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Employees are quitting instead of giving up working from home (bloomberg.com)
1023 points by mancerayder 22 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 856 comments

For me, the utility of being at home versus being at the office is massive. If I need a 15 minute break, I can start a load of laundry, or run the dishwasher, or do some other chore.

I can wake up later since I don't have a commute. I don't lose two hours a day due to the commute.

I can wear as comfortable clothing as I desire. I can delay my shower until after my daily workout (Which I can do since my workout equipment is at home).

I can control my environment so there are as many or as few distractions as i like. I can put on videos or audio that might not be considered work appropriate. I can use speakers since no one is around me to hear the sound.

The number and magnitude of inconveniences we subject ourselves to by heading to an office every day has been fully revealed. I will do all I can to work from home for the rest of my life.

I've been doing WFH for 5 years and feel like the rest of the world just caught on. In addition to what you mention:

- Control of food. No more bagels or carb dumping ground. No more limited food options. My own kitchen.

- Control of equipment. Need a 4k monitor? Need a trackball? No approvals needed.

- Control of ergonomics. Get exactly the chair you need. Get an electric height adjustable desk without going through facilities.

- Control temperature. Never be too hot or cold.

- So many great options for breaks. Walk down the street. Meditate in the garden. Play Beatsaber. Take a nap, naps are magic.

- Control your lighting. Good color temperature and comfortable brightness make the space more relaxing and can aid sleep and wakefulness.

- The ultimate corner office. Privacy and separate space that you can personalize to your heart's content.

- Location flexibility. Work from a beach rental. Do a city-stay near a WeWork. Find a mountain cabin with high speed internet. Move to a new state without having to change jobs.

- Finances. Live in a low tax state. Have an older car. Spend less on clothes, lunches, parking, gas, tolls. Live in cheaper square footage without worrying about what it does to your commute.

- Stress. More emotional speration between you and your work. Relationships are through Zoom and require less emotional investment. Work forms less a part of your identity and changing it involves fewer changes to your daily routine.

- Caffeine. With more tools to manage your wakefulness, less need to lean on the crutch of caffeine. For me, less caffeine means less alcohol as well.

Other people are free to have their opinions that they don't like WFH or can't wait to get back into the office. For me, I really struggle to understand how you cannot love it. With total control of my environment, I can easily correct for minor downsides such as needing to maintain work-life balance and good social connections. After years of optimization, I have a better quality of life than our CEO. I'd be insane to give it up.

The other thing I don't see mentioned enough is the impact on disabled people. Thanks to spine issues, I can't comfortably drive. That has limited me to either working where a train line goes or at the same place with my wife where I can carpool with her as a passenger. WFH is one of the most freeing things that has ever happened to me. It not only frees me to work anywhere, but it also means I don't need to take as frequent breaks. I used to have to work at places that could accommodate my need to lay down to decompress several times a day, and that meant I couldn't do any actual work during that time. At home, I can much more easily keep working from bed when sitting or standing gets too painful.

Not just disability — basically everyone in every marginalized group is doing better working from home. My queer friends are thriving in this environment. You don’t have to code switch online to the same degree you do in real life, and it gave people time to consider the cognitive and emotional toll that code switching takes.

Like, I’m trans and have kept it hidden most of my career. It’s always been hard on me, because I have to carefully curate my image because if I don’t I opened myself to discrimination if people could tell.

I started a new job during the pandemic and went full-on “fuck it” mode and I couldn’t be happier. Joined the LGBT ERG and helped organize some of the younger trans people at my company into pushing for expanded healthcare benefits (I don’t need them personally, but they will). I don’t think I would have found the energy to do any of this if I was also worried about how I was being perceived by others — all that energy would have gone into creating an illusion that’s acceptable to the people who do my reviews and sign my paychecks.

What is code switching? I know what it means in the context of being bilingual. But I don't think I understand what you're saying here...

It's also applied to switching dialect, word choice, and even accent. Lots of people in the US who grow up with any kind of regional or ethnic accent or English-variant end up being capable of code-switching to Standard American English, especially if they move around much and/or attend school somewhere outside the area where their dialect is normal, though even regional schools will provide some social pressure to avoid non-standard accents or dialects that are common in their areas. AAVE (African-American Vernacular English) is a commonly-cited variant from which one may wish (or feel strong pressure) to code-switch to SAE, but similar (if less race-fraught, so perhaps not directly comparable) pressure exists for people with strong Bostonian or Appalachian or rural-midwestern accents, or most anything other than SAE.

The positive reason for this, is that it allows potentially extreme variants and dialects to co-exist while letting everyone still communicate clearly with others (by code-switching to whatever's considered standard). The down-side is that it often exists alongside negative stereotypes about those who can't, or choose not to, code-switch to SAE (but, of course, refusing to becomes its own counter-signal for very high status—Fussell, for instance, observes that adhering to SAE is a middle-class and up tendency, but not among "old money" or his "top-out-of-sight" rich, since they don't need, at any point in their life, to give a damn whether some employer or other gate-keeper judges them worthy or intelligent or whatever).

I didn't get what code switching meant until my first job out of college. I had a coworker who would copyedit what I wrote to a level that would impress an English professor. It was great, he made me sound so much smarter to the rest of the company. When we became Facebook friends, I was surprised to see that he had a totally different manner of speaking to his friends.

I can't speak for the GP commenter, but from my own experience being non-binary, I have to expend cognitive energy every morning thinking about what I'll be doing that day (what meetings, any errands, etc), before deciding what clothes I can wear. If I'm staying home all day, with no meetings, or only meeting with trusted colleagues, I will dress differently than a day where I need to go to a store, or if I need to meet with coworkers I've never met before.

For trans people, just existing without conflict or judgement from others is a constant struggle between society's normative expectations and the desire to express who you really are.

Yeah that’s basically it. Working from home I can be in a t-shirt with no bra and a days worth of stubble and nobody is the wiser. It helps that I pass without makeup though.

I have cystic fibrosis. It's fairly mild, but I do have to do daily breathing treatments, and it's so nice to be able to take care of those needs while working. To say nothing of when I'm ill but can still be fairly productive around rest. I've even gotten work done from the hospital during an admission.

I've worked from home for 3 years, than office for 2 and now back to home because of COVID and I moved to another continent.

I have some points on the not good column

- If you have kids, it is hard to focus sometimes, specially small ones.

- Sometimes your SO forgets you are not "Home" and this also can be bad, as it can create stress between you 2.

- I miss software design sessions with my team, we would go thru issues 2x faster being together.

- Onboarding new team members is a lot harder and they feel less part of the "team"

Last one is building culture remotely is a skill a handful of people have, until now at least. So this also becomes a mess...

For me the perfect balance is to be at the office once a week.

As a kid who grew up with a father who worked from home, I will say I loved it, though. I knew I shouldn't bother him much while he's working... but I could if I really needed to, and he was around if something important happened. His flexible working conditions also meant he could be a part of everything and take you places and then you'd want to do something he'd find boring and he'd just say "I'll sit on this bench, come get me when you're done" and he'd put in a half hour of work in the middle of nowhere as he could (his job also was for a company half a world away, and so he didn't really need to be in contact with them constantly--pre-Internet--or work very specific hours). So like... it might be a bit harder on you--particularly when the kid is young enough to not understand "work"--but I feel incredibly lucky that my father did that (and like, he actually was gone three months of the year to work for that company "in the office"... but I still feel like I got much more of a father than anyone else I knew).

Yes, familywise it's great, I just came back from a 1h lunch break on the beach digging sand castles for a good 30 minutes of it with them all, something impossible with any other setup.

Not impossible at all. I know two companies near the beach where people surf during lunch.

With their kids?

Shit are you the "saurik"? Oh man, thanks for all the work you put into Cydia and all that. Seriously you are awesome.

This is why HN is special!

Yes, their kids and spouse come to that beach

Sorry, I'm too young, I have a feeling this question will seem very dumb to older folks—what work can you do remotely without the internet?

I guess a lot of stuff happened over the phone? If you write a document, how do you send it to others? Did he use a fax machine, maybe?

I didn't technically ever work without internet access, but since it required an expensive long distance phone call (10 to 25c per minute) over a 2400bps modem, most work time was offline.

I'd typically do a short dialup call in the morning and one in the evening to upload emails I queued up to send, download any emails I received and sync up code repositories.

Honestly I often wish for similar conditions today (except the 2400bps part!). The productivity and mental peace of zero distractions all day long was so much better.

As to how to work? No different from today really. Sync up the code repositories and do all development locally for the day. Or work on architecture/design documents.

I sometimes seek that peaceful working condition by working remote at locations with no signal. Wish I could do it more often.

Any intellectual work that typically traded on paper.

-Design jobs like architecture and drafting

-Small device repairs (where the device is high value and can be mailed)

-Creative labor like copy writing, editing, etc

Also, where I grew up in rural Montana, a lot of jobs that are considered to require an office but which can be done over the phone were worked remotely up until recently. Sales in many industries was done over the phone with people stationed throughout the Western U.S. states, each managing about a 100,000-300,000 sq mi area.

The answer to your direct question is, in fact, "fax". The digital fax machines that started to come out were able to send documents without much loss and then print multiple copies of them (rather than essentially attaching a modem directly to a glorified receipt printer like earlier ones had).

He had a Palm Pilot he would scribble on a lot to work out of the house when those became a thing, and he had one of the first actually-portable laptop computers. We (he involved me in a lot of his process of learning tech) tested out early tablet computing devices (running Windows 3.0 "for Handwriting" ;P).

There are different answers to this, depending on what "without the internet" means. Pre-internet it was phone or fax, but early internet it was intermittent/dial-up internet, meaning you could do offline work that you upload later. Even during ADSL neither I or any service on the internet relied on always-online assumptions. Think git (but before actual git).

> Sometimes your SO forgets you are not "Home" and this also can be bad, as it can create stress between you 2.

Simple solution, put a sign on the door that indicates you are working and only to interrupt if it's important. You can still set boundaries here without it being an issue. Be creative, talk it out with your SO.

This can help when kids get old enough to understand as well, but admittedly won't work with small children.

> miss software design sessions with my team, we would go thru issues 2x faster being together.

I think this is something that can be solved with software but it'll take some time to develop workflows that work for everyone. Talk to your team to try to find ways you can optimize.

> - Onboarding new team members is a lot harder and they feel less part of the "team"

This comes down to the culture, which is your last part.

