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Shopify Goes Digital by Default (twitter.com)
324 points by sachitgupta 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 425 comments

So I've now been WFH for 2 months and honestly I hate it. Work was already flexible enough such that if you wanted to WFH you could. By convention, people would most often WFH on Wednesdays. I liked this timing of people doing it at the same time.

But communication and collaboration is just much harder work remote and you can't change my mind. I'm sure you can work hard to make it almost as good but it's never going to be better (IMHO).

I of course miss the meals and snacks.

Many people who work at these companies live in big cities where they don't have huge amounts of space and it's not conducive to being productivity, particularly if you live with other people, if you can't get some form of separation.

Those of you who are claiming this will be some form of revolution I think are naive. I've found that advocates of WFH are mostly motivated by that's what they want to do more than anything else. I mean that's fine but it often leads to thinly-veiled, self-serving, biased arguments and proclamations of the benefits to everyone.

If you need an office anyway you don't really save anything by WFH unless you oversubscribe your work areas (eg hot-desking) and that has its own problems.

All-remote might work best. I've seen this claimed but have no direct experience with it. I do know that mixed WFH and in the office is nearly always detrimental to the remote people and the team as a whole (IME).

I just don't think a company with 50,000+ employees can operate this way indefinitely.

> and you can't change my mind.

Welp, why bother commenting then? Also half remote half in office doesn't work. I've been working for all remote companies for the past 4 years and (asynchronous) communication has always been great. It's "just" a mindset shift.

You say we're naive for thinking this is a revolution. I'd say naive is the one evaluating the viability of remote work by looking at an incredibly noisy dataset (or a single data point in your case) during a pandemic in which companies have been forced into a paradigm that requires methodical and progressive change.

Similarly to asking someone who has never run to join a marathon and be in the top N.


I heard meditation is good, I wish I had some time though. Yesterday I got blocked in an elevator for 6 hours, so I got plenty of time. I tried to used this opportunity and tried meditate though. Didn't work

Those are all perfectly valid points. However, I don't think WFH advocates are claiming that working from home is definitively better. Both options have different trade-offs.

You're right that collaboration is much easier in person, even with the latest remote work technology. But could we offset that with companies that have monthly/quarterly offsites instead? What if they invest their office budget into helping people build better home offices? Ship snacks directly to employees or let them expense meals/snacks?

The worst thing a lot of companies will do is jump into fully remote without rethinking how their culture works. This is not just a way to save money by getting rid of your office. That money has to be allocated differently to make up for the differences.

I 100% agree that mixed in-perform/WFH is the worst of both worlds.

Finally, I would note the last 2 months have been very abnormal for everyone, and it's been nothing like WFH under normal situations. I would wait to when things "return to normal" before making a decision on how you feel about WFH.

Indeed, it wasn't even normal WFH for people who already worked from home for ages and had all things sorted out.

I work in a shed, 20m from my main house; with a red/green sign on it that my small kids learned to obey, good noise cancelling headphones etc.

But as schools over here are closed now for about 3 months now, no amount of red/green signs or noise cancellation are going to save me from the fact my help is needed in several occasions during the day, or that (especially at the beginning of the lockdown) I have to block out 4 hours just to buy weekly groceries, or 1h to buy something in the local pharmacy.

This thing disrupted everybody. I can only imagine how is it for people who live with kids in apartments with no gardens and no dedicated rooms.

No offsites please. I'd rather go in then fly around the world at this point.

How would you feel about local offsites?

Linux (and almost all OSS ), was built from people WFH.

Follow the same processes: be as asynchronous as possible,reduce meetings to a few times a year, rely on tools and build new ones if you need them.

If you are permanently WFH, why are you in a small pad in the city? Look at what you can afford out in the country, or even another country entirely.

Yes, it should be a choice and not forced onto everybody, but after a couple of years of being remote, I get worried about needing to ever go into an open plan office ever again. There are positives to all this, but you may need to adapt to make it work for you.

I live in a city, because I like living in a city. I love commuting through it, looking at all the people and businesses, the architecture and smells of the city. I love taking public transit and thinking of background stories for all the folks on the tram.

When I am stuck WFH for this quarantine, it doesn't even feel like I live in the city anymore. Moving out of the city would just make that permanent.

For a lot of people, especially in this industry, the bulk of the social interaction they get is through coworkers. Wouldn't be surprised if permeant working from home exacerbates feelings of loneliness and other mental health issues.

I'd argue that's unhealthy behavior though. As someone who has less need for daily social contact, having my coworkers leaning on me for their "daily recommended dose" of social interactions isn't healthy for me. I came in to the office because I didn't have a choice not to and avoiding social contact with my coworkers at work isn't really something I can effect without obviously hiding away.

It's not to say that it won't be a problem, but introverted folks have been forced into being in offices even when it stressed them out and caused them mental health issues for years. If the extroverts are getting the other end of it now, there's plenty of room to find clubs, meetups, gyms, and other hobbies. Just because I work with you doesn't mean I'm now obligated to be your social support network.

> Follow the same processes: be as asynchronous as possible,reduce meetings to a few times a year, rely on tools and build new ones if you need them.

Or to the people who actually need to be in said meetings and conclude them when they need to be concluded.

50k+ employee companies already work remote. They got dozens of offices all over the world, and bunch of projects I did for these large companies involved me coming in to an office so I can be on the call with people in different offices - which is pretty idiotic and can be just as effectively done from home.

And catered meals/snacks are not the norm there either - instead, you smelling microwaved fish Bob brought for lunch, plus Karen is babbling away about how her kid didn't get into the honors program. You don't have an office, you're sitting next to bunch of other people who keep talking, walking, watching funny Youtube videos. The best option is to come in late and work late so you have a somewhat distraction-free workplace to yourself - which again is pretty idiotic.

And the communication is not really that much harder, it's actually gets much easier and streamlined the more you WFH. You learn to focus on what matters, you learn to present your thoughts coherently and in an engaging manner as people need to understand you and listen to you even though they don't see you and no one even knows whether they are listening to you or not.

I think it depends on your work style. I have a friend at FANG who hates WFH because his work style involves a lot of face to face conversations & relationship building.

Whereas my wife and I (also FANG) just like doing our work and clocking out ASAP and we both absolutely love WFH. Video chat is more than good enough to make stuff happen with other people, and without a commute I can save hours of my life every single day.

Everyone can't work this way, but it works great for a portion of people. I don't see why we can't let people individually decide. My only concern is that the WFH people will be such a minority that they'll be ignored in large meetings, but as long as ~20% of people are remote then I think it can work for everyone.

I think the optimum is 3 days of WFH, with the remainder being spent in person. For most people, you're going to have work you can do on your own. You probably only need a little bit of help here and there. The office specific days, you spend on meetings, working more directly with people.

I think this would also significantly reduce stress on employees. You could live in more affordable areas, and take commuter transit for the days you have in office. It wouldn't bother me too much to take a 90 min transit if I knew it was only a couple of times week. It's the day after day that really kills ones soul.

That defeats a lot of the benefit of remote work though. My output in 3 days of work is gonna be a week's worth in my experience. Padding it with face time is mostly me eating a loss.

2 days/week working synchronously with people? Of meetings? I can't remember a time when a project I've worked on needed that to succeed.

I can think of MANY projects I've worked on (and currently working on) where other people are frankly a distraction, and I just need to focus on implementing a few features on my own. But you then need to coordinate a lot in person to figure our the next steps.

I think this set up provides much of the benefit of remote (greater flexibility in personal life commitments) while retaining the necessary components that many often cite for why remote isn't a good option (no face to face meetings). The point however is that it's not supposed to replace either in person or fully remote, but find more choices firms have in their staffing configurations. More choice means there will be greater market fit for both job seekers and employers.

It certainly depends on seniority and experience, the more you have the easier it is to work on your own. You don't need much guidance anymore and you know what communication and planning is needed in advance, so you can do it in batches.

Until you’re senior enough that most of your job is communication, then remote becomes difficult again. WFH now and maintaining Work/Life balance is really difficult when most of your time is spent sending emails, reviewing code and proposals and answering questions in a global company. Writing code at night happened occasionally before, but it required leaving my family and pulling out my laptop so it had to be for good reason. Helping an overseas team out over Slack with something at 11 pm can be done from my phone, “it’ll just take 5 minutes”.

In terms of pure work productivity, I disagree. Emailing, reviewing code, and reviewing and writing proposals are all activities that are best done in a low distraction environment, which the modern open office is not. Dealing with questions has a bit more overhead on both the asker and the answerer, but I don't think it's so much that email and Slack don't mostly cover it. For those occasional instances where written communication doesn't cut it, video chat is an acceptable substitute in exchange for the benefits in other areas.

Even for whiteboard discussions, you can buy a literal whiteboard for your work area, hold the meeting over video call, and exchange photos afterward. It's not quite as low friction as walking up to a whiteboard in the office with a coworker, but, at least you know the damn markers will work.

Maintaining WLB is something one needs to be attentive to. Having a dedicated work area as well as maintaining specific work hours (and sticking to them) are key. Other than that, I don't think maintaining WLB at home has to be any tougher than at the office. Kids present special issues, but, if you're a non-WFHer, you already have provisions for the kids during work hours, anyway.

I completely agree - this certainly isn't a configuration I would think works well for management. Meeting in person certainly are highly valued for even the most junior managers.

But for a lot of white collar professionals at an associate to mid senior level, there's plenty of work that you should be able to do independently.

Zoom calls definitely aren't as good as real sitting in the same room meetings, but I aim to be in meetings less than an hour a day anyway. I find that it's plenty good enough for 2-3 person calls, and for one person presenting to a large group of muted listeners. A bit more challenging for 5-10 person collaborative sessions.

I've been working remotely for a couple years, and at some point started auto-deleting recruiter emails for jobs in the city. Commuting 2-3 hours per day is just a non-starter for me at this point. The extra sleep and exercise I get remotely is probably going to extend my life expectancy.

1. communication and collaboration is just much harder work remote: you are probably used to an office culture where communication happens in person and nothing is ever documented. That's understandable. in a remote culture, the written world rules, communication would be much better (asynchronous, no more pointless meetings)

2. Work was already flexible enough such that if you wanted to WFH you could: could you WFH permanently or 99% of the days in a year?

