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I Miss Working from the Office (roguelazer.com)
575 points by sysoleg 5 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 471 comments

I think that what isn't discussed enough is the variance in quality of your office environment and of your home office and how that quality affects your preferences about working from home. It sounds quite obvious but in these arguments people often just state what they personally like and leave it at that.

Your office can be place where you still have the option to work uninterrupted but also get the benefits of face-to-face interaction, casual exposure to work ideas, better meetings, having all the equipment you need, separating work and personal life. Or it can be a hell where you hate every second and can't get anything done. Your commute can be a 15-minute walk or it can be a couple of hours of driving - vastly different experiences.

Your home office can mean working on a laptop at a tiny desk in a small bedroom in shared accommodation with loud housemates; or it can be a great setup in a separate room in your own flat/house. Again, those are completely different experiences.

I suspect that a lot of people talk about how much they like remote because they happened to be on the bad end of the office-quality scale and the good end of the home-quality scale. And when your work circle is made up people who also worked in the same bad office environment, it's easy to say something like "no one I know wants to go back to the office".

Personally, I've had a great office with a short commute in the past, and my home office situation is quite poor right now. So I'm looking forward to working from an office in the future.

That's a very good point, I'm really enjoying working from home and I attributed it mostly to not having to do the one hour commute each way, but there's so many more things that add up:

- At home I have the most comfortable chair I could find on the market that fits me perfectly. At work there are very basic adjustable chairs and they use some slippery fabric.

- At home I have an ergonomic mechanical keyboard vs. a cheap rubber dome keyboard that kept running out of batteries at work.

- An ergonomic mouse, vs. a tiny mouse that doesn't even have a back button.

- Two 27" 4k monitors, vs. a single 24" monitor.

- Always a nice room temperature, vs. often being too hot or too cold.

- Bathroom always available, vs. sometimes having to wait to use the bathroom.

- No interruptions, vs. occasional interruptions.

- Working in silence, vs. having to use noise cancelling headphone and listening to music when I don't want to.

To me the only drawbacks are that Zoom meetings are worse than in-person and not being able to have hallway discussions, but the many gains in quality of life easily make up for that. But the situation could easily reverse for someone who only has a tiny laptop and no room for a home office.

It’s the exact opposite for me. At work, we had 3 monitors, standing desks, great chairs, a gym, free breakfast and lunch, full private bathrooms with showers and towels and toiletries, amazing views, etc. Now I compete for space with some children, a spouse who also works from home, and I work on a 14 inch laptop screen from a couch. It’s a downgrade and I would work from the office if it were practical. We can go in, but some of these amenities are no longer available to us.

Since working from home, we’ve had many more meetings than we used to, which is a drain, mentally. Still, I am almost as productive as I was before, but no thanks to the environment at home.

From my experience, w/r/t meetings, I've worked from home going on 6 years now. A few years back we were acquired by a large company that had several divisions that worked entirely in office. When everyone started working from home, those divisions would initiate meetings significantly more often. I'm not sure if it's like a subconscious desire for more human interaction for those people that would usually get a bunch throughout the day, or a need to micromanage from some people, or just them thinking that they needed extra communication to make up for the remote working, but it was significantly jarring on our team for the first few months until everyone else sort of found their groove.

That's counter to our team, where we basically have the "policy" of less disruptions is better. Any discussion item is pushed into an e-mail or chat unless absolutely necessary. If there are items that are deemed to need a voice meeting that are remotely similar then we'll move them up or push them back to combine them to reduce the need to be on a call. 99% of our communication is done via e-mail or a group chat room, and the expectation is that an e-mail can go without a response for 24 hours, and a chat room message can go without a response for at least 1 hour. Anything urgent goes through a direct message, and the expectation is that you check the receivers status to make sure they're aren't in a "do-not-disturb" status before hand. Only time that is ignored is if something mission critical is occurring, like a systems outage. When you can limit 99% of your distractions to something you can check real quick once every hour or so, your productivity goes way up.

I can also say from experience that having your own space, and good equipment, is severely overlooked by people. I used to work entirely in my office, but we rescued a Belgian Malinois a few months before the lockdowns started so I had been working from a chair in my living room since the office is where our cats hang out for most of the day, and I wanted to give them time to adjust to the puppy as well. Even outside of the new puppy distraction, it's really easy to just sink into your "comfort" area and get distracted or stop working. Once she was housebroken, I started working out of our dining room instead so I could keep an eye on her but still not invade the office until she was better trained, and I noticed a significant productivity boost. GCP Grey has a great video on this ("Lockdown Productivity: Spaceship You"), and the idea is that even though the dining room isn't a dedicated office, it's still a place that you don't subconsciously associate with relaxing, so you still treat it like an office.

I don't have kids or a work from home spouse, so I don't have any advice there.

Checked out the video- really great! Thank you for the recommendation and here's the link for anyone else curious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snAhsXyO3Ck

Maybe the competiton is unavoidable, but working from a couch? Doesn't your employer have legal workplace safety obligations?

You had all of that plus amazing views..?! That sounds amazing.

Plus amazing views.

Your work just sounds very subpar. Crippling developers with that sort of equipment and environment is a poor move and also an awful trade-off, business-wise.

It seems pretty standard to me. Typical open-office setup, with one 24" screen and $5 keyboard and mouse that come with the PC, and a basic 10-years-old office chair. I've seen quite a few mid to large size industrial/engineering companies and it's a standard setup. Actually the ones having a 24" screen are lucky, most people get a 20".

That's why people commonly bring their personal headphones, keyboard and mouse. And sometimes their own larger screen even.

I don't buy it. Even when I was working in countryside Europe a decade ago we had better equipment than that and often double display (17" or 19" at the time). Some of the companies even had personal offices or small offices for 1-3 people.

I don't doubt that there are some shitty companies out there that can't get an office chair and a display from this decade, but it's far from the norm.

I work for a global 500 company, specialized in producing large technical equipment for aerospace. Our core activity is engineering and industrial production. For the area it's not a shitty company, the conditions are good and they have no trouble attracting employees.

In the engineering department those who don't do 3d CAD get a single 20" screen, and a laptop with 8Gb RAM. Those who use CAD get a single 24" screen and bigger laptop with a 3d card. Everyone gets the $5 keyboard and mouse that comes with the corporate HP laptops. Basically all offices (except for managers) are the noisy open-office type.

I've been to quite a few suppliers, all industrial/engineering companies of different sizes, and it's a pretty standard setup. It's not some shitty companies, it's just that all companies (at least not specialized in software) just take the basic material that they rent from their corporate suppliers. You can't show a positive ROI/business case for buying a $50 Logitech mouse to 50k office employees, so they all get the free included HP mouse. Same for the rest.

I'm not even getting into the locked-down version of Windows that everyone gets to use. Even launching portable executables is technically against the rules, not that it stops anyone. Until a few years ago most websites were blocked, so it's getting better at least.

In general I think it's pretty ok, it's not really a big issue. That's how the industry is. But very few companies give a very good environment and good computer devices to their knowledge workers. You just need to adapt. Bringing your own devices help. You can choose not to, many do, and accept to spend 8 hours/day using what they give you.

I worked at a aerospace defense contractor 8 years ago and this tracks with my experience. The quality of the equipment is terrible as is the pay in comparison to jobs with similar qualifications. I understand the economics of why these jobs suck, but there's no reason to stay.

8 years ago I had to move from an area I liked to get a better job. It will be interesting to see what happens with the rise of more remote hiring.

I've been working most of the last 6 years at a rather small space company. After discussing work conditions with enough people who worked at other space companies, I'm pretty damn sure I'd never work in the space industry again after I leave here, lol.

I've heard stories about "water clubs" and "coffee clubs" because some companies are so cheap they don't even pay for bottled water machines - so the employees group together and pay for it themselves. Like WTF?! And a couple of these stories came from programmers too.

As far as I know, we get paid better, have free basics like that (there was free lunch before covid), and whenever we carry our equipment to test sites, it's usually several generations newer and better than anything else I see at those sites. It's kinda funny lol.

It's a bit of a golden handcuffs thing I suppose. The problem is even if they pay better than anyone else in the space industry, I could probably double my compensation by getting a job at google. Of course, landing an interview at google in itself seems nearly impossible.

Sometimes I wonder if having a space company on your resume is a bad mark for hiring managers at companies like google. It kinda feels that way. Like as if only the riff raff work at space companies. But there are a lot of us who just wanted to work on cool stuff lol.

The issue is that in my experience the entire aerospace/aeronautics sector is like that. As well as most industrial sectors. At least if I stay in Europe.

So changing that means doing something else than my studies and experience. And I like working on aircraft.

I don't really have complains about salaries though. I find it's pretty normal compared to other industries. It's pale in comparison to the US, but that's a matter of continent, not sector.

Oh nice. I've worked in aerospace too, on smaller parts and sensors (didn't require a large office/factory).

The office was somewhat compartmentalized with biometrics between some rooms, classic in aerospace/defense work. IMO we were at zero risk of having an open office plan or noisy neighbors because of the domain.

The higher manager believed in giving double displays to those who did EE (layout and routing). Eventually every engineers was officially doing that to qualify for the double displays.

We were buying a fair amount of parts/electronics/hardware as part of the activity, some of it rather expensive. It wasn't too difficult to slip displays into the larger orders and get them approved. I recall every test bench I made came de facto with a PC and dual IPS display in the bill of materials lol

Maybe things have gotten better but I worked at a couple of large engineering companies in London 5-10 years ago and cramped, shitty, open plan offices with cheap ancient hardware was very much the norm at every place I worked at and visited. Coming from offices in Norway and Sweden I was shocked at how terrible their working conditions where.

Incidentally I've worked in London for the past few years, in a bank. Every desk in the building is equipped with aeron chair and multiple monitors. Yes every single one in the whole skyscraper (10 000 employees).

That includes multiple floors full of developers. On our floor the entire department had quadruple monitors (24" IPS Dell UltraSharp monitors if you're interested). Allegedly we're privileged because the norm is only 3 monitors for developers, the story goes that when the department was opened almost 20 years ago the head decided that developers would get proper equipment or the department wouldn't be opened.

Back to Dell, many companies are simply procuring equipment from Dell. The most classic display they sell is the Dell UltraSharp 24" IPS display, which is really good and really affordable.

London is the biggest tech hub in Europe with the most tech companies, quite of few of which are very serious about equipment because tech culture. I've not seen a company that didn't have dual displays since I moved here. I can't imagine a company that can't buy a display if you tell them what do buy. I don't want to jump into "just leave your company" because it's a bad HN trope, especially in COVID times, but come on, if your company can't procure a display/chair you can find a better company.

Not every sector/location allows to find a "better company". We're not all superstar JS developers in a tech hub.

I believe a small increase in productivity per employee for a bank is worth a lot more than in most other industries. In my experience the quality of the equipment scales with the per employee profitability.

I've never worked for a place that prevented me from bringing my own chair, ottoman, keyboard and mouse. Usually I was the only person on the floor to do so, though.