You can help new members feel included in simple ways. Or simply include them in decisions and discussions is helpful. Really it's the same as when you're working in the same location. You just have to be proactive about including someone that you're not seeing. This is more on you and less on the new person.

> Simple solution, put a sign on the door

Who said anything about a door? We dont have two spare rooms really.


I suspect anyone that enjoys living in a high cost of living city (SF, NYC, etc) and isn’t obscenely wealthy is working from their living or bedroom. If you’re not living alone, WFH becomes a lot harder.

I would prefer to live in SF and go to the office (because my house/apt is too small) than live elsewhere but be able to afford a house with a dedicated room for an office.

How about a middleground solution: Live close to SF (say San Mateo, ~30 mins to SF)? That way you can get dedicated room for office and be in proximity to the city.

Isn't that worst of both worlds?

Still EXPENSIVE as hell, and no big open spaces to yourself, but also still not a quick stroll to all the world-class amenities of SF.

Maybe it varies for other people, but when i think of "live in to enjoy the city" i think 2 blocks from enough food to never cook again, new bars every friday, a quick transit ride to almost any activity i could want - and no car ownership needed. Its a lifestyle of living out of the city as a communal space, not a destination to visit on weekends.

Well it comes down to personal preferences. For me, SF is unhabitable due to crime, shit + syringes, homelessness, and the fact that it's a ghost-town on weekends.

Combining that with the fact that we don't do bars, we cook and need car ownership so we can do hike-trips...

I work from my living room, my girlfriend works from the bedroom. Sure she sometimes comes out to get water or something and walks past me and into the kitchen and I can see her and hear the sink running but it isn't exactly a huge distraction

My partner works on a voice assistant so theres CONSTANT talking with a smart speaker all day :(

Oooof, that sounds painful but also a pretty atypical experience for people not living alone. My girlfriend has a job where she's on the phone a lot, but in the other room with the door shut that isn't really a problem at all. I can barely hear it, and if I have my headphones on I can't hear it at all

That's another thing that a permanent WFH mindset can solve - move. I've been WFH for ~20 years, and can't imagine giving up the freedom I have in selecting a home.

I still live in the Bay Area, but it's a 45min (no traffic) to ~1:45hr (typical) commute to the South Bay. It'd be hard to do this every day, but I don't have to.

As a result, I get to live on huge chunk of land, with an office to call my own, for the same $$ I'd spend on a 4br/3ba 'normal' house in San Jose.

I don't know that someone who can afford a multimillion dollar home is working the same kind of job that 99% of the rest of the world works.

A) It’s not a multimillion dollar home, and B) that’s not really relevant - the point is that WFH frees you from having to live in high cost areas, which means you can also afford an office in your house.

Yeah, I’ve been working out of the living room all pandemic.

We are actually moving soon primarily so that I can have an office.

I've onboarded a few people over the pandemic and that's really the only downside. I can't really gauge their mood while pair coding over zoom. So its harder to pick up on where they are struggling to keep up.

All that has meant is that ramp up time is a little slower. And I can come into the office for 2 weeks for the two times a year we onboard people. Hell, if we did an office rental then neither of us would have to commute into town. It may be shocking to hear, but new people typically live in the outskirts where housing is cheap. Right next to where I live...

Great commentary. Regarding 'I miss software design sessions with my team, we would go thru issues 2x faster being together.' My team struggled with this at first, mainly because we had a massive markerboarding wall in the office. We tried setting up whiteboards in our home offices and doing some whiteboard sharing. There was just something about marker on markerboard paint we missed. Then we found Miro which allowed us to virtually markerboard remotely and asynchronously with ease. It doesn't hurt that our video conferencing app Whereby has Miro share feature so we do it directly within Whereby and not have to context-switch so much.

<plug / request for feedback from targeted, experienced user>

Please check out https://sharetheboard.com -- we too didn't want to give up markers (on paint or boards or anywhere else). We're working on a number of integrations at the moment. Hadn't considered Whereby yet (Miro is on the short list) but open to suggestions.

> If you have kids, it is hard to focus sometimes, specially small ones.

This is what can happen when you WFH with small children:


This is true, the thing is kids grow up and then that stage is gone. With my oldest and second I missed so much, not something I would want to repeat again with my current 18 month old. Kids settle down as they get older, and I'd much rather have a quick play distraction than the annoying conversations that you get sucked into around the water cooler. And I'd also rather get locked into WFH roles now and put up with the young kid noises now with the long-term payoff of less distractions. How many of us are newscasters anyway? I've given up even instructing my wife to take the kids out unless it's a really important presentation, because so many of my co-workers are in the same boat.

> This is what can happen when you WFH with small children:

Very early in the pandemic our CEO was doing all hands sessions with the company and these things happened on and off.

I still don't know if it just happened naturally or if it was staged, but either way it was brilliant. It set the tone for the company that if even big shot billionaire CEO was having kids wander into meetings, it was certainly ok for everyone else.

Every freaking day.

Those are all good points. Which is why I think we need to distinguish between different actual situations when we talk about this stuff.

The fact that you are not going to the office is too broad of a category. I mean just look at the name, work from home, and it is misleading right there.

You may need to look into a co-working space or other option to get out of the house with so many distractions.

It's also going to be totally different for people who have no kids or who are employing nannies or day care to occupy the children.

The software design sessions thing, I absolutely do not buy the idea that this cannot be done remotely. Use a Zoom meeting, one of the many collaborative whiteboarding sites/programs and get people Wacom tablets if desired. But just a chat room, phone call, Discord voice channel, etc. should actually be adequate most of the time.

For onboarding and culture, just because people are not coming into the office does not mean that it has to turn into a free for all. You can still have rules about being around at a certain time or using certain software or video calls or whatever you feel you need to keep people integrated or whatever. The only thing that needs to be different is the literal physical presence of the person. Virtual presence can still be facilitated and required if you feel it is necessary.

> Onboarding new team members is a lot harder and they feel less part of the "team"

On the other hand, we onboarded someone who lives in Vermont (the rest of the team is in the same town on the west coast) and since we are all working remotely, other than changing his working hours to align with our own, you can’t tell the difference between him and us.

> For me the perfect balance is to be at the office once a week.

Out of necessity I've been WFH for the past 2 years. While overall I have enjoyed working from home, the issues you describe are real. Once it is no longer necessary for me to be WFH full time, I think one day a week in the office would be ideal.

I'd go further and say, make both optional. Come to the office space when you need it, stay at home when you don't. Once a week? Twice a week? Every day? Once a month or never? Doesn't matter.

Maybe some things would need to change in terms of what office space is leased, and the capacity, in order to manage the cost.

I think there's value in consistency in terms of setting expectations (both for my family and for my colleagues) the the flexibility to determine what that consistency looks like is key.

Alternatively, what about work from "home" where you work at a nearby cafe or co-working space or even the library or a university?

My company would very much not want others to see my unannounced work.

You need to get one of those screen protectors that prevents people from seeing your screen form different angles, and make sure you get that corner seat.

Yeah, companies with strict security measures dutifully provide them for free.

I liked how to worded "emotional separation" The reduction in my stress has been amazing, especially considering we've been in the middle of covid. My moods are way better regulated now. I'm no longer trying to ignore my angry office mate who's muttering under his breath. I didn't realize how much upset people influence my own mood. I thought I was good at ignoring angry people, but the action of ignoring took up a lot more energy than I previously thought. My biggest worry about back-to-office is how I'm going to managed my increased stress levels.

Same, the whole elbow office politics is definitely much smoother. I had a few situations where a work colleague would try to convince me in joining his angry crusade when we had a call. But from home it's much easier to distance from that or just escape the call. No more people coming unannounced to me asking me for unreasonable work tasks. I will very likely switch if office presence becomes mandatory again.

I am the same way. I am very sensitive to the emotional states of the people around me. I think most people are. A stressful office environment was a pressure cooker where we stewed all day in each other's stress hormones. My stress was off the charts.

> - Control of equipment. Need a 4k monitor? Need a trackball? No approvals needed.

No approvals, but you have to pay for it.

Prior to COVID, I used vacation time every summer to work at an academic summer camp for three weeks. Most of the other staff members—largely college students—had to go through this dumb supply request system whenever they wanted materials for an activity. I just ordered whatever I wanted off Amazon, which was expensive, but I figured I was technically on a sort of weird vacation, so screw it.

My point being, you can make this trade-off in many workplaces. Working from home just normalizes it—and sometimes removes the choice.

In open office or hot desking environments, you really might not have the choice. My last office from 2015 on Market Street was all hot desk. You could not have any personal items left on the desk at the end of the day. The only way to get a standing desk was to get a doctor's recommendation and have an ergonomic consultant approve it. You could use whatever peripherals you could fit in a backpack.

I now have an electric standing desk with memory settings, a cushioned standing mat, a great office chair that fits my back perfectly, a kneeling chair, a yoga ball, a stool, plants, original artwork, fidget toys, cozy lamps, excercise equipment, ergonomic keyboard and mouse, a large external display, the best video conferencing headset I could find, laptop and monitor height adjustable stands and probably a few other things as well. I changed jobs recently and didn't have to do anything but swap out the laptop.

> the best video conferencing headset I could find

If you could share your findings this would be greatly appreciated. (Is it wired or wireless?)

Jabra Evolve 40. I chose wired so I didn't have to deal with Bluetooth audio issues. I wanted something with a professional appearance and strong mic and headphone performance for voice frequencies, plus a mute button. Very happy with it.

I'll heartily agree with this recommendation, though I have the Jabra Evolve 75. As best as I can tell it's exactly the same as the 40 with the addition of Bluetooth. I happened to pick it up in February of 2020 and it's been fantastic for my hours of daily calls.

That sits on top of the ear, crushing the ear cartilage against the skull, right? How can anyone choose that style of headphone?

They don't put much pressure on the head, certainly not enough to describe it as crushing anything. A characteristic of this type of headset is light weight, so the clamp pressure does not need to be strong to keep them in place.

As a result they're significantly smaller than over-ear cans, and able to be stuffed in a laptop bag easily.

The style can become fatiguing with extended wear, that is probably their biggest flaw along with limitations on how much sound isolation they can achieve.

I'm not OP and it's not a headset, but I have to say—nothing beats the Blue Yeti for microphone audio quality, and there's a headphone jack on the bottom you can just use with any pair of headphones.

It's a bit of an investment, and very slightly cumbersome at times versus a wireless headset, but I think it's worthwhile in order to sound good.

(Well, okay, a truly professional microphones would presumably make you sound even better, but you're very much past the point of diminishing returns.)

