The typical office worker spends a half hour searching for new jobs at work every day.
I’m not sure this is a revolution or just that plenty of people have no real attachment to their employer.
Not every office job is software engineering folks... Imagine trying to manage a warehouse remotely... or bounce ideas off each other in real time at a marketing agency... or any of the other normal jobs that thrive with in-person interaction.
Not to mention, 34% is a minority... we can't force the other 66% to work remotely just because a minority enjoy it.
Some jobs have to be done in person, sure. But some jobs don't. Personally the extra two hours a day and reduced stress more than make up for the lack of face-to-face meeting time with my coworkers.
A friend of mine is in software sales. She doesn't need to physically be in an office ever. There are a lot of office jobs that can be done remotely.
It's just so damn lonely.
In some jurisdictions this is actually required, if the company is to expect any level of service or availability from infrastructure on the employer's home. For example, if your personal internet fails you cannot be held liable or at fault by an employer, since they're not paying for that. And if they pay for it, then it's on them to fix it since it's the service they provided (just like it's not an employee's fault if the internet gets cut at the office).
Or are you saying that given the creative thinking time alone that accumulated slowly over a period of time WFH, that the team was able to make 7 days worth of progress in one hour primarily due to the fact that everyone had plenty of time to understand the issues and the pains associated?
Are you confusing _peak_ with _sustained_ productivity?
This 'do you colleagues feel the same way?' argument is circular and the question can be posed both ways. Separating the two to allow people a preference one way or the other is a difficult problem that has been addressed by many companies by simply making everyone come into the office. It may be that giving people the option one way or another is the right way forward, but getting to that point is going to be a long and windy road...
The commute there and back, sometimes an hour one way depending on traffic and weather, absolutely is torture. In the middle of summer or depth of winter it can be miserable. My 8-9 hour workday would often be closer to 10-11 hours, and I'd arrive home exhausted and annoyed. Travel via train was worse in some ways but sometimes better.
I am not any less closer or further, emotional or occupationally, when remote. But I don't have to lose 2 hours of my day, huff tons of exhaust, and pay the costs of cars / busses / trains.
I can sneak away for 10 minutes to grind my coffee, good coffee, and make a cuppa my way instead of relaying on the bland Keurig machine. I can get dinner going in a slow cooker 6 hours ahead of time, give my dog 3 walks a day, and handle my personal shit, on my personal machines, without risking personal or occupational data. I get more sleep, and can work later if needed, since I don't need to worry about losing an hour of my life just to get home.
Sure, work isn't torture and the office wasn't bad. But in exchange for stilled small talk with coworkers -- your coworkers aren't your friends, btw -- I gain so much more at home.
For folks in this situation, WFH is probably intolerable.
It's just the case that not everyone is in the same situation, and I think people forget that when they make claims that boil down to "WFH is 100% bad and we should all go to the office." (or the opposite)
If you can work remotely, why live (I’m assuming) in a city that is expensive because it was built around an in-person existence?
I don't like co-opting my living space for work. It clutters things physically and mentally.
I detest working from home full time. It used to be a clear mental distinction between "this is my safe space where I don't worry about work" and "this is where I'm putting all of this time slice into work". I've done little personal development and I'm stressed all of the time because I don't feel comfortable at home anymore.
I'm glad WFH is being more recognized in that if there's a day I'm not feeling great but am still okay to work, I don't have to deal with going into the office. I'm hopeful that I can take a WFH day when I need one, but I am not going to work remote full time.
I understand it would be off limits if someone would need to use public transport but I can see allowing people to work from the office at least some days if they can walk/drive and it is not like too many at the same time.
You can always explain that you have important stuff to be done and it can be only done on company network because of "reasons".
I am definitely in "WFH forever" camp and I would like to buy bigger house far from the office. But I don't see why people who spend their money to live close to the office should be treated unfair.
That's the crux of my point. Change that, and your options suddenly open up a lot.
This argument is rooted in a fondness for the way things used to be. I get it... I miss lunch with my coworkers and being able to spin around in my chair to ask someone a question. But are you really going to get that satisfaction when your coworker isn't in that chair, or your work friends want to have lunch alone because they have an immuno-compromised child at home?
Lots of things can be done remotely, but that also doesn't mean that they are all done as well remotely.
To counter your example about software sales - A few months ago I conducted an RFP process for some software, and the company that scored the lowest was the company where the salesperson didn't come and see how the processes worked in person. Their software was likely just as capable, but the fact that they couldn't visit probably put them at a significant disadvantage in terms of understanding what they were replacing. If they don't understand how the existing system works, how can they be confident in their commercial offer which has some significant bespoke elements?
Now this will depend on the software and company, clearly, but sales is sometimes a tricky one. Often it's about the relationship, and fundamentally people also warm to people they have seen face to face. Sometimes sales isn't about the software, it's about sitting in a room and eating Nando's together and building a relationship that way. People don't always buy software just based on functionality/cost, there is often a huge element of trust involved, and that is just harder to build over a video call.
Visiting a customer site for a sales meeting is not the same as "working remotely". She does not need to go into the corporate HQ every day to do software sales. Yes, she did and will in the future visit customer sites.
> Only one example, but I think for most jobs something is often lost by having no physical presence and no in-person collaboration.
Sure but this ignores benefits. The question is if remote work is a net negative, in terms of utility.
And the obvious answer is that for some jobs it is, and for some jobs it isn't. There isn't a hard and fast rule here, and like I say it depends on the software you are selling. You probably aren't going to sell and implement a $20m ERP job entirely remotely, but on the other hand you aren't going to be driving around and doing customer visits for a $50 a month SaaS contract.
But in the absence of any hard-data, my gut strongly tells me that working from home is a net negative for most jobs and most people. My team has gone back to the office now and our ability to get stuff done is just rocketing.
The net utility is an effective metric for deciding to work remotely in any context. Clearly this decision is not made at the level of humanity and will have to be evaluated in narrower contexts.
> But in the absence of any hard-data, my gut strongly tells me that working from home is a net negative for most jobs and most people. My team has gone back to the office now and our ability to get stuff done is just rocketing.