Worked in London and your experience doesn’t reflect mine.

I had a somewhat different experience working in London (multiple clients) for the last 7 years. I guess it depends on the employer, but generally hardware / furniture is not that expensive compared to salaries and rent of the building in London, so things are decent quality.

Open office are an unfortunate reality, space is expensive.

I worked for a top-20 Fortune company (granted not software but we were still glued to our laptops the whole day) and the environment and equipment were exactly like OP described.

Almost every bank I've seen in 3 European county has something like this. Java middleware companies, same story. And these are big companies and they're not a few companies.

> countryside Europe [...] personal offices or small offices for 1-3 people

But of course there's more space in the countryside!

I’ve brought my own SSD and RAM to jobs that give you a bog-standard issue PC. Shhh.

This is the part that I don’t get, why must it be so hard to get proper tools for the job.

Having a fast NVMe disk, 16/32 GB of ram and a current generation (or previous generation) CPU should be the standard for a developer.

Apart from that there is the crappy office keyboard, mouse and all too small mousepad. Fortunately those things can be replaced without much issue.

Because many companies are run with a mix of cost and profit centers. If you run IT as a cost-center and allow bean-counters to “optimize” things, you can easily get outcomes like that.

Making a computer faster for a worker who isn’t on the critical path and who is almost never waiting on their computer doesn’t make sense. Most of accounting falls into one or both of those tests, so they could rightly decide to optimize for cost. They can then wrongly conclude that they’ve already solved that question universally and apply that solution to devs.

Even a lot of IT employees don’t care or don’t know. Some want to just order something that users won’t revolt over and make the deployment and warranty support a first consideration.

I have to say employees are just as silly sometimes.

All my life I've always just bought the stuff I need and took it to work.

No matter where I've worked it was 1/100th the hassle to do that rather than figure out how to go through channels.

I've also tried stuff and ditched it a few weeks later and tried something else.

this applies to lots of things at work -- who cares if the office pens are free - they suck.

I have to agree with you. I mean, I won't buy a computer to use at work, but if I don't like the office mouse and keyboard, I'll just order on Amazon and be done with that.

Well. I don’t expect doctors to bring their own scalpel, construction workers their own hammers, firefighters their own hoses.

If you want to employ me, please provide me with the tools to do the job properly. An ergonomic keyboard, mouse, chair and desk are a given. A nice display is a bonus.

Especially when it comes to ergonomics I don’t understand employers, an engineer going on leave for a week because of RSI / back pains, is way more expensive.

> construction workers their own hammers

Aren't most construction workers expected to provide their own basic tools? The contractor usually provides specialty tools and power tools, but when I did demolition, I certainly brought my own hammer.

Yeah, almost all tradespeople do so. Part of an apprenticeship is building up your toolbox.

IT is different though, because the tools are the repository for the delivery also.

Ditto. Sometimes I'll expense things if they're not too expensive and it's clearly something I need rather than I want--and is directly connected to my job. But I'm paid well enough that I really don't care if I spend money over the course of a year that makes me more productive/comfortable. Frankly, that money probably comes back to me in various ways.

This is a pet peeve of mine. Engineers make 100k+ a year and wouldn't pay for 10$ a month for a productivity tool unless they could expense it.

Expense reports aren't that difficult. I will buy something using my own money if necessary, but I'll try expensing it first. Usually that goes through, and it's saved me thousands of dollars over the years.

Yet it feels very common to see employers buy subpar equipment, because they either don't understand how much of a difference it makes, or it "costs too much" to give every developer higher quality tools.

I'm also in the camp of preferring to work from home with my triple high-res monitor setup, good chair, height adjustable table, ergonomic keyboard/mouse, and so on.

I dread the day I'll have to go back to the office.

It does cost too much for everyone. Unless you are a starting startup (<$10M in revenue) I bet you could request better hardware for yourself rather than expect it for everyone.

Now that you say this, I wonder what the threshold is for size/revenue of a company that does prioritize computing equipment and accessories. Every public company I have worked for have cared about ergonomics. Below $50M in revenue/100 employees I’ve found it difficult to request certain equipment (sit-stand desk for example)

The startups I have worked at went out of their way to get top-end equipment for everyone, and especially developers or engineers. They knew they had to move fast.

Why is it so hard to explain to employers the value of using 2 displays ?

I’ve found that it’s because it’s all-but-impossible to quantify in numbers. Secondarily, it’s because the person doing the signoff doesn’t agree with you. You know that person, the one who prefers to work from his laptop on a conference table.

My company provides 2 displays. But I'm the only dev that doesn't use the second display. I tried it for a month and it was tiresome. I had to move my head to often, I also always maximize my windows so maybe it is useful to those that don't.

I would much more prefer a big screen (30 inch?) instead of two 24 inch. But unfortunately my Corp doesn't have such options. I would much more prefer

I have a dual monitor setup at home--one landscape (iMac) and one portrait. This is basically the same setup I've used for more than a decade. (I tried 3 monitors once and it was too much.) However, if I were starting over without a built-in monitor, I would seriously look at one of the big/wide curved screen monitors. A number of people I know prefer those to dual monitors.

On the flip side, it is nice to have one screen with video conferencing set up to be as near the camera as possible. But I actually tend to do notes and so forth on a laptop while I'm conferencing because my mechanical keyboard on my desktop is very loud.

I have this same problem, i never use the second screen. I got my self a 27inch 4k monitor. I can have windows next to each other if i need to. more then enough space for my self. Anything else i would need to move everything to far back and I would start to need my glasses, or like you said constantly be moving my head

Switching from dual monitors to 1 34” ultrawidescreen has definitely improved the ergonomics of it.

> I dread the day I'll have to go back to the office.

Unless you have a real vote in the decision, then the the best move, is to accept either result. Otherwise you saddle yourself with the mental and emotional baggage and clutter.

I suppose this is easier said than done, but worth the effort in converting the dread to acceptance.

This is just some random opinion on the internet of course.

Or perhaps simply change your place of employment for a place that has both remote work as the preferred way of getting things done (if that's what you prefer) and has actually established the culture around working remotely efficiently (like embracing asynchronous communications, for example).

While figuring out the latter would take some first-hand experience of reading the accounts of others, the former is easier to filter companies by, for example:

- https://github.com/yanirs/established-remote

- https://weworkremotely.com/top-remote-companies

- https://remotemasters.dev/fully-remote-companies

- https://remotemasters.dev/remote-first-companies

Of course, those are just the links that a quick Google search turned over, some job ad sites also have filters for remote/on-site positions etc.

There is no reason to settle for something you deem to be sub par, unless you feel more comfortable that way (since people have valid complaints about the hiring practices in ICT nowadays), which is also okay.

Agreed that good equipment is a worthwhile investment, but unfortunately most companies don't see it that way. I'm now in management and get issued a standard option 13" Macbook Pro or Dell XPS13 as my system at both my current and prior company, both of which I'm permanently remote. That honestly does the trick because other than how shitty Electron is for memory consumption, I don't do the things as a manager that require extra equipment and I'm at home anyway so have my entire array of personal equipment as well. Prior to that, I was an engineer, and it was a struggle to get a proper setup.

One company, several employers back, I brought my own equipment in and nobody said anything. I had my own desktop PC, monitors, mouse, keyboard, and chair in the office and other than the unplugged PC asset tag assigned to me sitting in the corner, I returned everything else to the supply closet. I eventually (after 3 years of using my own) was forced to use company issued equipment. Here was the contrast, the box I brought in to use was a quad-core proc with hyperthreading and had 32GB of RAM, and four SSDs in RAID10 w/ a decentish GPU driving 4 24" 1920x1200 IPS displays. The box I was assigned (3 years later) was a dual-core proc w/ HT, 8GB of RAM, and a 500GB 5200rpm HDD, with onboard video that only supported two displays. The two displays provided were 19" TN panels.

I invest in quality equipment at home, but many, if not most, employers do not. They may think they do, but they don't. It's 2020, I consider 64GB of RAM in a engineer's system a good target, 32GB a minimum. Most developer systems I see are lucky to have 16GB of RAM these days (often the maximum offered in laptops issued). Meanwhile, at home I have a max spec desktop PC less than 3 years old, multiple 4K displays, Herman Miller chair, an electric drive sit/stand desk, split ergonomic mechanical keyboard, an ergonomic mouse, a mini-split AC/heater in a separate room in a house with a door I can close, and in my closet a small rack of servers I can use w/ distcc to accelerate builds.

The great irony is that box I used at the office many years ago (8 or 9 years old), is still superior to what's issued as normal engineer equipment at most companies in the US, and I've since moved on to better systems at home, again. The poster you're replying to is largely correct. I love working from home partly because of no commute, but also because I can equip myself to my standards, which are much higher than the standards of a corporate IT department with accounting looking over their shoulder.

Most companies don't allow you to do work on non-corporate computers, for intellectual property/security reasons. They might not figure out anything is amiss if you merely add some parts to the computer they provide you, but that's about it. Our corporate network is locked down and you can't add random computers to it -- if something unexpected does get plugged in, someone in IT will be by eventually to see what the hell it is (and in the mean time, that computer is only getting guest network access).

>Most companies don't allow you to do work on non-corporate computers, for intellectual property/security reasons.

I'm genuinely curious how common that is these days. I certainly work on personal computers and a lot of people I know seem to do so as well.

Let me clarify my statement: Most *employees work at companies that don't allow you to ...

Yes, I'm sure most startups are lax, but big corporations are not, and there's way more engineers in total working at big corps than at startups. When I said "companies" I didn't have startups in mind.

It definitely depends on industry. In the healthcare and finance space, that's been the case. But in other parts of the industry, including at most tech startups, BYOD has been acceptable. Many places use NAC + policy scans to validate your personal equipment meets their policy bar (and you may need to run a specific piece of agent software to be allowed on the network), but other than that they seem to not care much.

My last job was like this, but they didn't care if people brought in their own equipment. I brought in an inexpensive mechanical keyboard, a nice mouse, some decent speakers and a headset, then requisitioned a second monitor from the surplus room. Granted, I had my own office so the noise bothering other people wasn't an issue. I would wager many places wouldn't allow bringing in your own equipment, but unless it's explicitly prohibited, I would happily spend a few hundred for a day to day quality of life improvement.

Software is another big thing overlooked by a lot of companies, in my experience. I've bought a Jetbrains account to use for my development because the effective $12.50/month I spend on it is nothing in comparison to the productivity benefit I get from it.

Common at businesses where devs work at a "cost center" and not everyone gets to work at a FAANG shop unfortunately.

Even at FAANGs you get to work on cramped desks in a noisy environment, trust me.

I think you mean that the workplace sounds subpar... or do you think it makes the commenter's work product of poor quality, too?

Yes of course, the workplace.

Why not take a keyboard and mouse into the office? That issue at least is easy to fix.

(I have a couple of colleagues who brought their own keyboards. We'd buy a decent keyboard for anyone who wants one, but they already had them from previous jobs with people who wouldn't do this.)

