It isnt possible to measure employee productivity because its impossible to properly quantify the relative importance of a task. Properly scoping problems is a massive task and finally its impossible to adjust for employees gaming the system, collusion or simply malicious behavior.
Employees always figure out how to abuse productivity metrics.
I want to start off by saying that I don't completely disagree with you, but all of us should take a step back and realize how an absurd of a position this is for us to be in a society.
This immeasurability is inversely proportional to the tangible, real value created. You can, for example, absolutely measure to the dollar the productivity of a plumber and you can easily compare two different plumbers, and see if environmental factors improve or decrease their productivity.
If you own a factory making screws you can unquestionably measure the valued added and therefor productivity of each and every employee. If you have a farm and you hire seasonal laborers to help you harvest, again you can easily measure the exact productivity of each worker, determine if a hot day makes them less productive etc.
Software engineers are a step removed from this in part because the things we make are of questionable value (especially in the extremes). Front-end contract engineers certainly seem to have measurable productivity. If someone can build you a working store front in 40 hours, you can compare this to another one how can do a worse job in 100 hours at the same rate.
But as software products grow more complex and the actual value more vague, then software engineer productivity likewise gets harder and harder to measure. And I think a real question every engineer who has worked at a large company has asked, even if they work their asses off, is "do I really create any value?"
Software engineers, again, are still closer to the side that you can measure real productivity because in at least most cases software itself is important. When you move on to other "office workers", those who are really struggling now, that value again is very hard to measure and therefore so is productivity.
The question that we need to ask more often is, if productivity is so hard to measure, maybe it is possibly because we might not be creating as much value as we have largely tricked ourselves into believing we have.
I'm curious about this idea.
What if plumber A shows up, quickly fixes something using existing, on-site materials, and ends up charging much less (no parts + 'quick' labor), and then the plumbing breaks again in X months.
What if plumber B shows up, takes more time and replaces a part of the plumbing, and ends up charging more (part(s) + more labor) but then the plumbing lasts for Y months, where Y >> X?
Which plumber is more productive? How does one convert the productivity to dollars?
Also, it should take X hours to paint a room of Y size with this many windows or doors. There are clearly established timelines for a job and any big deviation from that will get you fired (or not hired again by the same builder). There’s no “due to this manager’s lack of experience with agile, a project that should have taken 2 weeks took 4 and a half months, and the test coverage is poor”.
Also, it should take X hours to code a feature of Y size with this many fields or inputs. There are unclearly established timelines for a job and any big deviation from that will get you fired (or not hired again by the same builder). There’s no “due to this plumber’s lack of sobriety with the world, a project that should have taken 2 weeks took 4 and a half months, and the connections on the joints are poor”.
Not objective, not right 100% of the time, but let's not pretend its impossible to improve processes with some sort of goal in mind.
Mega big banks in the USA suffer from tech debt A LOT. The number one reason for operation disruptions is software errors, and with a large difference to reasons 2-3-4.
An additional point could be that large USA banks have a higher (imho) ratio of sociopaths in their ranks. Perhaps the sociopaths lost the ability to whip their minions, and the minions started working under normal/human speeds 40h a week instead of 60-70h per week that is the typical expected work while under the influence of a sociopathic boss.
Also lets not forget that JP Morgan CEO is THIS guy: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/video/2019/apr/11/jp-mor...
I think that, although imperfect metric, the bottom line will speak of performance. I take it that there are multiple criteria that affect the bottom line, but the management of JPM cannot be trusted, again, sorry for repeating, is not the most decent in the planet.
Edit: apologies for the rant-y beat down of the mega-big US banks, but yeah.. not sorry really.
My perspective, as someone who worked for JPMorgan in technology for 8 years, and for several other banks, is that JPMorgan is way above most other banks in the quality of their systems and their dev teams.
Likewise the top management. Jamie Dimon is very impressive. You don't get to stay CEO of a bank with 250,000 employees for more than 20 years without being seriously good at it, very consistently.
It is completely contrary to my own feeling that debt is created by external pressure to deliver too fast. I can see why that would create perverse incentives should a project manager make a similar observation.
Great art breaks constraints, but there is this symbiotic relationship where art is nothing without constraints. I'm starting to think there are similarities with other creative endeavours too, which I absolutely consider programming to be.
Not sure where I wanted to go with this, just reflecting on your rant with one of my own.
If you write the minimum amount to validate the business need, you have minimum debt. :)
You can factor in the time (presumably that’s paid for so you should have a real number) and cost of materials (On-site use historical or replacement cost) yourself.
Your points holds more generally though, especially when there aren’t clear prices paid.
at a very low level productivity is hard to measure because it's tacit and implicit rather than explicit. The reason why we can measure the productivity of a business is because it responds to price signals and you can put a literal number on what they put out.
You can try running some sort of market scheme within your company but at some point the trade-offs are bad and it adds too much complexity and creates strange incentives.
For software in particular if anything the opposite of your assumption is likely true. It adds a lot of value without necessarily being able to put a price tag on it. It's pretty hard to measure what wikipedia or vim is worth in terms of productivity as long as they're not charging, but that doesn't mean it's not worth anything.