But as you say, this is a gut feeling. My gut says my team is more effective remote.
My team is really dreading the move to back to office, but I couldn't be happier. I get the nudge I need in the mornings to hit the gym again, I get cheap and healthy food during lunch with no effort on my part. And I get to see and interact with people who don't work in my team and I haven't had any work reason to interact with again.
Just listening in meetings there are many people like me who want to go back to office (at least part time) this means that a lot of meetings will again be held face-to-face and while there will be a token effort to clue in the remote people it will fall off fast not to mention all of the ad-hoc meetings that happen at the desks or hall ways.
I am not saying that you are wrong, but that being full time remote employee in a company that is not 100% remote all the time is way different than being the only (or one of the few) full time remote employee in a team. I still intend on being remote couple days a week, but I know for a fact already that the amount of time I sit in voice chat with the remote team memebers during the day will be close to zero on the days I am at the office.
I fully expect to have to go in to the office one or two days a week but the logistics are easier with remote meetings. There's no need to find an empty room, I don't have to take time to walk to your floor, etc.
> I get the nudge I need in the mornings to hit the gym again, I get cheap and healthy food during lunch with no effort on my part. And I get to see and interact with people who don't work in my team and I haven't had any work reason to interact with again.
These are personal problems. I have been exercising more while WFH because I have more time. You can't expect your coworkers to change their lives because you get a personal time-management or networking benefit.
But somehow you can expect your coworkers to change their actions because you want to be full remote in a company that does not enforce full remote?
Have you considered that it might be the remote employees that are more productive?
The benefits you've stated for in-office work are that you will be more likely to hit the gym, get low-cost healthy food, interact with random non-teammates, and meet in-person, none of which are slam-dunks for the company bottom line.
> the amount of time I sit in voice chat with the remote team memebers during the day will be close to zero on the days I am at the office.
Can I be frank? This sounds like an incredibly selfish attitude to take. "If you're not like me, I have no intention of accommodating you."
And just the fact that if I am at the office people will come to my desk with their problems and the constant fiddling with headphones is annoying waste.
I don't get why everyone thinks those of us who want to go back to office are the selfish ones for not bending over backwards over the people who prefer to work remote as if we didn't sign up for this when we started to work.
Let's clarify that this is strictly specific to you.
I and several other colleagues I chat with started doing more exercise due to the pandemic.
Same with food. If I just sit inside my house 24/7 with the lockdown I am way more likely to pour my energy in hobbies and other activities. There are no fancy food grocery delivery systems where I live, so only options are to go to grocery store or order food and before the decision was easy because the grocery store was on the way to work, so "I might as well" make the stop. Now I just work for 8 hours straight, feel hangry, order some shitty food, work 8 hours on side project and do the same.
Sure this is a personal problem as many here like to point out, but just remember that when you are left out of decision making since you aren't part of the office that will be your personal problem. If my employer decides to go fully remote it is fine that I have to find another place to work, I have no problems with that. I hope the remoters will view it the same way if things dont work out for them.
I am an individual tech contributor. I don't oversee anything, mentor anyone, or manage anything. I am not the kind to challenge already made decisions. So meetings are largely one way information flow, as it seems to be for most of the developers I know.
Write me a memo and I at least am in the same place 90% of the time.
ADDED: I get your preference but it really doesn't scale. How does that work once there are multiple offices, external agencies, people who need to travel a lot, etc.?
What used to be swivel in your chair and ask a colleague or going to whoever you need to speak to is now
* Send a Slack message/email and wait an arbitrary amount of time for a response.
* Organise a Skype/Teams/whatever call in a few hours time and feel guilty about it, as it feels rude to just ring someone as they could be occupied or busy.
I spend a stupid amount of time having blocked stories/tasks because I need to clarify some criteria/parts of it and the people I need to speak to are difficult to reach because they're busy/AFK.
But your need for an instant answer often derails my work flow. I can get a lot more done now that I am not being interrupted as frequently and can address questions once I have wrapped up what I am doing or at least have time to write down where specifically I stopped.
This! The office paradigm values everyone else's time over my time. It paints interruption as a virtue. My last employer (before COVID) cancelled all WFH with the statement "We all know a 15 minute face-to-face conversation is better than a 3 day email chain". What about the other 99% of my time? Any time saved by that 15 minutes interaction is dwarfed by the amount lost in other daily nonsense.
I've got so used to them to get me to my zone I still use at home...
Does a quick interruption that unblocks me and allows me to continue working outweigh allowing you to finish your thing first? Because maybe you're unblocked but I'm blocked by you now, and the thing that's actually blocking me. So only 1 person is able to work.
Understandably this can lead to a lot of context switching, but so can someone swiveling in a chair to ask a question or go down a rabbit hole. You can optimize the process a bit by shifting perspective and having a path to follow if you get blocked, rather than lamenting on how you're blocked(not you in particular, but people in general).
*I feel like it is somewhat rare that a person only ever has 1 specific thing to work on.
No, absolutely not. As my coworker you have no right to my time, at all. Certainly not on-demand.
You are in no position to prioritize my time, especially in the context of you finishing your task.
> Because maybe you're unblocked but I'm blocked by you now, and the thing that's actually blocking me.
No, you are blocked by whatever you are blocked by. Solving your problems is your problem. Not mine.
> So only 1 person is able to work.
If you can't do your job without also consuming my time in parallel what exactly are you contributing? If you are blocked and need input then go work on something else until you can get the input. This is elementary time management and respect for your coworkers.
Just because I ask you in person for help from time to time does not equate to me not contributing anything.
Just because someone asks you for help in person does not mean you can't say 'no, can you try me at this time or send me an email detailing the issue'.
Solving problems can be a siloed experience, but depending on the organization or team, most problems in today's businesses are team efforts, and require team collaboration. Having blinders with comments like 'solving your problems is your problem' is a great way to overlook when a problem someone is having is actually YOUR problem because you overlooked a bit of code or configuration or documentation.