3. the meals and snacks -> if you can't cook, now is a good time to learn. save money

4. Many people who work at these companies live in big cities where they don't have huge amounts of space -> in a normal period of time, you could just relocate to somewhere better. We are not doing normal WFH

5. Those of you who are claiming this will be some form of revolution I think are naive -> I agree but I also think that you are naive if you think remote working is not superior for information workers

6. If you need an office anyway you don't really save anything -> Wrong. Water, electricity, internet, coffee, amenities, cleaning equipment, toiletries, cleaning services. And of course, the office itself. For workers: they get absolute freedom to shape their home space as they see fit. Oh and the MOST important time, you save everyone their commute (which will get you well rested employees).

7. I just don't think a company with 50,000+ employees: do you HAVE to join a 50k company?

Re: “move somewhere better”; this is a flawed argument I’ve seen repeated a bunch. Some people just like where they live and don’t want to move to a bigger place. Bigger does not necessarily mean better. Cities provide more options for entertainment, more people to socially interact with, more unique opportunities (by the draw of the city population for these opportunities), etc.

“Move somewhere better” is naive, because where they live isn’t necessarily bad; just may not be conducive to full-time remote work.

I agree, but my counterpoint would be this: I like having _access_ to the Bay Area, but I don't like how much it costs to live somewhere accessible to SF. If I could live somewhere a little further out to save money, but still be able to visit the City and other places when I wanted or needed, that would be theoretically ideal for me. In practical terms, I'll let you know after I get a chance to try it out. ;-)

Not OP, but:

1. Ok.

2. I leave that to OP to answer.

3. What if I don't like cooking and can afford to eat out?

4. What's better? Maybe I like living in a big city. Not everyone wants a house with a backyard.

5. We shall see. "Information workers" like to think they're superior to everyone else but people are ultimately social. Work is social. Companies build stuff by having people collaborate and so far there's no collaboration better than face-to-face. That's how you break down silos, for example, in many cases.

6. That's assuming that the company redirects the money they pay on offices to help employees pay for their home offices. I really doubt that.

7. Big companies pay better. Big companies have big projects small companies can't even dream of. There are many reasons to join a big company.

> leads to thinly-veiled, self-serving, biased arguments and proclamations of the benefits to everyone.

> So I've now been WFH for 2 months and honestly I hate it.

> I just don't think a company with 50,000+ employees can operate this way indefinitely.

ok. Why do you consider your arguments against WFH not biased and useful.

"other side is biased" ...quite funny :D

> Why do you consider your arguments against WFH not biased and useful.

The software industry is doing quite well for itself, busily collecting all the world’s money. It doesn’t mean it’s doing everything right but it does put a larger burden of proof on advocates for change.

Wordpress/Automatic is a fully remote company.

Considering that the number of total active websites is estimated at over 1.3 billion according to a survey published by Netcraft, that means that around 455,000,000 websites are using WordPress right now, which means that around 20% of all self-hosted websites use WordPress.

So I’d say they’re doing pretty well for themselves.

Also Github.

But a big part of how it’s doing that is using technologies to unbundle functions, that used to be bundled for practical reasons, to create new efficiencies and value.


The software industry likely is also among the industries with the highest amount of WFH already.

> ok. Why do you consider your arguments against WFH not biased and useful.

Because what I'm saying is objectively true: physical colocation with your coworkers is inherently easier to work with than working remotely and no one in their right mind disputes that. The best you can argue for WFH-first is that it can be made to work.

Your other clue is the choice of language. I said, for example, "I hate WFH" and (paraphrased) "I like having a catered office". These are my personal preferences. You can't really argue that it isn't my personal preference. You can argue that those preferences don't work for you, which is 100% fine and indisputable.

In comparison, so many things I see written about WFH are stated with broad generalizations of "WFH is better because ..." when you can clearly tell that really means "I want to WFH and I'm going to argue my preference as being a general good".

You've had other people in this thread and elsewhere agree that a mixed WFH/in-person team is (to quote another commenter here) "the worst of both worlds". If you take that as true it then means that for people to most effectively WFH they need everyone else they're working with to do it as well. It's intellectually dishonest.

To be clear, if you can make WFH work for you and you like doing it, great. I hope you find an employer who works like that or will allow at least some of the team to work remotely. Prognostications that Covid-19 will lead to some seachange in WFH-first employment strikes me as unsubstantiated wishful thinking however.

Just go and look at all the blog posts and articles written about how to make WFH work. Why aren't there just as many (or more) articles about making WFO (Working From Office) work if the benefits are so self-apparent?

There are certain kinds of work that could be remote and would be just fine to do so but they still generally aren't (eg call center work; apart from obvious offshoring cases, a lot of US domestic call center work is still from an office for some reason). But I don't put software engineering at scale in that category.

> physical colocation with your coworkers is inherently easier

This isn't even remotely objective. It's amusing how people think their personal perspective is the objective one.

> Why aren't there just as many (or more) articles about making WFO

There's an ocean of WFO content on the Internet - everything from leases, to security, to feng shui. I'm willing to wager there's an order of magnitude more WFO than WFH content. And it's all about making office life work (or work better).

Believe it or not, offices are a modern invention. Just because it's been the status quo for several decades, doesn't mean it's the only way to get things done.

Screwing over worker was the status quo at one point, too.

> Because what I'm saying is objectively true: physical colocation with your coworkers is inherently easier to work with than working remotely and no one in their right mind disputes that.

There are countless examples of companies large and small who have found massive amounts of success switching to a remote based methodology. Saying that this is objectively wrong and that these folks are not in "their right mind" makes your argument, that could otherwise be valid, look foolish.

It largely depends on what kind of work you're doing. For software development, I could just as easily claim that it is objectively true that asynchronous communication and a freedom from non-technical people tapping you on the shoulder 10 times a day is objectively easier.

> Why aren't there just as many (or more) articles about making WFO (Working From Office)

Because that blog (or more likely book) has already been written and re-written for the past 100 years. WFH is a somewhat new phenomenon in the age of modern internet and broadband.


> with your coworkers is inherently easier to work with than working remotely

This is so dependent on the coworkers. There's plenty of folks who I can work with remotely OK preciesly because we're remote. Sitting next to these people 6-8 hours per day would be extremely counter productive. I'm sure there's plenty of folks that can take me only in small doses, and 8 hrs/day of working with me face to face would be too much - I don't fault them for that!

Because what I'm saying is objectively true: physical colocation with your coworkers is inherently easier to work with than working remotely and no one in their right mind disputes that. The best you can argue for WFH-first is that it can be made to work.

This is objectively not true for the kind of work I (and many others) do. Physical colocation with coworkers actually makes it harder for knowledge workers to do their work, which is why lawyers and accountants have their own offices even when they're in the same building.

To address your comment about wfo... it works since it’s been the default way that people have worked since the industrial revolution. As such we have institutional collective knowledge and culture on how to make it work. The blog posts about making wfh work are going against a couple of centuries of knowledge, which is why you see the difference.

But to address a finer point: there is still a lot of activity about open vs closed plan etc. So wfo is not a fully solved problem either!

> Many people who work at these companies live in big cities where they don't have huge amounts of space and it's not conducive to being productivity, particularly if you live with other people, if you can't get some form of separation.

Could this be the tipping point to a sustained exodus from an urban kind of lifestyle? (spoken as someone who likes/values density)

The idea that this will result in an exodus from urban areas presupposes that jobs are the reason people moved to the urban areas, rather than social, leisure, or cultural reasons.

That's highly arguable. Young people like cities, that's where the girls and the parties are. That's been true for a really long time.

I lived in San Francisco solely for work. If I could work from home 3 days a week, I would have lived in Marin County and done a 2 hour commute twice a week, and maybe spend a weekend in the City from time to time.

If we’re talking about LA or NYC I would agree.

In the case of SF almost every 20-something I’ve interacted with is here primarily for career and plans on relocating at some point.

Honestly, this is EXACTLY the problem with the current tech scene in SF.

SF used to be a place people moved to because they wanted to live in San Francisco, they wanted the culture, the access to nature and its beauty, the arts scene that was traditionally more cutting edge (citylights, burning man), the cutting edge food and wine scene, the walkability.

Nobody moves to San Francisco for that anymore. They move to San Francisco for work not life. They move to San Francisco to extract value from a job and then leave.

San Francisco is too amazing a city to be relegated to becoming a company town. If there is a positive outcome from this, it will hopefully result in a recalibration and people who want to be in SF because they WANT TO BE IN SAN FRANCISCO will stay and the people who came here to just smash and grab some cash will leave.

I agree with this. I just turned 30, and I couldn't wait to leave SF. Its a great city, I grew up in the Bay Area, but it is nto for me. I am not a city person. I never lived in SF proper, but I would hate it if I did.

So I took the plunge and moved to Washington last October before COVID was a thing. And i couldn't be happier. It was all because my company had a SF and Bellevue location.

I forsee many other people doing the same now that job opportunities aren't tied to location.

I was forced to work in SF because thats where the Jobs were for me, but I never wanted to be so near or work in SF.

It may result in a shuffling of people between big cities. Instead of living near your job, you can pick the city you like based on other criteria.

Even if there's no exodus, it would still relieve some pressure on those urban areas.

Instead of having to pay exorbitant prices in an extremely in-demand real estate market, people like me could move a little further out and still have reasonable access to those social, leisure, or other opportunities with slightly more time invested without requiring spending 5 hours a day commuting.

Spending 2-3 hours in transit one way to get to work is not reasonable. Spending 2-3 hours in transit to spend the day in the city on the weekend is a little more palatable.

I doubt it

I loved work from home until I wasn't allowed to outside for almost 2 months. Then I felt like a caged animal. Going outside is my offset to work.

Not being able to go outside has nothing to do with WFH.

It has quite a lot to do with many people's first experience of prolonged WFH, though.

So I've now been WFH for 2 months and honestly I love it. Work wasn't flexible before, so I had to commute into the office every day. In fact, everyone had to.

But communication and collaboration isn't that difficult with Zoom and Slack, you can't change my mind. You can make it work.

I love being able to walk into my kitchen at lunch and make whatever I want.

Many people who work at these companies live in big cities where they don't have huge amounts of space and and that's fine because your home is your space and you can make it work for you - even with someone else working in the same room as you.


> Many people who work at these companies live in big cities where they don't have huge amounts of space and it's not conducive to being productivity, particularly if you live with other people, if you can't get some form of separation.