Sidetone. The essential hardware feature that Blue Yeti and few others get right. I've had one on my wish list for a while.

On the main topic, as a boomer who suffered through office work for decades (the dictation system in my first job was a DictaBelt, and electronic forms were what the secretaries stored on their IBM Selectrics), going 100% remote 12 years ago was the greatest productivity boost I've experienced since my first work PC (which I built from parts sourced at Jameco Electronics... in 1988).

There is _no_ way I'll ever return to an office, with all the distractions (we used to call them "drive-bys") and already mentioned ergonomic barriers. My manager is a genx who is fully behind remote work, but there are lots of late boomer and genx execs who are really uncomfortable with it for a load if reasons -- including that it denies them opportunities to intimidate through physical presence (never a problem I experienced personally, mostly because those same sorts of managers tend to be intimidated by age, experience and credentials).

I find it ironic that so many execs who now lament the loss of "collaboration" weren't voicing those concerns a couple of decades ago during the massive push to outsource and offshore. I know from personal experience that collaborating remotely is not only possible, but often superior to in-office -- as I think dozens of my colleagues across a couple of oceans who I worked some pretty difficult technical issues with would attest.

I’d get something like the AT2005USB or similar instead.

Besides being half the price, it’s a dynamic mic instead of condenser.

True, a good condenser will sound marginally better, but it will also pick up a lot more background noise more readily. Better off to pick up cleaner audio to start with rather than try and filter it out after.

And to your point about diminishing returns, I think especially over the generally iffy quality conferencing software we’re all using something like a Blue Yeti is already well into the diminishing returns.

How does the yeti perform on echo cancelation and background noise isolation? In my experience, the Evolve 40 is good enough that I can turn off Zoom's software filters and get a further quality boost.

That is basically because it is near you and far from anything else. So it doesn't have to do anything to not pick up background noise. You can do that with any mic, headsets just have a bit of an advantage in having a fixed placement right near you however you move. I have a mic on a boom over the monitor so it ends up close to me and I wear headphones so that has much the same effect. But its all about placement.

Thanks, moved to reply.

Fyi, the reply button will appear if you click "X minutes ago" above a comment. It will also appear normally if you wait a few minutes.

There's no depth limit, it's just a subtle cue to consider slowing down, to help prevent flame wars.

Many workplaces are giving out home office stipends.

I’ve had places not allow personal equipment to be brought in so it wouldn’t be their fault if it was stolen.

They would buy ergonomic things that could be justified though.

I don’t miss that.

- Exercise!

In my home office, I've got pushup stands, a pull-up bar, suspension straps, an ab roller, yoga mat, resistance bands, and some dumbells that I use in those moments while something is compiling. No back pain for years and I'm in great shape.

If I did this in an office, I'd get endless remarks and cocked eyes, eventually being told by a superior that my "coworkers find that a little weird". (i.e. stop doing that)

I do this too! It's especially great when I'm starting to doze but don't want a full nap...I can hop up and do a set of whatever. After that, I'm good to go!

Same here, when the gyms closed I immediately bought the equipment I use and it made for a much better work experience and home experience as there is the extra time from not going to the office or the gym. It’s also more peaceful to exercise in quiet rather than get blasted by loud ads all the time.

This is a cultural thing that varies a bit. It wouldn't be unusual to spot workout equipment at or around an engineer's desk in sports and fitness tech.

I loved working from home because it allowed me more time with my dog. His need to be taken outside occasionally was a perfect reminder for me to take a break. Plus, the light snoring coming from under my desk was super comforting.

While I was more productive at home, I think that came at a cost to others that I work with. Every interruption that I avoided while WFH is a slowdown for somebody I work with.

I'm back in the office again but I'm hoping that I can one day arrange to work from home most days and only occasionally come into the office.

> Move to a new state without having to change jobs.

I see this point but it's often not a guarantee, particularly if you work at a small company. In the US if your employer is in State A and you want to move to State B, then your employer must become registered as a business in that state and abide by that state's labor laws. Many small businesses aren't capable of (or interested in) maintaining compliance with every state's laws.

I believe this will change in the future, but right now I wouldn't bet on it.

I love WFH because I don't have to put up with politics crap.

Also I realized how conscientious I am compared to other people and the message trail means I have peace of mind about stuff that's not my fault.

And I love that some people are forced to hold in their verbal diarrhea and have to think before writing messages.

I actually went through really severe caffeine withdrawal last year, it turns out that the always-ready coffeepot at our coworking space was keeping me way, way more caffeinated that I could reasonably do at home

I also spent the year stressed out by the endless stream of Slack messages, eating poorly, forgetting to take breaks, and slumped on a couch rather that bothering to use my nice ergonomic chair, so, YMMV

Same here. Was always popping and using my boss's espresso machine. Now its 1 cup a day. Before, it was 1 cup, and then 3-4 espressos.

> After years of optimization, I have a better quality of life than our CEO. I'd be insane to give it up.

Maybe you did run in to it but haven't mentioned, or maybe 5 years is not enough to see it -- have you noticed that a big part of the "remote culture" that few know how to build, is proper recognition of remote workers in the mixed- or dominantly-office- teams?

Those CEOs are perfectly aware that your life quality is higher than theirs on a much lower income, they know full well you are not going away anytime soon...

One thing people are going to have to learn is to not have mixed teams. I don't think you can avoid the problem you describe with mixed teams. Even if a minority on the team are office bound, if they are in the same office you will essentially end up with two teams. You also need to divide things by timezone if you are global, as otherwise cliques will emerge. At a remote first company, our product teams are timezone restricted remote, our follow-the-sun support is three sub-teams. The office bound teams, where people came from that sort of environment, are dissolving into remote work, more quickly thanks to a big push from the pandemic.

Heavy are the hands that wear the golden handcuffs.

Yes, working from home can be very comfortable if you invest in comfort.

But for me, comfort isn't everything. I'd rather be a bit less comfortable if it means being able to feel part of something nice. I really like being among people, experiencing things together. For me, that feeling easily outweighs comfort.

Then again, my work is a 10m walk from my house, and I have quite a bit of influence on how our work environment is shaped - so that may be easy for me to say.

> I really like being among people

That's what the local pub is for.

ah, yes. the smart healthy option.

I've been doing WFH for the better part of ten years. So beat you. Lol.

But it is kind of vindicating seeing people everywhere start to have the same philosophy. It makes me hopeful that other good things may catch on in the future eventually.

The next stage is possibly moving somewhere with a lower cost of living. Been spending most time in Mexico for almost three years.

I've been WFH for 20 years (by the end of this year).

I've considered moving for a lower cost of living or living the "nomad" life, but I honestly prefer big crazy cities with tons of people and endless possibilities every day.

And so I've lived in big cities the whole time and have loved every minute of it. I pay more, and I charge more, and generally try to make sure my clients aren't local so they don't suddenly get the crazy idea that I should pop into the office. But, even when they are local, I keep office visits to a minimum (once per month or less).

It's been pretty great to see so many start to see the delights of working from home. It get that it's not for everyone. I'm positive it's for a lot of us.

I don't optimize for cost, I optimize for quality of life. I'm a semi-nomad and try to be in places that offer family, friends, walkability, and nature.

Music! You forgot music! Like it loud though speakers? No problem!

So your buying a "4k Monitor" and office equipment for your employer - how generous.

Or are you renting them access to your equipment :-)

It is my equipment. I am not buying it for them, I am buying it for me. My health, my back health, my eye health, my wrist health, and my comfort are 100% worth the investment. I don't expect any company to take care of my health for me. I take care of it myself. Are you renting your company access to your car when you drive in? If so, I guarantee you spend more than I do.

In addition to all you said, you mentioned your car...do they also pay you for your commute time? Of course not.

Say you have a 1hr each way...2 hours/day, 5 days/week, 48 weeks/year, $100/hr: $100 * 2 * 5 * 48 = $48,000. WFH literally just saved you $48k of billable time.

Buying a 4k monitor (that you can also use for non-work activities) on your own dime is probably reasonable.

There are specific carve outs in employment law and car insurance for commutes. Try using your personal vehicle for work with out additional have an accident and your insurer will wash their hands of you.

Most people can do this in their office. Unless you’re hotswapping (uncommon in my experience) then you can just bring whatever equipment you want in. We had plenty of people do that at all the jobs I’ve worked at.

I don't think this is accurate.

Some professionals, notably those whose work culture encourages self-determination, can be allowed to bring in their own hardware or request custom hardware. These are usually the outliers, rather than the norm (and in fact, this is often advertised as a "perk" of being employed at that particular place).

The vast majority of corporate environments are rather locked down and standardized, understandably, with one-size-fits-all or a set menu of tech provisions, depending on role (e.g., designers often get larger screens than accountants).

Even as a developer, I had to fight for larger screens for my team, as IT saw no inherent need for larger screens beyond what they initially provisioned.

Contrast that with my WFH setup, with my 3-monitor setup on a 7-foot standing desk...

Okay? But I’ve never been in an office or seen one where they banned bringing in your own equipment. Even in places that had the set menu for different roles. If you had some stuff you wanted to bring in, go for it.

I've worked in several in larger/Fortune 500 companies, including one where the desk setups were handled by a labor union, any changes required multiple approvals, and DIYing anything (using personal equipment or even adjusting the existing desk position or height) was a rules violation and prohibited. You wouldn't be able to get past security with personal equipment larger than what could fit in your pocket, and carrying so much as a monitor or laptop that didn't have a company barcode on it already would get you stopped.

So yeah, these sorts of workplaces exist and thousands of people have to contend with their on-site limitations.

Besides the sibling comment, here in Germany it is common to have electricity certifications on equiment done by external companies.

If managed to bring through securty some stuff that you plug into the office network, isn't certified and something goes wrong, short circuit or whatever, it is on you to deal with whatever might happen including dealing with the insurance company.

Doing work on a personal laptop is unlikely to fly. Nor is swapping out a desk without getting permission.

Even if allowed, if you want similar equipment at home and in the office you'd have to buy two of it all, or tear it down and take it home with you every night. If you just work from home you don't have that problem.

Alternative - you just work at the office... then this isn’t an issue either. See how that works? ;)

Some places don't allow you to bring in your own equipment, and there is an approved list of equipment that you can buy from.

So unless the item is listed on that list, you are SOL.

I’ve never run into this personally. And I’ve worked in some old ass enterprise type companies. Maybe for high security clearance places this is an issue or something...