That's not what I said. My comment was about working in parallel and demanding immediate coworker input to advance.
> Just because someone asks you for help in person does not mean you can't say 'no, can you try me at this time or send me an email detailing the issue'.
The situation is not asking for help in person, it is interrupting to ask for help.
> Solving problems can be a siloed experience, but depending on the organization or team, most problems in today's businesses are team efforts, and require team collaboration. Having blinders with comments like 'solving your problems is your problem' is a great way to overlook when a problem someone is having is actually YOUR problem because you overlooked a bit of code or configuration or documentation.
I never said anything about working in silos. We still have a daily standup, we still do sprint planning, we still to regular operations reviews. I take ownership for my own actions and deliverables and help coworkers. This is simply a matter of how to request that assistance and the expectations around when that is provided.
Asking for help in person is literally interrupting someone, no matter what they are doing because their attention has to be re-directed from whatever they were doing to you. So there is no meaningful difference between asking for help and interrupting to ask for help. But through social cues I can tell what level of concentration you might be on, and with some precision judge when a good time might be to check in. Hell, I will definitely be wrong some of the time, but that's just life.
The situation is obviously different for someone that is always co-dependent on others for getting work done.
Yes, all of those things are true and I do all of those things. I am speaking specifically about interrupting a coworker who is doing productive work.
> "siloed," "completely independent," and "unanswerable to anyone."
I didn't say anything about this. Respecting your coworkers time does not require any of it.
What part of this statement says 'team player' to you?
The whole part about working as a team-player is that solving their problems is your problem, because it is the teams problem.
What you are describing is being assigned a list of stuff and working on it independently, then not helping anyone else unless it's convenient for you. This is colloquially called 'not being a team player'.
The part where each member of the team is trusted with their own time management. I will also not interrupt you when you are working, because I respect you and your time.
> The whole part about working as a team-player is that solving their problems is your problem, because it is the teams problem.
Yeah, no. The team has problems so we divide the work. Each of us takes ownership for some small part of it. Asking for input from teammates is fine, that is the responsibility of that owner. But that doesn't mean they can interrupt someone to get it. To be an effective teammate you need to earn the respect of your peers and interrupting will undermine that trust long term. Obviously I want my coworkers to solve their problems because we all work toward a common goal and of course I provide input to help them do that.
You must be very good at your specific tasks because it sounds like you are not very good at your job (which includes "teamwork," "mentoring," and "problem solving"), at least if you behave the way you're saying you behave.
I have never ever gone into a team environment and felt the need to earn respect from my teammates or have them earn mine. This is a glass half full or empty thing. You can go into a team and require others prove themselves and vice-versa or you can give people the benefit of the doubt and let them lose the trust if something happens. Both lead to vastly different experiences.
What you say sounds pretty selfish though. If someone came to me and asked for help with something I'd be happy to drop tools and come and help as I'm not just a 'colleague', I'm a team member.
If you need clarification then send an email, add a comment in your issue tracker or set up a meeting. There's no reason to interrupt someone doing productive work to get clarification on a story. You should be able to manage parallel stories and make progress as you get clarification.
Asking "hey you got a minute?" is a waste of everyone's time because either the answer is "yes" and you could have asked your question already or the answer is "no" and you just disrupted someone who was doing productive work and still doesn't know if your actual question is worth answering right now. Just ask your question and I will answer it when I have time. This is why it is better to ask in email, IM or a meeting, depending on the nature of the question.
Like I said, everything you're writing speaks to you.
In the office respect for the headphone signal is not universal. Also, sometimes I don't want to wear headphones just to signal I am in flow. Nor do I want to have to use them drown out all the other distractions. People are still walking around and doing things, all are potential distractions.
No, solving the company's problems is both our problems. You have a tremendously adversarial attitude toward your coworkers. Why don't you trust them to know the cost of interrupting you and decide whether or not it's a net gain?
Yes, this requires effective collaboration.
> You have a tremendously adversarial attitude toward your coworkers.
I do not have an adversarial attitude toward my coworkers. In fact I am very well liked by the people I work with. Probably because I treat them with respect.
> Why don't you trust them to know the cost of interrupting you and decide whether or not it's a net gain?
How can they possibly know this? That would require everyone on the team having complete knowledge of what everyone else is doing at all times. Further, if you believe you know more than your coworker about their situation then it speaks to a distrust of their abilities.
In the first case, it does seem a lot more reasonable to interrupt and trade-off the productivity of the blocker in favor of the blockee. At worst, that's an even trade and at best it incentivizes not being a blocker.
In the second case, I'd rather not create a distributed denial of concentration scenario for SWEs who are rarely stuck to optimize for those who are more frequently stuck.
There's another angle here which is that ad-hoc in-person conversations tend to be low value because there's no record. The process of simply writing down a question before asking it goes a long way toward finding a solution.
It's one of the things I really appreciate about working from home. There are no unwelcome interruptions because everyone controls their own time and interactions I do have are higher value because they have been more thoroughly considered.
I can skim the first few words of a Slack message without losing context and if those first few words demand an immediate response, I can "save" what I am doing to my notes.
I had a co-worker who did this in a past job, even though he sat behind me. It was quite helpful.
Another thing is that it's often harder to write your question/problem in text as a message, when in verbal communication it's a lot easier (personally, YMMV). But having to organise calls to get that verbal communication is a pain.
A lot of folks are used to being lazy intra communications in an org, and imho, that shouldn't be an excuse to dissuade remote work when the benefits are incredibly clear. If you suck at comms or management in a more flexible work arrangement environment (which is okay! to get better at something you must first suck at it), it's time to get better.
Maybe a drop-in thing could work, like Clubhouse. But then that's kinda invading your privacy if you have to stay on that.
yes, we're finding that a lot of folks have deficient written communication skills.
another problem is that a lot of developers can type fast enough to program, but not actually type fast enough to productively use email/slack. that one surprised me!
i had a coworker right before covid started, who, you'd send him something in slack, and then watch the "JimBob is typing..." indicator flash on and off for 5 minutes. then he'd just show up at your door and say "no. five." or whatever the very brief answer was.
