love working from home the last couple of months, but then I hate people, and I really hate not being in control of my time.

Most social butterflies aren’t going to experience the extreme symptoms you describe, but it sucks and I’m sorry.

I invite you now to consider that a much milder version of these is what introverts deal with almost all the time due to the norms of society (which are biased toward social butterflies). We have to learn to overcome and adapt to these difficulties early in life, and for some of us that struggle is real (and life-long).

Push past the initial hurdle, after 2-3 years when you completely break with reality you will dematerialize into a ball of light and become a God.

My counterpoint: From day #1 I always hated office jobs. I hated that management cared so much what time we showed up at the office (they'd all pretend to not care, but then use it against you). I hated being locked there until 5:30pm or whatever was the "appropriate" time to leave even if I'd finished my work by 3pm and no longer had the mental energy to be productive (I remember one time during my first job getting a lot of work done all morning/afternoon, and leaving at 3pm. A couple hours later I get a text asking where I was, and I said I left, and they're like "you just left? lol you're not supposed to do that". I'm think wtf? So I can sit there for 2 hours with some code on my screen doing nothing and that's fine, but I'm not allowed to leave after a 4-5 hour focused coding session? Nobody's really productive after ~4 hours of deep focus anyways).

I hated daily standups, where every morning we have to justify our existence and repeat what's already on the Jira board to some product manager who for whatever reason isn't obliged to give us their status update. I hated all the other numerous pointless agile meetings - backlog refinement, backlog grooming (once got accused of not appearing attentive enough in meetings). I hate open offices, where you have no privacy, have to listen to other peoples' conversations, and constantly feel like you're being watched and paranoid that somebody might catch a glance at your monitor the second you took a 5 minute break from work. I hate having to be surrounded by boring co-workers with no personality all day, in offices where most people eat alone at their desks in front of their computer screens (I never understood this, are people actually working when they eat in front of their computer monitors? You're sitting there for 8 hours and you're so busy you can't take 30 minutes to eat your lunch without being glued to the screen?)

I've been working remotely since last year and I am significantly happier. 98% of that "office bullsh!t" vanished overnight. No commuting. No daily standups. Less pointless meetings (it's like remote workers don't need meetings to bullsh!t meetings to rationalize being stuck in an office for 8 hours). I've traveled the world. At ~$200k/yr I make less than I would in SF, but it's a very comfortable living practically anywhere else in the world since my expenses are a fraction what they were before, and I don't need to be locked in to a lease. When it's 2pm and I'm not feeling productive, I just close my laptop and do something else (instead of trying to figure out how to blow the next 3 hours at the office). When I need to go to the grocery store or gym, I go. If I want to spend a month in Hawaii, I do it.

Remote work certainly has its challenges - you need to be disciplined, have a comfortable workspace ideally separate from your home so you're not stuck in the same place all day (I like coffee shops), do other activities that get you outside the harm (a little more difficult now with COVID), you can't just walk over to someone's desk so people need to be available (not necessarily on a second's notice, but within some acceptable range such that time isn't wasted being blocked), and you have to know when to turn off and go offline. You can't rely on co-workers for your social life anymore, though I don't think I ever had more than 2-3 real friends at any office job in terms of anyone I still keep in contact with.

So it's funny to me seeing occasional comments on remote work posts talking about how much they like working in an office. Personally offices have always been the bane of my existence, and there are few thoughts more repulsing then being trapped in some office for 8 hours/day. To be fair I once worked out of the office of a company I was working remotely for and really enjoyed it because it was a tiny startup with cool people who didn't care when or what time I showed up since I had been hired on purely remote terms and was only at the office voluntarily. So the problem is not the office itself, but the idea of being locked inside for designated hours, and the other bullsh!t management practices generally prevalent in office jobs especially at bigger companies.

I thought only companies trying to get cheaper software engineers would allow 100% remote. How the f* are you making ~$200k/year?!

It's cheaper for the company than hiring locally in SF/NYC. But to be fair I'm a contractor.

That is cheaper.


Do office politics go away in a remote setting?

I'm not entirely sure, but I at least have observed that meetings are a lot less "charged" and backdoor rumors aren't as "present" in a remote situation.

When people are physically in a room, you can focus on body language, you can focus on emotions. On a voice call or email, its a little bit easier to focus on data and not who has the fancy watch on.

TLDR: social butterfly finds it hard to work remotely.

It sounds like there is a choice so hopefully this is a temporary situation for you.

I beg and plead with people who like going into work to not ruin it for the rest of us. please.

I think this is the hugest news yet. It suddenly opens the pool of candidates to all across the country.

I expect other tech giants will follow suit.

Those who previously can't afford or don't want to live in big cities like NYC/Seattle/SF because they are older, have families, or various other reasons now are included in the candidate pool.

This can go two ways: either the local software business will have to compete with FAANG salaries, or there will be jumps from senior developers, experienced developers, and many smarter/more capable developers from smaller software business to FAANG due to salary/perks attraction. Whatever the case is, suddenly fresh graduates, mid level developers, senior developers, are now competing on the same pool. It is getting even more real to compete in the high FAANG salary job openings now.

This serves as a reminder for us, whether fresh graduates, mid level, or even seniors, to always to keep your edge. DS&A grinding, system design, etc, do whatever you can to not lose your edge.

As a matter of fact, I think almost all knowledge workers will find themselves in this situation. If you are a knowledge/office worker, huge competition looms over the horizon. Never lose your edge.

I think you are overestimating the size of the eligible labor supply increase. Just for Google, for 2017-2019 the number of H1B workers sponsored was 22k. For the same period the increase in number of full time employees was 40k (couldn’t find the figure for US only but fair to assume majority is US-based). So more than half of the new employers are supplied internationally. Does the geo-unlocked US supply pose a substantial competition to that? I don’t see how. FAANG salary is a pretty damn strong incentive to overcome that geo-friction to begin with.

If anything, if the twitter trend follows, FAANG salaries will lose heat. For the majority of the employees, a good chunk of the paycheck goes to housing costs. Wider WFH adoption will ease the overly localized housing demand, even with several days of WFO, longer commutes will be much more tolerable and the housing spread will increase. That would mean acceptance of lower salaries and lowering of housing costs over time.

One competing factor; as the seniority increases, the say on WFH policies increases, also the possibility of housing ownership increases (whether as primary residence or also with rental properties). That creates a perverse incentive to not let people go away in aggregate. Not saying individual managers will think this way explicitly, but might have an indirect influence.


- Previously I stated 22k as H1B + green card numbers. In reality 22k was H1B only and 6k was green card. Source: https://www.myvisajobs.com/Visa-Sponsor/Google/225093.htm

I'm curious - you seem to be saying that FAANG companies can't find enough employees, but your support for the point is that Google hired a significant amount of H1B workers. However, I've read/seen that many H1B workers work for significantly less, and under more pressure, because they are trying to become citizens in the US. Is it possible that the reason for FAANG companies hiring so many H1B workers isn't due to shortage of qualified new employees, but instead because they are more efficient workers, due to the pressures and lower salary?