I wouldn’t focus on niche places that do this though as an arguing point. It may as well be, “but some chipotle’s don’t offer guacamole. So, ya know, can’t rely on it.” Might be true but sounds rare.

I've worked at old-school telcos and startups alike.

It was acceptable to bring your own keyboard and mouse to two out of the five companies, other than that, no other hardware was allowed to be brought in. So you are stuck with the monitors provided, with the rest of the hardware that was provided, and while you could bring in limited ergonomic stuff, you were also limited to whatever office furniture was available.

I worked for a US health insurance company for a while, and they were almost this strict.

People got away with breaking some of the rules, but it was definitely a risk - it was theoretically grounds for dismissal to bring in your own hardware, IIRC, let alone to run unapproved software.

The concern in that case was a PHI (personal health information) breach, which could bring the wrath of the US judicial system down on the company.

So, not top-secret or anything like that, but still very conservative and with decent reasons to be so.

Huh - I worked in health with HIPPA data issues as well - never had this hardware specific issue. But, we were a group of software engineers who weren't idiots - so... we understood that bringing our own monitor or keyboard/mouse wasn't likely to do anything and not a real risk.

I have a keyboard that runs custom, open-source software.

It would be easy to figure that out about me, if you cared. Say if you found a list of employees and contractors.

A sufficiently-motivated attacker could backdoor my firmware with a timer-based exploit (e.g., start your keystroke payload after ten minutes without input events) and I might well not notice if it was a deft-enough change.

It might not be worth the cost, given that I might well notice it and it might not pay off even if I didn't.

Still - the point is that keyboards are not innocuous, harmless devices that it's a no-brainer to allow.

Not at my office. Their contracts with their landlord mean you are required to have union laborer to plug in a computer or a monitor.

I brought in my own mechanical keyboard to the office. It has clicky keys so it's not quiet. I haven't gotten any complaints yet, but that could change depending on who my next cubicle neighbor might be.

This is the social equivalent of the opt-out dark pattern. A lack of complaints should never be interpreted as approval. Generally people try to be agreeable and avoid conflict. You clearly know that people do not like your keyboard but you are putting the burden on them to ask you to stop. You have made a decision that internalizes the benefits but externalizes the costs.

I did ask my co-workers. No one complained.

You are otherwise reinforcing the point that you can't just bring whatever equipment you want to the office, as the parent poster claimed.

Asking them is still putting the burden on them to be disagreeable.

I am reinforcing no such point. I bring my own keyboard but it isn't noisy. I also bring my own mouse.

I didn't say my keyboard was noisy. For someone who gives advice on being agreeable, you sure make a lot of malicious assumptions.

Sorry Doug how did you get so brain washed its the employers responsibility to provide this, you know they should be inspecting your home for H&S

And when I worked in high end rnd if we brought kit on behalf of a client to use on their projects we charged them AND A 25% MANAGMENT FEE.

The company is not your friend as people often say on here but buying equipment for them is OK FFS

Which also comes with all the hubbub which was already mentioned before. Freedom of choice comes with the burden of payment.

Here's an idea: instead of expecting the employer to provide more than a basic level of ergonomics and potentially having to go through all the bureaucratic and mental hoops, both on receiving and on returning, we just.. pay the employees more money so they can decide for themselves.

Why you're putting this in the frame of "employer is not your friend" is beyond me, no one was framing it that way to begin with. If anything, it is because we can't expect employers to deliver beyond a basic level and introducing all these rules to make it harder, that it makes more sense to bite the bullet up front and be in control.

I get the idea you are in the UK and I think that accounts for a significant difference. In the US, employers have very little legal or ethical obligation to their employees. Decades of pro-business lobbying have basically solidified our status as an exploitable resource that companies can use up and dispose of "at will". An employee lives and dies by their share of political capital. I could use my political capital to try to get home office equipment, but the $500 I might have been able to expense is really not worth it in comparison to other perks I might be able to "purchase" with my political capital instead. These asks need to be carefully considered. A team mate asked for an ergonomic chair and was denied. I have asked for far more valuable things and been allowed.

Given the ligations nature of the US I bet some layers will be taking class action for RSI etc due to home working in the next year to 18 months

I save 160 Euros per month by not commuting. I invested 3 months of these savings in a height-adjustable desk and a 4K monitor. The 90 minutes time each day I keep for myself. I wouldn't call that a bad deal.

Your literally saying that giving your employer money is a good idea.

I "invested" my commute savings savings in a Tudor GMT watch my ISA and some bullion

some people are pragmatic. others think pragmatists are suckers.

who’s happier?

I'm glad this works for you & others and that you are happy. However, every time WFH comes up here, people present their preferences as universally better or best. I hate WFH but that is my preference. I really wish these discussions were more about how happy people are that they now have a choice instead of things being so authoritative.

For clarity, I enjoy having a hard separation between home and work. If I'm at home, I'm more likely to be distracted with chores instead of working. I leave my laptop at work so I don't need to work off hours unless there is an emergency. I enjoy my 30 minute commute. I listen to podcasts or design board games. I understand I could do those at home, but I'm more likely to just watch a show or something instead of dedicating time to just listening to a podcast. I enjoy being around friends that I've worked with off and on for over 20 years. We go to lunch together and talk about life. Sometimes we play board games at lunch. I enjoy collaborating over a white board trying to solve a problem. It is sooo much easier to do that in person. I personally feel more part of a team in person than I do if we just communicate via Slack. But these are just the things that work for me. I don't expect anyone else to feel the way I do but there are lots of others out there like me too. I'm glad more companies have options for those with a preference.

This is a really good point.

To add to it, WFH has one clear massive weakness: the lack of face to face interaction leads to quite a bit of atrophy when it comes to team cohesion. I've been managing WFH teams for the better part of a decade and I've yet to find a satisfactory solution other than getting people together every couple of months to work on hard problems together and build some trust.

I'm really bullish on the hybrid model right now. I think having an office designed more like a co-working space that can serve as a central meeting place for teams is what the future of software development looks like. No expectation that everyone is in the office every day, but rather reimagine the office more as a place where people come together when they really need (or want) too.

We're experimenting with that now in my organization and the results so far are pretty good. Some people come in every day. Some people come in every now and then. Others come in when their teams needs them. We're continuing to use all of the best practices for remote work and I think people are finding a really good balance right now.

I don't understand how the "work from the office one day a week" thing would work. If you mandate it's the same day for everyone then the office is empty 80% of the time. That's a huge waste of money. If you don't mandate everyone come in on the same day then all the benefits of being face to face disappear because the person you need/want to be face to face with chose a different day.

It is for sure a challenge, especially where people work across multiple teams and each team has a different 'standard' office day. That unfortunate individual is now compelled to come into the office multiple days.

And folks that work across teams like that are often gluing the organisation together in subtle but vital ways, so anything dis-incentivising it is a dark pattern.

As far as I know, no one is mandating that every comes in the same day. So you can reduce the office space by some percentage, assuming people come in on different days and not all at once.

If you have 10 teams of 5 people each in an office, in a 3/2 hybrid setting you can expect you'll have 30 people in the office. You can pad that to go to 40 people in the office on any given day -- this gives you a 20% reduction in required office space.

I think the important distinction for us is that it isn't "work from the office one day a week". It's work from home unless your team needs you. Our ask is that team leaders work very hard to limit the days that people need to be in the office and that when they ask folks to come in there is a clearly articulated reason and objective. Basically the idea is that we want coming into the office to feel valuable and therefore worthwhile.

In reality most teams don't need people to come in that often... I'm concerned about some long term drift where some teams never come in and others find themselves schlepping into the office a lot, but I think it's something we can manage with good coaching for our team leads.

WFH and working onsite are two polar opposites, and I personally think that hybrid models are bound to lead to either model being used 100% fairly quickly. Either work and communication is structured in a way that it can be done fully remotely, or it’s not. If it is, then what‘s the point of onsite? If it’s not, well then everybody needs to be onsite.

„Your team needs you“ is a far too unspecific constraint to implement btw. That’s an invitation for extrovert team leads to pull in the whole team for minor issues.

The way my team (informally, management isn't in it) was to create a Discord with several rooms. If a couple of you are working together, you can jump to a different room and screen-share. If you want a chat, move to a busy room. If you want to do some head-down work, mute and deafen. It's been really valuable, especially for someone like me who joined during lockdown.

>>> atrophy

Have you consider team atrophy as a pre-existing/chronic condition which maynot have cure?

Probably not, because as with many of these studies, people that can impose their preference will do it and rationalize their preference.

There was a study about US companies moving headquarters in the 60's. There would be planning committees, analyses, the whole shebang.

This later study found that almost invariably the new HQ would be closer to the CEOs home/hometown/home state. Some of these companies even failed because obviously people working at the NY HQ would not necessarily want to move to the Texas HQ.

In Romanian we say: "cine împarte, parte-și face": he who shares (does the sharing/gives things out), gets his share (cut).

If most people had an enjoyable 30 minute commute like you do, there would be a lot more people who agree with you. It's not that working in person doesn't have tons of meaningful benefits (to most people), it's that 10 hours of miserable commuting every week is such a soul-sucking curse that a lot of people would trade almost anything to get rid of it.

At one point in my career I had a 30 minute commute on a two-land road through beautiful hilly vineyards, and I'd end up at the beach where I could watch the sunset. Even if my workday was hellish, by the time I got home i felt great.

At another point in my career I had a 30 minute commute in stop-and-go traffic on an ugly highway. It was soul crushing - I could feel the minutes being stolen from my life.

Too many people quantify commutes in minutes, but should probably be looking at the drive itself when choosing a job or a home.

I agree. In my case, living in a medium size city of Spain, I get a 30 minute commute from to the office, driving on a very good condition highway, on low-medium density traffic.

For me, a relaxing listening audiobooks while safely driving is like a warm-up for my workday. An activity I wouldn't have time otherwise.

And the same, in my way back home.

I have worked in IT for two decades and usually I spend some time working on something in the evenings as well. If you make a clear separation, it's hard to spend time on expanding your knowledge, whether the goal is to use it for the next day at work or for own personal programming / tech projects.

WFH lets me mix those two a lot more and become more efficient. There's less interruptions since I am not going to the office, and also I have supreme "quiet time" after work, usually between 9pm and midnight.

As someone who has been working from home for 20 years, I've come to realise you need to be set up for it. I've gone from working in a spare bedroom to building a garden office, so there really is a hard separation between home and work.

Well said. Indeed, the whole "battle" over WFH should be about giving people the ability to choose what works best for them, not forcing either option. And that may even change for a particular person from year to year or job to job.