Also, there may be things that were said, but I may not remember, so I'll have to ask again for the information. With text, you can always go back to those messages and re-read them.
If it's a call it's a bit out of the blue. Maybe they don't have their headset around/plugged in, maybe they're doing something like eating or doing laundry. You just don't know because all you see is an activity status icon.
Maybe it's just me/my personality.
- I either wouldn't see it because I'm involved in something out and messages are not priority interrupts. (i.e. I don't have notifications turned on.)
- Or, if I see it but now isn't a good time, I'll reply something like sure but right now is a bit crazy. Call my cell at xPM. (Or I'll drop something on your calendar.)
It is nothing like the imposition of requiring them to commute to an office to be interrupted at will.
That's the beauty of async communication. It doesn't matter if they're busy, they'll get back to you when they can, and you're free to do the same. No one gets ripped out of their workflow.
Why is it more rude to call someone on teams where they can just decline the call than to swivel in your chair and start talking to them?
If anything, I think etiquette has improved in our situation. No more in person interruptions or people just hovering at the edge of your vision to get attention. No more loudly conversing colleagues in the open plan office.
Instead we have lines dropped in chat or more carefully crafted emails for longer questions.
In the office, you can generally observe the state of your co-worker. Are they on a phone call? Are they already talking to someone in person?
A phone/Slack/Teams call can be quite disruptive if someone is already in a meeting.
We haven't fully adapted work culture to remote work.
When I’m in a call I don’t get notifications of chats or phone calls.
If I need to focus I set my status to do not disturb and I don’t get notifications and calls go to voicemail.
So I do not share your observations.
A person can be scheduled in for an hour's long meeting but it actually only takes 10 minutes, but you check the person's status after the 10 minutes and it still says 'In a meeting' (usually differentiates with 'In a call' if they're actually in a call, but it's quite unreliable and you don't know if maybe they're having technical problems and are just about to reconnect).
I can’t (as a human) switch context like a CPU. It’s not just about a couple of minutes. It’s about the time that it takes me to get back into the context and in the right place where I was in, prior to the interruption.
I believe this is not a good example for the point you’re trying to make.
If you're working, you're available on chat (discord). If you're not available (like taking lunch or a break) set your status so everyone knows.
If you need to talk to someone, don't hesitate to ask.
If you send more than 2-3 chat messages as part of a discussion, just pull everyone in to a video room immediately and talk it through. (Discord makes this really easy.)
At first I was a little uneasy about being pulled in to video calls all the time, but I came to really appreciate it. I honestly think this worked better than "just turning your swivel chair" because our team was big enough that even in an office not everyone would be a swivel away.
I see no benefits of an office environment for my team (but then the 6 of us were split over multiple locations before covid) - the benefits are in the informal communication with people from other teams.
It feels that way because it is. Demanding synchronous response even if you're a boss is despicable. Glad I don't have to work with you.
Sure there are exceptions when you've got important deadlines or fires to put out, but distractions are never welcome. Sure in office it was acceptable to have 5x less productivity, but you get to coach people which felt nice internally.
My employer is in an industry that thrived on in-person interactions (save for any field writers/photogs). They had no remote working policy prior to the pandemic for the bulk of the staff.
They have made a complete 180° change on that and acknowledged that there has been anything but a drop in productivity, and vast improvements in some areas. Remote working is going to be a first-class option going forward (at least looking that way for now). They closed two offices downtown Toronto; one at the Rogers building, and one in a heritage block on Queen E. They were landmark locations for highly visible brands centred around the city, lifestyle, society, and politics. (read: It was not a decision made lightly for the company)
Now, the company owns its own print operations and those, of course, stay on site. I'm in digital operations—we're now scattered around the GTHA. After I got sick last year I underwent a bit of a sea change in attitude: my partner and I bought a used car, packed up and moved to a beautiful heritage townhouse in a smaller, greener town from our sub-500 sq/ft shoebox-in-the-sky. I'll never move back into one of those, and rent for anything else has gone off the bloody rails.
There are a larger amount of remote opportunities than ever—I like my job and my employer, but I would consider switching if I was forced to move back into their remaining office in North York every day. As it is, I can make it in there by car in about an hour for the odd all-hands.
One of the biggest advocates of remote work that I know is squarely someone for whom “remote work” has meant “running errands, walking the dog, heading out early for dinner, long lunches, runs after lunch” and so on. He’s much much more productive WAH this year than he was any of the last five years because all of these non-work activities have been actively suppressed.
That’s not going to last. The reality of the last 12 months is work has expanded to fill most daylight hours, meetings at 7am, meetings in the same day at 9pm, and so on. It’s not going to be possible to measure full-time remote this year until things start to open up.
Our team has always been one where you could step away from the office to run an errand or a doctor's appt. etc. Yet once we started WFH, it became more acceptable to go the store, take a walk, etc during "normal" business hours. As long as you get your work done, no one seems to care, and our mgmt seems to feel that our mental health is important, at least during the pandemic. Sure some may take advantage of this and screw off with their time, but if they get their work done, are they really screwing off? The old metric of "butts in the seats" is industrial age management.
Also, what is "real remote work?"
And yes, the time range of work has expanded for some, but that's a boundaries issue. Unless I'm on call, or we have an outage/issue that needs my attention, work doesn't expect me after 5pm. I start around 7-8am.
While my employer had no remote work policy, the general approach to the office was that everyone is an adult and a professional and you do what you need to do, but be at the office for work.
Running errands, etc, were never obstacles. Working hours have actually gone down out of necessity (save 10% on payroll during the pandemic, keep everyone employed) while productivity has remained. Now that things are starting to come back to life, there's actually too many projects coming down the pipe and we will need to start hiring to meet the expanding business goals.
I can't say my situation has been suppressed, personally. In the past year I've started to reignite my music career, got myself a recording grant and am spending my non-commute time writing and practicing before work and afterward, while not having to sacrifice making and having dinner with my spouse. And I had the space to build a room out for that work—something I couldn't afford in Toronto. And the air here—it's just so much nicer than in the city. It's all so nice that sometimes I can't believe it's real.