There's a crowd on HN saying there will be a mass exodus from urban centers. I'm not sure if it will play out quite like that, but I think there will be a premium on locations and housing with extra room for a home office, easy access to open space, and nearby amenities.

Somewhat agree with you, but I think right now is not representative of what WFH can be. I miss face to face for sure. Am having a hard time being motivated. And projects don't really seem functionally well managed right now. But I also think this is an artifact of how the WFH transition has happened. I think it's likely in the long run it will get sorted out.

Also after this lockdown period I suspect there will be a longer period of low% office usage. So we will still be face to face meetings and the like, but less frequently. And that I think will help smooth things out.

I've been wanting a lifestyle change for a while, this might be the gateway for that. I already live rural, but the commute has been unpleasant for me to where I work. I am enjoying not driving.

If this scenario continues, I could see our family moving closer to what we like -- skiing, outdoor recreation, etc. -- and having lower cost of living in the process.

| I've found that advocates of WFH are mostly motivated by that's what they want to do more than anything else.

I've heard endless people state that WFH productivity is through the roof with absolutely no evidence. And lets not pretend that we can accurately measure productivity of software devs - we've all been down this road with agile.

Can only speak for myself. Im far more productive without an hour commute, people constantly interrupting me in my cube with trivia, interrupts to explain you can't do X in the code because the repercussions are X^10, etc followed by a long commute home. But hey, to each his/her own.

I've also heard anti-WFH people state that its a bad idea. No one has any evidence. Just anecdotes.

I think part of the shift is because companies are realizing it isn't as bad as they expected. A friend works for a company that announced they will allow 100% WFH in the future too. The CEO said she thought WFH would cause a 50% loss of productivity. But after 2 months of it, no significant loss in velocity has been noticed. Not just for development work, but for other office work as well.

Here are some numbers... I work at a FAANG and 28-day commits in my division (~5K engineers) are down ~3% from February. Not an exact science but some real data I just pulled for you.

It's an interesting data point, but hard to judge much by it.

Two things:

1. Working-from-home-during-global-pandemic-with-kids-and-spouses-and-roommates-and-not-ideal-setup isn't the same as working-from-home. Undoubtedly some people are less productive today.

2. Commits isn't necessarily a great proxy for productivity to begin with. For example, with greater focus comes less "oops I missed a unit test and broke the build" type commits, or even just more time to interactive rebase and clean up commits before pushing. "Go slower, you'll be done sooner."

My point was that in my org, WFH has been staggeringly successful. 3% drop in the middle of the biggest global crisis in living memory means that there will likely be no loss or a gain from WFH once people get their emotional states back to normal and their kids back in school.

This is also a fairly bad time to try and put a measurement on how effective WFH is. The fact that schools and daycares are currently closed means that parents are having to take care of their children while also working.

It is also hard on people that are used to working in the office to be told that they now have to work from home suddenly. I'm sure a non-trivial amount of people did not have a space for themselves to be able to work and they are trying to figure things out as they go. Not to mention figuring out how to communicate properly while everyone is remote.

There is also not a one size fits all solution. People will be more productive being where they are more comfortable. That may be at home, in a coffee shop, at a library, in the office or any other number of places. People are expected to work from home right now, so a lot of those other options are out of the question.

TL;DR, don't judge work from home when everyone has to do it during a pandemic.

What are the stats per engineer over the past year or 2, including standard deviation? I suspect +-3% is within normal variation. Are you measuring literally the number of commits or number of lines changed? All of these are important metadata.

LOL I’m not going to give all that data. It would be immediately traceable to me.

Why bother posting, then?

What are "28-day commits"? Are you talking about commits to source control?

Commits over the trailing 28 days.

Perhaps if we measured lines of code... ;-)

> If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.

“ Many people who work at these companies live in big cities where they don't have huge amounts of space and it's not conducive to being productivity, particularly if you live with other people, if you can't get some form of separation”

If you have a remote first company, it means your employees can actually move somewhere that they can settle down and own a house.

And yes if it’s mixed WFH and on-site then of course the remote workers will lose out. But both Shopify and twitter are doing perm remote for all employees, creating an even playing field.

> If you have a remote first company, it means your employees can actually move somewhere that they can settle down and own a house.

People don’t live in cities just for jobs. I live in the city to go to museums, art galleries, the symphony, plays, comedy shows, concerts, restaurants, happy hours etc. I have no interest in living outside the city and I especially have no interest in maintaining a house.

I really want to go back to my nice office for work.

I also live in the city to go to museums, art galleries, the symphony, plays, comedy shows, concerts, restaurants, happy hours etc. I have no interest in living outside the city and I especially have no interest in maintaining a house.

And there is no way I am going back to going to an office to work.


All those things you mentioned LA and NYC has in spades, while SF doesn’t even come close.

All of those things you mentioned exist outside of major cities.

Right but it requires planning and a “night out in the city.” Meanwhile, I buy symphony tickets an hour before show on a lark because they are cheap on stubhub.

I wouldn’t worry about all tech companies going WFH. Probably most will have a mix.

The wild card is that things may seem easier when people have no choice but to WFH, but once things open up completely, there could be a shift back but inevitably everyone would have already had a taste and some may want it permanently

I feel genuinely sorry for all the freshmen who enter a job market at this time. I can't imagine having my first full-time job remote only.

Thinking about my first job, and how I constantly needed to lean on my coworkers for help for the first month or two. In a work from home setting, where I'd need to instant message them, constantly requesting a video chat or whatever, I'd definitely feel like a burden (compared to just walking over to their desk and starting a conversation). This feeling of being a burden doesn't make a whole lot of sense logically... but human psychology does what it does.

Depends on the freshmen, some of us were coding on open source projects of sorts fully remote long before we decided to study CS in college.

Well maybe they are better off not knowing. Or that they see it as the new normal. Could go either way.

It’s different strokes. I have never been as productive ever in 5 years of in office work. I find picking up a phone and calling people is just so much quicker than walking over to someone’s desk. Couple that with the fact that I don’t enjoy the office environment means that I hate you cletus for typing out this drivel I clearly don’t agree with and care about.

We've been WFH for about 3 years now, and aside from meeting up each Friday for lunch, if you're finding it hard to get the point across on Slack/email or it's taking too long, the best option is to pick up the phone and talk it through. Saves so much time, and of course it's nice to hear the voice of the other person.

>Those of you who are claiming this will be some form of revolution I think are naive. I've found that advocates of WFH are mostly motivated by that's what they want to do more than anything else. I mean that's fine but it often leads to thinly-veiled, self-serving, biased arguments and proclamations of the benefits to everyone.

I mean it's trivial to say you're projecting that on to others. Particularly with the closed minded comments like "you can't change my mind".

The 'revolution' is already happening, but I don't think it will be across every company and every industry. I don't know who does say that.

You can't just hammer WFH out of existence.

I could see the whole team meeting in person 1-2 days per week and the whole team working from home the rest of the time. I find lots of teamwork to be way more effective in person, but tons of heads-down work to be way more effective in private.

This is the best summary of everything I've felt about it.

> I just don't think a company with 50,000+ employees can operate this way indefinitely.

The other thing is that those-sized companies have made significant real estate investments in their office space. If suddenly their own workforce didn't use them, what would the value of those be? I imagine e.g. Apple Park would not be worth even close to what Apple paid for it if Apple wasn't going to use it.

If you work and FAANGM+ and you have an awesome cafeteria where they feed you every day and your commute isnt long I see how you would feel that way.

However if not and especially if you have a commute WFH is great. I agree with other comments in that fully remote isn't always ideal though.

I've done both (ex-LinkedIn) and I currently run a tech consulting firm.

I think the right mix is a choice.

I prefer 2 or 3 days in the office and the rest of the week from home.

Technology We now have helps the shift To WFH, Covid accelerated it by maybe 5-10 years depending how long it lasts

>But communication and collaboration is just much harder work remote and you can't change my mind.

Don't want to change your mind, so instead consider that your statement might be more accurate if you said:

"But communication and collaboration for me is just much harder work remote."

Don't work for a company with 50k employees. Don't live in a big city.

>> I of course miss the meals and snacks.

I'm not trying to be facetious - you seriously can't provide your own meals and snacks working from home?

>> Many people who work at these companies live in big cities where they don't have huge amounts of space and it's not conducive to being productivity, particularly if you live with other people, if you can't get some form of separation.

Do you live in that space because it's close to your office? Ok, so now you're remote you can live anywhere. If there was no pandemic you could work from a library, or café or dozens of other places. You could move around each day. Or you could move to a cheaper location and have a nice home office.

Food is the classic economy of scale.

Yes, I can prepare my own lunch. But it takes about 24 hours to make a vat of delicious homemade ramen that will feed 500 people. Do you know how long it takes to make a single serving of that same ramen? ...About 24 hours.

Likewise, an office with 100 people can easily have a whole variety of fresh fruit and produce to spontaneously choose and snack from and most will get eaten before any goes to waste. When I buy produce, I have to get exactly what I'm going to eat which means my weekly trip locks me into exactly one set of produce that I'm stuck with.

The set of foods that scale down efficiently is a very small subset of the set of foods that I like to eat.

Also, pragmatically, the free food was a perk of the job that I factored into the compensation package when I took the job. Losing access to the free food is effectively the same as taking a pay cut or giving up a couple of vacation days. Given the state of the economy, I think this is actually a reasonable way for the business to save money right now, and I'm much rather give up lunches than see layoffs happen, but the compensation package has shrunk.

Also, there is real value in not having to come up with new food to eat.

> Losing access to the free food is effectively the same as taking a pay cut

Except now you have the choice of living anywhere you think the cost of living makes sense for you, which more than makes up for this.

> a reasonable way for the business to save money right now

And so is not having to worry about office space, leases, parking, security, and the cost of logistics of running an office. WFH has the ability both save companies money and put more money in workers pockets.

Do you have any examples of major companies that are remote that aren't scaling their remote pay with the COL where the employee is located? Every single instance I've seen of companies announcing "we support remote" has had in small print "we will not pay you SV salaries if you live in the mid-west", so the cost-of-living argument doesn't really win anything as your pay scales with it.

My understanding, is that even with COL adjustment most people are actually saving just as much money after expenses as they did on the SV salary. Granted it's just anecdotal (and mostly from HN).