It's not that simple, because most companies don't perform inter-departmental cost accounting. A salesperson might seem to be very productive, while actually selling made-up solutions that are very cost-intensive to implement. To get a real number on how productive they are, you would need to measure:
([sum of sales * price] - [sum of solutions sold * implementation cost]) / compensation
customer price * weighted average of per-deal profit margin / total compensation
The cost to implement isn't added value. This kind of internal debiting would also change how management looks at IT. If they can solve the problem for less than the estimated cost by the salesperson, they're turning a profit. If they're taking longer due to "science fiction" products being sold, the blame lies squarely with sales. As it is now, salespeople are mainly incentivised for units sold and total price for deals made. You can be a rockstar salesperson while simultaneously mainly causing huge problems downstream.
Once you have a group of people all working together on the same job or the inverse where you have a single person do a variety of jobs everything is different.
You split the big job into smaller jobs and distribute them to people. Some jobs are easier and bring in more money and therefore are more "productive" than others. But all jobs have to be done, no matter how productive they are. So you end up handing easy and difficult work to people. When you start to measure individual productivity of each team member you start noticing that there is a huge variance in productivity. Some people are "useless" while others are highly productive. When you remove the "least productive" people from the job then you notice something odd. Suddenly the productivity of everyone else goes down as well. Your productivity measurements were actually just measuring the way you distributed the jobs.
I remember a machinist talking about how he spends all his day fixing his coworkers mistakes. They kept breaking $100 tools (tool as in endmills) which jammed the machines and he's the only one who did the thankless job of making the machines usable again. He made fixtures that his coworkers broke and then he made them again.... Oh and he had a quota of how many parts he has to make per day. After all, measuring the productivity of a machinist should be pretty easy. Just count how many parts he makes per day. Of course the coworkers always exceeded the quota while he was always well below the quota.
Although I understand your view,Financial sector and banks in particular is a very regulated sector which means that significant number of people working there have their job almost entirely related to making sure the company comply with the rules from the different jurisdictions.
From your perspective, they do add no value to the company ( actually there are cost center) but are crucial to ensure company can operate legally.
To add an additional layer of complexity, new rules from different countries, authorities, committees are updated/ amended quite regularly ( last one is the LIBOR demise which will have a huge impact on the market where no clear rules,have acknowledged nor agreed).
So even you would try to quantify those costs ( legal issue with new rules implementation which lead to update the system or create one from scratch while making sure this will comply with internal task,etc...), it is quite difficult to assess what is the optimal allocation the company needs to allocate.
As an illustrative example, it took 2 years to validate some components of the google cloud features (some are still pending) because of all the intetnal rules set out.
More globally, yes there are people adding no value to the company but the can be hardly spot on from top management view.
Also there is zero agreement on what is good; maintainability, robustness, ease of use -> all subjective at the minute.
I don't think that's true at all. Certain kinds of value are more easily measured, sure, and if that's all you mean by tangibility, what you say is a rather trivial tautology, but there's times when the value is real and tangible and easily qualitatively described (e.g., reduced workload), but tricky to measure because to accurately measure the increase you'd have to measure against a set of hypotheticals (e.g., cost/performance using best alternative of continuing with the status quo ante or competing automation options, including alternative custom builds.) For certain types of value, this is irreducibly true
for many of the same reasons intellectual work is well established to be difficult to estimate accurately (this actually converges to an identical reason when what you are doing is building automation to support intellectual work.)
And even when productivity is measurable, it's often not easily measured at the time of delivery
; where the problem is measuring hypotheticals but the only problematic hypothetical is performance with the software, it may take considerable real use before the actual value is clear.
But, it also can be unclear the value of any individual contribution even when the aggregate product value is clear. Telling the value of what the team delivered is different than trying to peel out the value Bob created.
It's in line with GDP based reasoning but that's generally done on aggregated data which tend to smooth out these kinds of oddities. As a direct comparaison, it is probably at odd with what most people envision when they think of productivity.
most popular software tend to decrease in quality with time... engineers are just looking for something to do and add stuff that can sometime be of negative value
The fact that productivity is hard to measure has very little to do with the value of that work, but rather the difficulty of drawing boundaries around people, objects, and time in the functioning of a complex product.
You cannot measure the value of a software engineer without assessing how their work impacted the work of other people, whether it needed refactoring in the future, whether it took into account future requirements that wouldn't be known for five years, etc. You can't even do that with plumbers! One plumber's work may fail in 10 years while the other's is going strong 20 years later, and you may have thought the first one was more "productive."
You have to have a great deal of sympathy for the management of software-heavy companies. They've no idea how to manage software development. Nobody really knows how to. It sucks. Oh, well, I suppose there is a way: mind the bottom line, do not over-hire, and have good managers of the old sort: the type that know how to keep tabs on their direct reports without being overbearing. Business schools won't go for that.
It's possible one of Scott Adams's moles was at this meeting, since they seem to be omnipresent and omniscient.
Must we keep our most important measures target free? That sounds insane, although I can see how it would improve the measurement.
So the questions is how are we supposed to set targets without our most important measures?
Could you explain this term? I thought i was a native English speaker but this has lost me.
The Dilbert strip has the additional suggestion that the programmer could introduce bugs in order to clear them, in an example of the Cobra Effect.
It's also true that many people have a very different assessment of their productivity than their colleagues do of them. I've seen some pretty massive disconnects there, which usually lead to trouble.