I went studied CS in Idaho and know many of my peers took significantly lower paying jobs than they are qualified for so they could remain in the area. I'm certain at least some of them would rather work for larger companies with higher salaries and better benefits (and more prestige), if it didn't mean moving into the BIG CITY and leaving their friends/family behind.

In reality, it's probably a mix of both.

My main point was, a globally distributed labor pool is already accessible to FAANG and is being utilized despite higher transition costs both for the employer and the employee. The H1B hires for FAANG is the global top talent for which companies compete for, hence an upward pressure for compensation, not downward. In fact you can check the H1B salary information yourself from the website I linked, to see that salaries are at par with US levels. I admit there might be some difference is non-salary compensation such as signing bonuses and inital stock grants, but I would attribute that to lack/difficulty of deploying local negotiation tactics (e.g get several offers and pit them to each other). In general price of the labor is not a driving factor at all. Besides, most of these companies will happily pay for a law firm to help with the green card application process of their employees, and H1B is transferable to a new employer, possibly to another FAANG company. Yes, all of these pose transition costs, but it is far from the desparate overworked underpaid foreign worker image painted.

For your second point, the delta of the “higher salary” is important. US ranks the highest in sofware engineer salaries globally, which means for most countries coming to US as a software engineer will mean a much higher increase in salary than within US. If that delta offsets the perceived cost of leaving friends and family behind, they it is rational to take the offer. In other words, non-US candidates need to be hurting much more than US candidates to lose access to friends and family to not take the offer. In fact they already do, they lose access to their culture and their language unless they are from anglosphere. They still take the offers, so the income differential must be more than adequate to make the transition. Additionally, individual cost function of losing access to these things will differ. Many people will actively seek a challenge away from their friends and families to take up new opportunities and experiences. Your friends seems to have not.

Actually, I think is misrepresented what I was trying to ask by including salary. I don't think or have any evidence to suggest H1B salaries are lower, only that pressure on H1B employees is higher to perform, as they are working for more than just the salary, but also the visa.

Thanks for your detailed response, though. I understand what you're saying more clearly.

It is actually very difficult to get an initial H-1B worker, since the worker has to get selected in a lottery, and the company has to wait 7 months.[1] The odds of getting picked in the H1B lottery is around 32% as of 2020. The 7-month wait time itself massively disincentivizes employers from hiring non-US workers. The end result is that most of H1B sponsorships go to people already in the US on a student visa who are working for the company using a status called "F-1 OPT". It's quite difficult to get hired from abroad. Many larger companies still do it, and are willing to wait 7 months, but the wait 7-month time and uncertain nature of the lottery are significant factors that discourage companies from hiring non-US workers.

For out-of-US hires, Facebook will actually get you a Canadian work visa, and have you work in Canada for the 7 month wait, and potentially for year if you don't get picked in the lottery. The strategy for multiple large firms is to bring non-US workers to Canada first, and then try to move them over to the US, since US immigration law is extraordinarily restrictive compared to most countries.

[1] The company applies for the worker in March of the year, and if the individual is picked in the lottery, they get to start working for them in October.

> The H1B hires for FAANG is the global top talent for which companies compete for

If they aren’t wage fixing!

H1B in tech companies are not paid significantly less, and they can easily find alternative employers willing to help with the transfer in Silicon Valley. It's H1B in non-tech companies that manipulate job postings to massively underpay their workers, and whose geographically-limited set of alternative employers are already small and also generally less willing to offer legal support dealing with the H1B transfer issues.

What's stopping someone from moving to SF for higher comp on hiring, then getting a P.O. box or friend's mailing address in SF and moving back to work from lower cost area after some time?

Is your employer really going to decrease your salary after the fact? Can you file taxes in your lower cost of living state after you lock in your high SF comp package and never notify your employer but still pay your taxes in the state you moved back to?

Note: I don't condone illegal behavior just thinking of edge cases that benefit us tech workers.

If your employer thinks you're in California, they'll tell the California tax authorities that you are. CA will use that as evidence that you owe them a big chunk of your income. If you don't pay, you'll have to fight. To win, you'll probably have to prove that you misled your employer, which will probably result in your getting fired for it. If you lose, CA can force your employer to take the tax out of your salary, so you'll pay California anyway plus you'll probably have to pay the place you actually live if you've done anything to establish residence. Along the way, any number of other unpredictable problems can arise (bad credit rating, legal threats, ongoing disputes with entities that don't understand or care that you've surrendered, etc.)

Good luck with all of that.

I think it’s gonna get really weird. If a company pays the same in seattle as SF (or near), and A person lives in SF, I’d rather pay a friend in WA state a few hundred a month to “rent a room” than 10% of my income to California.

That said there’s probably a bunch of laws around faking residency for tax purposes which id imagine has some hefty consequences.

Many faang companies pay the same 'higher' salaries at the same rates across seattle, sf, and nyc. The fangs used to do that when i worked there, but i wonder if they pay more in sf now? I'm sure some companies will want to pay you less if they can get away with it. But twitter will probably have to pay almost as much to keep their devs if they move. that's the key, keeping your workforce.

Patently untrue -- there are fixed ratios for each band v city. With all due respect such a bold claim deserves a link.

It used to be that way 3 years ago when I worked at Google. I don't have a link, it was personal knowledge. I'm 100% sure of it. They actually paid more for the zurich office cause taxes were so high.

> They actually paid more for the zurich office cause taxes were so high.

Google pays for cost of labor, not cost of living. While related, it isn't the same: for example, Google London pays much less than NYC, and Tokyo even less than that; yet Pittsburgh pays only slightly less than NYC despite being far and away the cheapest of the 4.

I believe Google's competitors tend to follow this model more than cost of living, especially internationally.

There are lowcost areas of CA.

So you'll make 4.5x a local salary instead of 5x.

You and your employer need to know where you actually live to pay state and local income taxes.

Falsifying this, to my knowledge, is not only a bad idea, but could easily be a termination-level offense and could be illegal.

I’m guessing you’re being downvoted by those who think your comment is encouraging unethical behavior.

While I certainly don’t think it’s ethical to do so, I did wonder the same thing - would companies start putting measures in place to verify you’re working from the same general area as your initially provided address? Eg, sifting through VPN log files to geo locate IP addresses etc.

They don't care as long as you show up to critical work meetings and are available when you need them for high-profile projects. I had a coworker (while at Google) who moved to Uganda without telling his manager, because he felt like it. His manager called a meeting for the next day, he hopped on a plane that night, showed up for the meeting, flew back to Uganda afterwards until he got bored there, and his manager was never the wiser, except for it being a great story for friends to tell.