> > Losing access to the free food is effectively the same as taking a pay cut

> Except now you have the choice of living anywhere you think the cost of living makes sense for you, which more than makes up for this.

We were able to basically just put one car in storage. Car insurance, gas and parking alone are saving me like $650/mo. That alone would be enough for me to go buy a fresh fruit platter every workday to pick through and throw the leftovers out and still come out ahead.

> I'm not trying to be facetious - you seriously can't provide your own meals and snacks working from home?

Of course I can but I just don't want to. This isn't about being cheap or lazy (although I'm guilty of both to varying degrees). The biggest benefit of having a catered office is the lack of having to make a decision about what to eat. I'll just eat what they're serving that day.

I'm a big believer in decision fatigue [1]. Don't make me make decisions about things I don't care about and what I have for lunch is one of those. For years I worked in offices where I either had to bring in my own lunch (never gonna happen) or I had to go out and buy it. I'm fine with the cost of it. I'm not fine with choosing where to go and what to order when I get there. I'll end up finding something I like and just getting it every day until I get sick of it because that's let cognitive load than having something different every day.

That's why I like a catered office.

> Or you could move to a cheaper location and have a nice home office.

I live in NYC because I want to live in NYC. I chose the job because it's in NYC where I wanted to live. On a side note, I think this is the fundamental difference with the Bay Area. hardly anyone wants to live in the Bay Area. They want to work for [Google|FB|Apple|...] and to do that they need to live in the Bay Area. Most other places people have decided they want to live there and then look for work options.

So yeah, I could buy a big house Georgia but... why would I want to?

[1]: https://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/magazine/do-you-suffer-fr...

>They want to work for [Google|FB|Apple|...] and to do that they need to live in the Bay Area.

This doesn't check out. All of those companies have large offices elsewhere. I agree with your take that you work in NYC because you want to live in NYC so that's where you work but your bias is showing that you can't consider that people feel similarly about the Bay Area.

As one data point, I chose San Francisco when I had the guaranteed option to work for the same exact company with proportional pay (stupid high relatively speaking) in my hometown. People with options move where their quality of life is maximized -- that's the beauty of having options.

In my experience it's been extremely competitive to get a spot in the non Bay Area offices within FAANG. The New York and Seattle offices are generally highly sought after, and there are typically many, many less teams operating outside the Bay Area. You don't exactly get to choose, especially coming into a more junior position.

I think it's a pure numbers game. Smaller offices will have fewer open positions so there will be relatively more flow to the big offices and HQ. There also needs to be critical mass for a team to develop in a new location so you can't just be the first person on a team for a product that's centered somewhere else unless you're a very senior person. It's a bit less flexible and expansion tends to happen in waves.

> I live in NYC because I want to live in NYC.

It doesn't make NYC sound very appealing if working from your home in NYC is hellish.

Working from my home in the Bay is actually quite nice. The best part is getting an hour of my day back because I don't have to commute to work. That 1 hour commute probably added more stress to my day than any other hour.

I love my home in SF and have been deeply enjoying the COVID-induced work from home life. Many people don't invest in making their home comfortable and enjoyable to be in and it shows when it comes to these types of conversations.

True, but it also is the case that younger folk/non-devs are more likely to live in smaller spaces with housemates.

Speaking personally, I made some optimizations, but there's only so much that can be done with the fixed amount of space that I share with others.

This is a bad take. SF didn't have any tech industry before the last decade, and yet still had the second highest population density. Majority of people live in SF and Bay Area, because they want to live there

> So yeah, I could buy a big house Georgia but... why would I want to?

Because living in a big city with lot of options for food (and maybe other enjoyable and interesting things) give you decision fatigue?

So you don’t want remote first to become popular because you’re not capable of making decisions and want the company to make them for you?

"Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith."


Also, can you please not post in the flamewar style to HN generally? https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23261569 is another example. We're not here to cross-examine each other or make each other look bad. We're here for curious conversation and to learn.

Take it easy. He brings up a valid point about decision fatigue and the reason why these perks became popular. It's not that people making $100,000s can't make these decisions or that they can't afford paying for lunch -- it's just an extra thing that they don't have to worry about when working in a centralized location. I think it's a weak argument for preventing remote work but it is a valid one.

Agreed and will further observe that cletus isn't even trying to prevent remote work. At most they're saying that it's not something they're interested in doing permanently.


What difference does it make if we're comparing apples to apples? I don't think a company that offers free lunch deciding whether to go fully remote or not has any effect on another that doesn't offer free lunch. Privilege or not doesn't make my opinion any more or less invalid.

My point is that "decision fatigue" is not a valid point to begin with since most people don't deal with such issues therefore it's not really relevant in the grand schemes of remote-first discussions.

It does when talking about companies whose offices provide perks that potentially improve quality of life, productivity, happiness, etc. The decision between working at home and working in an empty warehouse is different than home and the brand new offices of companies like Stripe, Dropbox, and many others.

> I'm not trying to be facetious - you seriously can't provide your own meals and snacks working from home?

for me, at least, it's about the contact with other people and the talk during the lunch break. face to face human contact. i honestly can not comprehend how can people wish to be isolated... but maybe it's something different with me.

> it's about the contact with other people and the talk during the lunch break. face to face human contact. i honestly can not comprehend how can people wish to be isolated... but maybe it's something different with me.

Between meetings and misc. things that come up I had human contact all day. Lunch was the one time I could have to myself.

I’ve seen this take a lot but it’s missing a really important point. We’re discussing the trend towards WFH. If it continues suddenly your partner/housemates/friends will all be WFH and you can have lunch or work with them as opposed to the people who happen to be employed with you.

WFH != isolation

I think it depends if you're extroverted or introverted. For introverts being bombarded with endless phsyical contact on a daily basis is draining. Add a nasty commute to that and well, you come home dead beat after work.

> you seriously can't provide your own meals and snacks working from home?

"Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith."


When I get up from my desk and walk to the kitchen, I have to open the fridge and decide what to eat. In contrast, when I was visiting on-site at the office, each day's lunch was pre-planned by someone other than me, made by someone other than me, and all I needed to do was walk up and add food to a plate. Not having to expend much thinking on food was such a luxury, even if it didn't also have the benefit of chatting with coworkers.

you’re assuming that people can work in libraries, cafes and other places. these places are barely ever conducive to jobs that might require you to hop on a call at a moments notice (which is far more common when in remote) or handle sensitive data.

moving to a cheaper location also usually means giving up a lot of things that urban life comes with as well. you cant expect that everyone is going to be happy with that decision

> or handle sensitive data

I think most companies already have workers who do work from home, even if they're not remote friendly. So most corporations already have secure email / vpn / firewalls etc etc if data security is crucial. As for tech companies, don't we all push commits from home every now and then? it's already been happening for years.

I'm a pretty big foodie and love going to restaurants and trying new things.

That said, I've had catered lunches at Google when visiting friends, and that's way better than eating gum restaurants every day.

The decision fatigue is real. But also, there are relatively few options that are genuinely good in the area, especially if you're trying to eat somewhat healthy. You get very bored after a while. Lunches provided by an in house chef are very good, tend to be healthier, and more interesting. I think - like I said, I mostly ate a meal here and there.

(and if we're comparing to cooking at home, obviously that incurs greater time cost)

Not OP. I've been providing my own meals and snacks working from home (like I'd imagine most people are?), but the free food at work is usually better/more expensive than I'm willing to make for myself for any given lunch, and I'm not big on spending money on snacks. The free food + the social interaction + the increased productivity I get from being in an office all make working in an office most of the time way better.

I can easily eat $1000 worth of KIND bars in a year, if they're free!

Is it going to be a thing on HN now where the top thread for every announcement of a company embracing Remote Work will be from someone complaining about not liking Work-From-Home and 50+ replies discussing about "WFH vs office" or discussing their own personal preferences? I am starting to be astonished by the amount of supposedly-intelligent people who are completely missing the forest for the trees.

What we are witnessing might be a historical shift as big as Nixon re-opening with China, and the top comment is really complaining about some missing perks? How about start thinking of how many people who live in these big tech centers only because of their jobs and how many will just leave these cities once it is become accepted practice to work at a Canadian company while you live in the Caribbean? Or maybe start thinking that people who used to complain about H1B workers bringing the salary down now having to face competition from some random guy in Romania who can code circles around you and can accept a job at one quarter of your salary? Or how about we discuss the opportunities for startups that will come from this?

Also, start thinking if you are a VC and soon you will actually have to leave Sand Hill because no one will be crazy enough to move there to sleep on someone else's dishwasher hoping to make it big.

Personally, every announcement from an established company that is moving to a Remote-First (or Digital by Default, call it whatever you like) mentality is thrilling. Is anyone from Shopify here reading HN? I was already planning to apply for them but this announcement made me even more interested.

Yup I get frustrated at this too. Tectonic changes taking places but there is always 1 dickhead going "I don't like working from home" that seems to dominate the discussion.

I have a funny feeling the people that don't like working from home are the same dickheads in the office that everyone else hates working with.

I do not agree with the name calling but I do agree with your feeling the majority of people who want to return to the office are the same who cause a lot of disruptions.

Where my wife works there are two types of people who want to return to the office; the old school "we only trust you if we can see your butt in a seat" and those who need the social aspect of the office.

The first group I couldn't care less about. I hate the attitude that I am good enough to be employed but clearly not mature enough to be able to work without being monitored.

The second group are more interesting. Personally I mostly dislike the social aspect of the office. Sure it is fine during lunch but I hate the interruptions at my desk either directly (i.e. someone walking over to ask a question when an IM would be far better) or indirectly such as the conversations of others.

My hope moving forward is that working from home won't be seen as something "special" the few are "rewarded" with for a day or two a month but that it is a choice for each person without prejudice.

For those that want/need an office fine let them go in. But for those of us who function better working from home we can do that.

It doesn't have to be a binary option for companies moving forward of "our company is only work from home" but instead a mixture.

> now having to face competition from some random guy in Romania who can code circles around you and can accept a job at one quarter of your salary

This is true to some extent, but there are companies that pay well. Currently I work remotely in a country where the very top salaries for engineers are around $20K, and I make close to $80K.

Yeah, I am - eng lead at Shopify here and actively hiring. What were you wondering? :-)

Oh, hey! First of all, kudos for already having the career site reflecting the transition to "Digital by default". Just yesterday I was looking at the site and there was still different sections based on location.