While I do agree that many productivity metrics are useless and even counterproductive, measuring productivity in a useful way is most certainly possible. For example, sales organizations measure sales per unit time for each sales person. I doubt you will find a successful sales organization not doing this.
Or a team player who is good at opening conversations but not closing? (I know, always be closing)
But yes, with a quantifiable and accurate and business-orientated metric, you can measure some form of productivity. It is still hard for most roles in most organisations.
I enjoy team work and I push hard against managers focusing on individual performance metrics because it destroys team work.
* Login time on the VPN
* Number of meetings or some other proxy for activity
* Sales numbers
The first one might be right. People might be spending less time working, when working remotely. The mistake is in assuming that they would be contributing any sort of value if they were in the office and logged in 100% of the time.
The second one might be right too, but again, may not correspond to anything
The third one, if true, probably has less to do with the productivity of the workers and more to do with the economic situation.
But who knows? They may have something real.
I totally disagree. That's the whole point of your manager and reviews.
In addition, JPMorgan isn't just programmers. It's a lot of people who talk to people and process paper--a LOT of paper. And they can quite clearly measure how much paper is being processed per person.
> Employees always figure out how to abuse productivity metrics.
That's a different problem from being able to see that productivity is up or down.
Now, the larger question is whether productivity is down because of work-from-home or productivity is down because the economy is in a complete shambles.
Most managers will think an employee who spends 10 hours working and 30 hours schmoozing/promoting their work is more productive than someone who spends 60 hours grinding the tasks given to them.
It's a complete sham--up until the moment it's about to fire you.
Yeah, I've been in the "Look, that deadline is HARD. If you don't figure out how to do something useful by it, the whole GROUP, including me and you, are fired. So, are you gonna figure something out or should I fire you now and get someone else?"
That can wake you up, reeeaaaal quick.
> Most managers will think an employee who spends 10 hours working and 30 hours schmoozing/promoting their work is more productive than someone who spends 60 hours grinding the tasks given to them.
And you know what? The "schmoozer" might actually be more productive.
One of the articles on HN recently was about how senior people tend to avoid work that might get thrown away.
"Grinders" are useful, but they can also go grinding in the wrong direction or keep grinding on something that no longer needs to be done because conditions changed and they aren't paying attention. This is especially true if they get too irascible so nobody wants to talk to them.
The "schmoozer" might see that the assignment given doesn't quite match up with what the end customer (either internal or external) actually needs and adjust things appropriately. Or, perhaps, just delivers something "close enough" but takes a lot less time and makes the recipient happier.
As I became increasingly senior I spent far more time "schmoozing" than getting concrete engineering done.
The only sane reply is: "You can't fire me, I quit". First of all, this working env is toxic. I don't need this kind of stress and I can freely quit because I have life savings, like any other sane person. Second, now that deadline becomes impossible without me, not merely hard, good luck to the rest of the team. Third, I might not quit if you apologise right now.
But then again, I'm in Europe, where we have more rights than the Americans. YMMV.
And in one HN comment the whole problem with late stage capitalism is laid bare.
As an engineer in general how can you quantify the value of maintenance? On paper it's just a cost and it's impossible to know what would have happened without it.
The worst strategy is just to measure easy things like story points or number of tasks completed because it ruins the work culture. In those cases you're not going to take time to review pull requests carefully, advise colleagues, propose new projects or work on difficult tasks. It seems impossible to measure these, at least to me.
In a situation where workload is at least sort of randomly distributed, which it normally is given time, there’s no other good explanation for statistical deviancy than simply less “work” being done.
But again, this only works for detecting problems. As you point out, and I agree with you, as soon as you attempt to measure “change in productivity” you’re on very thin ice.
If I hire painters, I can tell if they’re doing a good job by looking at it. I know what’s taking them so long. They’re using slower drying drywall compound, or they’re having to mask off because they’re not good with a brush.
There are fields of work where it’s easy to gauge productivity, but software development is not one of them.
It's easy to make a job look good for a day, but on some jobs if you skip the prep work, lining, filling, priming, undercoat, additional coats, clearcoat, and finishing the paint job is going to look pretty bad after a year. You can't tell how good a painter is unless you know a bit about painting things.
The same is true of software. In order to know if a developer is productive you really need to know quite a lot about the domain they're writing software for.
I manage a team of developers / analysts and it's straightforward (though not always easy) to measure this over several six-week blocks of time for the team. It is not, however, easy to measure it for any single developer or analyst, and there's a lot of variance when you try to look any more granular than the team.
I suspect it's doable for small groups that work together. Or even larger groups. (I have no experience here.)
But for individuals? I agree. No shot.
Yes, and working from home makes it even easier. Your post basically says that any measured productivity gain from WFH can't be trusted but I don't understand why it would apply to a measured productivity decrease.
Targets aren't the same things as measures. Measures of productivity are easy, but targets are not.
For example, for a sufficiently large group of people (e.g. all young developers at JP Morgan), you can measure their productivity with how many lines of code they write on average. As long as you aren't using lines of code for performance evaluation, there is no reason any developer will perform needless large refactors or find other means for increasing their delta.
Edit: changed metric to target
I’ve solved problems with 6 lines of code that took me a week to think of. Other days I write 600 lines of code.
I would argue that the former 6 lines I wrote is much more productive than the 600 lines.