Indeed, bringing your own keyboard and mouse if necessary should be a nobrainer. Though having the employer pay for those things would be even better, but it’s not always the case.

I've been bringing my own keyboard and mouse for years. My current employer would buy at least an ergonomic keyboard for those that want it, but they aren't going to drop $200 on my mechanical keyboard for everyone, and I think that's pretty fair.

Given what they’re paying in salaries it seems like a silly thing to try and save on.

Like, everyone has their own preferences, so besides getting some that are not shitty, it's hard to choose something that everyone will like.

I, for example, absolutely hate mechanical keyboards with those tall keys, as I get hand/wrist/elbow pain from using them. And the mouse has to be as weightless as possible.

Considering companies usually have to decide on only 1 or 2 options to negotiate buying in bulk, it's hard to offer multiple options. Unless they give you like $100 when you start to buy whatever you want.

> - At home I have an ergonomic mechanical keyboard vs. a cheap rubber dome keyboard that kept running out of batteries at work.

> - An ergonomic mouse, vs. a tiny mouse that doesn't even have a back button.

This might be surprising, but you can bring your own keyboard and mouse to the office. Perhaps even get your employer to pay for them.

I've done this with every office I ever worked at. Dear employer I love you but my hands are my bread-and-butter and they trump your office standards. My hands, my peripherals. You're welcome to pitch in. If you have a problem with me using custom gear, bye.

I have no doubt this is true and has been for me at every place I worked since I got into this field in the 90s. Except when I did an on-site contract for a government department. They would not allow this. I had to make a spreadsheet to show the stakeholder that the computer they had provided was costing them $x a day for me to just sit there watching a build. They did replace the computer.

At one place I worked at years ago, I think ergonomics was the magic keyword to unlock a nice work environment.

I know this because one of my coworkers went from a shitty pc104 keyboard to a dedicated keyboard tray an expensive kinesis keyboard and a trackball mouse.

I suspect there must have been RSI problems they had to pay out on.

For me, I had 2 external monitors at the office vs 1 at home.

Snacks, fruits, beverages, espresso machine at work vs buy and prepare what I want at home (which has a cost, and demands time)

Ironically also, office was quieter. I can always hear (and feel) the upstairs neighbour walking around, even with noise cancelling headphones. The little noise at the office was way easier to ignore.

And using the bathroom at home, means I have to clean the bathroom more often.

> Working in silence

Nice if you have a detached house in a quiet neighbourhood. Try an apartment in a busy area, you'll be wearing noise cancelling headphones too!

With few exception, it's still not as noisy as having colleagues talking next to you.

my office had people taking calls at their desk... some landscapers here and there, or a crappy dog barking or a passing conversation are nothing compared to that nightmare. add in the constant clicking of everyone's mechanical keyboards

I'm in an apartment near a busy street and it's pretty quiet when the windows are closed.

Single pane life over here. It’s never quiet. And I don’t live on a busy street. I live in a relatively quiet suburb in the bay. However, there is a war being raged by crows and squirrels right now. It’s quite obnoxious. Cheap landlords...

I'll trade that for my upstairs neighbours that walk on their heels. I can feel them walking

I made the similar trade. It is better. Just saying it isn’t perfect. I’m in a horrible in-law unit that used to be a small workshop.

When this whole COVID home-office thing started my apartment building started construction on building two more floors. It's been miserable 3 months of home office to tell the least

My company had the same next to the head office for over a year. New building going in next door. Jack hammers 24/7/365. Can happen anywhere urban.

I think big point is that, even if you have a very good office, this means that you employer just shifted the office costs from themselves to you. Depending on where you live, this might add up to several hundreds of dollars per month. This might be OK with some people, but it is definitely an additional cost for workers.

I always bring in my own KB and mouse. Life's too short to be dicking with supplied sub-par operating equipment.

Also, oftentimes your work-office experience and home-office experience are inversely correlated. Before the pandemic, the tradeoff was to live in the city in a cramped space to be close to the office (and other amenities), or to live further away with a lot more space, but have to deal with a commute.

The people who chose proximity are still paying high rent, but have lost the benefits, and are now trying to make do with laptops on their couches. The people who chose space have big desks, two monitors, comfortable chairs, and now don't have a soul crushing commute anymore.

The change in circumstances hits very differently based on what (perfectly valid) choices you made earlier.

That's a well reasoned comment.

I'm 'of that age' where I have a large-ish house, and hence a large, well equipped study. I don't much like my work office. It's on the top end of 'good': spacious, well equipped, light, modern, free snacks, etc. But... and it's a big but, it's open plan. And noisy. With people eating at their desks, talking, interrupting you and so on.

But I still miss it. The last nine months has taught me that whilst I work fine from home, I thought I'd be completely happy like that, but I'm not. And I'm surprised by that. I want to go back to the office, but not for 9-5, 5 days a week. Once a week will be fine.

Seems like you don't miss the office, but you miss the social aspect.

A good office would allow you to work in peace when you need to. For a programmer, this would be maybe 50-80% of the time. This is where the monitors and keyboards and chairs are. Personal tools and personal space.

But, there should be enough opportunity to socialize when you feel like it; ranging from sofas and coffee machines and team lunches to pool tables and movie clubs and parties and gardens and tennis courts and dinners and skiing trips or whatever.

Universities tend to be pretty good in this sort of thing, actually. You get a room. With total isolation. You also get a vibrant community of smart people with varying interests and a huge range of activities to pick from.

Most of us aren't hermits, after all. Many programmers living in cubicle hell may think they hate people, but maybe they just hate the interruptions and loosing control of their concentration.

I think this hard separation between work areas and social areas in an office would eliminate a lot of the social advantages of the office.

Who wants to be seen as the one always in the social area not working while on the clock? Plus, who would consciously choose to get their socialization from work instead of their personal friends? I think office socialization has to be coincidental or it just won't happen at all.

I think that model works better in university settings because the students have such disjoint schedules, they need those amenities to keep students occupied between classes.

I am not a proponent for hard separation either; I would prefer to have a sofa and a coffee machine and white board in my room and have colleagues stroll in when the door is open. It would not always be open, though.

That "appearing as not working while on the clock" is, to me, a foreign fear, and not something I've ever really experienced at the places I've worked in. I know that I (and the teams I've been part of) have been plenty productive without pressure to put in the hours. I think that a culture of putting in the hours would have been counterproductive, in fact. My work has not been flipping burgers, but designing and creating complex systems. It doesn't work out that well under time pressure.

> Seems like you don't miss the office, but you miss the social aspect.

Absolutely. Just being able to chat with colleagues when grabbing a coffee exposes so much more of 'what's going on' than you can ever find out looking at git logs, slack channels and wikis.

This comment really resonates with me. The difference for me is that we have an amazing office space, comfortable chairs, big desks and monitors and ample space. But, it's open plan and extremely noisy, with interruptions being frequent. It's not a space that allows deep work. I feel that 1 or 2 days in the office would make for a healthy harmony between work and life. We also really need to rethink working hours.

I completely share the sentiment. But I don’t see a world where companies keep on paying for their office spaces only to have their employees go there once or twice a week.

I was thinking about this, and I could see it working if they downgrade to a smaller office without permanent seating. Try to figure out roughly what percent of total employees would come in on average.

This is what my company is planning. They plan on having a website where we can schedule office time with an open desk if and when we want or need to go in.

I do. I think something like this could become a competitive differentiator (smoother collaboration when you need it) and recruiting tool.

I can agree with this.

Previously (at Google, Sunnyvale) I was paying $1,700 for my share of a 2x2 apartment with a one-way commute of 20 minutes during odd hours to over an hour during peak hours. This gave me a desk in an open floor plan with nominally disruptive neighbors while still fielding messages on chat and meetings I would have to walk to that could be in other buildings (or, albeit rarely, campuses). Free food and drink, a gym I was too weary to use, a pool that was often too cold to use, and the view of construction that was going up faster than my code thanks to constant changes from different levels of management.

Now, at a remote company, I'm paying $1,700 for a 2x2 to myself, a dedicated room for work, dedicated setup, no commute, the only distraction is occasionally my upstairs neighbor, a heated pool, a gym I'm able to use after one of my very few meetings, and non-free food but a full kitchen to work with during work hours.

I do miss my coworkers and some of the fun face-to-face interactions, don't get me wrong, but not enough to give up the relative paradise I've gotten in exchange. While it can get lonely at times I do also get to spend many (many, many) hours online with friends playing games; if not for covid I'd be going out or having friends over often as well.

All this to say that despite all this, I still respect that others don't share a similar set of options and/or circumstances. Those who have geographic ties, others living with them, space constraints, amenities that are hard to replicate, or just straight miss their peers, and many other variables I haven't considered. My personal paradise may be their hell and I respect that, and hopefully they can return to their normal while I can also keep what I have.

You’re absolutely right, and the interesting thing is going to be how many people recognize their own personal preferences past their current circumstances, and make changes to optimize that.

In my case, I had a small apartment within walking distance of $WORK. The office at $WORK was ... ok. Not as bland as the finance office I used to work at in Chicago, but a bit cramped and poorly provisioned on things like coffee. On the immediate benefits front, working from the office would be an obvious choice for me, even if it’s not the best office I’ve ever worked from. But we decided that we loved WFH so much that we left the city and bought a good sized house in a less populated area. We each now have our own office that we can customize to our hearts desire. Oh, and our COL dropped, a lot.

The other bit that you didn’t mention, and that is intimately connect to my story is the factor of cities. As of last year (who knows how this will change) most software jobs were in large cities. If you happen to enjoy living in cities, this is really good news for you, but for everyone else this creates a tough series of trade offs between preferred living arrangements and career needs. In retrospect it’s fairly clear that we lived in Cities purely for the career advancement reasons; we didn’t enjoy the noise nor did we take advantage of the culture opportunities (food, drink, etc.) that cities offered. All we got in exchange was higher wages, smaller and more expensive housing, and longer commutes to the activities we preferred to do. This new arrangement suits us much better in retrospect, even if we didn’t come to that conclusion in say 2019.

>most software jobs were in large cities

I'm not true that is necessarily true. Most software jobs were in large metros. But, in the Boston area for example, I suspect most software jobs are still outside the city. (They were essentially 100% outside the city 20 years ago.) The same is almost certainly true of the Bay Area; most of the software jobs are not in SF proper.

That’s a fair point, although I’ll point out that the legal definition of a city and what is commonly considered the city tend to vary a lot. LA is legally much smaller than what most people would call LA.

That being said, this doesn’t change my argument much for two reasons. First, “you have to live within commuting distance of downtown” isn’t that much different from “you have to live within commuting distance of this suburb”. The nearby suburbs of some of these metro areas are still pretty darned expensive and congested compared to the rest of America. Second, the zone of reasonable commutes is much smaller still if you have a spouse who works in another area, or if you’re liable to change jobs in the next few years. And of course the housing centers with reasonable commutes to all possible job centers tend to be expensive.