My question is about the "Expression of Interest" positions that are listed. Are they used mostly as way to collect CVs from no-exact-match candidates, or could this be the channel for someone that, e.g, is working on an open source project that might align well with Shopify's interests?

If you prefer to answer by email, feel free to write me, lullis at google's mail.

"My company had to move to full remote during a self-isolation pandemic situation for the last two months, where I couldn't even go sit in a coffee shop when I wanted to.

Here are my new thoughts on the future of working from home...."

I get the sarcasm, but I do not get the point you are trying to make. Care to elaborate?

That the experience that many of us are having, where companies had to rush into supporting remote work by necessity, and where your home and personal life are affected greatly by factors other than not working in an office, is not necessarily a great indicator about whether the general idea of "working from home" is a good fit personally or professionally.

And all of the medium.com thinkpieces and "COVID made me realize I don't like remote work" comments are based on a an experience heavily colored by these other factors.

My person preference is having flexible work-from-home a couple of days per week. Often on those days I compensate by taking more walks, or going to a coffee shop for a snack and some time outside the house.

The last couple of months of working from home AND having additional societal restrictions, spouses and kids in the house, stores and restaurants closed, and limited social interaction outside of work aren't representative of what working remotely might be like during normal times and by choice.

Heck if you were a full time remote worker by planning, you might choose to life in a different place less constrained by the highway commute time to your office. Somewhere closer to walkable shops and restaurants, or on the other end of the spectrum somewhere with yard space where you can have a garden outside.

On the professional side, a company that mostly worked in the office that had to pivot and adapt to remote work in an emergency situation is not going to be the same procedurally or culturally as one that has been based around remote work from the beginning, or adapted to it long ago.

TL;DR: https://www.hanselman.com/blog/QuarantineWorkIsNotRemoteWork...

Edit: If it wasn't clear, I'm agreeing with your original point that the naysayer comments on every WFH related discussion are off track, repetitive, and lacking context.

Right, thank you! (It was clear even before your edit).

One interesting thing to observe is how different cultures are reacting to the pandemic.

In Europe, it feels that the memories of two world wars are still recent enough to make people understand these are extraordinary times, and that the best way to return to normalcy is by collective effort and making the fight against the virus a top priority. It is hard in the beginning, but people promptly change their behavior until the problem is solved or controlled. Only when the war is over is when people start trying to go out on the streets to reclaim their lives.

In Brazil and in the US (where I lived and have friends and family) it seems they can not accept the reality changing so rapidly in front of their eyes. Even today, when I have my older relatives learning about a friend or acquaintance of theirs getting sick or dying, their reaction is "They were in the risk group/not taking care of themselves/did not take magical-pill-X". They are struggling so much to accept the risks and want so much to return immediately to having some sense of normalcy that in the end they are probably gonna end up worse than the Europeans - a lot of lives lost and still no true recovery.

How is this not a "WFH vs office" post?

Because Shopify is announcing they are going Remote First. Remote Work is NOT the same as Work-from-Home. Work-from-Home assumes that the employees still live close the companies headquarters and occasionally go to the office. Remote-first companies DO NOT have headquarters. Your office is anywhere you'd like it to be (it could be at your home, but it could be any other communal space if you prefer so)

I wrote a similar answer on the thread (which suffered from the same issue as here) from Coinbase announcing going remote-first: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23257935.

> Or how about we discuss the opportunities for startups that will come from this?

What will be the new opportunities which aren't already available today?

I can see why it happens though. Imagine you are somebody who thrives in an office environment, perhaps your social and political skills are stronger than your technical ability. Then you may well feel threatened by these sort of changes. We aren't just talking about a change of environment but a much larger shift in the types of people companies will be valuing.

As an introvert who has had to deal with working with extroverts I'd be lying if I wasn't feeling a little schadenfreude right now.

Remote-first is the future. I'm not sure why anyone would be against it. No one is forcing you to work from home. From a compliance and operations perspective a remote-first company is effectively forced to do a lot of things many companies do not or will not undertake:

- Make meetings accessible to everyone

- Communicate more effectively and transparently internal to the organization (and even externally, for the adventurous types)

The main "downsides" of working from home (which is not necessarily remote-first) - not seeing your colleagues in person, life <-> work separation, etc. will be a new industry that will end up resolving itself. I've seen office space costs. It would be cheaper to fly literally every employee out once a quarter and throw a giant party than to maintain an office space sized for the same amount of people by an order of magnitude in a large, popular city (NYC office space is approximately ~$100/sqft/month - a desk sized for two monitors, a keyboard and writing space is about 2 x 4 minimum, so 8sqft, or $800/month just for a single person in a nice space)

In other words, being forced to do anything - whether that was working from home or from an office - is an oppressive activity. Remote-first simply gives back that freedom of choice. Companies can maintain more minimalist offices for those who insist, and coworking spaces will grow for those who don't like the office and want separation, and finally those who have the space in their homes can work from home.

I'd be curious to hear a good argument against all organizations that can be remote-first being remote-first.

(I posted this in another thread, but it's also relevant here)

As a new grad, I'm terrified of a transition where WFH is the default. I recognize that I still have a lot to learn, and that I can't do it all on my own. Casual interactions with coworkers and the ability to passively absorb new information in the workplace are essential for entry-level employees like me. Plus, personally, I find the social aspect of work to be crucial to my mental well-being. I feel a stronger sense of purpose when I can see that the people around me are all invested in the same project I'm working on.

While your feelings are valid and I too would feel terrified to begin WFH as a new grad, I have faith many companies establishing good remote first working cultures, especially organizations that hold their engineering organizations in high-regard.

Having worked full time remotely before this pandemic, I struggled with the social aspects and being left out of casual conversation and left for a job with a dedicated office space. Now that I find myself again working remotely, but with a forced remote-first attitude, I prefer it. It's a different ballgame when all workers are working remotely.

Best of luck in starting your career.

i feel you. it's definitely easier to absorb things when your coworkers are right next to you, more so if you're new on the job or new to the industry as a whole.

but, if you do find yourself accepting a remote position, perhaps renting a coworking space would mitigate that downside a little? i've never used one, because i've never worked remote before now, but i do see the appeal.

I would argue that absorbing new information would be much easier in a remote-first environment (such meandering conversations would be available for everyone to see, not just the participants of a given conversation). The rest of what you said is not unique to new-grads in any way. Also, a remote-first company could still have an office - albeit reduced. If all your friends were at remote-first companies wouldn't you have a better time working in a coworking space with your friends?

In any case, remote-first doesn't mean WFH-only in any case, so you could just go into the office, no?

New grads, almost by definition, have absorbed whatever they can from reading, the internet, and education; what they need is attention. How to interact in a professional environment; the details of the company, industry and role; the office politics... all are "unknown unknowns" to a new grad. I learned about them from mentorship, 1:1 conversations, and by reading the body language of people around me. It would've been a LOT harder to do that over Zoom...

(That said, anyone smart enough to be concerned about it is also probably smart enough to seek out what they don't know so I'm sure the author of the parent comment will be fine.)

I have to agree with this wholeheartedly. When I was a new-grad (6 years or so ago now), I really appreciated being part of a really excellent work culture and environment, and built a lot of strong relationships and friendships that I hold to the current day!

The impact of these kinds of things seems to get lost in the convenience of working from home / remotely. Don't get me wrong, I like working remotely, but only for 2 days a week at most. Now that I've been forced to transition to full work from home for the last 3 months, it's been a much poorer experience overall and has severely hindered or completely stalled my relationships with pretty much all of my coworkers, despite frequent zoom meetings and the like.

These are also former coworkers that I've joined at other companies because we like working together. I really believe that this kind of relationship is impossible to build if you're remote-first.

I don't understand why all of that can't be conducted over the internet. I mean, we're having this conversation over the internet, right?

Plus, again remote first does not mandate working from home. One could still go into the office so the qualms are moot.

One big issue is that more experienced employees will be the ones to choose work-from-home as their default, while the newer employees seeking to learn the ropes will opt to come to the office.

Perhaps a solution is to somehow formalize some of these implicit knowledge transfer mechanisms in the workplace. Explicitly assign mentors to new employees, etc.. But I just don't see how it could possibly compare to a normal working environment if I have to do it all from home.

Some other complications:

> A lot of the benefit of in-person work is asymmetric (I benefit more from casual conversations with my manager than he does).

> I learn a lot by observing my coworkers interact. Remote work makes this very difficult, because it's not really possible to "overhear" workplace conversations, or to casually drop in on water-cooler chat. It's also not really possible to have brief side conversations in a team-wide zoom call, which is one valuable aspect of in-person communication.

> New grads tend to live in small apartments rather than a house in the suburbs with a spacious home office. I started my first full-time job remotely this week and I'm working from my dining table. Since school is out, I can hear my upstairs neighbors' children playing throughout most of the work day.

Again remote first does not mean offices do not exist. Once you start working you’ll see that there’s already a lot of collaboration over the internet. It’s nothing like school

> Since school is out, I can hear my upstairs neighbors' children playing throughout most of the work day.

How is an open office any better?

For one, I can ask my coworkers to keep the noise down and they will politely oblige. Offices have pros and cons. My stance is that the pros outweigh the cons enough that we shouldn't eliminate offices entirely.

I can be, and am, pro-office but anti-open-office. I would much prefer an open office to 100%-remote work.

I understand that stance, but the current trend in tech companies, at least in the Bay Area, has been almost exclusively open offices. Saves money for mgmt. and so forth. Perhaps with WFH or at least mixed-WFH policies, with fewer people in the office there could be more available space so that there can be more individual offices?

At any rate, I brought it up because the fix for both noisy neighbors at home or in an open office is the same pat answer: get noise-cancellation headphones.

Because nonverbal communication is very important. There is a reason why people have to put /s on some posts [to indicate sarcasm]. In some ways emoji/gifs try to fill that niche, but I don’t think they are a sufficient replacement.

Take an extreme example: consultants, in order to be colocated, routinely travel ~8 hours twice a week AND convince their clients to pay an extra ~2k/person/week. Why? Shouldn't firms that don't require travel have outcompeted firms that do, if it's such a costly activity? why has the industry standardized on crazy levels of travel?

(1) Personal relationships & trust - it's very, very hard to build strong personal relationships without face-to-face contact. Impact often requires trust that's hard(er) to build remotely.