What's stopping people is largely that

a.) if you aren't in the office, you miss out on critical opportunities, and if you aren't in the office too much, your boss may decide you're not worth keeping. (Officially, Google has a "if you don't show up for 3 days in a row without telling anyone you're considered to have voluntarily resigned". Unofficially this gets bent by high-performers all the time, but legally they can do it.) This is also why ambitious people at the satellite offices - NYC, Pittsburg, Seattle - move to Mountain View, because the high-priority projects require facetime and rarely go to remote employees.

b.) Hopping on a plane to make a meeting gets old really quickly, and also pretty expensive if you aren't pre-IPO. I know people who would commute from LA -> MTV, Uganda -> MTV, Seattle -> MTV, or do frequent business trips from Zurich or Sydney -> MTV. They hated it. You think the commute on 101 sucks, try adding the TSA to it.

Note that that comment is identical to a different one posted by that user: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23162716

Location should not affect salary since when it comes to remote work it is completely irrelevant.

Until you and a remote candidate in Idaho are equally qualified but the Idaho candidate is willing to take 2/3 of the pay and live like royalty.

Should it be a race to the bottom? Also, I think it's pretty rare in tech to have multiple qualified candidates to choose from. Typically the candidates have multiple offers, not the other way around.

Compensation is not based on the value provided to the company. Compensation is based on "market rate" as in, the lowest amount of money a candidate is willing to accept to do the job. The information asymmetry is such that candidates accept offers for far less than the company is willing to pay.

That's not what market rate means. Market rate is a surveyed bell curve for the job across multiple companies.

Yes, the rate the market pays. That’s different than the value a candidate can bring to the company.

Good for the Idaho candidate, living in SF shouldn't warrant some kind of salary privilege (much of which just gets funneled to landlords and increasing housing prices).

Is it good for the Idaho candidate to get paid less for the same work? If a company is willing to pay $x for a role because it will give them $y benefit where $y > $x why should any candidate accept less than $x? How much of a delta between $y and $x is even acceptable? Why should we celebrate companies playing candidates against each other for the benefit of the few?

This realistically isn't a major concern because the pool of qualified software engineers in a state like Idaho is far too small to make a noticeable dent in market salary levels.

You're assuming the availability of mobile tech work will not enable more people to move to places with low cost of living, such as Idaho. I believe that it will.

A few people will do that, yes, but there are a couple million software developers in the US, and most of them are not going to suddenly move to sparsely populated interior states. They'll spread out from the SF bay area a bit.

Actually, there is good reason to be within 30ms ping (99th percentile). Half that, plus the 5ms algorithmic delay from Opus (in CELT-only-restricted-low-latency mode) gives 20ms, which is the lower end of uncanny valley for real-time interactive audio (certainly for musicians in a band, but I'll presume relevance for verbal communication to set in at the same psychoacoustic threshold).

If you introduce any amount of latency by executing the encoder/decoder pair, you'll have to subtract double the latency from your ping-allowance.

If you try to have correctly-lipsynced audio in a video call, I only know of one setup to offer similarly-low video latency: a rolling-shutter in the camera, a line-by-line display (CRT should do well), and up-to a few lines algorithmic delay for e.g. running non-buffering JPEG (8x8 DCT and an online entropy coder (no pre-analysis for optimal Huffman tables or such) to save like 80-90% bandwidth). Analog TV camera+screen hardware should also work, but it's really inefficient and not easy to emulate with digital hardware.

Some companies agree with that and some don’t. For companies that disagree with you statement, the rationale is really simple: the company is ready to pay top $ because cost of life is high. They know that the rent you’ll pay is high hence the money. They’re reducing their net profit (ebitda) to lay the high salary you need to pay your rent. They do that because your rent in SF is what it is. But for those companies, there’s no way they reduce their ebitda for you to profit off that.

The other companies, who pay on value of output, will agree with that statement. As far as I know, most companies fall under cost of life approach rather than value of output.

> most companies fall under cost of life approach rather than value of output.

I think most companies fall under "what's the minimum we can get away with?"

I would think that most companies pay based on what is needed to retain employees and keep churn rates down to acceptable rates. Location should not matter beyond what the manager in charge or salaries think it matters for the employee willingness to stay at the company, and as such it depends.

Managers, probably. Companies + investors = less likely.

>what is needed to retain employees and keep churn rates down to acceptable rates

Ultimately, this value depends on the location. Assuming identical salaries, it is more expensive to retain someone for 5 years in NY than in Nebraska, because the person in Nebraska making $200k+ lives like royalty, and whereas NY would be a different story.

Google files 6.5k H1-B applications per yr which includes transfers (https://www.myvisajobs.com/Reports/2019-H1B-Visa-Sponsor.asp...). To assume all of this goes to new employees is misleading since Google has attrition too. So assuming 10% attrition, Google needs to fill in that 10% and add more employees. Your argument conveniently assumes that H1s are only going to net new employees vs. those that fill the gap too.

> Your argument conveniently assumes that H1s are only going to net new employees vs. those that fill the gap too.

I also conveniently assumed that global 40k headcount increase was sufficiently representative of the US headcount increase, even though it inflates the denominator. It's the nature of back-of-the-envelope calculations to be convenient.

H1B and GC sponsorships come from the same pool. In other words, a Green Card application is sponsored for H1 candidates. You are double counting your numbers.

I do agree that this expectation that one sitting in Ohio will command the same salary working for a FAANG company is just wrong. Very likely, the companies will adjust their salaries based on where the person is.

Actually that's not strictly true. Green cards can be sponsored for non-H1B workers (eg E3, L1).

My understanding is that sponsorship on at least the E-3 is difficult or impossible; that visa is not "immigrant intent", which ostensibly means something in the statute with respect to paths to permanent residence.

Just because a visa isn't dual intent doesn't mean you can't apply for a Green Card. TN, E-3 etc can all lead to a Green Card but you have to time it right.

Speaking as a successful E3->GC sponsoree I can tell you it’s not impossible (proof by counterexample FTW).

For L1 there's no issue.

Yeah - but vast majority of GC applications will be from H1-B pool

FAANG-tier companies have set ratios based on band and city. The notion that they're going to ditch these suddenly feels bizarre.

You're right. I double checked the numbers and 22k is H1B only and green card is a separate 6k. Edited the comment to reflect this.

> FAANG salary is a pretty damn strong incentive to overcome that geo-friction to begin with.

This is really only true for certain segments of the population. In my early to mid 20s, I moved cross country numerous times. Now I hope I never have to move again. And if I did, it wouldn't be to the Bay Area or Seattle.

That 22K number includes renewals FYI.

So I'm not sure your statement that "more than half of new employers[sic] are supplied internationally" is true, because the H-1B numbers include renewals.

If anything I suspect a large number of remote jobs will lower demand for visa sponsorship since the candidate pool is no longer localized. One huge advantage of visa employees is that they tend to be more mobile, as in moving to where the jobs are, which is important when there is a divide between candidate selection and geographic availability.

FAANG companies have already been trying to hire in US cities outside of Silicon Valley and Seattle in order to cut costs. Austin in particular comes to mind.

It turns out to be fairly difficult to recruit engineering talent in the United States outside of major metropolitan areas. It also turns out that when tech companies start to hire people in a new city, the cost of living in that city rises substantially -- again, Austin in particular comes to mind.