I just wanted to add an another perspective. I had a great private office with a door that closed, and a quiet work environment. My home office is also a nice dedicated room and well equipped.

Even in the quietest office noises would get to me. I would always have to fight to focus on work. At the end of the day I was spent.

Working from home full time, even with my family here 24/7 has been incredibly relaxing. I really, really don't want to ever go back.

I moved during the pandemic and went from an awful to pretty great home office setup.

It's much better, don't get me wrong, but I'm surprised at how much I still miss the office. It's all about the people for me. I had no idea how much energy I got from the team and being together in the same space, even as a fairly introverted technologist. Remote communication technology is nowhere close to being able to replicate that. It's one of those things you don't realize is missing until it's gone.

I'm hoping to be able to continue with some hybrid of WFH and in-office post pandemic. However, if I had to pick one, I'd choose in-office no doubt -- even with my fancy home office.

I'd propose adding another axis which is the amount of experience you have in a company or in your industry in general.

My+other new hires onboarding has been very difficult.

Outside of scheduling specific times to do deep dives on certain pieces of the stack it's very difficult to pickup new things because everyone is relatively bubbled. (This is compounded by the fact that everything is a microservice lol)

If you're a senior engineer and you already have a solid workstream I can definitely see the productivity increase from WFH, but for people just starting out it's a nightmare sometimes.

I built a proper home office with a built in desk and electric chroma key roller shade.

My drive for socialization has been pushed to friends and family. No more work talk off the clock.

To say my qualify of life has increased by a order of magnitude is an understatement

Full disclosure: I have misophonia and also detest office smells.

Very True. I've seen a huge spread in quality from my colleagues which definatley impacts opinions on WFH.

For me we built an office in our garden around 5 years ago. Good size, ethernet connected from the house. Kids came along around 3 years ago and I was hardly using it (wife wouldn't let me escape so easy!) now it's been a lifesaver since March, by far one of the best investments I have made.

Having said all this I do miss the office, I just don't need to be there 5 days a week.

For the two weeks before I had to WFH at my current job (I joined in February), I had my own office in an extremely beautiful tech HQ building.

That office was hella nice, but I'm still far happier at home. I don't think my home office is all that nice, but I simply value the freedom given to me from WFH far more than the "benefits" of the office.

Those dimensions are also far from fixed. We've optimised our lives with these tradeoffs in mind. If the office we work at is very good maybe we've selected a smaller appartment in a trendier area with more things to do at night. If there's now nothing to do at night because of lockdowns and the same appartment makes for a poor office during the day, misery ensues.

As companies make remote work a bigger possibility we'll optimize differently and a lot of people will be better off after adjusting. This situation has also disproportionately benefited those that already leaned towards that way and left the others hanging. But that's a shorter term issue.

I'm in a studio apartment with every distraction I could possibly imagine (most of my own design since before this I'd just come here just to rest and recharge) the first few months were rough and overall I really prefer the office. The only thing working from home has done for me in terms of work is give me some more flexibility and prepared me for how to block out the distractions for when I move on to my own thing full time next week but I can count on my hand the number of times I've been in flow since the pandemic and work from home started and that is significantly less frequent then in an environment where work is the primary objective.

It's really very jarring and I've resulted to some newer/crazier things to get it back. For instance I work in VR often now and that blocking out the distractions/tricking my brain in to "being in" a work place is really great. I also have a different seat for when I'm working on the day job versus my startup vs relaxing. Finally I stopped listening to music recently as I've read it actually can hurt focus and that's been working too.

The thing is at least with my current job the office space was really comfortable, I'd move around often between couches and private spaces as needed people wouldn't interrupt too often and I would go out for lunch to give myself a mental break. Still figuring out the mental break part again.

Curious about your "work in VR" comment - what is your setup?

I have been trying to do this with my Oculus Quest 1 but the resolution just seems to low / rendering quality too poor. I can see the potential for the future though and am very curious if a Quest 2 gets over a significant hump in terms of these problems.

I'm using the Quest2 with ImmersedVR -- I find that it's more than enough for me and I can work for a few hours before I feel like I need to take a VR break. The headset is light enough that I don't super notice the weight and I find the text quality is pretty good.

> Your office can be place where you still have the option to work uninterrupted but also get the benefits of face-to-face interaction, casual exposure to work ideas, better meetings, having all the equipment you need, separating work and personal life.

It /can/ be, if your company isn't in the "Because Google Did It", cost savings masquerading and spun as "collaborative" open office plan cult.

I like being at an office for face to face things, but as a developer I need uninterrupted time and the "new fad" offices don't provide it.

But your point is well taken; I'm fortunate enough that my job can afford me a house that's too big for me to live in, (mind, I have also decided to live not "in the city", where things are actually affordable) so I have a complete room as a home-office, with a restroom, and whatever supplies I need.

But that's also by choice; I CHOSE to give up being near a lot of restaurants and offices and short commutes, so that I could have this.

Working from home has been great for me but I still miss going to the office sometimes to get a little change in my day and get lunch with coworkers. And I definitely miss the workday being over when I walk out of there. I’ve been better about that lately but it was such a clear separation to walk and take transport back versus now I’ll move a few feet.

We were already half remote where we go in a couple of days a week and I liked that mix

One interesting point that stood out for me was that within an office, almost all workers have access to similar resources. In that the work place acts as a level-playing field regardless of if you're a fresh graduate or someone who has family and kids.

There is and always will be variance in the quality of your work space, whether that is at an office or within your own home.

When people say "I enjoy working from home", most attribute to the being able to focus in your comfortable area, lack of noise, no need to commute during rush hour, and many other widely common cons that is associated with working at an office.

The consensus of wfh vs office should take place with the following question:

given ideal situation for both scenario which one would you choose?

Because, having a loud roommate in your house does not represent the general public and is actually what I would consider an "outlier" in this particular consensus.

I believe serious remote workers should optimize their home working environment. It is an investment. But the problem is most people was forced to working remotely without any preparation and motivation - people end up complaining remote working while working with laptop in the couch.

I have a chair which is suits me perfectly, a big standing desk which is not wobbling at all, and 3 monitors with premium stands which are tuned just for me. It's much easier for a remote worker to setup everything that suits you, and it's much harder to adjust workplaces to make everybody happy.

Yup, exactly. And to make the waters even more muddy, some of it just boils down to personal preference. My office was open-plan, but my section of it was always relatively quiet, so it usually wasn't difficult to focus and get work done, even without headphones. It was nice to see my teammates and do 1-on-1 meetings actually face to face, in person, and to run into other colleagues and have an impromptu chat, either about work or non-work topics. I had a 30-minute walk to/from the office that helped me clear my head and get ready to start the day, or wind down and end my day.

Even then, pre-pandemic, I preferred to work from home most of the time, even though I didn't have a desk at home. Turns out I just like being home during the day, and like being able to take little short breaks here and there, without feeling weird about it at an office. And even though our office wasn't too bad with random interruptions, I liked having essentially zero interruptions at home.

Fortunately we (coincidentally) moved into a larger space a few days before SF's shelter-in-place order back in March, and now have a dedicated office room with an adjustable desk and monitor (a big thanks to my employer for providing reimbursement for some home-office expenses this year). Pre-pandemic, my partner did go into the office most of the time, and I don't think the two of us would have been comfortable in the old place (a loft with no doors and walls), working and taking Zoom meetings every workday. (But I easily recognize that if we had kids, neither space would have been great for permanent working from home.)

Sometimes it's hard to recognize that everyone's situation really is different (as you point out), and that even people with similar situations can just have different preferences and attitudes that can make them productive and happy with some setups, and unfocused and uneasy with others.

I think we also need to remember that this is not a standard shift to working from home. We're doing this as part of a global pandemic that has nerves frayed and has put a lot of other restrictions on our day-to-day lives. I expect that many people who are having issues working from home due to social/collaboration reasons would have fewer complaints if there was no pandemic and they could get their social interaction from hanging out with friends at their houses or in public places. And many who previously worked at an office 5 days a week, every week, and miss the office, might be happy in normal times working from home anywhere from 1-4 days a week, getting their "office fix" on the other day(s).

Sure, I was once working at a job and had the perfect office. Awesome setup, one room for me, fun colleagues, good eating options. Unfortunately in the middle of nowhere and career progression counted in decades not years. It's all about tradeoffs. The likelihood to get it all is quite low though, also considering real estate prices.

You can't have uninterrupted but also get the benefits of face-to-face interaction.

Those face to face interactions or the hallway discussions are the thing that prevents the first.

I think you have the wrong understanding. There are plenty of reasons one can prefer to work at the office instead of remotely. It is not because you like it, that anyone is liking it. We are all humans we are different.

This article is an opinion piece, and judging by how many people are upvoting it, it seems like it resonate with a lot of people. The same way a remote post blog will also attract tons of upvote.

There are no best setup for everyone, there is a different best setup for each one of us.

> Your office can be place where you still have the option to work uninterrupted

That used to be the case many, many years ago, before the "open floor plan" debacle.

It's not the case anymore.

I'd like to think that after the nth discussion of this topic we could all generally agree:

- Some people prefer working in an office environment. There are valid reasons for this, and it's totally fine.

- Other people prefer working at home, and this is also completely fine and understandable.

- People other than yourself who experience challenges with either one of these arrangements are not idiots and the things they talk about are genuine issues that they experience, which are unlikely to be effectively solved by suggestions like "you are doing it wrong" or "get a new job".

- Not everybody out there is in the same situation as you with regards to living arrangements, family commitments and so on. Solutions that seem obvious and easy to you are unattainable for others.

My hope at least is that the experiences we've all had over the past year will help to make work more flexible and inclusive, so that we can take all of the above into account. In particular, is seems inevitable that companies should stop adopting an inflexible "no remote work" policy and instead make it easier for people to work from anywhere.

I'd love to see some new and creative approaches – like companies using their newfound remote-friendliness to make it feasible to spin up small branch offices in co-working spaces, so that workers' commutes can be reduced but they still get an office environment if it's helpful for them.

I agree with the sentiment of your creative approach. I think a good middle ground is having offices in neighbourhoods, within walking/cycling distance where people from different companies come to work. They get the benefit of social interaction, "getting out of the house", and avoid a car journey.

Living in the UK, I think that would also help restore the feeling of community, as a gathering point for people within a local area.

Personally I prefer working from home and have done so for 20 years, almost all my working life- but I understand why people have reasons for preferring an alternative.

Offices are in office districts in places like London for a reason: many people will join the job not living near the office, those people will be all over town, and of course the housing prices nearby might not be to their liking (or the neighborhood amenities, for that matter).

An office district allows people to get to the office expediently from homes all over town, or even in the next town over, because all the trains and buses are routes to take people there.

(Other cities in the UK may vary, but how many of them are tech hubs?)

> An office district allows people to get to the office expediently from homes all over town

You've clearly not commuted in and out of London at rush-hour/peak-time then. I REALLY don't miss that. Most days an advertised 30 minute train journey would take 50 minutes and unless you got on the train at it's starting point, that's 50 minutes of standing with your face in someones armpit.