(2) Casual serendipity - New projects (innovation) are hard to identify in a vacuum. It's the lunch-conversation "huh, maybe that could work" that often drives impactful change. MUCH harder to do that remotely. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887323798104578455...

(3) Fewer meetings - if every interaction of substance (read: not an easy slack message) has to be a scheduled, there are a lot more meetings. Admittedly, this is just my experience, but I've seen it more than once.

Note that all of these are long-term trends. Maybe they get resolved as people get used to working remotely and new patterns emerge. But at least for me, this is why I wouldn't think most companies should go remote.

Consultants are forced to travel primarily for marketing value rather than for productive value.

Yes, you want to travel to meet your client in person, maybe to do some big planning/milestones, but for every day work, the consultants are in person to give the clients the perception that their money is being put to good use. This is especially important as the top consulting companies hire undergrads fresh out of school (who don't know anything except how to put in the hours and do powerpoints/excel) and bill them out for several hundred dollars an hour.

Yes, definitely some marketing there too. But there's a reason that even ex-consultants (who, presumably, would be "in on the secret" if it were empty marketing) pay for THEIR consultants to travel too.

I may be wrong about the reasons, but I still believe the example of consulting - and entire industry built around paying a high cost to colocate - suggests a value to colocation.

Imagine being the only employee on the team who wants to work in the office. That could be a problem. You’re young, maybe just out of college, and moving to a city hoping to form new connections with people. Yet, everyone’s now working from home. You don’t have any real opportunity to build relationships with your coworkers. Work becomes a much more dreary experience at that point. No one to each lunch with. No interpersonal culture. You’re just there to output a product and collect a paycheck.

It’s hard for many of us to say we need other people, especially when you compare it to all the confidence benefits of working from home, but it’s absolutely true. Being alone for long periods of time really really sucks (that’s what I’m going through).

Maybe we’ll see a rise in social clubs that will revitalize everyone’s social lives. But even with that, most people who are working remotely are going to be alone for 8+ hours per day.

This is literally the top selling point for getting a WeWork or some other co-work locale.

We don't need a rise in social clubs there are already plenty. Find a hobby to share with people works fine.

I live in a tiny, crappy, pre-war apartment that gets cold in the wintertime, next to loud, obnoxious neighbors, and I prefer working at my company’s spacious, modern Manhattan office.

But presumably you live in that apartment because you needed to be within commuting distance of the Manhattan office? If you don't need to be so close to Manhattan I would guess (not really knowing anything about your situation) that you could afford a mansion in a town or village instead.

Some people like living in big cities, and are ok trading off a bigger living space to make that happen. I love being able to walk out to a bunch of different restaurants, having easy access to entertainment venues, etc. The idea of having a giant house in the middle of nowhere has very little appeal to me. This is especially common for younger people and those with no kids.

There's a whole world between big city and the middle of nowhere. You can live in a small town with restaurants, culture, coffee-shops, a theatre, social life.

You're saying I should move to Jersey?!

I suspect if WFH becomes the norm, then people will flock to big cities even more, because suddenly you live in a massive suburban house but can go days without ever seeing a new face.

At least when you had a central office there was a place where you would meet some people and be in the middle of some sort of hustle and bustle.

Big cities might become even more attractive in a WFH future .

Don't you have towns and villages? Like a sub-urban area but only a few miles across and then you have shops and community in the middle within a walkable distance? I live in a town and I work from home but there's a coffee shop, a sandwich bar, a pub, a little club, a theatre, a gym, and I meet people from the community here. I'm married but I'm sure people date here as well. I thought 'small town America' was a big part of the culture?

If you don’t need to be near Manhattan you don’t need to live there. Or maybe your loud neighbors won’t need to live there. Ceteris paribus working from home kinda sucks, but if you think about how many systems will change, I think it’s gonna get better.

I used to do something similar when I had to go into an office. Then I started working from home and moved to a quiet neighborhood with a high walkability and bikeablility score (sadly, our transit score is still terrible, I wish I could have gotten all three; this according to https://www.walkscore.com/). I wouldn't have had this option if I had to live near the office.

The whole argument starts with a definition of what "work" is, obviously.

For people that use a particle accelerator or make scrambled eggs work from home is nonsensical.

For people who produce computer code as their entire work output and rely on very sophisticated digital collaboration tools already work from home is mostly interchangeable with work from an office.

And then there's a really vast grey area in between. What about lawyers, or architects, or film and television executives, or whatever else you can imagine?

The answer is that it depends. But, even limiting ourselves to the subset of work where it's even plausible that it could all be distributed there are some important things to note:

A pretty relevant data point is that when there has been a genuine choice between fully remote and mostly in offices the mostly in offices approach was way more popular. To the point where Silicon Valley real estate spiraled out of control, or literally everyone with deep knowledge of cutting edge electronics manufacturing ended up in the Shenzhen region.

In any another context we'd call that a "market" and say pretty definitively that the invisible hand of that market decided that this is a more effective way to build companies.

It seems we're going to get another experiment, whereby many companies begin the experiment all over again. Perhaps something has changed, perhaps virtual technology has advanced to where this makes more sense. Perhaps the culture is at a tipping point.

Or, perhaps there's some advantage to people all being in the same place that will make companies that do it outcompete companies that don't.

It's quite plausible that this is what the market will decide, in the future. It's also a really important data point to note that it is not, in fact, what the market had decided up until now.

Your estimates are even a bit low - we don't have a grid and drop employees in from above.

With each 8 s.f., there is additional overhead for hallways (minimum width prescribed by ADA in the United States), bathrooms, and other necessary fixtures. If you counted everything in an office, it's probably at least 25% higher than that.

It turns having an an office space into a gig like economy where the burden of maintaining the benefits of an office space is on the worker. A possible result from this would be having an actual company office in a desirable location to work from turning (if it isn’t already) into a perk.

I feel like this would also bring about an increase in coworking spaces

So all of the negatives of working at an office (distractions, commute, etc) with none of the perks (free food, good tech, access to coworkers). I enjoy the office as a perk (with wfh an as needed thing rather than a regular thing) and consider it part of my comp. I'd would want a substantial raise if Im going to be expected to outfit space on my own to serve the same purpose.

One of the biggest challenges with Remote-first are Tax and Compliance issues. In the US for example, the moment you have out of state employees even if within US, you need to do a lot more paperwork in terms of taxes, payroll etc. How will we handle for example Workers Comp. A lot of questions need to be answered.

Also, Remote domestic or Remote International ? That changes things drastically as well.

Bingo. Remote first favors larger companies over smaller ones, partly for this reason.

a few points

How will local governments adjust for loss of tax base as it is likely real estate values for office properties will drop and in turn the cascade effect on businesses which serve them; from restaurants to small services.

Companies that own their own head quarters and other facilities may be less willing to have people work from home. Some companies put a lot of pride in their head quarters and other facilities.

How many companies who do swing to this type of work will expect reduction in salaries as compensation? Would you trade a percentage of your salary for the guarantee of working from home? How many days would you be willing to meet at a central site or would they even be a thing?

Personal experience, it took till COVID19 for where I work to make quarterly meetings available to those who are remote. For the most part they have done pretty well in this regard to even offering streaming of past events and presentations normally done by phone to using survey monkey to gather questions to be addressed.

Maybe they can turn the buildings into green spaces or affordable housing?

> No one is forcing you to work from home.

> And after that, most will permanently work remotely. Office centricity is over.

It does seem like they plan on forcing their employees to work from home in this case.

I think that's the problem that most people have - not having the option to work from work.

> fly literally every employee out once a quarter and throw a giant party

Please don't! I love working remotely; but I don't want to travel for work. I don't need a party. I don't need a fancy offsite. I don't want to spend a week with colleagues in some ridiculous tropical destination.

I want to quietly work from home, deliver quality work, get paid for it, and enjoy my life. Being forced to travel is the opposite of enjoying life.

This was my stance before the era of COVID-19... Now, I'm definitely not boarding any kind of airplanes.

Because it will destroy the real economy in cities.

NYC office space is not $100/sqft/month. You are off by more than an order of magnitude. Please avoid fake news.

I really hope this doesn't become a bigger trend. Shopify was a company I was seriously considering working at in the future, but this would probably disqualify them. Working from home once a week sounds great to me, but doing it full time would drive me insane. Virtual meetings are awful for me, and you miss out on so much of the discussion that happens outside of the meeting - I think most of the important discussions I have with people are informal, either walking to or from meetings or just sitting in the office and talking for a few minutes. Communicating over video is also a lot harder for me since you miss out on a lot of the nonverbal cues that come across a lot better (and with lower latency) in person.

Outside of just being harder to communicate virtually, I really need the change of scenery and social interaction that comes with an office. Sure you can get that by joining different social groups outside of work, but that requires lots of intentional effort, and I actually enjoy hanging out at work and going to lunch with my coworkers. And the office has lots of perks like snacks and meals which can't be easily replicated at home (I mean I don't mind cooking, but I get much better lunches at work than the sandwich I would make for myself). I can't think of a working situation much better than going to an office where I have all of the food I need, a properly set up workstation, and coworkers I am able to talk to in person and go to lunch/dinner/social activities with. To me that is far better than sitting in my home alone all day (and I don't even have kids, which would be a whole other set of distractions).

I really couldn't disagree more. While I understand the desire to work with your coworkers in person, the benefits of working from home are huge for me.

No commuting, which on its own is reason enough for WFH since it's such a massive waste of time. Commuting would add an extra 10 hours to my workweek, and I don't get paid for it. Add in things like control over your own workspace, no "open office" nonsense, access to your own kitchen/bathroom, together all outweighs the benefits of working from the office.

The ideal situation for me would be WFH by default, with the option to work from an office if you want to or for specific situations.

I think that is totally reasonable - for me the benefits of WFH don't outweigh the cost but for a significant percentage of developers I'm sure they do. I think where you get problems is cases where a company only has a minority of people WFH, or working in an office. Whenever you have a team that is primarily in an office, with only a couple of people remote, the people working remotely seem to miss out on a lot of important discussions and don't really feel as much a part of the team, at least in my experience. Ideally you would have both types of work fully supported, Stripe having their next engineering hub be remote [0] sounds like a good compromise to me. I'm interested in knowing how managers and PM's find working from home, to me it seems like being in management would magnify the problems you have with working remotely, but I've never been a manager so I don't really know.