On the other hand, perhaps people are indeed writing the same old code that they always were, just writing less of it.
So lines of code are not a good metric. Average number of features/user stories/tasks delivered may be a decent metric (at the group level, not for individual developers), as long as it doesn't become a target. Delivery VS estimate could also be OK, in the same way.
If people can abuse your productivity metric, then it's a bad measure of productivity - not a fault of the worker.
There are many nuances to the English language that are difficult for non-native speakers to pick up.
Being condescending is bad, but being condescending whilst also being clearly wrong is doubly so. Get out.
And I think you’re wrong. I think your parent post agrees with you. Not every conversation includes the requisite specificity of language to make declarations of perfect understanding of original writer’s intent.
We will need OP to confirm.
I don't see how the term abuse means that the parent doesn't agree?
However, this is likely a problem that will get worse, not better, over time. The early WFH experience was able to cruise on the office connections, cross-training, personal knowledge, team-building, etc. that had happened previously. The longer people are away from the office, the more that hard-to-quantify stuff will decay. Plus, onboarding a new college grad has got to be challenging when there's not a group of experienced team members around them to be able to see when they're struggling or headed off the wrong path without realizing it.
All of these problems can be mitigated, but they won't be eliminated. There will always be some positions and employees where WFH makes sense; as I said, it has often worked for me. But the idea that half or even a quarter of employees would become permanently WFH, is fantasy. It's kind of like having a long-distance relationship. You can do it for a while, but the penalty mounts over time in ways that are hard to quantify, but real nonetheless.
I think it's increasingly clear that blanket policies and one-size-fits-all WFH plans are just not going to work. People may gripe, but it seems like WFH is not going to be for everybody, in every position, at every stage in their careers. Hell, it might not even be feasible depending on the project you're working on this year.
In my experience - heavily relying on relationships built before is how a lot of things are actually get done. While my company closed its offices in March - I see people getting `socially distanced` coffee with their co-workers more and more.
I think there are tasks / kind of work, that requires minimal communication or relationship building, and it's possible to optimize WFH setup to be very productive at it (way more productive than in the office). A lot of comments on HN are alluding to that some people figured that out and are good at it.
There are also tasks that are hard or borderline impossible to do remote. Relationships are harder. Negotiations are harder. Random lunch conversations don't happen anymore, the serendipity of new learnings is lost.
And yes, I can't wait to go back to the office.
Has anyone figured this one out? It’s inhibiting hiring quite significantly at our firm. I can’t imagine we’re the only ones.
We rotate between the senior members for each new hire, where it makes sense.
The senior member in return receives a $ bonus during this time, and their effort also contributes towards their performance review.
I've also noticed it helps the new hire integrate with our culture.
For the 2-5 yr expirence: x1 checkin daily for the first month
For the 5+ yr experience engineer: x1 checkin daily first week.
For all: reduce checkins as appropriate for each, case-by-case.
Also given most managers schedules are packed, I’m not sure how feasible this advice is. Especially if they onboard 2 or 3 new hires.
People don’t understand the massive amount of time new hires can spend stuck (be it HR, software license issues, unfamiliarity with the process, etc).
PS: The second bit is surprisingly effective. I have created a few bare bones documents that ended up becoming very fleshed out in a year+ when some sends it back to me.
Nothing magical here, the culture shift will/should happen exactly because remote work is now the default.
The same way companies adopted Internet and digitized their workflows.
Could I remedy all of these problems with extra effort? Sure, but it's far easier for me to simply go to the office.
I'm sick of being stuck in my tiny condo with the noise from neighbors and zero work/life balance. The constant streams of asks on Slack that wake me up in the morning and keep me up at night.
I'm making more in the stock market than my job.
Back on topic - I've been on both sides of this. I started working from home ~7 years ago when I took a job on the west coast, but opted to stay in Chicago.
Prior to this role, I had worked almost exclusively IN the office for ~10 years, with the very occasional WFH day (literally about 1-2 days/year, usually during the holidays, so definitely not a habitual thing).
When I started WFH, I loved it...for about 3 months. I relished the lack of commute. I enjoyed the additional focus / reduced distractions. But then I started to feel the downsides. The lack of connection with people, the higher effort required to collaborate on some kinds of things, etc.
Over the years though, I found a balance. I found new outlets. New habits. And about ~25% travel helped break things up a bit.
And then COVID hit.
And now I'm back to fully hating WFH. My new habits, outlets, and most importantly the work travel, were no longer viable.
On top of that, while I may have been comfortable with WFH by the time this all started, most of the people with work with were not. So they're going through the learning curve, and I'm empathizing every step of the way. Which is in turn reminding me about the things I dislike.
Anyway, this is a super long winded comment that I'll bring to a close by saying: WFH is not a cure-all. It's not a solution to every problem. Like everything in life, it needs to be applied prudently, and a balance must be found.
My advice to you and people struggling with similar challenges is this: quickly learn to set boundaries.
- Set "Do not Disturb" windows on all work apps/notifications.
- Set clear expectations with your management about when you'll start/stop your day
- Don't succumb to the temptation to just keep working...working...working at the end of the day
- If possible (this is hard or impossible for some), set up a dedicated work space
- Only check Slack once/hour if you can. Encourage your team to do the same.