> You've clearly not commuted in and out of London at rush-hour/peak-time then.

Not only have I done that, I've put up with the Southern strikes. Still far better to go into the center of town than to go to some random spot on a different edge of town.

Not sure if you misunderstood my point as I meant people would work from their own neighbourhood, not specific ones for specific companies.

Expedient really is relative. Some people go from 1.5h of commute to 30 and are happy, others go from 30 to 1h. I have friends in London with commutes across the spectrum.

It's easier to switch your job than find a suitable apartment with an "expedient" commute.

I personally feel that part of the benefit of the office is sometimes being able to unite against the common enemy that is your employer.

I very much agree. If you like working in the office, then work in the office, and if you prefer working at home, then work at home. We need to be inclusive of people, and let them work the way _they_ best feel productive.

It is unfortunate that people think that it has to be either one or the other.

> If you like working in the office, then work in the office

The thing many people like about the office is that other people are there. This is not just for socializing reasons - for example, junior employees might like more senior ones around to have casual conversations and learn from. So the ones among us that like the office do not just want to be there - they want others to be also there.

> So the ones among us that like the office do not just want to be there - they want others to be also there.

I mean... too bad? Speaking as someone who prefers to work from home, I hope those people realize that their desire to co-locate with their peers doesn't supersede our desire to work solo. As they say, "it takes two to tango."

I for one am glad that many companies that would normally never consider remote work are now doing so. While I don't have data to back this up, I'd wager that the average company implements co-location more out of reflex or habit than due to a careful comparison of all possible work arrangements.

It's not just about your desire or someone else's desire. It's also about what is best for the company, and in the case of junior engineers learning the tricks of the trade, best for the next generation of tech workers.

I know the directors of a game dev studio who unequivocally admit going remote has increased communication across teams and their studio productivity went up. Keep in mind game devs need close collaboration, yet it's working. There are techniques that have come up to make remote-work work well.

So the directors are looking to maximize work flexibility, by experimenting with just going to the office once or twice a week or something after the vaccine.

Like my dentist told me a few days ago, universal 9-5PM at an office is long gone (and this is a dentist saying that!)

I think part of the issue, atleast within companies, it does need to be either or. An empty office often isn't any better than WFH for many folk. So if in your company you're in the minority then you might need to get a new job.

There's also the effect of the industry. While flexible working is great (I could already role out of bed and decide to WFH whenever before covid) there's a chance companies might cut back on offices or force bullshit like hot desking.

In the long run I think this'll turn out for the best and the OP is right to be optimistic. But in the short run there may be a lot of turmoil.

> An empty office often isn't any better than WFH for many folk.

That is really their problem. You can't force people to come to the office because you want it "hustling and bustling".

We can debate separately if companies should force people back to office.

But in this case it is an either or. If the advantage of the office comes from being around your team and colleagues then it very much is an either or between home working or everyone being in the office.

It's not wholly binary--maybe 2 scheduled days a week will work for both many of the people who would just as soon mostly work from home and those who want to be in an office with their team. But, in general, yes. A "you can come into an office if you want" policy is probably not going to be very satisfactory for someone who wants a co-located team and much of their team chooses not to come in most days or even live in the same area.

As I've said before, as this shakes out over the next year or two, I suspect a fair number of people who can do so will end up choosing jobs based on remote policies and how companies operate in practice.

> I suspect a fair number of people who can do so will end up choosing jobs based on remote policies and how companies operate in practice.

I think so as well, and honestly I think this is the best outcome. Every company doesn't have to be everything for everyone.

Ya, I used to hate working form home and HATED when my co-workers would (fortunately that wasn't very often). However, I'm LOVING it now that everyone is working from home. I find it crazy awkward when just one or two people are on a screen. It's hard to describe why but I know it's a common feeling. I've even heard of mixed office/remote teams will do all meeting over video chat, even the ones in the office, as it puts everyone on the same level.

Yes, at least one of the teams I worked with--where admittedly most people were remote--had a pre-COVID policy whereby if anyone was calling in remote, everyone had to use their own screen. No calling in from a conference room.

>there's a chance companies might cut back on offices or force bullshit like hot desking.

That seems inevitable at any company where a lot of people aren't using their space most of the time. A company isn't going to indefinitely maintain dedicated space at 25% utilization. Not to say they can't maintain some dedicated space for people who do want to come in 80% of the time. But I expect post-COVID, many offices will look very different although I don't expect many companies to go fully remote.

> inevitable that companies should stop adopting an inflexible "no remote work" policy

That's an optimistic take. I can totally see this or that manager having a horrible time at home, and as soon as he's back to the office, instituting a "next time we'll rather die here" policy where they stock up on masks and canned food and build a bunker-like environment that he'll never have to leave again.

In the end, execs already worked from wherever they liked. They set up certain policies because they thought they were more productive for the hoi polloi. I don't think the pandemic changed much in that regard, sadly.

I think office work should be an option companies provide, and it should be like an AirOffice, floating, in co-working or "business center" office space, or even ad-hoc such as at such and such a cool, wifi, remote work friendly cafe. I think this is the future of work and that's how I want to run my company when it employs people. I had this idea since around 2010/2011.

I know this won't work for everything. Factories obviously need to be staffed (so far). But for 'knowledge work' we should be able to work anywhere, including, if the need arises, to rent private digs and all get together in person.

Would that be similar to WeWork? I'd want to be in an office with my actual colleagues rather than remote working from a co-working space.

I don't know about them, but if you worked for me and the team you were on agreed, we'd rent you a dedicated office. At the same time, if team wanted to go full remote, or cowork we'd support that. Sort of like how Apple used to take over buildings for a project.

Another idea i had about this was we could also consider RE investment. If we had the cash and the investment made sense, we'd actually buy the floor or whatever, and once our project no longer needed it, we'd rent. I like the idea that overtime the business converts some of its cash into RE, that can act as a buffer for the rest of our income.

Yeah I think there is a pretty huge gap between most people's office/home differences, and what the OP misses:

> I miss occasional after-work drinks at the sky bar with the $18 well drinks that we always convinced management to pay for.

It just took me a dozen emails, 6 phone calls, and 2 tedious in face conversations to get accounting to buy me a single AAAA battery - not AA, not AAA, but AAAA, yes I'm sure, AAAA, yes I only need one. So yeah I don't miss my office.

So. I have to ask, why? A pair seems to be $6 on Amazon. Why wouldn't one simply order it and expense it? And even if expensing weren't possible for some reason, was it really worth your time?

Of course, but at a certain point you think "how many more times can I possibly have to re-confirm this?" and you just let it run its course. To top it off, they bought 2 2-packs. The last battery lasted me 4 years so I guess they're invested until 2036.

> I'd like to think that after the nth discussion of this topic we could all generally agree:

It's either this or the neverending "How do I become more creative", "How do I become more productive", "Tricks to stop using your smartphone", etc...

I think an important thing to keep in mind is that the past 8 months aren't really a good indicator of what working remotely is really like. I've worked remotely for the past 4 years, and this year has easily been the most difficult and most unlike typical remote work:

- Normally, I'd try to mix up my day and get some socialization in by going to a co-working space 1-2 times a week.

- I had a lot of freedom to catch up with friends after work, or over lunch, and while that's not impossible in 2020, it's very different (it's a much smaller group, always outside, and never over food or drinks - mostly just a walk or something like that).

- I had much more freedom to travel (YMMV depending on your work, but I would work remotely from a cottage, or a nearby city sometimes if I was meeting up with someone - even a couple of times from more exotic locales).

- For gigs where an office was close by, I still had the option to pop in once in a while, and for really remote jobs, I still tended to have some form of face to face interaction by doing a bigger visit every few months.

If you're not liking remote work during 2020, I don't entirely blame you. I still don't think it's for everyone, but I would recommend trying it outside the context of a global pandemic.

This! Can’t upvote enough.

People keep glossing over the structural differences of being in a crazy, hopefully once-in-a-lifetime, situation and comparing to the good’ol days of when office was amazing. I’d love to hear from those that have to go in and deal with no amenities and all the safety stuff that’s now so imperative.

The other thing to consider - a lot of posters talk about sub-par home setups. Much of that is driven by cost and living close to the office and preventing the city lifestyle. If you stop forcing people to the office, your costs will likely go down as now you won’t compete for space with families with kids or those who really want the space but hate commute. Seems like a win-win.

This is a truly understated point. My usual routine would be to go to the office once a month, and every now and then just talk to people, meet up with colleagues on the weekend etc.

This is really different from the regular WFH that I am used to.

This is a great point. For parents, kids wouldn't be home during a 'normal' wfh scenario.

I've done wfh for years and really miss going to my local coffee shop, and other various activities I used to do throughout the day because of the freedom offered with wfh.

I don't miss the office at all, and I never want to go back. If management asks us to go back full-time, I will start looking for another job. I'm happier and more productive than ever. I never want to go back to rotting in a cube farm pretending that 1-2 productive hours a day is enough.

1. Cubes, cube pods, and "open offices" are inhumane.

2. I don't have to wear headphones to "hear myself think" anymore.

3. Meetings no longer produce the positive feelings that result from the presence of another human, so there's incentive for everyone to eliminate the pointless meetings.

3a. I can multitask during the truly pointless meetings that haven't yet been eliminated. I can't tell you how much work I've gotten done during "town halls" during the last eight months.

4. No commute.

5. My house is way nicer than my office. I know this isn't the case for everyone. But if you're working as a software engineer, you can afford it. You have to ask yourself why it wasn't a priority before.

Absolutely. There is absolutely nothing I miss about the office. I get my own bathroom at home that is clean and doesn't smell like shit all day long. I don't have to time my bathroom breaks or wait in line. I don't have to search on different floors to find a free bathroom. Not to mention the shitty quality public bathrooms you have in the US with 1 inch gaps so people get a nice view of you taking a dump.

I can do laundry during the day, I can go exercise during the day. I can take a nap if I'm tired.

Meetings start on time more often because you don't have to wait for a meeting rooms to clear out.

I could go on and on. I will say this though, I hope everyone gets to work the way it works for them. I'm not going to tell people that want to work in an office that they shouldn't be able to. I hope we get the same respect and not have in-office advocates push their ideal environment on remote workers.

I've only visited the US briefly but those toilet gaps were truly, truly awful

Every point you mention is spot-on. Even simple routines like going to the bathroom and eating have so much time shaved off of them. I didn't even realize that 3a was true until you articulated it -- town halls, all-hands, brown-bags, et al., are now a great place to listen in casually but do email hygiene or even some light "real work" without getting judged.

Yeah, this mirrors my own feelings.

At my previous job, I worked from home 2-3 days a week and commuted (~50 minutes each way) the rest of the time, then I took a new job less than ten minutes from home. We got sent home due to COVID a few months after that. Management talks a lot about how they know remote isn't ideal and want to get us back in the office as soon as possible, despite most of the software teams finding they've been equally or more productive as before.