Also, I think the assumption that it only applies to jobs that can be done well from home is pretty much baked in already, otherwise it would be quite nonsensical to even ask.
And the phrase "full time" is also important. I very highly value the increased free time and reduced costs I've experienced over the last year, but do miss in-person meetings, casual proximity to colleagues, and social events. The ideal for me would be to work from home 2 or 3 days a week, and I'd favour that quite strongly in career decisions compared to either extreme. I doubt I'm alone in that.
And I don't think OP implied that the 66% who stated they wouldn't quit their jobs if forced to work on-site full time, be forced to work remotely. Half the people surveyed preferred a hybrid solution.
Given the fact that forklift operators have been driving forklifts remotely during the pandemic, this is not hard to imagine at all: the present reality is that warehouses are being managed remotely. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-54431056
In addition to this, there are now many companies in the warehouse robotics space, all of whom are more than happy to provide robots that automate most of the productive functions of warehouses. For example, there are automated guide vehicles (AGVs) that move inventory around the warehouse, automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) that manage inventory, store and retrieve goods on demand. In addition, there are collaborative robots or "cobots" that help the few employees you still actually need on site. Finally, there are articulated robot arms that pick, pack and palletize goods. Almost all of these can managed and operated remotely, all at a lower total cost than purely manual labor could achieve.
Given the fact that warehouses are the perfect example of how the working world is going permanently remote, I'm not sure how your marketing example is any better. If you want to bounce ideas off of another person in real-time, I don't understand why the same thing can't be done at a much lower cost on a call. After all, that's how everyone has been doing it for over a year now!
Amazon Robotics (formed out of Kiva Systems, for the exclusive use of Amazon)
Re: your last point:
1. That 34% would quit rather than return doesn’t mean the other 66% would prefer to, just that they might not quit over it.
2. It’s possible to employ both remote and on-site workers.
It is, but it's very difficult to sustain a hybrid work culture. People working remotely tend to get shafted on ad-hoc discussions, even promotions.
That's not what this report by the BBC says https://www.bbc.com/news/business-54431056
From the link (pasting here for posterity):
Founded in 2017, Phantom Auto is the only company capable of remotely monitoring, guiding, and driving any type of vehicle from thousands of miles away.
We are an energetic and passionate team on a mission to build the future of vehicle operation.
At Phantom, every day is a unique adventure as we work to solve critical transportation issues. Because we work with companies around the world, we have the unique opportunity to work with many incredible vehicles and use cases.
As a member of the sales team, you will be instrumental in driving the business success of our company.
If you are determined to take on the world's most complex challenges and help build an industry-defining company, this is the opportunity for you.
As a Remote Forklift Operator you will be a pioneer in a job of the future and help to accelerate the rapid and safe deployment of driverless forklifts and industrial vehicles.
In general I think the future is not "fully remote" or "fully colocated" teams but teams were everyone is to some degree remote based on their preferences. So you may have some people who come into the office every day because they don't have a good workspace at home (or just like to get out of the house every day) but everyone else will come into the office somewhere between a few days a week and never.
I suspect that ~0% of people currently working remotely due to the pandemic are managing warehouses.
> or bounce ideas off each other in real time at a marketing agency
I’m...not having trouble imagining that. I imagine it would take a bit of getting used to using online collaboration tools for that, which would — even with the tech being ready — stop any agency from voluntarily making the transition if they weren’t forced to by exigent circumstances, but I don’t have trouble seeing it working well once the initial transition period was cleared.
> Not to mention, 34% is a minority...
But probably not equally distributed across all job types and employers; there’s probably employers where there are entire functions where that’s near 100%.
And, actually, in work we often force the vast majority to work in particular conditions because a minority that has disproportionate influence prefers it. Which is actually why even where there is overwhelming support from employees for remote work and greater productivity, managers addicted to practices incompatible with remote work will bring employees back to work.
There is a bigger world outside "the valley". It's not surprising overpaid software engineers living in major cities, accustomed to forking over $4,000+ a month for tiny studio apartments are enjoying their experiences outside those circumstances.
Perhaps those same folks that refuse to return to the office can find happy employment at a local business in their newfound town instead.
If the work can be done outside of an office there is no reason for an employer to require it be done in an office.
It seems really weird after this last year to no respect for your employees preference on how they would like to do their work. "Hey Jim, I know you much prefer doing your job at home for reasons $x, $y, $z but I really like being able to walk over to your desk so either you come in or you're fired."
There is a set of SW jobs that maps well to remote - in fact, there’s huge overlap with jobs that can be successfully offshored or pushed out of house and jobs that are well suited to full-time remote. That’s been going on for two decades. The jobs that are left are not as “I can work from anywhere” as people want. Sure, you’re writing internal tools and every thing you do involves yourself and maybe one other person? Yeah.
> we can't force the other 66% to work remotely
Yes, I think it is not going to happen. But management can force quite a few more than those who are themselves willing to work from home, if it can save some money.
That's not saying the other 66% wants to go back to the office, only that they wouldn't quit their job over it.
What? Wouldn't you _rather_ be in a zoom call for something like that?
My SO and the rest of their team are doing absolutely fine fwiw.
Without further information i do not understand how this can be disambiguated.
Myself, after a year of remote, i see pros/cons, but the overall situation of a pandemic is just soul crushing.
Who says that it worked out?
'Remote Everyone' was a forced experiment, there's no assumption that the situation was ideal.
Companies that can take an honest look at themselves based on the last year will do well in the future. Those that don't will continue alienating good employees.
I am not leaving anytime soon, but can easily spend 15-20 minutes a day replying to recruiters just in case I one day need them and just browsing what pops up as recommended on LinkedIn.
It would actually be like WebMD doing a survey to find out how many people are hypochondriacs and shouldn't be using their site.
I have an dedicated office at home, I can shut my door and work when I need to be distraction free. I don't have my head pinched by headphones for hours, and I can work in silence like I prefer. No coworkers interrupting me when I'm in the zone.