- Invest in good noise cancelling headphones
- Oh, and read Deep Work :)
This is the real killer IMO. It's impossible to focus in a studio apartment. It's where I cook, eat, drink, sleep, Netflix, and now work.
Have a desk to work and a table to have food, possibly facing different walls.
Sit on a couch to play videogames and on a (office) chair to work.
Don't play games or watch Netflix on the computer you use to work. Uninstall them.
Assuming you’re talking about trading - enjoy it while it lasts, but don’t quit your job to do it full time. Unless you have an actual edge of information, you’re just gambling and will eventually get steam-rolled by the event you’re not expecting.
I really my office, I don't have enough space or privacy, or even a window. At home I have a spacious desk with wide windows.
It's almost as if the problem is not office vs home but comfortable space vs shithole.
For many people on HN, it's going to be the opposite. A smaller than desirable city apartment and an office which the company has spent money on to make it comfortable, well-lit, good facilities etc.
This, exactly this. People adverse to self discipline are the ones that most want to go into the office, because its "the easy way". But people with discipline should have always, and should continue to be given the choice to work in the way that suits them the best, if you will, that is "easiest" for them. Don't try and make me come into the office too when the things that happen at the office
* open office distractions & lack of privacy
* trivial socialization
* commuting to and from work
are what makes it not "easier" for me to get my work done. Diversity folks, or if you will, different strokes for different folks.
So basically "people who prefer what you don't prefer are lesser in some way" but with some extra words for obfuscation because you can't just come out sand say that in polite conversation?
People have preferences. If you're gonna try and pretend that one is universally better or superior then I hope that attitude causes big problems for you.
> Diversity folks, or if you will, different strokes for different folks.
I agree but it sure sounds like you don't based on what you said a few sentences earlier.
I prefer working from home, I'm happier doing so, and my boss says I'm even more productive than usual (and he hasn't been concerned about my productivity, and my boss's boss expressed concerns about me working too hard and hitting burnout in our last in-person one-on-one). But my company, organizationally, is not set up this way and we were dragged into it unprepared in March. I'm doing very well on the things where I know how to work autonomously, and I have a good-sized backlog, but at some point I'll run out, and once we're back in the office, I'm going to want to be around for all of the "distractions" and "socialization" that help me develop a good idea of what I should be working on. It does the company no good - and it does me no good, come performance review season - to be highly productive at the wrong thing.
And the "diversity" argument doesn't work here. You need to pick one context where things happen, unless you want to effectively run multiple companies. Either you go remote-first and you adopt the Apache-style policy of "if it didn't happen on the mailing list, it didn't happen," or the folks who are seeing each other in person will chat in person, come up with ideas in person, make decisions in person, consult each other for design reviews in person, etc. and cut the remote workers out of the loop.
Now, yes, I think my company probably should develop the structures needed to work remotely, but I'm aware that's a self-serving belief. I genuinely don't know if my company has enough people who have the "discipline" (in your words; I might also add "lack of roommates, spouse, or children") that this switch is the right thing for the company. It's rather like my position on whether my company should pay me more: I'm not going to argue that I don't want the money, since it would certainly be good for me, but there is certainly some finite salary level where it's no longer in the business's interest to do so.
I think we'd all feel more productive and motivated working from home if the world wasn't collapsing all around us. Working on some new feature shaving a few milliseconds off an API call for investment bankers seems a bit out of touch, whether at home or in the office.
Blaming loss of productivity solely on working from home may be the wrong conclusion.
Anyone who has been able to stay productive, let alone get more productive, in this reality is either in denial or far more optimistic than I'll ever be.
This is just your world-view being shaped by your “news” sources. Maybe get off of social media for a while or only follow people who do not talk about politics/current events.
> but if I was working in finance? No way.
People who say this tend to underestimate the importance of finance. For example, enabling easy mobile banking for tech illiterate people is going to have a much larger impact on society than 99% of the apps already out there. Another: imagine if you can fix budgeting for the 90% of people who don’t bother.
Don’t shit on fields you don’t understand. It makes you look ignorant and blocks you from even realizing the opportunities in the world.
My home has been basically the center of racial justice protests: we’ve had fires set outside our door, tear gas wafting in to our windows, etc.
Even when there’s not a protest, the entire neighborhood is covered in protest-inspired murals that serve as a daily reminder that my life (as a Black person) doesn’t matter right now.
And these past few weeks we’ve been choking on wildfire smoke.
I don’t think this is from watching too much news or doom scrolling. There have been an unprecedented confluence of events that make most tech work seem meaningless right now.
This is a good way to escape reality, but not much more. I've done this plenty of times, but the world doesn't stop moving because you're ignoring what's going on. You become ignorant, and that is far worse.
> Don’t shit on fields you don’t understand. It makes you look ignorant and blocks you from even realizing the opportunities in the world.
I took the comment as they are not interested in finance. Maybe they've worked in the field in the past and don't like it. They didn't "shit on" anything.
Unless you’re in a position to actually create change, I don’t see how following every single update to an unfolding news story helps you. I am not talking about being completely ignorant. There is a saying, important news will always find you.
You could try avoiding news, and letting the news find you. Just following that simple methodology will greatly change the perspective you have on the world, and your short term life.
If you just find out about the world from what the NYT or Fox or WSJ write about, you only know propaganda.