I agree. But the "battle" is at least partly around:

- People who are technically allowed to WFH but who are concerned that co-workers/managers will pressure them to come in anyway and

- People who want to come back into an office most days but don't want to come into a ghost town with most meetings over video anyway.

> People who want to come back into an office most days but don't want to come into a ghost town with most meetings over video anyway.

I think this battle is lost. Even if people go back to offices, a lot of meetings will happen over video anyway. This has been the norm in some large companies already.

It's been considered best practice (at least according to the people I follow on twitter) that if 1 person is dialed in, the whole meeting is dialed in. The 5 people at a table and some other people on Webex or whatever just doesn't work.

Yeah, I work with teams that have that as a rule. Pretty clearly it's a best practice in most contexts. (There are some exceptions like a scheduled on-site that someone can't travel to but for most things.) My guess is that a lot of people have noticed that video calls have been working better during the pandemic because of this.

>>I enjoy my 30 minute commute. I listen to podcasts or design board games. I understand I could do those at home, but I'm more likely to just watch a show or something instead of dedicating time to just listening to a podcast.

You don't have to do them at home. Take a 20-30 minute walk before work and it'll be the same thing, plus you'll also get some exercise!

Its hard to come up with arguments for working from office when you can save 2 hours of commute. Time alone is huge.

With that standard 8h work 8h personal time 8h sleep. Commute eats up 1/4 of your personal time.

> Time alone is huge.

Don't forget that could also be more time with your loved ones, like your partner, your children or even your pets.

That's a big deal for lots of people and very understandable.

edit: It's also more time for _everything else_.

Personally, I really enjoy cooking lunch and sitting on my balcony for half an hour, something I can't do when working from the office.

I parsed that quote differently.. the way I think they meant the phrase is– The factor of time itself is huge (no matter how you end up using it)

The location flexibility is big too. I live in Austin, and my parents live in Kansas. I drove up to Kansas this past Saturday and will work from up here and drive back next Saturday.

I've worked from home for a few years now, and before that I would have to take vacation time to go visit them.

For real. My wife picked up travel nursing and it's been a huge life improvement. Just check the taxes in the states you are working in. I have 25 work days in Illinois without income taxes, but all states are different.

There have been some efforts to rationalize this at the federal level but AFAIK they haven't gone anywhere. And some states seem to basically have zero thresholds for this and enforcement for business travel seems to be ratcheting up. Some people are probably going to find that they need to file more state tax returns.

This is gonna be the real challenge for the WFH movement. NYC is trying to get income taxes out of me because I worked for a NYC based company in 2020... even tho I never stepped foot in their state.

Obviously, people are different. Some people prefer to work from an office (like me) just because you get to spend time with people (I live alone). Me and my teammates also become more efficient when we work together in the same physical space than remotely (we've tried bunch of things like perpetual video calls, among other things). We all live in the same city, the longest commute in our team is ~30 minutes, but we all feel like it's worth it to go to the same physical space and work together instead.

Unless you live outside big cities, I'm not sure if 2 hours of commute is that common (at least with my South West European perspective, maybe is different in the US/elsewhere?).

> Me and my teammates also become more efficient when we work together in the same physical space

I've found it the complete opposite in software. Zoom screen sharing is so much easier than peering over someone's shoulder at their dark-mode IDE. Copy-and-pasting a command in the chat window - what an improvement! How many times have I said this to someone?

> "s c p space s v 0 1 colon forward-slash t m p"


Design meetings are so much easier when I can see the UI on my screen, instead of halfway across the conference room.

We also do a lot of work with a team at another location and again - when we are all on zoom together now we can all see each other, we can all interreact when each other. It used to be 6 of us on one conference room and six of them in another conference room trying to talk to each other over a tinny speaker.

I hope I never have to go through any of that ever again.

It is surprising how antisocial is the new generation. The dynamic between colleagues is something that comes naturally when the team has great cohesion. Half the time I didn't have to finish the sentence of what you describe and they are on it. I can't remember how many great ideas have come up during the "hey let's get a cup of coffee" break. Now we look less like humans and more like avatars.

It is surprising how social is the old generation. So many face to face interactions could have been taken care of by a 1 line email.

Like, a couple weeks ago I had to waste half my day to go into the office and sit in a 3 hour meeting. I got some useful information out of that, but there was SO. MUCH. OVERHEAD. I could've watched the webex from home and saved so much time because the relevant parts were 2 10 minute sections spaced out by like 2 hours.

Plus I hate sitting close to people who had onions for lunch. And alcohol. And it's always that dude you've gotta pair program with that smells like a gorilla and has bad breath. xD

All of those things are also possible in person. Of course I just send an instant message to my coworker across the hall. And I don’t clutter Slack when I want to make lunch plans.

I don't know what "all those things are possible" means aside from "all those things are possible as long as we zoom together while in the office". You can screen-share in the office - as long as you are both on zoom ( or equivalent ) at which point why is it better to be at the office?

It would be harder in the office - too many people talking over each other in separate meetings. I can't imagine. So we all end up fighting for few conference rooms, or we squeeze once again into each others cubicles, losing the advantage of multiple screens and trying not to talk to loud and disturbing everyone around us.

I've spend decades developing in offices with other engineers, collaboration is always difficult when what you are collaborating on is always tiny text on a small screen. Zoom is better.

The places I’ve worked had lots of elegant and obvious solutions to shoulder surfing. Mirroring to a big TV was something we did all the time.

I find Zoom in particular to be a crude place to get this type of work done. Why do I have to send a huge video stream that roasts my laptop just to share a few kilobytes of text? I can’t scroll around or select text to point something out.

If the streamer’s text is too small, I’m shit out of luck there too.

Visual Studio Code has great collaborative coding tools that I have found work really well in a local network setting sitting near coworkers. Zoom is a total cudgel in comparison for this task.

I don't know if it's just our org, but we do local + slack + conference sharing (ie, you have multiple ways of viewing the content). This, like for every meeting.

How do you manage when different people in the same area are in different meetings? That's where I see the problems occur - there'd be 4 people in my immediate vicinity having 4 completely separate conversations. That would never work.

That seems like a different problem - I'd assume you have a meeting room for each conversation. In your case we'd have headsets at desks - we do that too. The previous question was how meetings are handled (in a conf room). Regardless, chat+conf for everything even if it's in-person in the same room (audio off if local).

This seems to be the general consensus for folks like yourself where work is the primary focus in their lives. It's understandable, people are lonely and work is the only social interaction for many. If I didn't have a family and lived alone, I would definitely want to return the office. I'm curious if you're the minority or majority? Most people I talk to never want to return to the office. My company (major corp) basically had a revolt during a company wide all hands meeting. It was so bad that they basically said people will be only required to come in 1 day a week and they can pick the day.

Do you have data to back your conclusion up?

I am a father of four (though they're here less now that they're leaving the nest), happily married, active in a committed church community and love outdoor things like water skiing, flying planes, snow skiing, biking, etc. I build things like legos, stand up paddle boards, Ford ranger engines, and the 1000 ft addition we added to our home. I enjoy my work--sometimes I love it even, and other days I'm ready to rage quit, because I'm one of those difficult to manage dramatic people--it is hardly my whole life though.

I have spent nearly 10 years (2 different gigs) of my 30 working years working from a home office. In both instances, it was awesome at first, and then I came to hate it. I totally concur with the GP. I'm just not as productive at home. I know that most of us in all 3 teams where we've done some remote work are generally more productive when gathered. No amount of technology solutions has improved that.

My suspicion is that there are other factors at play here. In my case, I've worked in companies where the software development components of the company are relatively small (anywhere from 2 up to at most 18 people). My commutes have all been (relatively) short (15 minutes or less). I've always had flexible schedule available to me--come go when you need, get the work done. And at times, I do actually choose to sequester myself at home to write a mountain of code that just needs a mountain of direct writing.

I'm curious if perhaps it's not so much work at home, as it is some degree of autonomy that needs to be given to people to manage their own work load. That kind of autonomy tends to go down as company size goes up. If corporate overhead burns up a lot of ones time, then it may indeed be that people feel they are getting more creative work down at home.

What I'd like to see is more flexibility, less middle management (because I think this is the real source of most of these issues) and more of the "teach the employees correct principles and allow them to govern themselves" gestalt.

If I could go back to a campus where I had an office and we sat around watching the coordinated people do bean bag tricks and talking about whether we needed a formal state machine for something or just a few flags and also did you see the cool library X did for something, sure, I'd go there. But to go to a crowded place where people take stand up meetings seriously and there's so much noise and I'm cold all day and the coffee sucks, eh, not so compelling. I went into the office park with offices even when my creeping environmentalism had be taking 90 minutes of subways and a bus (tho not 5 days a week). My take is always if you have a lot of work to, it's better to do it from home. If you need more work, go into the office and find it.

This is how I see it as well. If I had a private office in Bell Labs with plenty of co-working space I would prefer to go into the office to WFH. The reality is that the majority of office environments are loud, cramped, stressful, distracting sweat shops. If I had to choose between that and WFH I will choose WFH every time. If my work provided me with a nice private office with plenty of coworking space I would probably prefer the office to WFH.

>My suspicion is that there are other factors at play here.

Do you have data to back up your suspicion?


> This seems to be the general consensus for folks like yourself where work is the primary focus in their lives.

Big incorrect assumption here, my primary focus is not my work but my hobbies, family and friends. I don't like working in the office mainly because it's social but because we all are more productive. I like to be efficient at my job, even though I don't think it's my primary focus in life.

> Some people prefer to work from an office (like me) just because you get to spend time with people (I live alone).

You can't just write something like that and then accuse someone of a "big incorrect assumption". Work is work, I work to do my job, if you want to go to the office to be with people because otherwise you live alone that's okay, but you can't just turn around an say "I have plenty of friends, it's about being more productive".

So you're choosing work productivity/efficiency over hobbies, family and friends and feel work isn't the primary focus in your life?

I've found that too, I'm more efficient working in an office, but you know what, I don't care as much anymore. Being at home, in my community, with my family more often and for longer time throughout the day, taking breaks to do whatever around the house of go for a walk. That's what matters now. If I'm less productive, I think that's fine because my overall happiness increases. Companies should just factor that in from now on and many do.

Subjectively, commutes are bad in the US and getting worse, because housing is getting more expensive relative to wages. On top of that, we live in a car culture, and it's much easier to build more freeways and housing developments than figure out how people can sustainably work and live in employment centers.