I've saved between 8-10 hours per week in not commuting. Worse, I've had bosses who enjoy flexing by having meetings promptly at 8am, where you have to leave extra early because you travel at peak rush hour.
I don't have to keep up appearances when I'm done with my work for the day or moment. If I'm waiting for responses or reviews, I can veg out, watch Netflix or play a video game, while staying on top of my email and work load. I've also taken to getting some of my house work done during this time. Laundry, mowed grass, exercise, lots of little things that used to get stacked up on the weekend.
I never have to eat off my diet, or feign excuses for not wanting to eat another office provided carb loaded meal. I stock my own foods, and have a hot meal for lunch everyday.
Finally, I don't have to smell the 2 smokers that spend a couple of hours smoking every single day nor do I have to sit next to someone with questionable personal hygeine. Yes Richard, you smell awful, and stink up half the office with your body odor and cigarettes.
Agreed on pretty much everything. And this quoted part for many will increase productivity. But management often views this “gasp, going for a walk while I wait for someone to send me something” as time that could have been spent working.
The arguments for forcing everyone who is fully functional remotely back into the office are so shallow it pains me. I get it, some people have personal circumstances that make office work better for them. I guess we will just self sort into different companies and see which is better. My money is on smart people with more freedom over smart people micro managed by the clueless.
Plus, it allows managers to look over their demesne unimpeded.
I’ll take full height cubes as a fallback. Open layout is the worst, I actually just go work from the lab.
If you can talk like that post-pandemic, why couldn't you walk like that pre-pandemic? You could've had a remote job then, too.
I do like remote work, but it's not all upsides. If there's a big shift to remote work, it will suppress wages because now you can hire from across the country, where living expenses are low.
Now things are completely different. Once it become apparent that working from home was going to be long-term and not just for a "couple weeks" I started making changes. I now have a dedicated office at home. I have a proper chair that doesn't kill me to sit. Everyone (at my company) now uses WebEx for meetings so meetings are no longer the pain they used to be.
The result? My work/life balance has completely changed. I'm no longer spending 1.5 hours/day commuting to work. I'm saving money on parking, saving money on food, saving money on clothing, saving money on gas...no joke, I'm saving $200/month. Easy.
On the work side my team and I have never been happier - or more productive. We do have team activities allowing us to get together from time to time. We're more fully engaged with the business and have been delivering better solutions.
Bottom line? Spending over a year now working remotely has taught me a lot of things. The most important being I never want to go back to an office on a daily basis.
I pretty much finished all of Spider-Man on PS4 just on my work breaks while letting my brain churn out problems in the background.
When my brain goes ding, I can pause the game, walk the 3 meters to my work laptop and keep working until I get stuck again.
I do believe that 34% of polled workers said they would quit rather than return to the office, but I do not believe even a majority of them would actually go follow through on that threat. Especially if you filter out high paid/high job-security developers and similar people who might have the financial security to do so.
People, particularly Americans, are shackled to their jobs for many reasons and most people are risk-averse.
Despite myself being pro-remote, I think that we will see a sizable return to office-centric work culture over the next few years. The office may (hopefully) end up looking or feeling a bit different as an outcome. All the stories about the "end of the office" are overblown.
Once it again becomes beneficial for your career and/or social life to participate in office culture people will come crawling back. Not saying it's a good thing, but it's what will happen.
We were all complaining about unnecessary risk to personal and public health. We couldn't even take advantage of the office, we were doing everything through Google meet anyway because meeting rooms were restricted to 3 people. Eating areas and water coolers were also out of bounds.
After a couple of months I landed a fully remote job and made sure management knew that this was why I was leaving. A couple of days after the CTO announced that fully-remote work will be allowed indefinitely for developers, and I'm quite pleased I was able to win that for my ex-colleagues.
Moral of the story: voting with your feet, it's a great way to balance power between employers and employees. Overall I think it's good for society to have this attitude.
I have no way to know if I influenced anybody's thoughts or actions, but I communicated to everybody involved that I'm only interested in remote work, and told them that others I have spoken to feel the same.
That's not strictly true, I do know some folks that are looking forward to getting back to the office, but I tried to do my part anyway.
I think in a couple years we will be back to a pretty high percentage of positions being onsite. Right now there is a small window of time to really drive home the idea that there is a sizable group of folks who will refuse to commute to an office, and hopefully at least influence the number of future remote opportunities a little bit more in our favor.
"1 in 3 professionals currently working from home would look for a new job if required to return to the office."
They're not saying 34% of workers are going to quit instead of returning to the office, just that they will consider it.
Executive leadership is now eating their hat and holding a town hall next week to talk about reversing that decision.
I'd say if you have somewhere to run, run.
They can't. There's not nearly enough remote positions available.
I think the operative word in the survey results is "rather". That's a preference, not necessarily a decision.
Half of us are introverts and don't care about that. We're either self-directed enough that doesn't matter, or else we just sacrifice that already.
Some people would prefer to never go in, some people (like myself) would prefer an office presence but no requirement to attend and others would prefer to eliminate remote work.
I find this interesting because we tend to extrapolate our own thoughts and preferences to the general public. And this is kind of why working together is sometimes hard! We all want/expect/prefer different things in a working environment.
If the majority of tech companies had gone fully remote, or even "1 day a week in office" the housing market would look very different right now.
I am kind of sad that didn't come to pass.
What does this really mean in practice, though? I ask this as a person who just applied to a remote position at a company based in the city I live in. In theory, I'd be glad to come in in-person during the early months to facilitate training, but in practice I wouldn't trust the company not to stop viewing me as remote during that time.
I am the exact opposite, and the year of remote working has probably been the best and most healthy year of my work life.
Those variables tend to make all the difference between "happy to work from home" and "about to experience a mental breakdown".
they have and I didn't care, because I don't need to leave my home to enjoy my life. If anything a fully remote world would be even better because then I can go live in the countryside and have my own land without having to see other humans
> do you have a small apartment and/or your spouse working at the same time in the same space
yep, and we get along great. I love spending all day with my partner and we've never been happier individually or as a couple
> young kids?