[0] https://stripe.com/blog/remote-hub

You gonna seem tech apps that allow that type of discussion sooner than you think.

Commuting is the big time saver, but you can also do chores you'd relegate to the weekend or after work while WFH. Not always of course, but chores like a quick grocery trip, laundry, cleaning, errands in your immediate neighborhood no longer crowd your weekend.

Lol, found the guy who doesn't have kids.

I don't want this to come across as overly harsh. But a helpful rule of thumb to understand what life is like after having kids, is: there is no free time. None! It's like being in the military, where you wake up at 6am, shower until 6:30am, do calisthenics until 9:30am... and so on, with every single hour occupied, until bedtime, promptly at 9:00pm.

If you tell a person like that 'just watch a movie during your free time,' they'll look at you blankly and say, 'I don't have free time, not on my schedule.'

Why are things so different? Because not only do you have another person(s) making messes who do like 0% of the cleanup, they require much more care than adults. So free time trends to 0%. There's no 'weekend' in the sense of no work (there's always housework), in a sense there's no 'after work.' There's only work, as far as the eye can see.

So for example, with commuting, I don't have enough time to do housecleaning, so the house stays in a permanent state of ugly messiness. Without it, I can apply that time to cleaning, so it becomes only moderately, to slightly, messy. There's no big block of free time - nowhere - where I can do stuff to bring back the time that's lost by commuting.

Thank you for telling it like it is. Some parents tend to always tell the “peachy keen” version of parenthood.

I love my kids of course, but taking care of small kids can be very exhausting.

Can you clarify what exactly it is you're disagreeing with him about?

From my read, he's saying "no commute is good because you can do a few chores during the week and not have as many to do on the weekends".

You're saying "no commute is good because you can apply that time to cleaning and the house is cleaner; but also kids are exhausting".


I can clarify the disagreement.

He is saying:

> Commuting is the big time saver, but you can also do chores you'd relegate to the weekend or after work while WFH

I am saying:

> If my commute time is removed, some amount of necessary chores cannot get done. I can't do chores in any time other than the commute time. There is no real 'weekend' or 'after work' time, when I can do them 'later'.

All time is accounted for, and removing time necessarily knocks some items (like 'morning/midday rooms cleaning') off the list permanently.

I'm now left even more confused. Are you saying that you do a certain number of chores during your commute, and that you wouldn't be able to do these chores if the commute time was removed?

No, sorry.

What I mean is:

There is an hour of my morning and night, 2 hours a day, which I am calling 'commute time.'

I can commute during 'commute time'.

Or I can WFH and stay at home during 'commute time'.

If I don't commute, I can do chores during that time.

If I do commute, those chores are never done, and are permanently knocked off the to-do list. The house is just that much messier as a result.

I can clean during the weekend, but I would have cleaned during the weekend anyway.

During the week, the house looks trashed, because there isn't enough time for chores as it is; the time that is available will instead go to even higher-priority chores, like washing dishes and clothes.

Basically if 'commute time' goes towards trekking to the office and back, it comes out of the chore time budget, meaning a really, really messy house during the week.

I will just point out, in closing: 2 hours a day is a really big amount of time to subtract out of the time budget. It can't be recovered.

Even if I don't play games and don't do anything 'fun' - I don't, incidentally - there's no compensating for that loss.

Just to clarify for you because you're not getting the point:

People are getting confused because your reply is structured like you disagree with him, because your comment is written like a rebuttal and your tone is derisive.

However, in your original reply, you're not disagreeing with the above commenter. You're agreeing with them, and ALSO, you take issue with another small thing they mentioned, the comment about how this person would do the cleaning on the weekend.


To your original point I say this- lots of parents have free time. My mother had hobbies in her free time. My aunt has hobbies has hobbies in her free time. I'm sorry you don't, but the fact that you don't does not mean much about young people that do.

Wait a sec, who takes care of your kid when you are away? Most ppl with kids would pay for day cares or they have school as well. I’m not understanding how your day can be occupied unless the kid is 0-1.

I mean kids do grow-up you know? Unless your 18 years olds still do nothing.

This is a recipe for disaster, at least in my experience, chores pile up and before you know it's 4pm and you still short on hours worked/output emitted..

Not in my experience. I'm not saying disappear from work for 3 hours to clean the whole house.

When I'm in the office, I often take breaks - 20-30 mins. Sometimes a longer walk during lunch time. I'm simply doing the same here but instead of being on my phone I'm maybe doing a quick vacuum sweep, trip to the bodega for some hand soap, or dropping off my laundry somewhere.

I do have friends that work for companies that expect them to be "online" all the time so this may not work for them.

Do you have so many chores that you spend every day until 4pm doing them? Of course not. Because when you worked at an office, you also did not spend that much time on them. I love to mix chores with work, because your mind gets a break and you're still doing something useful. And most of the time, in the back of your head you're unconsciously still solving the problem that you were working on. So when you get back at your keyboard, you can continue right away. How can anyone not like this enormous productivity boost?

I think that working from home will stay and that some kind of work discipline will be a skill people are just required to have. You know, like being able to communicate professionally and to keep promises.

Exactly. Instead of going out for lunch I can pop over to the grocery store for a few things and grab a sandwich while I'm there.

To me commuting is a huge source of stress. I'm often mentally exausted by wednsday.

I actually can't believe how many people are crying because they miss talking with their coworkers. Sounds to me like they're the office distractions ruining everyone else's productivity.

You may like your office conversations, I like not having to commute to work, not being distracted, and making my work space mine.

Try picking up a phone or hop on Slack instead of attempting to sabotage WFH because you're a social butterfly.

I agree completely, but wanted to emphasize something regarding: "and you miss out on so much of the discussion that happens outside of the meeting."

IMHO, ALL of the chat services make this problem worse, not better. None of them let you easily and fluidly say "I'm interested in this topic for the next few days" or whatever. They hide, rather than render discoverable, important discussions, either (due to GUI structure pushing people to do it) threads moved to 1:1 chats or just lost in the sheer volume of text scroll.

The future of UI is bounded attention: "alert me for xxx _for the next { hour, next few days, this week, through next week, this month, for quarter, as long as ..., forever }" attention filtering. UI right now assumes that the doesn't change and that users actively correct it. But we aren't even at the point where that basic level of automation even exists.

I couldn't agree more. Remote meetings are useful, but I would quit if my company made it the default. I've done fully remote for a total of 3 years. I found it stifled communication and limited my ability to develop friendships and personal connections with the people I worked with.

Even as an introvert that enjoys my alone time, fully remote would be a deal breaker for me.

I too am not enjoying the 100% WFH right now.

BUT I want the flexibility to WFH 3/5 days a week. I don't mind living within an hour and a half commute, and coming in 2 days a week. Going every day... painful.

In theory I could WFH before, but as things weren't really set up for that, I only did it once a week if that.

So in that regard, I welcome this kind of thing. If companies can work out the logistics.

The issue I see here is that because of that one day per week you will need to still be in commuting distance from the office which limits where you could live and increases your cost of living dramatically. In other words the company saves on office spaces but you still need to pay a premium to have an office at home.

Going full remote with trips to the office once per quarter for example allows you to live wherever you want. That's the way I see this working well in other companies. Remote first and once per quarter everyone gets together for a couple days.

Different tastes. With all due respect, for every guy like you who doesn't want to work there, there are 10 that do. I understand that remote first doesn't work for everyone, nothing works for everyone.

You are quite delusional if you think the ratio is 10:1 in favor of WFH. One thing that the recent lockdown and forced WFH experiment has revealed is that while people are strongly in favor of flexibly WFH the ratio is closer to 10:1 against having no office at all.

Please make your substantive points without swipes like "you are quite delusional if $opposing-view".


The current situation isn't a good barometer for WFH for two reasons:

- Companies that previously laughed at the idea of WFH were forced to implement it without much time to prepare. Their technology, culture, and processes are bad.

- We're in a pandemic, so I can't go hang with my friends after 5pm at a bar or do any outside hobbies. This slight cabin fever is making people dislike WFH which is ironic because usually WFH means you have more time to go outside and do fun things.

I think you missed the biggest one of all for a huge number of us: no school or childcare.

You might like it or not but that's the direction the tech world is going. A lot of people hating WFH hate it because they always worked in an office and don't want to change what they are used to.

In 10 years you will have a whole new generation of engineers that always worked from home and by then I would be surprised if the ratio is only 1:10.

As another comment mentioned, this current pandemic makes you hate a lot of aspect of life, regardless if you worked from home or from the office.

The world is moving in that direction. Adapt or become extinct.

But that's just, like, your opinion. How can you be so sure WFH isn't going to be just a fad?

Do you really think that with the world being more connected than ever, so many collaboration tools being created over the last years and VR evolving non stop, the office is still going to be a thing ?

I would be very surprised if in 50 years the concept of an office even exists anymore.

Im in a smaller company of a few hundred employees. We had the option to go back to the office this week. Exactly 3 people are in the office, the same 3 who have remained at the office the entire time. Everyone else chose WFH until it is mandatory to go back to the office.

I don't know what the preference is for the general developers public; obviously someone who is 40 with 2 kids and lives in Ohio isn't the same as someone who is 23 and lives in SF. What I do mean, for a company like Shopify, they can do what they want. Tons of people will want to work there, whether they are 40 or 23.

yeah, I like having the option to WFH, but I definitely don't think I can WFH permanently. At least, not right now. If a person is living in an urban city, I doubt they have space to have a proper WFH setup to begin with. I had to move my desk from my bedroom to my living room, which is fine when everyone is social distancing, but I definitely don't have space it for under normal circumstances.

It's really not fair to describe the current situation as a "forced WFH experiment". We're trying to work and be even remotely productive during an unprecedented global pandemic, and also happen to be working from home.

Sure, everyone has different preferences, which is why I think it would be ideal to both have a substantial amount of people working in the office full time, and also have a substantial amount of people working remotely full time. From the tweets I have seen, it does not seem like this will be the case at Shopify, since they said "The future of the office is to act as an on-ramp to the same digital workplace that you can access from your #WFH setup."

Unfortunately, this creates two classes of workers, with in office workers being better politically connected and preferred over remote workers who are treated akin to contractors.