The pandemic has done some of that figuring out for us.

Housing is a huge issue in Europe as well, yeah we have shorter commutes, but that comes at the cost of higher population densities which often means living in high/medium-rise flats.

These flats would be considered tiny by American standards and you have a lot less privacy/independence from your neighbours.

That little kid that was shot due to road rage recently. That’s how bad commutes are. People who insist we go back to the office have blood on their hands.

That wife that was shot due to domestic violence recently. That’s how bad working from home is. People who insist we stay home have blood on their hands.

Yep, that sounds as ridiculous as your statement.

I don't disagree about commuting being bad, but I think you're missing a more direct way to reduce shootings.

> Some people prefer to work from an office (like me) just because you get to spend time with people (I live alone).

And/or (like me) you like work being somewhere different to home, and don't have room for a dedicated home office. In fact even if I have the room I'd prefer for work to not be in the house. Being able to work from home is useful to me on occasion, for both work and personal reasons, but I did not like it nor feel myself to be productive when I was there all the time. If I had no choice but to work remotely I'd probably rent an office space and have to factor that into my costs and benefits analysis of the job.

Then again I currently work a 15 minute slow-ish walk from home (or less than a 10 minute run back) if I take the most direct route, and can get home to entertain the cat at lunch many days, so the commute isn't a significant factor like it will be for many.

I live in a big city not the suburbs. No traffic it’s twenty minutes to the office but during 7-1030 am and 2-7 pm it’s 45 minutes to an hour and 5. I listen to a lot of podcasts and happen to be learning Italian as well. Podcasts are not popular at all in Italy and I can only assume it’s becUse of what you describe with the lack of commute. I’m glad to be fully remote now.

I used to listen to a bunch of podcasts on my commute to and from work, and thought I was a big podcast person. As soon as we went to remote work, I stopped listening because I realized that I only "like" podcasts when there is literally nothing else to do while sitting in my car. I would listen to at least 1 podcast episode a day pre-pandemic to not having listened to a full podcast episode once in the last year.

Now I'm wondering how many people who do podcasts for a living have seen their numbers drop due to the lack of commuters over the past year.

I used to listen to a mix of audiobooks and podcasts on my drive to work, but not 1 podcast since last spring. I still have listened to a few audiobooks though.

I live in a big city and while I don’t have a car, I’ve stopped using Uber/Lyft during rush hour because walking or bicycling is faster. Boosted Boards (et al) offer similar gains.

Your top speed is less and your average speed is more. Cars never seem to get past 15mph in that kind of traffic.

Motorcycles are nice too. Good top speed, lane filtering to avoid traffic, plus real brakes, rear-view mirrors etc. Feels a lot safer than my electric skateboard used to.

> Some people prefer to work from an office (like me) just because you get to spend time with people (I live alone).

I live alone too and I hate for me when people at the office became an erzats social circle. It is not. It is not a social circle but a workgroup you have little control over; you might end up with really difficult people, great teammates you love might leave, project might get cancelled and that group might get disbanded altogether.

Even if you had the best workgroup, most of the time those people will not be in your life for long or deep. They won't help you move, drive you to and from an outpatient procedure, won't play with your kids or even be by your deathbed. And you do need people who would do those things in your life. For this reason, I liked the social lack WFH created because it was closer to the state of reality, and forced me to invest in my real, non-workplace relationships.

To be clear, I am not saying you can't make lifelong friends in a workplace, I am saying you shouldn't satisfice your social needs with a workplace. Just like hunger is a signal to point you towards nutrition, loneliness is a signal to point you towards nourishing allies. And workplaces are not places to procure that.

I only have superficial social needs for the most part, anything more is somewhat exhausting, I think the work place interactions fit that quite well.

Any deep social needs are satisfied by my long time close friends who I see every few months or my partner if I'm dating.

I don't think you can make that call what someone should and shouldn't do to satisfy their social needs because everyone has very widely ranging needs in the first place.

I feel perfectly topped off just by being in the room at a coffee shop with people for a few hours for instance.

> I don't think you can make that call what someone should and shouldn't do to satisfy their social needs because everyone has very widely ranging needs in the first place.

That is why I said satisfice.

Good on you that you know exactly what you need. I thought I did too, and it took a burnout and extended time off work to realize how I was mostly deceiving myself. Most people are not that transparent to themselves, that is why they have to be careful with the stimuli that seem to fulfill a need in the short term but create serious deficiencies in the long run.

A bag of potato chips will curb your hunger but you'd be severely malnourished if it was the only thing you ate for a year. Cocaine, amphetamines even caffeine will give you an elevated sense of agency but you'll quickly spiral down to addiction with little corresponding real-world, long-term gains. A workplace, a coffee shop or even binging netflix alone might create a sense of a peopled life, but none will be real allies that can have your back in a time of need.

Well for a one hour commute, you lose 2 hours of your day. That's massive and equals around 1/8 to 1/9 of your time awake depending on your sleeping habits.

8 hours of sleep plus 8 hours of work leaves 8 voluntary hours. You could make a case then that 2 hours of commute is giving up on a fourth of your weekday free time. Factor in the prep for commute or time needed afterwards to decompress and perhaps a third is more accurate.

It's only 1/8th of your awake time if you don't count weekends.

If you count weekends, you have 5 * 8 + 2 * 16 = 72 hours of "free time". so 5 hrs commute / 32 hrs = 6.94% or 1/14.4 of your time awake.

Yes, I was referring to awake time on weekdays.

Also, I'm not following your calculations. If we establish that your 'free time' is 72 hours per week (8h/weekday and 16h/weekends), and the commute time per week is 10h (2h round trip x 5), it would be 10/72 or roughly 13.9%.

I used to read books during commute. No time was wasted. In fact, now I seem to have a lot less time for reading, because there is always something more pressing at home.

I guess the same can be said about doing laundry, sitting and watching the machine while it does its job would lose you an hour or two. Luckily both of these activities can be done while doing other things like reading/listening to audio books or catching up on other things.

The same thing can't be said about doing laundry. If they are doing the laundry at home like they said, you are sitting and watching the machine, you are starting it and letting it do its thing.

And besides that, laundry is going to have to be done regardless, so its not like they would be saving time by commuting to work instead. The laundry will still be waiting when they get home.

> If they are doing the laundry at home like they said, you are sitting and watching the machine, you are starting it and letting it do its thing

You can do the same way with commuting, enter the bus/subway/train and then do other thing while there, you don't have to wait until you arrive to start doing other things.

> And besides that, laundry is going to have to be done regardless, so its not like they would be saving time by commuting to work instead. The laundry will still be waiting when they get home.

You could have someone else do the laundry for you.

Maybe it was a bad example. I wanted to compare activities that we usually do where you can perform multiple things at the same time. Commuting is generally a passive activity while we wait to arrive to our destination, just like laundry is a passive activity until the machine is done.

> You can do the same way with commuting, enter the bus/subway/train and then do other thing while there, you don't have to wait until you arrive to start doing other things.

In my pre-covid life, I often couldn't even hold a book on the subway as it was too crowded for that. There were times (near daily) I couldn't even reach into my pocket to take my phone out to put on a podcast due to the crush of people (and oh my god the stress when your headphone's cord would get hooked on an exiting passenger).

My commute, while long enough to do something useful, was never useful. Crowded platforms, crowded trains, and transfers down long crowded corridors made it impossible to do anything else. And I'll be damned if I'm going to do more work on the way to and from work!

> You can do the same way with commuting, enter the bus/subway/train and then do other thing while there, you don't have to wait until you arrive to start doing other things.

This works but only in very specific types of commutes. I used to take the train which took 30 minutes each way and I always got a seat, perfect for reading, maybe even light work. Now after almost 2 decades I know that that's the exception and almost always my commute was pretty much wasted (I don't consider listening to music or podcasts productive, it's nice but not productive).

Yes, you can make the most of your commute by listening to audiobooks, etc. But that's so limited in utility compared to having 2 hours of extra free time at home where you can do so much more. It's almost an apples to orange comparison.

Most people's commutes are spent sitting in a car.

Even listening to an audiobook or podcast is such a passive thing it's hard to call it "doing" something.

> Me and my teammates also become more efficient when we work together in the same physical space than remotely (we've tried bunch of things like perpetual video calls, among other things)

What do you do?

Constant talk and interruption are not conducive to the work of a software engineer.

> Constant talk and interruption are not conducive to the work of a software engineer.

During the times you are coding, yes. But a software engineer is more than a coder, so there are times when collaboration is very useful.

There are times when collaboration is useful.

But nothing distinguishes a junior and a senior more than the ability to work independently.

If anything, I'm collaborating more as a senior than I did as a junior. Junior dev work often means getting a work assignment and working on that by yourself. Senior dev work often means getting together with different stakeholders to work on a design.

(Although obviously those statements aren't absolutes, hence the use of the word "often".)

And as a senior your quite often working with several external teams and having some meetings FTF produces a massive productivity boost

We are talking Months and Months" by stopping other teams going of at a tangent or flat out just not doing what they are told.

at my company the seniors are mainly responsible for driving projects/design and leading teams of juniors who do the implementation. working independently is not really an option

This is a very old model, and it's as dumb today as it was in the 1990s.

The seniors used to be called "architects," and the "driving projects/design" used to be called RUP.

architect is a higher level, they tell us why our designs are bad

LOL. I feel for you. It's the same way in a lot of places.

Your seniors should definitely be thought leaders, but when they get "too senior" or "too important" to write code, the company is done innovating. That's a major organizational smell.

why is that? isnt the main innovation done in design? anyone can code something up that has been designed for them already

If your design is so detailed that any code monkey can implement it without screwing it up, then you've probably spent more time writing design documents than you would have spent just building it.

And if your code isn't expressive enough that the design can be extracted without major effort, then the two will inevitably diverge at some point. Many bugs will appear.

If you're really working totally independently, then you're running a 1-person company. As soon as you get two "seniors" on the same project, if they're working independently, then you're just going to two different, unrelated outputs, by your definition.

Isn't this why microservices are a thing? :).

More seriously though, it's part of skilled project management to organize work in such a way that seniors don't need to constantly collaborate to stay in sync.

What one programmer can do in one month, two programmers can do in two months.

It's skilled software architecture. Some layerings of the problem into decomposable pieces allow for less communications and some layerings of the problem require more communication. The emergent but desirable property of more parallelizable is dependent on details that are small and subtle. Project management cannot possible guarantee this. The outcome of the architecture, how much do people need to communicate, is an input to the project management.