In the end, if tech compensation decreases substantially I don't think it will be because of remote work, but rather because the recession will kill a lot of startups and the same amount of engineering talent will be chasing a smaller number of jobs, thereby giving employers more leverage.

> It also turns out that when tech companies start to hire people in a new city, the cost of living in that city rises substantially -- again, Austin in particular comes to mind.

That is inevitable if more housing is not built. If demand rises and supply doesn’t, or rises slower than demand rents and house prices rise. Or you could be like Tokyo with population growing 50% over the last twenty years and flat housing costs.

Do you know anything about Austin? There are cranes all over downtown, mid-rise apartment buildings sprouting up everywhere, etc. We’re certainly not perfect in terms of housing, could use more “missing middle” housing such as duplexes/triplexes/etc., but the idea we are not allowing new housing is crazy. Costs are still going up, definitely the most expensive big city in Texas at this point, but obviously nowhere near Bay Area levels.

The parent, responding to a comment that mentions Austin, never suggested new housing wasn’t allowed—you seem to have inserted that thought yourself. They simply observed that housing supply—and how well it matches (and avoids lagging behind) demand—has an impact on cost of living. They don’t even make a point about Austin specifically—Tokyo is the place they call specific attention to as a point of comparison to the GP’s thoughts.

I find it interesting you chose to defend Austin against an attack that wasn’t made.

Of course, I also think there may be more than housing supply at work to explain why cost of living increases in a place that starts to see a new uptick in tech hiring. I’m not sure if anyone has studied and documented the extent to which increased tech hiring in a new location leads to a surge of new people trying to live in that area before cost of living begins to increase. If that isn’t the case, and cost of living and goods starts increasing before population does, it seems likely there’s more than housing supply to blame— perhaps all the existing property and business owners start raising prices to get some of those sweet tech dollars in their pockets?

You are reading too much in to my psyche here, and I am not defending Austin. Like I said it has a lot more work to do, and it’s arguable whether much of the housing being built even constitutes a net social good or not, given the issues around gentrification and running minorities out of town, etc., etc.

My point was, responding to a comment that “housing costs are rising in Austin” by explaining it as “price rises are inevitable if you don’t build enough housing” is a very misleading statement. Maybe that is a true statement, but Austin does not satisfy the antecedent so it says nothing about the situation here. Unlike in many places, the housing is being built here, yet the prices are still rising significantly and forcing many out or into homelessness.

So clearly development is not a sufficient condition for keeping housing prices in check. Like you say, it could instead be totally driven by the job market. Or maybe development is a necessary condition, along with other things such as subsidized/public housing, job programs, etc. We have to move beyond armchair economist statements that are basically “har har har it’s supply and demand duh”, that don’t even capture all the straightforward/first order economics of all the various buyers and sellers of housing (demand for what type of housing? What type of housing supply is allowed to be built? etc.), much less the second order effects tangential to the economics. Your speculations are on the mark here, and we do need good studies that look at exogenous shocks to try to tease out cause and effect, along with lots of small-scale experimentation by governments.

Finally, I don’t know enough about Tokyo to comment in any way on that part of the post, so I did not.

I assure you I wasn’t reading into your psyche. Just observing a single curious point: you specifically called out and disputed that the idea Austin wasn’t allowing new housing supply was crazy—and yet neither the parent or GP had suggested such an idea. You suggested and responded to that idea yourself.

I think it’s interesting that we both seem to have read the parent and GP posts quite differently. You read that the parent was responding to a post that said housing prices are rising in Austin. I read that the parent was responding to a post that said FAANG companies are hiring in new areas to cut costs, and cost of living seems to increase wherever tech starts hiring (and Austin was just a city that came to the GP’s mind as an example of this phenomenon). Yes, the parent’s comment about housing supply was a rather shallow retort that I think we both agree provides little insight and comes up too often as if it possesses sufficient explanatory power on its own—but they weren’t quite suggesting what you responded to.

To put it into a different space, what I found interesting and pointed out was that your comment read like others we’ve probably both seen where Programmer A says Erlang has a great concurrency model that enables developers to easily build fault-tolerant distributed systems, and Programmer B comes along to argue that the idea that Java doesn’t allow you to build fault-tolerant distributed systems is crazy. The idea was never suggested by A in the first place, so B’s response stands out.

Anyway, this has been fun. Thanks. Apologies for my original response coming off the wrong way.

That’s a great example of why restricting to offices doesn’t work for expanding your labor pool significantly.

If a company starts a new office in Austin and they had one in the bay, now they are realistically only tapping the additional talent in Austin. There isn’t a huge chunk of people willing to relocate to Austin that wouldn’t relocate to the bay.

Removing location restrictions all-together is a completely different ballgame because it opens the entire country up, not just one city.

I think most of the best tech workers are already living in major cities. Before the virus lockdowns started, those people were required to work in offices just like everyone else, so they had to move to where there employers were located.

I don’t really buy the argument that there is a major untapped pool of talent living outside major cities — if there is, what have those people been doing for work until now? It hasn’t been easy to have a good career in tech in rural areas, for example.

There are definitely markets which attract strong tech talent that have been largely ignored by the tech industry proper as a source for recruiting. A sibling mentions oil & gas, I have personally worked with two former Schlumberger engineers who had been employed in rural areas and were excellent software and systems talent. At least one I know only left the position because he wanted to move to a city due to family, Schlumberger had been paying him a rate that was hard to match in the city though. Subjectively, too, I think both people had a certain oil-field scrappiness, the tech industry might call it "bias to action," that is a great value in any environment.

I would add, though, the defense industry. My city has a huge talent pool of engineers, software and not, employed in the defense industry. Many have top academic qualifications and long experience. The tech industry struggles to recruit them mainly because the tech employers in the area offer more or less equivalent pay and significantly inferior benefits (leave, retirement, etc). On a cost-of-living basis, at least at entry level, I would say the FAANG companies offer inferior pay and benefits - coming from someone who left San Francisco to work in this area and make, cost of living adjusted, twice what I made in SF, with significantly more paid leave.

My point is that it feels like part of the tech industry's recruiting problem is that there is a tendency to look, for recruiting, only within the tech industry and within its established centers. I have had offers from Bay Area and NYC companies for remote work which I have declined because their pay was actually below what I can get from local companies here, I think because they viewed this area as advantageous primarily due to low cost of labor. The cost of labor actually isn't as low as they think, and I suspect in part because their salary analysis did not incorporate what I can make in 'adjacent' fields like cybersecurity R&D and fundamental CS R&D, which are major sectors here compared even to the bay area in terms of per capita employment.

Or let me put it this way: this city is considered to have a total dearth of the tech industry, defined as startups and explicitly software companies, and it is largely ignored by tech recruiting. Yet, the third largest employer in the city is a science and engineering R&D institution with extensive software divisions, the second largest employer has large software and engineering sections although their employment numbers also include general labor, and the second largest employing industry in the area after services is defense, and the primary defense work in the area is currently shifting from aerospace engineering to software and systems engineering.