I choose not to have kids specifically so I don't feel like I have to get away from my own home and family to feel sane.
I've gotten the impression that the lockdown, pandemic world has been a brief breath of fresh air for the hermits, introverts, misanthropes of the world, and a taste for extroverts of how miserable it is for many of us to adapt to a world that doesn't accommodate our personalities and social preferences
If I could I'd spend most of the day enjoying time with my daughter and give my employer about half an hour of my attention. Sadly, I need a full time job.
If you can go live in a cabin in the woods, congrats! You're part of the elite. Please understand the rest of us who aren't.
It makes all the sense in the world that affluent people with large houses or living in beautiful locations, without kids, or with antisocial tendencies ("hermits", as you put it) are doing well during this pandemic. What about the rest of us?
In that case it's a very different point and I understand the difficulty. But what does that have to do with remote work? Assuming the coronavirus is eventually under control, why not just work remote and send the kids off to a babysitter or wherever they would be while at the office?
> and a couple sharing very limited space working at the same time (just think of Zoom meetings!).
I feel like I often spend more time on meetings than actually coding so I can relate. Just buy a headset with a mic. Just like it's reasonable to invest thousands in a car if you have to commute to work, I think it's reasonable to invest at the very least 20 bucks on a convenience store headset to be able to focus a little better. If you can even splurge 100 bucks it's a big improvement. I'm physically closer to my partner than I was to my coworkers at my previous job, so I understand the concern, but I haven't had issues by just using headsets and muting as needed.
> ("hermits", as you put it) are doing well during this pandemic. What about the rest of us?
That was part of the point of my post. You've only had it rough for a year. What about us hermits for all the rest of human history when fully remote work has been a very rare luxury? For some of us, it's a countdown until we go back to a world that makes us as miserable for a lifetime as you've been for a year, except we won't have anybody fighting to let us keep the isolation and comfort we've been enjoying, whereas you have every world government and relevant expert sprinting to end this current way of life. It's frustrating to see people complain about being unhappy for such a short time and completely disregard how unhappy many people were with the old way of things and for how long
Until very recently day care was closed by law (actually, worse than closed: you had pointless "Zoom hours" which don't help at all, the baby bored looking elsewhere and I still cannot work) and babysitters forbidden. Now that they are temporarily allowed, I breathe a bit more easily. They are threatening with forbidding them once more if the second wave hits as seriously as the trends seem to indicate.
Once COVID19 is under control, if my wife and I can work remotely with comfort, and I can go to the office maybe once or twice a week just to hang out with my coworkers, I'd be delighted.
> What about us hermits for all the rest of human history when fully remote work has been a very rare luxury?
I agree that people who want to permantently work remotely should be allowed to. This seems something else to me, the pandemic changed everything, in some cases for the worse. It's not a choice anymore.
One more thing: we both use noise cancelling headsets. Believe me this isn't enough for two people holding Zoom calls at the same time if located in the same room.
Also: local internet connections suck. There's no way out of this because every provider sucks. I've called tech support during the pandemic multiple times, and they are clueless. I suppose they just cannot cope with so many people working remotely -- though they do manage to raise the price of my plan regularly!
Sure there was a commute involved, but I enjoyed getting out of the house. Hopefully things will be better post-pandemic and I'll get some of the social interaction by working out of coffee shops and from parks, but the quality of life improvement from changing from a "5 days/week in the office" to "3 days/week in the office" was substantially larger for me than going full remote.
If your office experience was blah, or you had a long commute, you likely realized a lot of utility and benefit having your employer forced to support remote work.
My office (investment bank) is dull, dreary, depressing, dystopian, Dilbertesque. Everyone must wear at least business casual (dress shirt, dress pants, dress shoes). We have none of the perks mentioned above. The commute is miserable. Very little sunlight. Even our coffee is an atrocity. This is probably standard fare for most old school non-tech companies.
I've visited the offices of quite a few Silicon Valley tech companies. The atmosphere could not be more different.
If I had to use an analogy, coming into my office is like checking into the local cheap motel. Going to a SV tech company office feels like it would be akin to checking into a hip and luxurious boutique hotel.
I've said this before, and I know grass is greener on the other side, but if my office environment were better, I could imagine myself enjoying being at the office more. As it stands currently, it is outright depressing.
I've heard some stories about Steven Cohen's office suite at SAC for example.
Despite being wealthy, tech company execs don't seem to be at that level of ostentatious old school display of wealth.
Edit: I've been at some hedge funds too - and most of the lower employees, especially in tech (cost center) still get the cheap motel experience.
My current org was 90% remote to begin with, there was just a "main office" with a few dozen employees working out of their casually, and regular department gatherings in the space when a number of people had to be in SF. So going full remote was easier for our org than others, but I wouldn't mind a few days back in an office.
- I'm far more productive in an office
- Onboarding remotely really doesn't work at all
In short, working from home is boring, lonely, and stressful all at the same time.
I stopped building my social life through work `n` companies ago; I'm way more productive at home and my setup is way nicer; I have onboarded many engineers in person and remotely and find onboarding remotely to be much easier and less of a drain.
This only confirms the line that my coworkers and I are noticing as folks make their decisions as to return to the office or not. The older (married and (some) with children) engineers are staunchly in the WFH camp, while the greener hands are enthused about working from the office.
Personally I think cities are overrated anyway and this is why:
- heavy traffic hence heavy pollution
- huge commute times to work
- need to pay lot more for home (both buy/rent, may even have to take loan)
- everything is expensive. My current expenses are 1/3 of that of city and I already have a home. I live in a town since pandemic
In that case if you want in-person interaction with like-minded people, or to attend specific facilities, you need a big enough population that the relevant small percentage of people becomes a significant community.
After graduation I probably knew dozens of people who moved to Manhattan or nearby. I'm not sure more than one couple I know is still there.
* Having any kind of separation between work and home.