Your “skilled project management” is my “unnecessarily complex process.” There’s a reason collaboration of this sort is used in real engineering disciplines: it’s because it’s more efficient than having some middleman (and/or process) mediating all the communication.

I didn't mean middleman/process mediating communication. By "skilled project management", I meant structuring tasks and setting priorities in such a way as to minimize the required amount of communication - particularly, synchronous communication between the workers. An hour (on average) or two per day replying to messages and doing code review, an occasional meeting every other week - sure. But if your senior devs are spending most of their time each day in meetings, then either you're running a bootcamp, or something is very wrong.

We are not microservices. People in a team have a lot in common, they do systematically the same type of work albeit in a different context and they can be a lot more useful to each other when they communicate seamlessly instead of at scheduled time slots.

I don’t live outside a big city. I live in a Canadian city of only 1 million people.

Thanks to the incredibly bad city planning (which is common all across North America) and complete joke of local transit options (also common in NA), you regularly see folks with 45 minute to 2 hour commutes one way.

Folks are losing as much as 4 hours out of their day even though they live in a small city that should be easier to commute but isn’t due to corruption and laziness of the city.

To be clear, we’re not talking Seattle or Portland, we’re talking obscure cities like Ogden, Calgary, Edmonton, etc.

North America is a massive turd compared to practically anything in Europe. Some of your far flung towns have better transit than some of our metropolises.

tldr; it is drastically worse for commutes in any non-major American cities. You have no idea how good you have it in Europe.

Ideally it should be a choice.

Was the last year difficult for you because of lockdowns forcing remote work?

>Me and my teammates also become more efficient when we work together in the same physical space than remotely (we've tried bunch of things like perpetual video calls, among other things).

I tend to agree with this, and I've worked remote (hybrid) for over 12 years now. For me, a hybrid is the best. Most tasks and problems can be solved well asynchronously and for those, give me a WFH option. It's great for all the reasons this thread creator mentioned and time cannot be understated. The commute alone typically requires a vehicle and the much of maintenence time I spend in my free time comes from wear and tear of commute driving as do expenses to expedite repairs for necessity of a car for work. This stuff all adds up.

Once every now and then, in person meetings and problem solving synchronously is good where virtual just fails. Usually this involved external clients and so forth or some physical, hardware related aspect of work. Software alone I can typically do fully remote as it's assumed everyone is competent and can easily share needed information and visuals with one another.

>Unless you live outside big cities, I'm not sure if 2 hours of commute is that common (at least with my South West European perspective, maybe is different in the US/elsewhere?).

I lived in rural US and my experience is that commutes tend to be longer, both in distance and time, in rural areas. While traffic related commute times tend to melt away, with less density, people tend to drive further for better employment opportunities. Sometimes this involves living near but not in a large metro area and driving hours daily to pull in high income with low COL at the sacrifice of great commute times. I know a surgeon in Texas who commutes around 4-6 hours each trip (nearly doubles his income), someone near NY/NJ who commutes 6 hours daily to drive in, and people in small areas that would drive 2-hours to a nearby plant that pays more. One of my peers used to work 3 positions and one required driving an hour each way to. One of my older directors actually lived 2 hours away and purchased a condo near his job where he worked and stayed throughout the week then returned home on weekends. I presume his wife who didn't work would sometimes stay at his condo but never felt comfortable breaching that discussion.

For them, the time they lose can't be spent working elsewhere and average out to the same higher rates and they're willing to sacrifice that time to pull more in and provide for their families. This is ultimately because good paying opportunities are often few and far between in low COL areas and highly competitive as well. For me, living in a metro area makes more sense these days. You pay more for property but recover that in terms of commute time and TC. You also have more security depending on the area by there being more opportunities to transfer to should you want/need, without changing commute times too drastically. If you live in a rural area and the diamond in the rough position you found disappears, you have to consider significant lifestyle changes for you and your family or even consider uprooting and moving. There are trade-offs either way you go.

A 2-hour round trip commute is insane.

Let's look at a 1-hour round trip commute assuming 240 working days per year. This means 240 hours gone in a year to your commute. That's 10 full whole days. A 2-hour round trip commute means 20 full whole days... almost a whole month gone. 3-hour round trip commute = 30 full days.. and so on.

Do you pay the quite significant rent increase to reduce the commute, or do you pocket that money & try to deal with the lost time as best as possible?

At some point, I'm going to want to buy a house (so money now can be saved), the total cost of which is >$1M in not just the Bay Area (which I've now left, for these very reasons); even where I am now, housing remains that pricy … unless you give up having a sub 2h commute.

> A 2-hour round trip commute is insane.

My employer doesn't believe that. If they did, they would pay me sufficiently that I wouldn't need to choose. The Bay Area doesn't believe that: if they did, they'd address the housing crisis.

> My employer doesn't believe that. If they did, they would pay me sufficiently that I wouldn't need to choose. The Bay Area doesn't believe that: if they did, they'd address the housing crisis.

There has to be a name for the logical fallacy of treating the market as some kind of oracle, as if it was a global optimizer, instead of a greedy optimizer that will happily ignore the costs it can externalize.

"The Bay Area" doesn't "believe" the housing crisis needs to be addressed because for most interested actors, it's in their personal interest to further the crisis. You paid a lot for your house, and you want it to appreciate in value. You paid a lot for your house, because others who bought before you wanted theirs to appreciate in value. Someone else will pay a lot for their house, because you want yours to appreciate in value.

That's a good one. I propose "Efficient Market Fallacy". The Efficient Market is such a tempting idea with simple explanations for complex human behavior. The reality can be very broken, very inefficient, wasting many human lifetimes and with tons of horrific externalities in situations that basically amount to a kind of organized crime.

I propose "First Church Of The Invisible Hand".

It is called regulatory capture.

You've fallen victim to this very trap. Markets have clear failure modes that have nothing to do with regulatory capture.

Pollution is the clear example. Unless forced externally, producers will just ignore negative externalities.

And if more housing was built it would be snapped up by speculators - is a bit like building better roads =to reduce congestion.

Potential solutions to that: prohibit ownership of residential property (whether small scale, like single family up to 4-unit properties, or large scale, e.g. apartment complexes) except as a primary residence by foreign individuals or businesses that have foreign individuals as their true beneficial owners, and have additional taxes on properties that are not owner-occupied a substantial fraction of the year (say, 9 months).

And it's often not just more expensive living near a big city, it's also a different lifestyle. The type of housing near in to the city where I work is different than the housing further away. For example you may have to live in a smaller apartment/condo in a more urban neighborhood vs. living in a SFH in a more green neighborhood. Some people like the former, others like the latter.

While this "enumerate all the costs and benefits" calculus is really appealing, the "how much is the land (de)appreciating?" factor dominates everything. This is why most people can buy homes without much serious thought and still come out very happy and ahead, because the land appreciation (or depreciation) sort of bakes in all your complex considerations for you.

My dad told me something I thought was a good guiding principle; you can always make more money, but you can't get back wasted time.

Equivalent housing on overground commuter lines to London in the UK, compared that of inside London, is basically <rail fare> per month cheaper to mortgage.

For many people it comes down to whether they can afford to deposit or get the income multiple loan to buy in the city, not monthly expense.

The difference being that the UK's rail infrastructure (especially around London) is orders (plural) of magnitude better than that in the Bay Area.

I lived and worked in London (South Kensington/Pimlico at college, Streatham, Walthamstow, Acton Town, Notting Hill - all over, really) for about 16 years. I've been in the Bay Area for ~17 years. There really isn't any comparison. Londoners have it made, even if it doesn't feel it when the train is packed/a few mins late/cancelled.

I see the light-rail here going by on occasion. It's empty. BART is inadequate (there are 270 stations on the tube, there are 50 on BART covering a larger area), and it runs with a 10-20 minute cadence, not the 2-5 minute cadence of the tube. As far as real trains go, Caltrain is pretty good if you're on the track (really, the train itself is nicer than most in the UK) but it's coverage is very limited.

Just like the NHS, you don't know what you have until it's gone.

If you live in big city in a country not totally ravaged by car culture, you can also subtract car price.

I know people who had 4-5 hour RT commutes in the Bay. (Tracy <-> SF) It's ludicrous, but I suppose it's a bit of a boiled frog scenario. People just got used to having to commute from further and further away as housing has gotten less affordable.

I'm in Livermore, so not as far out as Tracy, but depending on traffic, the one-way commute can be 1 hour 45 minutes (best case) up to 4 hours (worst-case Friday 4:00PM before a holiday weekend). Usual case is a little over 2 hours each way. The real soul killer is the unpredictability of it all. Every morning there's at least one jackass on each interstate highway leg that manages to crash their car into something, slowing everything down in a random, unpredictable way.

I had a similar commute from Olympia to Seattle for about 6 months. Absolutely soul crushing. The amount of people on their phones is mind boggling.

My solution was to figure out how to afford to live in the city. I am privileged in that sense, however.

imo we should design housing policy such that a barista can live 30m walking from work if they want to

If you're not having to drive then commutes can be easily optimised. You can read a book, chat to your commuter buddies on the train/boat/coach (in some instances over a beer so it's little different than being down the pub). I've even used my commuter time to catch up of pending PRs on open source projects I maintain.

This obviously depends on your city / county / state having good public transport infrastructure but if the option is there and its practical then I'd take the train over driving to work any day of the week.

Door-to-desk plus desk-to-door was 3 hours for me. Even with the google bus that was pretty rough.

I had one of those--typically by train--for about 18 months though I didn't go in every day. I had to get up by about 6am to drive to the train station and it was just a big chunk of the day. I don't think I'd have found it sustainable over the long-term.

But it makes equal chores split with partner regarding kids literally impossible. Practically, you barely ever see them and your dad role amounts to being wallet.

So many of the arguments made by pro-office people seem to boil down to "If you have a family or other non-work responsibilities, screw you"

Fortunately, they aren't the boss of me, and also fortunately, the job market means my skills gives me enough power to push back against this idea all on my own, with no support from a union or strong laws or anything. A family isn't just a responsibility, it's a delight, a fulfilling life, human connection, everything you need wrapped up into a big ball of inconvenience and imperfection.

That may sometimes be the case, but it's definitely not the case with my post and nor am I a "pro-office" person. I don't miss the office. I miss the beers, the commute and city centre eateries. But I don't miss the office.

People on HN often love to get on their high horse about parenting responsibilities but the fact remains that even the best parents need some "me" time occasionally. We do our best parenting when we're not mentally and physically exhausted. Much like a good company shouldn't allow their employees to burn out -- a good family shouldn't let either.