For me, this has been the first time I've been WFH on an equal footing with the whole team, I _love_ it, and I never want to go back to the office. I actually prefer meeting via Teams since I can't hear well and the built in captioning makes it easier, I have better monitors at home than I do at the office, there's never a wait for the bathroom, can pull some lunch out of the fridge or pantry and heat it up at my convenience.

I know some people lament the whole "not having hallway conversations leading to innovation" thing but I'm honestly curious how real that is. I've been in the industry for over 20 years now, the bulk of that in software-focused companies or teams, and while I do have casual conversations with coworkers I can't recall any of them ever segueing into "so here's the challenging thing I'm working on right now..." -- I'm not saying it never happens, just that I can't recall it's ever happened to me.

Some of my coworkers do miss whiteboarding, though I don't have strong feelings about that one way or the other. I'm more of a textual than a visual thinker personally so I've never found diagramming things out to be particularly helpful.

At any rate, while I really like my boss and my team, the day management sends out the "mandatory full-time return to the office in (x) months, including the development teams" email is almost certainly going to be the day I update my resume.

The ONLY thing I found tricky was getting enough physical activity and movement in days, especially lockdown. I picked up a treadmill laptop stand and every day I walk 3-5 miles while working. I will never go back to sitting in an open office again.


Would you mind reviewing https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and sticking to the site guidelines? This comment and others you've posted are breaking them.

I don't know why this is being down voted, I find the idea that open offices are "inhumane" to be obscenely hyperbolic.


I'm single and never want to go back to the office again.

Can you expand on that? Which of the points mentioned above make you infer that?

Apparently, only people in relationships are allowed to enjoy working from home because you must be rotten if you're single but don't miss meeting office people.

Some people need social interactions. It's their life blood. Others require very little of it and enjoy being alone.

Neither category really understands the other.

Thing I miss are:

* Having someone clean my works space. My house gets dirtier now and I’m forever cleaning it, doing dishes.

* The distinction between the beginning and end of my work day.

* Having free space in my house.

* Off the cuff dinner and drinks with colleagues.

* No lag meetings and whiteboard sessions.

* Having intervals apart from my family actually felt healthy, although we have adapted to being around each other 24/7 I guess.

* When someone of greater rank than me in an inconvenient time zone wants to have a meeting with me involved, I have to attend. I’ve practically lost all my mornings from 6am - 9am, 3-4 days a week.

Things I like about fully distributed:

* Everyone is remote now so it’s forced us to treat everyone more equally, not just favouring those in the office.

* Less interaction with middle management, this might make it harder to get bonuses etc.

Disclaimer: I just lived in a city 5 minute bike ride from my office so I had a convenient setup, could go home and make lunch etc.

When I had an office I had slack, I had work from home, cafes, sometimes.

>The distinction between the beginning and end of my work day.

Just log off at 5pm or 4pm or whenever you have done your contracted working hours.

I rarely end up in a meeting which goes over my usual working hours. But otherwise I just log off. I don't understand how someone can work longer hours unwillingly when it's entirely in your control.

I guess it depends on how your remote working is implemented. For me I remote in. For others it's a VPN. But either way, cut off all communication avenues until the next morning.

>When someone of greater rank than me in an inconvenient time zone wants to have a meeting with me involved, I have to attend. I’ve practically lost all my mornings from 6am - 9am, 3-4 days a week.

The mistake was attending this even once. Now you've shown a weakness in that you'll attend a terribly scheduled meeting. You need to bring this up, it's not fair to be in work at 6am if that was not the norm before COVID. If your days started at 9am in the office, your days start at 9am at home.

> I don't understand how someone can work longer hours unwillingly when it's entirely in your control.

I have that situation, but without the 'unwilling' part. In the office, I have often the situation "Gosh, I'd love to finish this, but if I don't catch the next train I have to wait another half hour for the next one", which automatically makes me stop work at fixed times.

Sure, I could also just stop at the same time at home, but ultimately I always end up working longer hours. Same in the morning; having to catch a train is really something that forces me to hit certain timings; when working from home, staying in bed just a little longer doesn't make me miss any trains.

It's a silly problem and could easily be overcome with enough willpower, but it requires the willpower where otherwise there are already external factors in place that soft-force me to start/stop work.

Unfortunately, will power means nothing.

What you need, as I learned, is discipline, which is really hard to train. you basically have Work hard on small things one at a time until you build the habits you want.

On that topic, this is pretty interesting:


Relying on something like train timings to enforce your work life balance isn’t a reliable strategy.

What if the trains started running every 5 minutes? Or what if you moved a little closer and you could walk?

If you don’t want to use willpower to stop working you could add some structured activity (after COVID) like a workout class after work. Or you could generally just make more deliberate plans for you after work time.

Or my personal favorite. Start a hobby you like more than work.

If trains are infrequent enough (every 20-30 minutes or more) that it's worth planning around the schedule, it's generally unlikely that the frequency will be changed significantly in any 10-year period.

Maybe not every train, but an individual train route could easily significantly change in frequency for a few hours a day, or more likely the train schedule could get worse to the point where you can’t leave until later.

Or the office could move, you could move, your office could change the time of the last meeting of the day etc...

Relying on the granularity of the train schedule to enforce work life balance is brittle at best, and it’s a terrible argument against WFH.

It doesn't require willpower. Write a script that warns you 10-5 minutes before 5pm that your computer will be shutting down. Then again a minute before shutdown.

Then it shuts down.

Or write one that sends a message to your partner, friends or flatmates that you'll be done in a few and to put on a kettle. Plan to have tea or what have you with your SO or flatmate at 5pm sharp. Set an alarm to take your dog out. I'm sure you can come up with other things.

Add things to your schedule that force you to leave, just like your train. Even if you're in a meeting drop a "Sorry folks, we'll have to pick this up tomorrow, I have personal obligations waiting on me" and you're out.

I also work longer hours on average when working from home, but I don't really mind it.

The main reason is that I save easily 90 minutes of commute per day, so it's not bothersome to be available some of that time extra. And the second reason is that I take personal breaks randomly during the day, I'm not always 100% focused on my work, so I don't feel like being available a bit later is a stretch. Flexibility goes both ways.

This isn't really what i meant, it's not necessarily that I'm working longer hours now (although I am).

I meant I miss the routine I used to have, go to the gym, come back home, make breakfast, shower, put on my "work clothes" then psychically go to my office, have coffee with colleagues and then sit at my desk, open my day planner and get started.

That was the queue to begin focusing. Of course I can try do this in my living room, but it just doesn't have the same effect for me personally.

I have meetings at awkward hours which kind of makes me feel like I'm kind of permanently attached to my work. Before hand, there was work time, and home time, work stayed at work, often including my work laptop.

Also this statement kind of bugged me: "I don't understand how someone can work longer hours unwillingly when it's entirely in your control.", if you have a job that allows you to 100% dictate your hours, never having to deal with unexpected problems, outages, personnel issues, then congratulations. It's not a reality for everyone.

> When someone of greater rank than me in an inconvenient time zone wants to have a meeting with me involved, I have to attend. I’ve practically lost all my mornings from 6am - 9am, 3-4 days a week.

I don’t understand this situation. If this happens I reject the meeting invite, and later see it rescheduled (if my attendance was mandatory).

Is there a different way this happens?

Early morning and late night meetings sometimes happen because of timezones. And you deal with it. But you can be sure that, if I were regularly having to attend meetings from 6am-9am for good reasons, I'm also generally knocking off at 3pm.

It's not that simple, my section managers answer to this (I tried it was), "I go to meetings at awkward hours, so what's you excuse?".

To be fair, this particular meeting I'm supposed to be at is once a fortnight, so I feel that I can't complain too much. Some people I know still commute an hour a day.

It does really inconvenience me in a way that I can't describe, I basically lose an hour of sleep on that day and it really screws me over for the rest of the day, compounding my stress.

Exactly, this is farcical. How did you handle the 6am meetings before COVID?

The difference is that now everyone is distributed, if someone "important" is in a different timezone, you can be singled out to attend a meeting because you're no longer "out of the office at 6am", you have no excuse not to be able to attend early meetings.

Also I just feel that it's becoming culturally more acceptable to attend/schedule meetings at weird times because everyone else accepts it.

If you're the nail that sticks out (by rejecting meetings), you get hammered.

I'm guessing the superior may not have been in a different time zone before COVID.

I don't understand this either. This existed at our company before remote work because we have global offices. People who had early or late meetings may take them from home AND then still had to commute to the office. Otherwise they'd had to get up even earlier to commute first.

It seems like a pretty common scenario, at least to me. There’s a 1 hour meeting to present Project X Status to Executive Y. You are presenting for 20 minutes so are required. Exec Y’s schedule for the next month rules everything out besides next Tuesday at 6am. You can’t just decline and not show up. You just have to suck it up and wake up earlier that day.

This scenario is actually much easier in COVID-WFH because I can just roll out of the bed at 5:45am, run a comb through my hair and fire up the videoconference. When I worked from office it meant waking up at 3:30am, leaving my house at 4am, and getting into the office by 5:30am.

> Exec Y’s schedule for the next month rules everything out besides next Tuesday at 6am.

Eh? My schedule for the month rules out anything before 9am.

I guess we’re not going to have that meeting then unless Mr exec thinks it’s more important than something else on his schedule (which is healthy anyway, he shouldn’t have to wake up at 6 any more than you do.)

You're obviously, like most people on here, talking from a position of privilege. I don't blame you because I've been there.

You also might not be working for a properly distributed global team. Execs I work for are on the other side of the world.

I've said this before by the exec's at my company tell me they have to attend meetings at weird times, so I should have to as well.

Not everyone at the moment has the luxury to just put their job on the line by telling their manager to go stick it. I for example am not in my native country an I rely on my job to support my visa. If I lose my job right now, my visa is potentially lost at a time where finding another job might not be very straight forwards and where my home country isn't allowing citizens to return home yet.

It isn't all bad, I think distributed work culture is evolving and adapting, it's just right now there are certainly inconveniences for those pioneering it.

Yup, it doesn’t get rescheduled and you slowly lose influence and find yourself working on things you hate, getting bad reviews and eventually getting fired/leaving because you hate your job

I would rather that outcome than having to wake up at 6am multiple times a week for a meeting.

There is no way I wouldn't hate my job anyway if it was forcing me into ridiculous schedules like that...

Many people have to adapt to working across different timezones in their jobs. Obviously to the degree that something like that becomes a continuous pattern you need to decide if it's worth it to you to adapt to that schedule or not. There's nothing inherently "ridiculous" about it. For example I have a friend in Hawaii who has an agency with West Coast clients and she just adapts her waking schedule accordingly.

I had friends in Hawaii who were stock traders, they really had to wake up early

Kind of want to leave anyway if the only way to retain influence is to go to 6am meetings.

>> * The distinction between the beginning and end of my work day.

>> * When someone of greater rank than me in an inconvenient time zone wants to have a meeting with me involved, I have to attend. I’ve practically lost all my mornings from 6am - 9am, 3-4 days a week.