The news have been biased towards negative stories for many decades, way before the internet so I wouldn't say watching/reading the news gives a good, balanced picture of reality. Ideally you need to balance a minimum ingestion of neutral, informative news with staying in touch with the reality around you, by meeting and getting in touch with local people and events. You might be surprised how big the difference is between how the news presents the world and the reality.
You’re ignorant either way. The only difference is whether or not you seem informed to your stuck up friends who read a particular news source every day. Do you realize how big the world is and how irrelevant the vast majority of “major national news” is to actual life?
The news cycle tends to focus on all the things going wrong in the world. Rarely will you hear positive or uplifting stories. After all, if it bleeds it leads.
I fail to see how opting out of the constant spew of toxic negativity by the media will result in you being ignorant. Who knows, it might even give you time to pick up a history book and give you some perspective on the current moment
The news isn’t reality, it’s the world through the lens of what the journalist who reports it wants you to see. They don’t report objective reality. They will willingly admit that their job isn’t reporting objective reality if you ask them.
Stop reading twitter, stop watching the news. Honestly the world isn’t representative to what they’re reporting and they profit from selling you fear.
All of that sounds incredibly boring, but that's the case with any real human progress. It's the same with a famous, and incredibly stupid quote "the brightest minds of our generation are working on making people click ads". Every time I hear it, I remember all the small businesses and ventures that only exist because of Instagram, Facebook and Google Ads. Housewives baking cakes, a leatherworker making custom backpacks, a blacksmith restoring antique knives - those are just personal friends of mine who wouldn't be able to build their businesses if not for what those brightest minds of our generation are doing.
I've known some who are working on their bed. This isn't healthy nor is it likely to be conducive to productivity.
As a "younger" (30 year old) tech employee, in addition to living in a cramped space with 3 roommates in SF with no privacy, I have to work in a dining room because my bedroom has very thin walls. I also have to do cook and clean way more often, when I previously used to get 3 meals a day at work. I also have to haul groceries a couple times a week, which is super painful without a car, and then I have to compete for very limited fridge space.
I also haven't met friends and family in over 6 months, and my dating life's been obliterated. It's been mentally taxing in a way that living with your loved ones in a McMansion isn't. I can't even handle Zoom calls with friends anymore. It's the last thing I want to do after the 3 hours of back to back Zoom meetings I get roped into because I'm "senior".
Again, I don't mean to minimize the struggles of parents, college kids, the many people unemployed, our essential workers keeping things running, or our elderly who are at risk of dying. I'm in a very privileged position. But it's clear that all the lifestyle changes I've been forced to make have been a huge drain on my productivity.
Listen this is a healthy perspective. Having such clarity about how shitty things are without the perks. Most people sit around years ruminating how crappy all this stuff is and you figured it out pretty quickly.
I don't have any visa issues thankfully, so I can pretty much relocate to anywhere in the country. I'm thinking of an AirBnb in a nice seaside town.
Most of my friends, including myself, have taken advantage of the current WFH situation to find much better accommodations for themselves outside of SF.
Obviously not an option for everyone, but for those that have it I would definitely pursue it.
Where did you move? A few months in a seaside town Airbnb would be nice. I could use the change of scenery.
I'm not sure there is a perfect place in the world Asheville, but Asheville and Durham NC are nice and affordable. Sacramento is nice too, especially if you soon want to commute in to SF 1-2 times a week.
Of course, times have changed, and I think I'll move soon.
But yeah, to your point, pre-Covid SF was absurd in terms of cost of living, and the current exodus just shows how unsustainable it was.
> About $450k all in
And anyway, an apartment that's fairly spacious can turn into a congested mess when everyone's WFH. Previously, all of us had tech jobs where we had dinner at work, did a post-dinner workout, went to happy hour, and such. On weekends, some of us would be on day trips to Napa, or at a dinner party, or some such thing like that. Now that everyone's more or less inside during business hours, organizing the fridge is like playing Tetris, walking in the house requires a level of spatial awareness driving in Manhattan does, and storing all the household essentials takes up even more space. Kitchen contention issues also come up all the time.
The getting more space vs. staying tradeoff is worth it now: I'd personally value each sq ft I have to myself more, and the rent differential is much lower too (rents in SF are crashing, and I'm not restricted to living in SF anyway). IMO, that wasn't a reasonable tradeoff to make pre-Covid.
It's generally not productive to play "who has it worse".
Of course every personality type deals with this differently, as we all need different things in life. And if I didn't have such a luckily great family life I could easily be miserable. I seem to notice more breakups and divorces recently, but that's hard to quantify beyond my acquaintances. Maybe a social scientist will measure this.
My scientific wild-ass guess would be that younger employees naturally require more coaching, while the older, more experienced folks know the stuff and just keep doing what they've been doing for the past ten years.
I'm a good control here because I've worked for the same company:
1. In the office
2. WFH pre-Covid
3. WFH during-Covid
What's more, all of my favorite activities: golf, hiking, cooking--are largely unaffected by the pandemic. My income's been the same and the work activities have been roughly similar.
I felt relatively productive WFH pre-Covid but something has changed that's affected my productivity/motivation--and I can't put my finger on it. I think it's the general, subconscious, back-of-my-mind feeling that things are profoundly going to shit that's dragging me down. It's been a struggle now when it's not been before.