I left that industry and have actually been working for various startups in the area. I am often asked for recommendations to fill openings, and I have plenty, but the startups generally do not offer sufficient pay and benefits to dislodge them from a very comfortable career with a level of benefits, not to mention job security, rarely seen in the tech industry.

Oil and gas? Academia?

You are wrong that FAANG companies will pay the same salary as you make in SF if you are in a low cost state like Indiana. I have a friend at one of those companies and they were running a survey to gauge employee's keenness for permanent wfh - and they were very clear that employee's salary will be adjusted based on which city they are based in. So, while this is still healthy, since FAANG pays pretty well, but don't expect half a million dollar working from your house in Indiana.

Just want to point out that there's no rational basis for this argument unless the employee in SF is much more productive.

To put it another way, do you currently see pay adjustments based on housing costs for employees living in SF? Have you ever heard of differences across employees simply because one of them has a more expensive house?

"Cost of Living" adjustments are a red herring, what they really are is really "competition density".

There are plenty of tech companies paying great salaries in the bay because they have to, otherwise they would just go work for someone else. On the other hand, if you lived in Oklahoma you aren't going to say no to $LOCAL_OFFER+10k just because bay area salaries are $LOCAL_OFFER+90k.

As long as this disparity exists, I forsee bay area salaries and CoL still being high. Until companies move headquarters out of the bay, the trend will continue.

FAANG doesn't determine salaries based on cost of living, but cost of labor, which maps to your concept of "competition density".

There is no rational reason for Google to pay bay area salaries for Indiana employees - will they really say no if Google offers 300K instead of the 500K they would get in the bay area? Sure, the person could reject it to make a statement, but most people would gladly take a salary that would buy them a small castle.

All FAANG needs to do is to beat local salaries by a significant margin to get well qualified employees - that would still make these people WAY cheaper than bay area employees.

> FAANG doesn't determine salaries based on cost of living, but cost of labor, which maps to your concept of "competition density".

Yep, that's exactly what a Google recruiter told me - they try to pay at the upper end of the _local_ market.

the rational reason would be they want to hire those people. Hiring top talent is a very competitive thing. Your avg dev at a small company in a small town might or might not be as good as that person who made it in sf. If 100k people leave sf and a good number of them keep their high salaries (or almost) then guess what, those companies will hire people from the other companies that cut pay too much.

If you're working remotely, then you just tell <big tech company> you live in NYC/SF. If they still offer a subpar salary, then you get an offer at <big tech company #2> and bid them against each other. Salary negotiation is a two-way street. Companies that hire remote workers care more about results, which has nothing to do with the cost of living in your location.

Are you implying to lie about where you actually live?

If they're doing something as absurd as using it as a negotiating tactic to pay you less, then yes.

But companies report your salary and withhold income for local taxes. How would that work?

For example, my paycheck literally has withholdings for California every two weeks.

Doesn't matter. An employee in Google London is paid lesser than the employee in Google SF. So while you can cry about injustices and rationality, salaries will likely be paid based on cost of living and even geography (based on London example).

> So while you can cry about injustices and rationality

Strange reply. I'm not talking about injustices. I'm saying a company would be pretty dumb to pay someone more just because of where they chose to live. Profit maximization and all that.

They'll pay more to people living in SF because those people have better alternatives and can negotiate harder, and the factors that cause that are the same factors that make housing in SF expensive.

You would have to pay me more if competing employers are willing to pay me more. Right now that depends on which job market I live in. Remote wages seem relatively lower, which isn't surprising when few companies have embraced remote yet.

You should ask yourself: do I want to hire people who decide relocating to Silicon Valley would be good for their career, or those who can't or won't?

Yeah. Google makes like a million dollars per engineer, so it's either "make less money on this engineer than you'd like" or "don't hire this engineer and make nothing". It would be stupid if they were doing it for no reason, but competition is higher for engineers in SF.

Got a link for your ‘Google earnings per engineer’ $1 million figure?

Not OP but the $1m figure doesn't really matter. Their point is google makes $x per engineer, you can make $x - (large number) or $0. Whether it's $1m or $10m, it doesn't change the fact.

Google made $65 billion in 2014[0], and had ~20k engineers[1], which puts the number per engineer at $3.5 million. [0] https://www.macrotrends.net/stocks/charts/GOOG/alphabet/reve... [1]https://www.quora.com/How-many-software-engineers-does-Googl...

> I'm saying a company would be pretty dumb to pay someone more just because of where they chose to live. Profit maximization and all that.

That's only the case if skilled engineers are fungible entities with a smooth supply/demand curve. That is absolutely not the case.

No but they will pay them less.

Paying person A less than person B means paying person B more than person A.

if a lot of top companies let people work remotely, then it will be a new competitive world for remote workers too. that hasn't happened yet, but it could.

> do you currently see pay adjustments based on housing costs

Yes, it's commonly referred to as "cost of living adjustment."

The rational basis is that the employer sees strategic value in having a physical presence in a given locale, and are willing to pay a premium to have employees actually located there.

Note that I've been working remotely full-time for years, and never plan to go back. I am, however, under no illusions that my salary is a permanent thing.

> Yes, it's commonly referred to as "cost of living adjustment."

I think you missed the point I was making. Have you seen two employees living in the same city, with one paid more because he decided to buy a more expensive house?

I'm aware that there are regional differences, but they can be explained by factors like different productivity levels. This discussion is different - it's about the same employee living in two different locations.

The employees are in a different negotiating position. Google pays them as little as they can get away with.

If living in a nicer house caused engineers to have more job opportunities at higher salaries, then Google probably would pay you more for living in a nicer house.

Yes. All the time. Its standard practice to pay more at high cost of living areas. I've not worked at a company with offices in different cost of living areas that did not do this.

Dude in SF is more likely to bump into other dudes in SF and talk about system design, math or AI or competition or best practices or stacks.

Dude in Indiana doesn't have that opportunity. You'd say but Internet, but things like motivation, inspiration, innovation comes from a certain external factors (which we still haven't figured out).

That's why even with massive internet penetration, it's the tech hubs that keep pumping winners and hits

> Just want to point out that there's no rational basis for this argument

The argument is that people in lower cost-of-living areas are willing to work for less, a public company's main motivation is profit, and companies lower their profit by paying employees more than is required to hire and retain them.

Google pay varies by office (quite a lot) and they're upfront about it but it has nothing to do with housing costs. It's based on the cost of hiring in the local market.

I am voluntarily transferring from Google SF to Google London and I am taking a significant salary cut. London isn't really any cheaper to live in, but you can hire good developers for much less in Europe.

I'd be really interested in how they plan to implement this. I'd certainly hope it would be more sophisticated than a linear adjustment of salary based on differences in the cost of living.