You know your situation best obviously but to a random outsider this sounds like the (reeeeeeally) common issue of not being well practiced at saying no.

> No lag meetings and whiteboard sessions.

I really miss whiteboard sessions. I've gotten used to zoom meetings, I'm not overloaded with them, and with a proper structured agenda I've found they can be tolerable.

But nothing beats scribbling on a whiteboard with colleagues. We've tried Miro and other tools, but nothing quite has the same feel as those scribbled boxes and arrows on a whiteboard.

The whiteboard experience can be replicated with realtime visualization/collaboration tools. Just saying..

What setup do you use that replicates it? The ones that I’ve tried are a far cry from markers on a board.

Likewise zoom meetings aren’t the same thing but replicate the original experience. Im not using any? but am using a wacom tablet for similar handwriting purposes but have to admit that it’s not realtime. If you can’t find something that you like at least you found a business idea

* random stuffs happening in my life that I can enjoy on my own and tell my wife when I am back from work VS spend 24 hours a day with my wife

I’m confused about your dishes claim. You mention you go home for lunch anyway so dishes don’t seem terrible, otherwise it’s a plate and a knife to pop in the dishwasher.

When you were in an office and someone scheduled a 6am meeting what would you do?

For me in the office I have a cup that I put in the dishwasher at the end of the day. At home I have a better cup that I put in the office at the end of the day.

If you’re only 5 minutes from your colleagues why can’t you go for spontaneous pub etc (assuming it’s open in your locality) Or pop out for lunch?

OP mentioned kids, which is a big complicating factor. We gave two and oof, the dishes thing is real. We are cooking more, and for more people every meal.

As to popping out to the pub with colleagues, again it's tough with the kids home. If I go out anywhere between 4-8 I'm basically sticking my wife with the toughest time of day. Also patio season is done here and you wouldn't catch me drinking indoors during the pandemic.

All of those are 100% true, but they are very specific to the pandemic (for most people for most of the year), not something relevant in the more generalized discussion of WFH.

This is very true! Either you take turns, who can go out and meet and have fun, or you spend the whole day with your family. I think a mix is most sustainable. Try to do ONE thing on your own per week and then cover your partners day out.

I don't have a dishwasher. No space for it.

Some dishwashers are tiny. For camping or singles. E.g. https://daan.tech/

Not sure about the OP, but people are now scheduling meetings earlier and later in the day in my company. Previously, I would never have 8am meetings as I would only get to the office by 930. People just knew not to schedule before then. But now, the big boss starts working and slacking at 730 and often schedules stuff for 8am. And we do video calls all the time, so have to be presentable for those meeting.

On the other hand, research schedules are all over the place and people invariably end up scheduling syncups at 6 or 6:30. Pre-pandemic, I would be at a local pub with coworkers at that time!

In your specific case the problem was exacerbated by WFH. But if your boss doesn’t have a problem with making people work from 7am to 6pm, the problem is the boss.

They could have at any time decided to do the same thing in the office, and many offices do work that way.

If you wouldn’t stay at your company if they required you to be in office 12 hours a day, why would you stay around if they require 12 hour WFH?

> I miss productivity!

I don't understand the productivity unless you just have bad employees playing games or browsing reddit.

My productivity has never been higher. I get more done and have more free time to work on unplanned projects/spikes exploring new tech or rethinking old problems that could be solved better.

> I miss having my employer pay for electricity and heat and fast symmetric multi-gigabit Internet access instead of shifting those costs to me.

If your employer doesn't pay for these things (I'm assuming no one has gotten elec/heat, but I do get my internet bill paid for) you can deduct these on your taxes as a portion of your home if you have a side business like a saas or app or some consulting and reduce your taxible profits. Take a the wasted commute time and put it towards a LLC for yourself :)

> Hell, I miss BART in all its loud and smelly glory.

Who misses the single most time sink in our lives?? If yuo need "alone time" why not go for a walk, jog, or bike ride? Mental and physical health all in one go vs a sedentary ride to a sedentary job

The rest of the stuff is either personal preference or where you chose to live

> you can deduct these on your taxes as a portion of your home

You can (and I have), but there are some caveats:

(1) It needs to be "regular and exclusive use" (see https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employe...). Put your desk and computer in a separate room, and it's pretty clear that qualifies. If you live in a small apartment and have your desk in your bedroom, then I'm not sure.

(2) It's only a deduction. Having someone else pay all the costs is much better than paying them yourself but getting back your marginal tax rate times the cost.

(3) As you mentioned, it's only for self-employed people.

Another caveat depending on your jurisdiction: where I live, claiming part of your home as a work place excludes it from qualifying as you "residence" for tax purposes and can mean you get hit with a raft of other complications.

For my case, I claimed 1 room of my house as a home office for 10 years, and then when we sold the house my accountant told me we had to pay a huge sum of money in tax because there is a capital gains tax exemption for your primary residence but 25% of the house now did not qualify for that. I paid something like 5 times as much in capital gains tax as I saved from those minor tax writeoffs over the years.

Also - make sure to check insurance. Costs could be higher or you might even not be covered at all.

> Productivity

Some people have issues separating work and home, especially when the lines blur too much due to working from home. an Office makes you know you're at work, and thus it's easier to focus. For many, working from home means more distractions and thus a harder time focusing.

> Personal preference

Everything here is a personal preference, which is not a bad thing. The title starts with "I miss..." so it's not like the author claimed it's a thesis on working from home. It's the author's personal experience which resonated with quite a lot of people, of whom you aren't.

Maybe they also enjoyed the human companionship, which isn't the same over video. Maybe they don't live in a place where they can easily switch to a bigger house for a spacious work space.

> why not go for a walk, jog, or bike ride?

I do miss the long walks to and from work.

Of course, it's not because of WFH that I'm not doing them, it's because exercising with a mask sucks, so I prefer to do something inside. The OP may be misattributing his feelings.

> Who misses the single most time sink in our lives?

Right? I'm having a hard time believing someone loves being forced to waste time twice a day, by increasing the likelihood of being in automotive accidents. Go hop on a bus or ride the train if you miss it that badly.

Missing BART? I can't take anything this person writes seriously.

> I miss productivity! Our engineering productivity has fallen through the floor since COVID despite everyone working longer and harder; I fundamentally do not think remote teams can ever be as productive as in-person teams.

So far I haven't found this to be the case. Somewhat the opposite in fact, although here I'd credit our move from scrum/scrumban to Shape Up as much as working from home.

It's not perfect though. We see evidence of low-lying morale and mental health issues. Nobody's losing their minds, exactly, but plenty of people aren't really happy. Of course, there are many wider reasons why that might be the case. E.g., lockdown in particular seems to turn every day into a sort of mundane Groundhog Day, especially for people who live alone.

The balance point will be different for different people but, certainly, for me, 100% WFH is not the perfect balance (but then neither is 100% office). At least I know I can adapt to 100% WFH well enough when I have to though (unlike 100% office).

> Nobody's losing their minds, exactly, but plenty of people aren't really happy.

There seems to be a lot of newfound concern for the wellbeing of the employees. Interesting how this wasn't an issue before Covid hit, and nobody was asked "would you prefer to work from home rather than having to deal with constant distractions in the office? Would you like to not waste your life away on a useless commute? Are you happy?". Nah, it's only an issue now.

Could you reign in the cynicism a bit, please?

I'm talking about my entire team, including me. These are people I know and work with on a daily basis. Part of knowing people is that you can tell when they're not quite themselves.

I've also polled my team on a semi-regular basis throughout the last 8 months on their preferences going forward, which is how I know I have a range of preferences across the spectrum of WFH versus working from the office. We've always had a flexible approach in this area because of team has always been distributed, but one of the silver linings of the COVID cloud will, I hope, be a more general acceptance of increased flexibility in working conditions for jobs where that's feasible.

Don't you dare put words into my mouth. Take it elsewhere.

I noticed a very strong current towards employee wellbeing emerge in companies where upper management wants everyone back in the office (for various reasons), and then used to justify why permanent remote work isn't an option. Cynicism is well-deserved.

Your mileage may vary, of course. Your perception on the team might be true, or it might be that people are afraid of saying how they feel for fear of being singled out. We're just sharing anecdotes.

Apologies: I was feeling a bit tired when I wrote the above so, again, sorry for the unjustifiably harsh tone.

Companies are a mixed bag. Some of them behave in ways that are deeply cynical. Plenty also don't, or at least most of the time try to avoid doing so.

I will say one of the reasons for more concern over employee welfare is that more employees, at all grades, are displaying signs that all is not well. It's simply a very unusual situation so, in some sense, the greater noise around welfare is to be expected.

With that being said, and despite my general disdain for cynicism (I live in Cambridge: there's a lot of people who want to play the "world weary cynic" role and it gets old), it does have to be acknowledged that despite the best intentions of employees and leaders at all levels, when push comes to shove a lot of "core values" and "culture" go out the window.

Especially when the choice is that or the company goes under, or that and a shareholder revolt, or you can see the writing on the wall and it's this terrible course of action now or a much worse course of action later. People will also of course choose to use wider market conditions as cover for action they've been planning or perhaps should have taken anyway.

All in all it's grim and, as such, it's one of the reasons that if I ever run a company we will have as few "values" as we can get away with, and we certainly won't be trumpeting our "culture" with any self-serving presentations.

In talking with CIOs and others, as well as just personal interactions with financial institutions and the like, there are a lot of traditional practices and processes that were just "the way things were done." And even if some in authority wondered if they should experiment with this or that change, it probably seemed like a low priority and at least a little bit risky if it didn't work out. What's happened is a bunch of change has been forced. And some of those changes have indeed proven sub-optimal. But a lot have worked out, surprisingly to many, well.

> Nah, it's only an issue now.

It's similar to how the people who would say, "suck it up, buttercup" to people with mental illnesses, are now hand-wringing about mental illnesses exacerbated by measures against COVID. They don't really care, they just found an excuse that sounds good enough to them to rail against something they don't like.

Wife and I been working from home for months now. What a work-life balance game changer it is! We don't want to be back at the office. Even better, none of our working-from-home friends does.

Of course everyone has a different perspective but the majority of my circles enjoys the new arrangement.

Yes. This seems to be a very divisive issue, others prefer working from home, others prefer the office. Some are downright miserable in their home offices. I'm guessing some were also miserable at their work offices but didn't have a choice.

If this involuntary experiment has taught us anything, it's that people are very different in their preference. Hopefully people will be allowed a choice when the situation is over.

It's worth noting that a lot of people don't miss the office as much as they miss the social interaction with their co-workers. If a part of the people will return to the office and others prefer to stay home, the social interaction won't be there as it used to and there is a risk of splitting into two camps.

My company has said that WFH will be available to everyone once offices open again. I am very grateful for that.

I miss my coworkers too, but mostly the lunches and after work beers and coffee breaks. What I do not miss is the daily commute and actually trying to get work done in a distracting office environment.