This is all purely anecdotal, but I think I'm a good case-in-point example of your position: that WFH is a convenient strawman to hand-wave away the effects of people living in the final pages of a Vonnegut novel.
I love WFH; I want to be productive; but I don't think that shoe-horning people back into offices (wearing a mask all day, nonetheless) is going to magically turn everyone back into creative, chipper good-time-charlies.
A company that is deeply in bed with meetings and face-to-face cooperation will suffer in a remote-first environment. The article, as others have noted, talks a lot about feelings of the upper management rather than any hard data.
Reading a linked article further down  says that JPMC, and other banks, were ramping up the return to the office for months, and it's now when they are making it mandatory.
Also, several weeks ago large New York landlords  were urging Wall Street banks to bring their staff back into work. Might be a coincidence, but the timing certainly warrants a look.
When did I fool myself? What are you talking about?
The fact that it is difficult to measure whether or not WFH had an impact on productivity or not is a HUGE mark in its favor. This should have just fallen apart, no consultant or advisor would have every recommended trying a mass remote working initiative this way. Instead it seems to have mostly worked.
I say mostly, because now we are at the point where it takes concious thought to build processes and culture to sustain a remote work culture. Developing young talent is difficult regardless of the circumstances, but in the in person office we have well developed norms, culture, programs, and processes to support them. Have you and your organization spent significant time thinking adapting and developing those cultural factors? I'm a remote work advocate because I've seen it work not just for me but for those around me, including junior talent, but you have to think about it, experiment, and work at it.
Beyond the workplace, a lot of people have complained about the sudden transition to WFH do to them being not set up for it. I've heard this expressed as because they have limited space / lots of roommates or just being uncomfortable with the lack of home/work seperation. The root cause of these is (mostly) the unique circumstances of this experiment. If WFH was a strong social norm, people would have chosen different living accommodations and would have "seperate spaces" without needing a corporate office.
While not every job ultimately can or should become primarily remote/WFH, I think the benefits for most information workers and their companies will win out. But right now we are going to see the long and hard process of rebuilding culture and norms in a new work environment.
"Work output by younger employees was particularly affected on Mondays and Fridays, according to findings discussed by Chief Executive Office Jamie Dimon in a private meeting with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analysts. That, along with worries that remote work is no substitute for organic interaction, are part of why the biggest U.S. bank is urging more workers to return to offices over the coming weeks."
Of course, if one were cynical, you might suspect he wanted return to office anyway and young workers are a convenient and safe group to blame.
I realize JPM is a pretty big company - but the way this works at a lot of companies is - someone has a narrative they want to tell, does shitty analysis until they find some data point that fits their narrative, and then the company makes decisions based on that.
How do you boil productivity down to a metric that's easy to even discuss? Anyone can get more work done by performing it at a lower quality.
Even if this was just for bankers that have a list of tickets to close - are we just talking about sheer number of tickets closed? Is the quality for each ticket going up or down?
When I was a younger worker I certainly did slack off on Friday and Monday when I could get away with it.
I’ve worked in more than one office where people started drinking on Friday afternoon in the office when the CEO was out of town.
If you do think that, it would be an interesting and unusual claim worthy of analysis, but it’s certainly not a reasonable assumption without such analysis.
Edit: the above does preclude the idea that "truth" can have a motive behind it as well, but I don't particularly think he deserves the benefit of the doubt.
Not really. But the general impression from the piece is that he has various less-quantified reasons for wanting more people back to the office and slacker younger workers does seem like a convenient excuse -- especially if there's some truth to it (which is entirely possible). FWIW, if I were in my twenties at this time, I'm not sure I would trust myself to keep plugging away.
Edit: careless not carless ... lol
When the Air Quality Index shot up to ~150 in my area (you want to keep it below 100, preferably below 50), I went to Home Depot and bought box fans and furnace filters and built my own.
You can check the air quality in your area on this site: https://aqicn.org
The AQI in my area is closer to 300 :(
Fuck it, I can’t think about all that. Focus on what’s in your sphere of control and ignore the rest.
March pulled me back into a vicious news cycle after I learned to ignore the news 10+ years ago. It was terrible.
Now I’m back to mostly ignoring the news and life is better.
PS: this is the core teaching of stoicism, focus on what you can control and don’t worry about what you can’t
He's not a goal. He's got a narrative. Is anyone going to question him? And wreck their career?
I was also noting that not being 100% transparent typically gets called deception or propaganda.
Mr D singled out the younger employees but he was also careful not to say it was them and only them. Calling out everyone would be a bad move for moral. So he sliced his "facts" a bit in order to meet his ends. That's deception, and not fraud per se.
It’s only ‘throwing younger people under the bus’ if you use it to support a pre-existing narrative that he isn’t actually making.
I can't speak to what is being said now as I'm not really tracking any of it. I don't believe it's pure bullshit.
It could be that people are just picking up bad habits. It could be stress and distractions from all the stuff that's swirling around now. It could be an exaggerated stance to signal to real estate in the affected markets that JPMC isn't packing up and getting out of town. Who knows. I will say that the technical infrastructure has been very good, due in part to long term investments in remote infrastructure for years now and it's pretty seamless switching from the office to remote.
I personally will quit before I go back full time to the chaos of high capacity office environments. I'm not built for it.