I'm biased as a remote worker; I want more orgs going remote so there are more jobs to choose from, and commutes are soul sucking. If you want an office, rent a coworking space near home (with an employer picking up the tab, with a reasonable ~$300-500/month coworking stipend). A local library near me offers one for free, coffee, desk, wifi, printers, and free parking included.

My office (small site within a big company) sent out a survey about working from home.

The majority responded that they didn't want to WFH. There was a question that had several options for which composition of WFH vs WFO people wanted in the new normal. Only 25% of people picked an answer where they would WFH more often than they'd WFO.

Just wondering–would you do a 2 hour commute for this?

No, but I would do a half hour commute for it. For some people I'm sure remote works great, but it's not for me, and I am fine with paying higher rents in order to live close to the office and have a short commute.

Am I the only one who enjoys my commute? To be fair, I bike or take the bus in the winter, but I listen to audiobooks, podcasts, music, and get a good amount of exercise.

I certainly don't. The bus I was taking was a double-long that ran every 3 minutes and I'd still end up standing outside in the rain while a half dozen buses went past before I could get on one because they were all full. And once you get on, you're on a bus that's ass-to-crotch packed for an hour. And that's never mind the actual behaviour of the other people on the bus.

And this was after I modified my work hours to take the bus during less-peak time.

So now I drive. It's about the same time, but in mostly stop and go traffic. I can listen to podcasts and don't have people literally sitting on top of me, but I also have to deal with being constantly hyper-vigilant because (1) people drive like fuckwads and (2) traffic patterns in a lot of places are really screwed up and being in the wrong lane at the wrong time can wind up easily adding 30% to your commute time and (3) the cyclists have this bad habit of trying to weave through moving traffic instead of using the bike lanes and following the traffic signals and then physically assaulting you if you don't notice them and give way.

I tolerate it. BART is hit or miss. Sometimes it's nice, and sometimes it's hella crowded, and there are those assholes who blast their music without headphones. I do like my reading time, though.

My commute (used to be) a 20-minute-long walk, and I did enjoy it as well.

I got a new job right before the pandemic, with a big enough prior notice that pushed my first day into the pandemic. It may be related to the fact that the company I now work for wasn't doing any remote work before, but it now feels so impersonal working. In an office I can easily chit chat, get to know my coworkers, but remotely it seems so hard. I could see it happening more easily in the kind of place that has a casual channel on Slack, but most workplace doesn't push that kind of things. I may try to push some kind of virtual 5@7.

I would personally trust Shopify to do it right, to allow that kind of social interaction remotely.

It's possible there will be a shift from offices dedicated to a certain company to offices where anyone can pop in. You still get the social experience, although you do lose the ability to have in-person meetings with your actual coworkers. The upside is that people get more freedom.

Yup. It's "digital by default" not "digital at all costs".

Seems they'll keep their current offices but reformated as spaces for people that really want to work amongst each other physically, instead of expecting the majority of workers to come in every day.

Well just like Open office plans became trend without anyone asking employees working in them. If permanently working from home or away from office becomes trend it will be only because people who control payments for office real estate decided that way.

The people who like to work in offices will still work in offices. There will be more of them, they will be smaller, and they will be wherever their employees want to live. Some will be official, and some will be coworking spaces.

Yeah, I concentrate a lot better at an office. I hate being in my home all day every day. The little distractions are what make me love a job, some of my best memories are the random interactions and happenings with my coworkers

I would happily trade-off all the benefits you mentioned for not spending 2 hours daily in commute.

People are going to change their tune once the paycuts start coming. There is no reason to pay SF money to someone living in the Midwest. $80k a year is comfortable most places. I hope remote first people like the suburbs and country because there is no reason to live in the city with no office.

The real truth though is most people are far less productive remote because it requires proactive communication and self discipline that just don’t appear because now you are working remotely.

This is to virtue signal and get out of expensive real estate in Civic Center SF in Twitter’s case. That area is a zombie apocalypse.

If you are fully remote then anyone in the world can do your job. Supply goes up prices go down. I bet execs will get paid the same though.

Right now, there is _zero_ reason for companies not to announce permanent work from home. It gets them positive attention and makes them part of the buzz. They are already paying the comp they are paying.

Putting aside the fact that these policies can change on a dime (it's really "permantnet work from home _for now_"), what's really crazy is that people are seriously planning to take companies at their word and are considering leaving the Bay Area and are assuming they are taking their Bay Area comp with them.

Ok, cases:

1. company does NOT to geo-based adjustment to any current employee, but DOES use adjusted salaries for new ones (in other words, path-dependent compensation). Two people, same job, different compensation. This is not that unusual in other industries but can be a source of serious resentment. Suppose a bay area employee moves to India..

2. company uses relocated employees to establish new comp packages for those geos - this will only go so far. many cases will be employees moving to less expensive areas.

3. company sets a "standard" compensation package world-wide that everyone gets - this is impossible to really execute on, or it will be very low relative to peer companies.

and so on. Employees who end up in a case 1 situation will find that after AVERAGE_TENURE they go looking for a new job and end up geo-adjusted. From a company perspective, this is a no-lose golden handcuffs situation and anyway the problem resolves itself quickly.

I tend to believe companies will walk this back as soon as covid-19 dies down, if not right away then as part of executive transitions where someone decides to "transform the business." But in the end it makes no difference - the long term trajectory, if it sticks around, is probably case (1) or some blend of (1) and (2). For developed nation engineers, case (3) is dire, the end of the career.

> there is _zero_ reason for companies not to announce permanent work from home

This is obviously not true. If my employer announced permanent work from home, I would immediately start looking for a new job.

My office (small site within a big company) sent out a survey about working from home.

The majority responded that they didn't want to WFH. There was a question that had several options for which composition of WFH vs WFO people wanted in the new normal. Only 25% of people picked an answer where they would WFH more often than they'd WFO.

well yeah, me too, but if they announced it you'd talk to your manager and she'd say "don't worry about it." then we'd wait and see.

> it requires proactive communication and self discipline that just don’t appear because now you are working remotely.

My experience has been that people that struggle with these things are just as unproductive in an office, they just hide it better.

By far the most productive teams I've been on as far as getting work done are remote teams. When you're remote all that matters at the end of the week is how much stuff you can concretely show you have accomplished.

In an office you can get credit for doing nothing very easily.

So yea remote work is going to be rough for people that are currently using office culture to hide, and in some offices that is a very large number of people.

Well, my experience has been that having time to switch into "work mode" did help my productivity. But hey, maybe I was just delusional all along.

I've worked from home for about 15 years. I have some friends that work from home. My brother does too.

The answer to this really depends upon the person. I've worked from home since I graduated from college, and initially I would eat, sleep, work, and play games all in the same room, because I had roommates. And I was fine with it.

Some people can't do that. Some people need a dedicated workspace. Some people need to get dressed. My brother works from home, and he still wears a tie everyday. Because that's what he needs to do to get into "work mode".

I'm not saying any of this will work for you. But just wanted to let you know that while this is a thing for some people, you still might be able to get that feeling when you work from home.

Salaries are what the market will bear (on both sides). If more companies are remote then first class remote engineers will be able to get more offers when they're on the market and thus will be able to command higher comp.

Separately, if you're undifferentiated then of course anyone will be able to do your job if you're colocated with headquarters or not. The trick to selling your time for more money is to differentiate yourself in a way that creates more value for the company hiring you. Your career is a business that rewards a continuous growth and sales process.

"If you are fully remote then anyone in the world can do your job. Supply goes up prices go down."

I work for an all-remote company and wages are based on the NY labour market. Anyone on the planet can apply sure, but I've not seen salaries reduce (if anything they're highly competitive outside of SF!). If you can get $150k and live wherever you want I wouldn't complain!

What company do you work for? Do they have any openings?

> I hope remote first people like the suburbs and country because there is no reason to live in the city with no office.

I feel like these kinds of blunt "no reason" statements are meaningless, just like saying "work from home sucks" or "work from home is always the best."

I live in a city and work from home, and I will continue to live in my city even if the entire industry goes to primarily work from home. There are a lot of reasons to live here, several centered on "driving sucks, according to techsupporter." I would hate to live in a suburb or out in the country, places where I've lived before and have moved away from.

This is my fear as well. Not only will I no longer have face-t-face interaction, and the break-up in my day that and office allows, but pay will probably decrease across the board.

Coming from a non-coastal state, I honestly do not understand the superiority complex a lot of coastal developers have. There are good developers everywhere, and the ones living in the southwest or the midwest are willing to do the same work for less money. But, you can be willing to bet the execs will receive a pay bump for their "cost-saving measures".

Agree, I am also from the midwest and don't get the superiority complex.

If anything it'd raise the wages for people in the low cost of living areas and eventually equalize out. You can get one person making $500k in SF (plus office costs) or hire 2 or 3 people making $165-250k/each in Suburban America with no office costs. Doubtful that people will go entirely offshore due to time-zone, quality and other cultural differences, we tried that in the early 2000s when everything went to India only to see it come right back. There's a ton of really good engineers who for one reason or another don't want to move to SF and work in Corporate Enterprise America instead. Those people are probably already at $130-150k+ in Corporate America but will job hop to Remote BigTech Company for $165k and more interesting work. Corporate America will have to compete and will raise wages. Meanwhile devs previously making $500k in SF will have to take a $275k gig as more work goes elsewhere, but rent costs should come down as well.

I agree with this take but it's not going to be great for the SF devs that bought houses they can't afford.

And who's fault is it?

I have been telling my coworkers and friends for years that these salaries are not sustainable for 30 years and everyone called me a pessimist.

It's not hard to see that the "good times" and "gold rush" can't last forever. The fact people lied to themselves thinking it's permanent should teach them something about themselves.

Probably, but this is exactly what main street America has been dealing with for the past 40 years: buy a house close to your great job, but now your industry has gone elsewhere for cheaper labor and you're now underwater on your mortgage and even basic city services are going downhill.

> there is no reason to live in the city with no office

Then why do so many Google/Facebook/Apple employees live in SF and commute for over an hour to the suburbs?

Because they get paid $300k/year.

They don't get paid more to live farther from work.

They’d be paid that in Sunnyvale too.

I'm hoping rent prices in SF will go down. I'd love to live there and work in academia but that doesn't seem feasible.

Once you're working remote why pay someone 80k a year to live in the Midwest.

Why not pay them 40k a year to live in India instead?

Because timezones add massive amounts of friction.

If a pay cut nets you more money by not living closer to SF that’s a win

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