I live and work out of St. Louis at the moment, and I've spent a bit of time evaluating FAANG salaries in relation to the cost of living in their relevant areas. While in most cases it seemed I could maybe get 1.5x to 2x my St. Louis salary, I was looking at around a 5x increase in housing costs alone. It never made any sort of financial sense to make the move (as much as I would've liked to).

Of course the most sensible approach would be to offer just above market rate in whatever the local market is. That can be awfully hard to determine though. It's much more a function of local supply and demand than anything that correlates to cost of living.

They didn't say that though, so the whole "you're wrong" is unwarranted.

They said local companies will have to compete with FANG salaries. To your point these would likely be cost of living adjusted, but would almost certainly be higher than the current average in most Midwestern cities.

Lol - let us see. You must me dreaming if you are expecting no significant cost of living adjustments on salaries.

You are again completely misreading what I said, which clearly states that there will be cost of living adjustments, but that the salaries are still likely to be higher than non-tech hub averages.

Not every online conversation has to be a fight with winners and losers.

You are right. I was reacting based on your first sentence. Sorry about that!

So they were running a survey gauging whether it's possible to pay people less to work from home, but do we know the result of that survey? Maybe they find out that they cannot hire the same talent for less money in Indiana.

No - they were running a survey to figure out employee's interests in wfh permanently across US - but at the same time being very clear that the salary will be adjusted based on where they are.

Right but their ability to actually do that is subject to market forces. To me it's not a given they could do it.

I'm not claiming they can't, but their intention isn't proof either way.

Why don't you try living in Ohio and then demand $500k salaries which big-tech pays to software engineers and see if it works out?

1. I'm sure there are software engineers in Ohio working remotely making 500k and more, but no it's not the norm.

2. That's not the point: we're talking about a hypothetical shift where top software engineering talent is fleeing the bay area. If that talent moves to Ohio, and there is no cheaper alternative of similar quality, Google might not have a choice.

Again, not pretending like I know what's going to happen. My point is that big-tech doesn't have total power in setting prices. If at any point in the last 20 years they could have hired qualified engineers in Ohio for $100k they would have already done it.

I think you are thinking about this too much. I know you would like to earn these big packages in Ohio. But honestly, what is more likely to happen is that companies will optimize for themselves too and if they are able to find good talent at cheaper prices (since cost of living expenses for employees are down significantly), they will do that. So on average SV salaries will go down as employees spread over US.

Can't have it both ways. SV pays top $$ because of 1) top notch skills and 2) cost of living. Now you are taking #2 away - so things will ease a bit

I'd never want to live in Ohio. "You are thinking about it too much" is a weak argument.

Again, if companies could find good talent at cheaper prices in Ohio they would. Existing talent moving around does not increase the amount. It's not a given that market rate will decrease.

You don't get it. It is fine. Logic is hard sometimes.

Abandoning the discussion and resorting to personal attacks, great post.

What's stopping someone from moving to SF for higher comp on hiring, then getting a P.O. box or friend's mailing address in SF and moving back to work from lower cost area after some time?

Is your employer really going to decrease your salary after the fact? Can you file taxes in your lower cost of living state after you lock in your high SF comp package and never notify your employer but still pay your taxes in the state you moved back to?

Note: I don't condone illegal behavior just thinking of edge cases that benefit us tech workers.

Aka tax evasion? Your local government probably wouldn’t be thrilled about that.


> Is your employer really going to decrease your salary after the fact?

Yes. I have remote working friends who've been required to take a pay cut because they moved.

That's the most interesting part to me which will play the major role in how WFH situation will evolve. I 100% understand the logic in such situations, but:

1) If company like Twitter is saying: "From tomorrow our default is work from home, but you all get 20% salary cut". This will be essentially a salary cut, nothing more. If let's say Facebook says WFH=on-site developers from Twitter will be flowing to Facebook because of 20% salary cut

2) In order for everyone in FAANG to say simultaneously that we have to cut salaries 20% simply because it is WFH now - there should be a strong evidence that productivity in remote workers is 20% less and they will need to hire 20% more engineers to have the same amount of work done. If it is not correct then companies have incentive to drive this number down to 10% or 0%

3) FAANG and overall Valley residents must also consider the long term effect on their community. I doubt that Silicon Valley will survive going 100% virtual and concentration of innovation can be lost if people go 100% remote. So they might impose 10-20% cut on a premise that they want to create a community on-site. Not sure how C-suits evaluate such factor.

Overall I suppose if companies go WFH by default they will need to reevaluate their incentives structures to be competitive.

You are making some questionable assumptions about our economy. It doesn’t really matter what incentives theoretically exist if there isn’t money to, say, maintain your current staffing levels at their current pay.

Perhaps Twitter is leading the pack in an industry-wide pay cut? I hope not, but that seems to be what the rest of the workforce has experienced in recent months.

My full time job is producing video for YouTube. My revenue from ads is a straightforward calculation: I get 55% of whatever advertisers pay YouTube/Google to run ads on my channel.

Despite having posted record growth in every other positive metric, overall revenue (read: advertiser spending) has tanked in recent months.

Facebook. Google. Twitter. YouTube.

They are all internet advertising companies. And if my personal observations are any indication, I suspect they may be hurting for cash right about now.

Mostly the tax fraud parts of your statement. However I'm sure it happens

Would it be tax fraud if you’re still in California? You record your address when you file with the state, I don’t think the state cares where you get your mail.

I guess the employer could have some contractual terms requiring your address to be at some location. I’ve never seen that though.

I think you just change your address if you move within the state. I don’t think companies track your address as long as you’re the same for taxation. That’s why people do insane 2 hour commutes.

What if you create some business entity in that state?

Yup. Salaries are based on the local market.

This is true but salaries aren't based on cost of living exclusively they are based on demand as well. If more companies shift to remote work that will spread demand across the US driving up salaries in low cost of living areas and reducing them in high cost of living areas.

True, but I'd argue that remote working exists in a market of its own, somewhere between sf rates and local market rates.

Most FAANG have a high cost of living band and a regular band. The high cost of living band pays 15-30% extra for living in the Bay Area/NYC. Everywhere else pays the same whether it's Boston, Detroit, or the middle of the desert.

The Bay Area can mean Pacific Heights, or Concord. Probably half or 2/3 the cost of living in the latter.

Yeah - just that FAANG don't hire people outside top cities. So your middle of desert point is misleading.

most faang don't hire remote - but they do allow people to work remote in certain circumstances, they also tend to maintain smaller engineering offices all over the country so transferring isn't as difficult once your in.

Maybe it's the other way around: due to increased supply, total package of FAANG engineers will drop. That's not necessarily a bad thing though. We've been enjoying unprecedented packages for many years. It may be a good time to distribute some of the wealth to other parts of the country.

There's no wealth there. All Google employees get something like 25 billions a year. The US budget is measured in trillions and to cover up just this recession alone, Fed created 6 trillions, or 240 years worth of wages for those employees. Do I need to say that in ten years there will be another recession, where Fed will create 20 trillions?

FAANG total comp -- today -- is at a record high and well outpacing every other vertical.