AggregateOverEmployeesByAgeGroup(AggregateDatesBeforeCovid(Prod(employee_i | day of week)/AggregateDatesAfterCovid(Prod(employee_i | day of week before covid)))
Then see if it is flat or if there is changes (such as it dips on monday/friday)
It'll be interesting to see the social media reaction once it breaks that employees are being ordered back en mass, no opt out, etc.
- I miss talking with colleagues on things related to tech, but not necessarily related to the current task.
- Video meetings are exhausting to be a part of for resolving simple things. It was way faster to just talk in person.
- Video meetings feel less collaborative in general for open ended discussions, I see far fewer participation from teammates if it is not their own task.
- New employees who onboarded during Covid feel isolated as they didn't get to build personal rapport with others in the same or different teams.
- Interaction with people from different teams has almost disappeared, not everytime you had a new idea, you were actively looking for it.
- As much as I enjoy cooking, I hate that it feels like a chore at this point to do day in, day out.
- I hate that personal time and work time boundaries have merged and it seems like I am working at all hours and relaxing at all hours at the same time.
From the article
Interns and new graduates are mostly dead weight right now. They're impossible to train and bring up to speed without being physically together.
Layoffs will come and younger employees will be the first to go.
I try to only go to my desk during work hours but it's where my dining area would be, so while cooking I like to browse the internet/watch Youtube on my ultrawide monitor. At the same time, it's a small apartment, so the dining area is part of my living room.
This means I'm in the same room for pretty much the entirety of the day. I try to avoid going into my bedroom outside of night time sleep hours so that I can at least keep that space as more of a nighttime only relaxing one.
I desperately need a completely separate space. I was already planning to move to a new, nicer apartment this year, and because of COVID WFH I'm considering getting a 2br and taking the hit on the additional cost just so that I can have an entirely separate office space.
But regardless, while I don't mind WFH once or twice a week, I really prefer a separate office a majority of the time. I need and value the separation.
I agree with you about WFH in the future, as well. When I can go back to an office, 1-2 WFH days a week is about what I want. That would be a bit of an uptick for me, since I normally would take 1-2 WFH days a month, but there's enough to like about it that I don't want to give up (getting the commute time back is nice sometimes), and I've gotten good enough at it to sustain it.
It works great for me since I have a dedicated office at home which is larger than any office space I've had before. I can have this because I can live on the country side where housing is cheaper.
I can walk my dogs when I need to and I can focus a lot more here than I ever could in an open office. I have respect for people who claim they cannot and see no reason (except a pandemic) why people should always work from home. I can imagine why a 20-year old in his or her 20 square meter apartment isn't as productive as they would be at a big, bright office. For me, if I had to go to an office, I would have to leave my dogs in some dog care facility in the morning, stressing in my commute to work since I am forever a optimist when it comes to time. I wouldn't feel good, I would be tired and unable to focus. I have been there and done that. I know I am more productive at home.
I think it's nice to offer people the ability so that for the people who thrives in it (like me) can have the ability to work from home.
It has been hard, because the WFH mentality is either all or nothing. Why can't people and companies simply be a bit more laid back and offer both? The world isn't black and white, just let people decide for themselves since we are all grown ups.
I expect companies not to treat me as a child and so should you.
That being said, I don't think my productivity has taken a hit during this long period of WFH. If anything, I think I'm being more productive. I do miss the social interaction, though. That's why I prefer the 80/20 arrangement.
As for learning things - there is insane amount of knowledge online and if one is unable to use it they have bigger problems than being/or not in the office.
In office - you always knew someone who knew someone in that team. It was just a matter of picking up the phone, calling them and getting them to expedite your request.
Now that everyone is WFH, you ping them on IM and wait for them to respond. With back-to-back zoom calls, it's honestly the last thing people want to do.
Couple that with the fact that there isn't a divide (like commute) between work and home anymore - so there's just more fatigue and higher levels of irritability.
Productivity may, actually, fall for younger employees at home, but data from this year is not valid for a calculation vs prior years.
Since factors that might effect anxiety, physical and psychological health, priorities, demands on time and attention, and external factors effecting success stayed largely the same, but for switching from working in an office to working from home, so we know it was "the WFH lifestyle" (lifestyle?!?) that caused a 'hit' to 'overall productivity', so we can be confident that instructing employees to return to the office regardless of safety will restore this stolen productivity.
FWIW my honest assessment is that I'm more productive at home on average, but with much higher variance.
Or maybe ya know... A pandemic has its own negative effect on productivity.
My hypothesis is that we won't see a massive shift towards WFH with the exception of a few big name tech companies. Most employers will require people to be in the office, at least a part of the week.
And even those companies who say "ok" to WFH, will start second guessing their decision within a couple years.
If they can't use common collaboration apps you in a remote setting you could see how this could impact their productivity.
My drop in productivity as a trader was mostly due to the fact that despite we were raking in a lot of cash I could just see us barely getting paid at the end of the year so I just made sure our books weren't blowing up and spent most of my time finding a hedge fund job.
How would they measure that? It seems basically impossible, and the article has no details.
Younger employees won’t be getting the full support they need.
HN: "Of course you're more productive. WFH is the best, I hope we never return to the office!"
Report: "WFH has made productivity go down."
HN: "Don't trust this. Productivity can't be measures."
If employees can be fully productive while working from home, they can be equally productive while working from Mumbai.
I'd rather be in NYC office.