I only live about 10-15 minutes from campus and campus is beautiful. I get along great with my coworkers and boss. My current working arrangement is sitting in a chair in the corner of the living room with my computer on my lap and all the kids are there also doing there school work. All of this might make it sound like I can’t wait to get back to campus. To be honest just the thought makes me nauseous. I’ve loved working from home and would be thrilled to be able to continue working remotely from here on out.

I love rolling out of bed and immediately starting to work. I love not having to waste time getting dressed and driving to work, but using that time to work. I love not being interrupted constantly by coworkers. I love using my own bathroom. I love having immediate access to my own kitchen. I love being able to see my family more frequently. I love getting more work done.

Unfortunately, my work has made it very plain that we will be going back to working in the office at some point (probably has something to do with them completing an additional 5 million square feet of new office space this year).

I have been working fully from home more than 5 years now. And before that almost as much half time from home. I think I can safely say that I would be devastated if I had to go full time office worker again. I have been working in office more than 10 years in the past. I find myself lot less distracted and interrupted even when the kids are at home. Digging in some code with other people over screen sharing is much better experience than over-the-shoulder way. Lot less fingerprints on screen is an added bonus. Sometimes I like to work late in the evening and I absolutely hated commuting home after long days in the office. YMMV obviously.

I have a different opinion. I absolutely fucking hate working from the office. Any office.

I have worked for companies big and small, so, I sometimes don't get most of the perks the author talks about.

I absolutely value my privacy and don't want to feel like a criminal for browsing social media during office hours for brief periods of time while people stare into my screen.

I absolutely fucking hate sitting across a transparent windowed room from where my boss can see how long I'm out for lunch and not and bring it up casually during chit chat.

I absolutely hate that wall hanging TV (55") connected to Spotify at all times, playing stupid music I don't like.

I absolutely hate namesake team lunches which again force me to give up my already short lunch break to discuss about work which stresses me out.

I absolutely hate people in open desks sitting across me, talking so loudly that I simply cannot get through my day without an expensive noise cancellation headphone. (Recommendation: Sony 1000XM3 or XM4 works wonders).

I hate forced "team outings" from office for "team bonding" activities which I cannot opt out of.

I hate being dragged into whiteboard "brainstorming sessions" I cannot opt out of, while I could be working on something else important.

Right now:

I'm at home, doing my own thing, with 100% privacy to do whatever I like whenever I like.

Nobody can walk upto me and yell "Hey, got 2 mins?" and expect me to attend to them or take offense if I don't.

Nobody can drag me anywhere. People need to now send me calendar invitations which I can accept or reject along with a reason/description in the invite itself.

I have full control over my time and I how I want to spend it.

Team meetings are now shorter, more efficient.

I can finally have some family time, save much more on transit costs and don't need to be tired by the time I reach home.

Perhaps, the most important thing about NOT being in the office is that I'm not judged by the number of hours I'm glued to my desk, but rather the tasks that I complete on time and the quality of output I produce...which is how work should be judged.

THIS is the value of remote work for me. I simply cannot see myself going back to office.

I value my productivity and so should every company hiring me.

I agree on all points. On this one...

> Nobody can walk upto me and yell "Hey, got 2 mins?" and expect me to attend to them or take offense if I don't.

Learn to say "No" to this one. You have to do it politely, of course, but it works. Wedge in an apology, an explanation, and a counter-offer. Make the other person feel bad for assuming they were entitled to interrupt you and then steal your time. Something like, "No, sorry, I really don't right now. I am SLAMMED and have to finish XYZ before noon. Could you come back at 1:30?" If they push, just repeat it.

>I fundamentally do not think remote teams can ever be as productive as in-person teams.

Trade an anecdote for an anecdote.

We have found our dev team to be exactly as productive if not more since moving to work from home. A single instance of productive remote work invalidates this statement that it is literally impossible for remote work to be productive.

The OP's claim is slightly vague, but would most charitably be read as saying that if you compare all teams (as in the total of all teams around the world), they will perform better in-person than remote, and that this is unlikely to change.

You seem to be interpreting the OP as having said that each and every team is always better in-person. Your read is plausible, but HN guidelines say we should interpret charitably.

Anyway, taking conclusions over what happens to all teams, or the average, or any distribution is a pretty useless task¹. Your work environment won't influence all teams, just yours, so it shouldn't be fit to all.

1 - Unless you are talking about how to tell those teams apart and discover what environment each one fits better. That would be valuable.

OP offers no evidence though, just an anecdote

How many companies have a set up where people hotdesk nowhere near their team (sometimes in different buildings) and encourage all meetings online because there is not enough meeting space? I don’t know, but I know it’s not zero.

Interestingly, I don't know anybody who misses the office. We're all techies and designers and nobody complained. We do miss having a beer after work every now and then, but we don't miss the office itself at all.

I don't miss "the office" as a singular entity, but I miss properties of the office:

- air conditioning

- coffee corner chats

- lunch with colleagues

- strong separation between work time and free time

I don’t miss the office when everybody is there, but going in now, when there’s only 10 people in the 200 person floor is glorious.

All amenities and none of the negatives.

Yeah that's my experience. We miss certain aspects of it like beer after work etc, but no way does that outweigh how bad the office was in other ways. The pointless commute, the constant distraction, the shared facilities etc. A win-win is rare in life; most things come with tradeoffs. This is no different.

I miss getting out of the house and having a 'clean' space where I can focus on work without any not-work people or not-work distractions around me.

I miss the separation between having a work desk with a work computer and a hobby desk with a hobby computer and being physically unable to interact with one while at the other due to them literally being several miles apart.

I miss the clear demarcation between Working and Not Working that the daily commute signified.

This is why I now work from my own coworking space, while the rest of my company work from home. It's a nice middle ground.

Pardon my ignorance but I had presumed they had all shut down with indoor dining being shut down. What’s coworking like in a pandemic?

Offices are still open in the UK. It's fine, the only difference is increased frequency of cleaning.

Actually, I like working from home better. I have a lot more interaction with my family and feel overall more comfortable. Productivity depends on the task. I think for most things it is higher, but causal communication suffers a lot. Yes, the equipment isn't as good as in the office, but I am working on that as I had to renew most my equipment anyway. My biggest concern is that the food I consume for lunch is a lot worse while working from home, but that is 100% my fault and something I could change.

From my current perspective, I think my favorite model would be something like 2 days per week in the office and 3 days working from home. That way one could balance and appreciate the different advantages.

It seems that what he misses most is socialisation. This seems to me the root of the great divide in these discussions, some people love socialising, others not so much.

I have read anti-office posts claiming the opposite of what he says: they feel more productive because they can focus on their job without people bothering them.

Age seems to be a factor too. Married couples don't need so much socialisation (although the post seems to be an exception) and remote work helps to take care of children.

Probably a lot of people don't have a partner or kids to socialize with, other socializing venus are often cut off right now as well so they are slowly going insane in their non existant home office.

Still getting used to being with the missus 24/7. Blissful at first, now getting work done can be difficult. Sometimes it's interpreted as neglect or being aloof, IDK.

I miss missing her and making our time together that much more special.

I also miss missing the missus, but that hasn't been for a decade or so now, so I guess I can't blame COVID.

Not really relating to this. While I'm working from home I just put my headphones on and ignore everyone else at home. Are you not able to do this?

People often consider it impolite, regardless of what you’re doing (I had to find more and more ways to work around it with my parents during lockdown because getting pulled out of flow when trying to do schoolwork was aggravating). explaining didn’t seem to help, they didn’t understand why I couldn’t just quickly do X.

> impolite

While that is true if it's just some singular instance, when living with people (parents, spouses, kids, roommates) it is better to explain it once or twice and after that, just be impolite. Even for the simple reason that they are actually the impolite ones for not respecting your process.

That's great for people living/working with people who have a healthy respect for boundaries, but not everyone has that luxury. Boundary issues are rampant, especially in families.

Boundaries need to be enforced. That's hard to do if you shy too much from being perceived as impolite.

Everyone has a different level of conflict tolerance, of course. But letting someone know that they are being rude and disrespectful should be on the table.

I can relate to this. In hindsight the time apart was actually a net-positive for our relationship, even though we didn’t see it like that at the time.

Most people when they say they miss the office they mean missing dragging everyone with them to the office. You were in the office weren't you? Stay there then and have all the space you want :D I for one will never go back to the office.

Engineer here too. Absolutely agreeing with you.

The people that want to go back to the office are also the same people that were wasting everyone's time in the office. Middle managers, office365 consultants, project managers etc. Etc. Generally the people that had the bullshit jobs in the office, and had little contributions except the "social contribution".

I don't not want to go back to the office mainly because of those same people...

I think it's offensive to call project management a "bullshit job". Maybe you've never had a good PM, but I have, and it's really invaluable. (I've also had bad PMs, but that's no different from bad dev colleagues...)

I think also underperformers fit in there. Before they could hide their laziness via "social contributions".

>The people that want to go back to the office

And my counter-anecdote is that I'm not seeing that at all. The people I see going back to the office are those who just didn't have good WFH situations (lack of space, family distractions, etc.)

I do agree with your sentiment I think unfortunately the people who want to work from the office require everyone else to be there too - to make it the office.

I don't begrudge their attitude but hopefully there is just a split in companies between remote companies and on prem companies.

Yes. I strongly suspect that most people who want to go "back to the office" are not really saying that they just want their office workstation back so they don't need to work in their bedroom or kitchen table (though some are). Rather, they want to be back with their colleagues and if their colleagues mostly aren't there, they're not really going to be satisfied.

That's my impression too. People talking about the benefits of the office are actually complaining of not having everyone around (either to have social aspect or to what they call "casual collaboration" which reduces to being able to interrupt at any time.

Am I the only person who wants to be in the office AND also prefers to be alone there?

I doubt it. There are certainly people who would be perfectly happy with a private office in a Regus or WeWork co-working location so they're not stuck working on a kitchen table or their bed--especially if there are other people in a small apartment all day. (Or they just want home-work separation.)

But there's also a sizable contingent who wants to go back to pre-COVID office life.

No offices, everyone work at home - everyone so busy...

And then you look around, what is all this work achieving?

What were we achieving when we worked in the office? Were we doing anything real at all?

We were sustaining the system that sustained us, so that we could sustain it.

We’re all pixers. Making pixels appear.

I can relate to that, I feel like most computer stuff is a hamster wheel for smart peeps.

I've come to the conclusion that maybe us computer people are not truly smart. And we just like the comfort of thinking that we are.

Yes, we're good at logical thinking, implementing systems, reasoning about problems etc This just makes us useful in the end or good at a certain way of thinking.

"Men of science may be simple tools of others, with no more idea what they are about than a hammer has of a house"

I believe this is true of software developers too - if we were truly smart we wouldn't be on the hamster wheel in a cage belonging to someone else

In the Gervais Principle, developers are all [economic] losers


I’m doing computer stuff while listening to music in a comfortable office/home so I don’t have to till the fields or hunt deer to eat.

This is why I like automation. Not test harnesses; actual machines that make things. It’s real in a way websites and apps just aren’t.


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