The pool of qualified software engineers outside of high-cost urban areas is pretty shallow. I run a 100% remote company in the midst of staffing up. We're looking for database internals people. There are not a lot of qualified candidates in, say, Oklahoma.

If COVID-19 really helped people to work from the Ouachitas at reasonable salaries, it would be completely awesome. But we're a long way from that. I love remote work and would like to see more people do it. But the past history of epidemics (e.g., 1918, the 1665 London plague, etc.) indicates people will go back to previous behavior--favoring urban areas--once the crisis passes.

I have fantasies about a homestead in the shadow of Cavanal Hill. If I could raise chickens and goats, and maybe a family, all while working remote, I'd truly have the best our age has to offer.

There are a lot of us out here in the middle who want that.

I get your skepticism, but I'm going to hope against hope that telepresence technology will continue to improve and make that possible.

I really hope I'm wrong, because working remotely is great.

Pandemics historically have not had a big impact on the political economy unless they kill an enormous number of people. The Black Plague in the 1300s is an example.

That assumes they restrict remote work to America for work that was done previously in the states. If this picks up, and there are no legal restrictions on what country a remote employee must be in, then the low end might just go much lower than what it currently is in small cities.

> there are no legal restrictions on what country a remote employee must be in

Working remotely from another country is easy. Paying somebody in another country is not easy at all. Even with specialized providers it is a substantial hassle. Without it you pretty much better give up - the chances you get all the payments, taxes and paperwork right is minimal, and that country's tax/regulatory authorities would be more than happy to fine you and/or your workers if you don't. In the best case, in worse case they might just seize your money intended for payroll and keep it until you figure things out.

This is one of the reasons why, in my somewhat radical opinion, all taxes should be some form of sales tax. No income tax, etc. If you live in a country, you spend money in that country, and so you pay taxes in that country. No workarounds, no loopholes, no tax returns, no cognitive load, just extremely simple tax law.

(I know it's not quite that simple, but I think it's interesting to think about.)

The unfortunate reality of only using sales tax is that it's entirely regressive.

I couldn't reply to null0pointer directly. Sales tax is considered regressive because it is a flat percentage X% of spend. Poor people spend close to 100% of their income, so it is basically an X% tax. Rich people might spend closer to 10% of their income so it is an X/10% tax on rich people.

That's why basic, necessary goods are not taxed, only luxury items. We have a GST in Australia and poor people effectively do not pay any tax on purchases.

The definition of basic, necessary goods is extremely narrow in the US. Poor people still pay plenty of sales tax.

Unfortunately that's not the case everywhere. I live in a state in the US where even groceries have sales tax.

Most sales tax proposals I've seen will exempt food and other "necessities" for exactly this reason. With how complex income taxes are, I'd love to get a serious discussion going about a sales ax replacing it.

Or a wealth tax.

It's not as regressive if you charge sales tax on housing.

In point of fact, the US mortgage interest deduction is highly regressive. It favors those who can afford a down payment on a house over those who can't, who by definition will be poorer.

If the sales tax applied to buying a house, it would be quite progressive. It could even only apply to the cost of the house less some amount (say, $100k) which would make it even more progressive.

Property tax already does this, right? China has a sales tax on housing but no property tax, which seems to exacerbate wealth inequality there as people can speculate on property without penalty for not putting it to use.

Could you elaborate please? Not looking for a debate, just want to understand what you mean by "entirely regressive".

Compare the person earning $10,000 and the person earning $1,000,000. If they both consume $10,000 worth of goods and there's a 20% sales tax included in that, the poor person's effective tax rate is 20%, while the rich person's effective tax is 0.2%. Even if the rich person consumes 10x more, they're only paying 2% of their income.

Then again, if you stuff 98%+ of your income into a mattress are you really advantaged over the person making $10,000 to justify paying more tax?

One you exchange the money - where an advantage can be gained - then it can be considered a sale and thus taxed. A sale does not necessarily need to be towards consumption.

I see what you're saying -- money isn't useful until it's spent. But I think the argument is that a wealthy person doesn't put that extra 98% of their money under a mattress, they invest it. Now they have passive income on top of their previous income, and their effective tax rate from sales tax is even lower. Until eventually they have so much well that they don't have to work at all, and neither do their descendants, and you have an aristocracy.

> they invest it.

But, if such a system was in place, the money would be taxed during the purchase of the investment vehicle. A sale is a sale. Unless the money is literally stuck in a mattress, it is going to be taxed upon doing anything useful with it. If it is simply stuck in a mattress for all of eternity, one is really no further ahead. Money only has value when you can use it to facilitate a sale; and when there is a sale there would be a tax.

Poor people spend a larger fraction of their income on things that get taxed. Ergo a constant tax rate on consumption is regressive. This could be paired with UBI though.

While some hassle of paying someone in another country is real, this level of pain seems to be pretty extreme. I am sure it depends on the country (good luck hiring in North Korea :) ), but for most countries there are enough options, from the employer opening a subsidiary to hiring employee as a contractor and everything in between (e.g., a local organization handling paperwork for a small salary cut which is a lot less than US recruiters would charge). My 2c.

Sanctions, securities, those can be a sinkhole.

It should still be strictly easier than opening up a branch in another country, which large tech companies are already doing a lot. When the gate of remote working opens, you no longer need to fix a head count with a particular location, and that opens up tons of possibilities.

And just to make your point explicit, if everyone moves to local-remote, then the move to hiring cheap and top-notch Bulgarian or Romanian programmers is even easier.

This is further in the future, and labor laws will likely stifle this first, especially in today's climate.

Language and time zone barriers still may be a problem though.

Time zones are a huge problem! I can't connect. It's so taxing to find a time that works!

Yes, though work gets less efficient +/- 3 time zones or so.

If you hire in the Americas, you keep the same time zone. There's a whole world of English speaking programmers, core contributors to node, to ruby, ML engineers, data engineers south of the border. All the same time zone.

Not often. I’m Pacific and work for a company in the Eastern timezone. At 2pm I can no longer get answers until the next day.

Yes this assumption is remote work to America only.

> This can go two ways: either the local software business will have to compete with FAANG salaries, or there will be jumps from senior developers, experienced developers, and many smarter/more capable developers from smaller software business to FAANG due to salary/perks attraction.

I think if it's widespread it would be a little of both with some extra effects to consider. Not only will FAANG organizations get a wider pool of applicants which will drive down salaries for FAANG orgs, AND other businesses will how have to deal with the fact that their technology workers are part of a much larger market than they were previously, which will drive up salaries for those workers remotes, but there could be some very interesting delayed effects. How many FAANG workers now would opt to move farther away and keep their position, which will depress (that is, realign with reality to some small degree) the real estate market in areas like Seattle and San Francisco? What does that do to salaries later (likely a much smaller effect, but maybe non-negligible)?

Telecommuting has been hailed as one aspect of saving the suburban and rural life for a long time. Maybe we'll actually see some of it now.