* The requirement to have an office space that you likely pay quite a lot of rent for.
* Lack of spontaneous interaction with co-workers (especially new ones)
I socialize by going to conventions, events, clubs, parties; with people I want to be around.
Outside of tech work, consider how many professions depend on communication where this lossiness is unacceptable. So I definitely get that there's a wide spectrum of preferences towards telecommuting.
I'm not at all saying "Be antisocial at work". That just makes for a shitty time for everyone. What I was trying to get to was "dont use work as a way to make friends as well", since many of those relationships are predicated upon working said job. It's all too easy to lose a job and be simultaneously be isolated by having all your 'friend network' in a group that no longer talks or relates to you.
By having people who are your friends outside work, how you change jobs doesn't matter. It's a discussion with your friends about that place. And talking ill about that workplace can be done, and not alienating or as sour-grapes.
Now, for the few people that do cross over to non-work, it's awesome. Welcome them as a friend, and not a "work-friend". But I find that I've only had a very small handful of people whom that happened with.
I've worked for four companies in my career. I'm still great friends with my coworkers from my first company.
I don't talk to anyone from my second and third companies at all - not because I don't like them, but because we just never built rapport or "jived" with each other beyond work. Our relationships amounts to at best, liking each others' posts on social networking and saying happy birthdays.
I'm still good friends with some people I worked at in my current company that have since left.
Then again, I'm fairly introverted. YMMV if you are highly extroverted. I know some people that can quickly become best friends with a room full of strangers.
I think offices are here to stay, but maybe in some cases they will change to be more like coworking spaces for just one company, where every desk is "rented", to allow for hybrid situations where different teams can choose if they want to be remote or in person and which days they do that.
I'm a Senior SWE. I've got ADHD. Work from home has been *catastrophic* for me. I don't have the ability to focus. I have no space in my home where I can work distraction-free, and no ability to create a space separate from my family. From home I can slack off for an hour... or two... or days, and nobody notices because my projects don't have deliverables that are measured in less than weeks. So I end up spending way too much time on non-work things and then berate myself for it afterwards. And then I do the same thing the next day.
Being in the office gives me an externally-imposed structure that I just don't have the capability to impose on myself. I had the freedom to pick a few days here and there to WFH as needed, so I understand and can occasionally use the benefits. I also miss out on the serendipitous conversations. I know that a lot of people discount this as hand-waviness, but my team's culture around texting is disruptive in a way that I used to avoid in person. I felt like I had a much better handle on things in the office.
My spouse runs her own company, and she has a free office, so I've been using that twice a week, and I make sure to medicate these days to make the most of them. But my output is still significantly lower than when I was in office. And I don't want to move to every day medication for a variety of reasons.
I've read the comments suggesting that middle management thinks that their perceived impact is threatened in a work from home environment, but I am clearly not in that demographic. My work is either writing design docs and getting approval, leading a team to build these designs, or getting my hands dirty with the code itself.
I don't care if other people work from home, as long as I'm not completely alone in the office. I just need the structure back.
I feel like a junky who just needs "one more" whiteboard fix.
I can't tell you how many times I'm heard a team mate mention something that they're working on that I have direct knowledge about and I've been able to cut a week of time off their project. And vice-versa, they've helped me.
I usually don't care about exactly what they're doing or how far along they are. If I need that information I join that group's regular sync, or check the bug status, or ping them and ask.
It's more about knowledge that a project actually exists. I have about 5 projects that I'm actively leading and another 10 or so that have been backlogged or deferred. There are about 50 people at my level in the department, so I assume there are at least 200 active projects, and I can't handle that firehose. Actually, I'm positive that there are at least 200 projects of various sizes ongoing, and I may be low by a full order of magnitude.
But when a question comes through my team, the fact that we can overhear what's going on and tune in or tune out can make or a break a project.
Like I said, I'm free to WFH as I see fit as is. I probably averaged WFH less than one day a week, but sometimes it was as many as 3 days.
I've done remote work for ~3 years for a few companies. This only worked because their expectations were significantly lower than my capabilities, so I was able to coast through with ~2 hours of work per day.
As my role has increased, expectations have risen to match my capabilities. But I strongly feel like I only have those capabilities in the office.
As for the need for structure: I can understand this quite well. Both as a PdM and as a lifelong fan of my son.
1-Hour commute time both ways: 21.8 Days a year you are spending commuting to/from work.
3-fucking-weeks of time, poof, gone.
I'll get my social interaction else where for 3 weeks of my life back. Thanks.
1. Catching up on lost sleep because I had to wake up early to waste that time on commuting to the office.
2. Being wasted from a tiring day at work and not in any mood to do anything "productive" on transit, which itself further adds to fatigue and exhaustion.
As a bonus, you also get to roll the dice on whether you even get to sit. Whether it's 30 minutes or 90 minutes, holding onto a bar or strap stuffed into a metal container like sardines takes another huge mental and physical toll. Arrive at the office already tired and wasted, and arrive back home even more tired and wasted.
The only way I can avoid it is to leave home much earlier (see my earlier comment about losing sleep because of the commute as it is) and/or leave work much later.
Or move closer to work at the cost of much higher housing expenses for a place that is smaller and older.
Or - something which I'm trying to do - leave for an entirely different metropolitan area. I've had ex-coworkers and friends who've left the Manhattan commuting hellhole for the SFBA and tell me their commutes are a heavenly 15-30 minute relaxing drive now.
But the way I see it is that you have two choices: you can change the situation or you can change your outlook on it. Sometimes you can do the first one, but it doesn't always work out. At this point you should look to do the second one. If you don't do either, well I guess you can wait for a covid situation to do the changing for you.
Also, cycling absolutely increases the risk of accidents...doing almost anything at night increases the risk of something going wrong. I don't see how that point plays into anything. If my ride home is 30 minutes and I need to stay focused not to crash, then I ride attentively and consider it a workout. Yay I just worked out 22 extra days a year.
I'm glad you think that people who choose to listen to podcasts during transportation experiences are timidly complying with the world though, seems accurate.