What happens if there's a net reduction in people living in San Francisco and surrounds over 10 years, say 10%? I mean, it sounds unlikely, but so didthe idea of so many people staying inside for months at a time, and everyone switching to telecommuting so fast. All these things are related, and with major changes in one, relatively rapid change in things that related to it can be expected. At this point I'm actually thinking it's possible we could shift to UBI of some sort, and just a few months ago I didn't see any way that could happen without a major economic disruption, but hey, we've already got that.

Personally I would not move away from west coast. Mediterranean weather is gift from god. Plus it's so close to many good ski resorts. Being able to enjoy outdoors throughout the year and being able to go out to ski every week is priceless.

There's a lot of area on the west coast a couple hours from the major metro areas that's much more affordable. I was born, raised, and have worked all my life in Sonoma county an hour north of SF, and even that is expensive. If I could move another hour away for significantly reduced cost of living while still having the security I enjoy now (where I know likely at worst I have to deal with a commute to SF for some other job if something happens to my current local job), that would be real tempting. I already live an hour away from SF, what's two hours, if all I'm doing is going there for special occasions? And that's still a very minor change compared to what this might allow.

Nah, I never get city life anyway, especially the culture of frequenting bars. But the bay area is wonderful. Yes, commute is horrible there, but being able to find many people who are passionate about CS, engineering, math, startups, and geeky stuff in general, that's hard to get anywhere else.

I live about an hour from Seattle, and while our rural area is beautiful and much cheaper than the city, it's as red as Eastern WA around here.

Imagine how one of your red neighbors might feel if they were required to work somewhere blue.

There’s a lot of areas that are cheap on the west coast but there isn’t much there. I guess Humboldt is an option if you want to grow as a side gig.

Rural California is also pretty red and not as friendly to outsiders. I have a friend who grew up on the rural coast. He basically drove around on trails and shot guns for fun.

If that’s your thing more power to you but most tech workers I’ve met aren’t into that.

That's fine. And I get it notwithstanding a lot of the issues with SF and much of the South Bay. But you may be increasingly expected to pay a premium for your preferences which employers won't compensate for.

It will be the opposite. People who are wfh from other cities will likely see their salaries adjusted based on their cost of living. SF overtime will get less heated as people move out, so it makes sense for the salary to reflect that too.

I mean you could also you know live in the Mediterranean...

4 hours is close? I could probably get to a Colorado ski area in less time via air.

We will see how things play out, but WFH success is not guaranteed. Managing remote workers requires different skills which most managers today do not have.

For now, most big companies have enough cash and are primarily focusing on making sure workers are not going crazy rather than on turning out new software. Give it another 3-4 months though and those companies will have to pivot back to real development which may be harder than they expect if WFH is still practiced en masse. My 2c.

What are the skills that are different managing remote vs onsite devs?

Planning-related. Onsite teams allow first line of management to muddle through many issues in an ad-hoc way: walk over to see if A is stuck, if so go and ask B to help A, etc. This is not good: most engineers hate constant interruptions and best engineers' most productive time can get decimated. But this type of management mostly keeps the ship afloat.

This does not work with remote teams. There, a manager needs to have a longer-term plan, parcel work in a larger chunks, clearly write the tasks and minimal thresholds ("this task is done when you can confirm X"). The manager then sees when someone is blocked, what tasks are getting behind, etc.

This setup is actually better for the worker bees, too, who get clearly identifiable tasks and are not tracked on how they spend their time as long as their task is completed on time.

Everyone is thinking about picking talent from across the country. We should be thinking from across the world. Get ready for high salaries to start going down once everything starts to get stable.

This is so absurd. We struggle to hire even remote work around the country. There just aren't enough qualified people for some of these more senior positions.

"Never lose your edge."

How about, enjoy your free time. Enjoy your friends and family. Work hard at your job, but maintain the division.

This hyper-productivity porn is a net negative. There is competition in this industry, but nowhere near enough to leave talented engineers fearing for anything. Not on a near time-horizon, at least.

The FAANGs are not likely to pay HCOL compensation to LCOL employees.

The employee's local cost-of-living will factor into the comp.

At the end of the day there’s a pay band in HR and while COL may be 3x in SF than Oklahoma, but either it’s 600k in San Fran or 250k in Oklahoma, which is nearing physician’s pay in many smaller states. Pay will go up in smaller states and pay will come down in SF/SV areas. People in LCOL areas will make top end salaries in their respective geographic areas and will see the best quality of life improvement. $250k in Oklahoma is going to be much better quality of life than $600k in San Jose for some people who have a spouse and 2 kids. And then over time they can hire a lot more people at 200-250k rather than 600k.

And of course all of this assumes a traditional W2 employment agreement.

If the person in Oklahoma pays $1k per month for a 3,000 sq ft home with a 1Gbps fiber connection.... why work full-time at all, or exclusively for one employer?

I just don't see why from a company's perspective you would pay two equally qualified/titled people massively different salaries based on the city they choose to live (which is completely irrelevant to the company). If I were an employer and one person wanted 125k and the other 400k, that seems like a no-brainer to me when they are both remote workers and equally qualified.

If they offer to raise the person getting 125k to 400k if they move to an expensive area, then at least it's fair :shrug:

Companies do not pay based on CoL. The 400k guy is going to be looking at competing offers in that range. If Google decided they would only pay based on Kansas salaries, and Apple only hired local, why would you ever consider a Google offer when Apple pays 3x as much?

By that logic why would either of you be paid 6 figures when someone the other side of the world can do the same for 5 figures?

If it doesn't matter where you are to work for the company then why does it matter if you're even in America.

That's a great point, although from my experience working with teams on the other side of the world, the language barriers (and even time zones) are enough to make it so the work is not equivalent. Theoretically though it could be. It's more difficult in practice however and may end up costing the company more, so could be cheaper to pay someone more who is local to headquarters and the target market, than less on the other side of the world.

It seems likely local salaries in smaller cities will go up, since they already have in response to the first wave of remote friendly startups and companies. Now, most of them can't offer public company compensation options but can compete in other areas.

I'm not so sure about that, mainly because CA offers the best laws in terms of employee competitiveness - no non-competes, mainly.

Why not all across the world? At least those that can communicate in the same language

But what about hanging around the water cooler so I can colab on some random ideas I overheard!!! my whole go to market and product strategy depends on this!!!!

- Some anti-WFH person, probably

Losing those serendipitous meetings is frequently mentioned by people bullish about working from home as one of the things they find difficult.

There are downsides to working from home, it's silly to dismiss them as mindlessness from the other camp.

I'm having trouble finding it now, but there's a paper that studied white collar promotions as a factor of how physically close the promoted subordinate sat to their manager. It was pretty correlated.

I wonder how that effect virtualizes.

> Losing those serendipitous meetings

In a remote-first culture, those meetings still happen, even though it needs some more effort to facilitate those situations. It's when the team is split between onsite and remote that remote contributors have a disadvantage and might even miss out on important things going on.

Alternatively, one might unionize to help prevent the vagaries of capitalist competition from messing with your individual life.

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