So my point about the commute was about how that time can be optimised for relaxation so you can better serve your family once you are home.

I was more off on the topic of offloading all or most of that to partner who then has all of them. And very little to no "me time".

We are not talking about beer with friends once in a while either. We are talking about regular very time consuming activity.

I'm not talking about offloading everything to the partner either.

It sounds like you've only worked in organisations that force a really shitty work/life balance on their staff but I assure you that you can have your proverbial cake and eat it. Maybe it's a US vs Europe culture but here companies are generally (not always, there's a fair share of shitty companies here too) accepting of employees working from home when they need it. I've never once had a job that hasn't allowed me to work flexible hours to accommodate school runs and other family commitments, nor take time away when my child is ill.

In fact because my wife is a school teacher (and thus has less flexibility in her job), she is the one who depends on me most of the time. The commute was the one little block of the day (and it wasn't every day) when I wasn't running around for a wife and two small children.

So you can absolutely have a commute and still be dedicated to your family. You just can't work for c*nts who thinks a working relationship should be one way.

No it doesn't. You can still flexible working even if you have a long commute. eg you might work from home 2 days a week. Your employer might allow flexible hours so you can do school duties. Your employer might even offer fewer hours or not mandate overtime.

This isn't a theoretical argument either: I spend more time with the kids and help out with more duties since taking up a job with a 3 hour round trip of a commute than I did when I had a previous job in the same town.

The distance will obviously have an impact on your day, but what matters far more is the employer. Plenty of employers enforce an unhealthy culture of > 40hr weeks. Whereas my current employer is very family focused and offers a lot of incentives to enable parents to balance work and home life.

Getting down voted for this despite saying I have first hand experience of this being true.

I suggest people open their minds a little. IT is a broad industry and there are plenty of good jobs around doing interesting things that pay well and also offer a good work life balance. Again, I know this from first hand experience :)

I had a 2h round trip daily commute from downtown Sunnyvale (about 10 minutes walk to Caltrain) to downtown SF (2nd and Folsom). It was pretty normal.

Basically an hour each way, of which 20m fast walking, if you timed it right. Hit a slow train, try for the 10 bus and miss, get rained on, train late, miss the train, train runs over someone — sometimes it took longer.

I moved up to the city and had about 40 minutes each way by bus, and if you haven’t tried it let me tell you: an hour on Caltrain is much nicer, not to mention safer, than half an hour on a MUNI bus.

On Caltrain I could at least read the news, on the bus it was pretty much watch your back.

I haven’t commuted at all in the last 12 years but I accept that if I ever work onsite in the USA again I probably will need to, and the trick is to try and find a form of commute that isn’t a complete waste of time.

When my commute was biking 30 minutes from the inner sunset to SoMa a few years ago I found that I really enjoyed that. Honestly a 30 minute bike ride is my ideal commute I think.

It's just someone prioritizing things differently. I would never commute more than 20-30 minutes (one way) pre-COVID. I will only work remotely from now on, maybe a scheduled day in the office every week for a killer opportunity with a resume-changing company.

But if you live in a HCOL area, and you want a yard, you're pretty much locked in to hour+ one-way commutes.

Back between 1990 and 2005, I lived in Austin before moving to north Alabama. My commute when I was working on Redstone Arsenal was exactly an hour each way. I didn't really mind for several reasons.

One of which was that my 6 mile commute in Austin took between 45 minutes to an hour.

I think it's very common (I'm in Europe/UK). Things add up extremely quickly to reach ~1h door-to-door between home and office.

Saving that time does make a huge difference, indeed.

It's exactly my case, actually. My commute was just under an hour each way, walk and train, so I have been saving a lot of time and money since WFH. I go for a walk at lunchtime, though, in order to do some exercise but it's much nicer than walking on busy roads to train stations.

It's not insane. It's what people do to feed their families and keep their kids in the same school. It would be better not to, but it is far from insane.

Just because you say it doesn’t make it true. Hour-long commutes aren’t common

Well at least "aren't common" is a step more reasonable than "are insane". That can be my good deed for the day.

For pretty much anyone going into a city or commuting in heavy stop-and-go highway traffic, an hour each way is extremely common.

Most people I know who have families and live in suburbs have longer commutes (Toronto or Montreal). 3 hours is the norm.

"3 hours is the norm" is objectively false. The average commute is under an hour: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/10/07/nine-days...

And in case you think Canada is wildly different than the US, not only is it not, but it's actually even better: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/190225/dq190...

“3 hours is the norm” can both be true for people in a certain area while false for the country as a whole.


"3 hours is the norm" is just not true for any area of the US or Canada.

I wouldn't like a 1-hour commute either... but it's not time 'lost' - you can use that time to read, work on your hobbies, listen to music, have a drink or supper, or just sleep if you want. Doesn't have to be wasted if you don't want to.

You ever try standing on a NYC subway, surrounded by strangers, at least a few of which are playing video games or listening to music videos / TV out loud on their phones, having to move every 6 minutes as the doors open and close, and having to keep tabs on who's around you since there are sometimes shady and angry individuals -- for a 45 minute stretch mornings and night? I have, and I can assure you, it's no way to start your day - or end it. Reading is extremely difficult with a bag on one arm and a phone or kindle on the other, if you need to hold onto a pole to not fall over.

I commuted 45 minutes each way to a prior job for a couple of years. Yes, I ate my breakfast in the car on the way there.

No, I didn't sleep, read, or do anything distracting on my drive because when you're in deer country, dawn and dusk are times to be vigilant and ready to brake or swerve if horribly necessary.

Still had $4100 of damage one January.

Commutes can be anywhere from 0 - ? percent multitaskable.

I guess most people commuting as long as an hour or more are doing it on a train where you can do all these things.

You conjure up the idea of a Victorian train carriage with plenty of space and waiters to serve you dinner etc.

Most people are experiencing a noisy packed out train car lit by bright fluorescence lamps, full of tired, irritated people, where they could easily be standing for half the trip.

Not exactly the ideal environment to dine or work on your hobbies…

Personally, I'm looking forward to going back to the office. I am an extremely introverted person and during the pandemic, I've gone upwards of 5 months without saying another word to a person face-to-face. I personally prefer that and don't feel lonely or anything; I just don't need social interaction in my day-to-day life. But I know that in the long term, it's going to have negative consequences for me in terms of networking and just friendships in general. These are basic things that you need that I am completely incapable of achieving without it being forced upon me in an office environment.

Yes, I hate driving. But I'll move closer to the office (which we're relocating to a much further location currently) and I'll get it to <20 minutes each way, which is acceptable.

Just because you can't find arguments for it in your life doesn't mean others can't. I need that environment and if my job went remote-only, I'd quit without any hesitation just as employees are quitting after being asked to return to the office. We shouldn't go from one extreme (everyone has to be in an office) to the other (there is no office at all).

We need to accept hybrid solutions where an office exists and maybe you're expected to be there once every week or two or something. We need to accept that some people work better remote and others work better in an office. We're trying to build the most efficient working environment for the team in general, not just one or two people one way or the other.

If everybody's only there once every week or two you're looking at something like 10-20% attendance on any given day. Some teams or individuals might coordinate being on-site the same day but so far our experience is that you basically sit in the office talking to the same people as always on Zoom all day.

Unless you're in an industry that requires actual physical presence I don't think you're going to see the same office experience any more. Companies aren't going to keep an office big enough for 100% attendance when there's only a need for a smallish fraction of that.

I'd start looking for other ways to scratch that socialization itch.

I suspect that will be pretty common even if there's more people than that. Which means that people who want to get back to the office of the before times (as opposed to just some office outside of the house) aren't going to like the ghost town very much.

> I'd start looking for other ways to scratch that socialization itch.

Also, having a social aspect outside of work makes job changes way less scary and stressful.

I'm not an extrovert but like the office because I live in a one bedroom apartment and I don't like working from my living room, and at the end of the day, being in my living room.

I do like the social interaction and joking, or venting, with co-workers, even as an introvert.

The best approach is a hybrid model.

I don’t think we need to do anything of the sort. Companies will sort themselves into all remote/all office/hybrid before “lets make everyone moderately miserable equally” becomes the mandated approach for everyone.

What sort of work do you do? Why don't they have any online meetings?

I'm a software engineer like 90% of HN. I have plenty of online meetings (I'm actually on a team call right now listening to someone discuss a solution to a problem). It doesn't fill the needs, though. Without the in-person and more frequent interaction, I can feel my social skills slipping even further. And I rarely interact with non-developers and non-managers now. It's not ideal for me. It 100% does not work and I need to go back to an office. I fear if I don't, my already-limited social abilities will zero out and I'll have to rebuild them. I now know I can go months without speaking to anyone and be okay with it; that itself is a problem in my mind that I need to address and an office environment fulfills those needs.

As a compromise it'd be nice once things are opened up for companies without fixed offices to subsidize passes into coworking spaces, so people can work in public areas more quiet and professional than cafes around others, but not necessarily the actual office.

Hmm makes sense. I used to be the same way in my college days.

When interviewing with a company who demands commuting say, "I value my time as I'm sure you do. I will commute if required but I charge a premium for my commuting time. My rate is $x/hr and since I will be commuting 2 hours a day, 5 days a week, an estimated 48 weeks (accounting for holidays, vacation, sick, etc...) a year then I request you increase my salary by $x * 2 * 5 * 48."

I say that partially in jest because, of course, no employer is going to increase your salary by $48K simply because you value your commuting time at $100/hr (a reasonable rate if you're in tech). Still, I think it's a useful way to gain a perspective on just how valuable one's time really is to them.

I have proposed doing it during work hours and got a positive response.

Why not in the UK jobs in London factor in the extra required for commute and housing costs.

I reckoned that it would be £10k post tax just for the additional cost of commute (65 miles)

Rail too. You can easily spend £3-5K/yr on a season ticket + another £2k/yr for tube travel, so once you factor back in tax you could easily be talking £10-15k of salary

The commute isn't always dead time though. For me, the 3hr round trip was spent playing computer games on my Nintendo Switch, or reading a book, or just letting my mind wander while listening to music. All of these are activities I don't get time to do at home because of the thousand other commitments I have at home.

You'd think working from home would give people more free time, but that's not always the case, for example if you have small children. Don't get me wrong, I love spending time with my family, but the commute was the only "me time" I had in a given day and I miss that dearly.

The pre-WFH work 10-15 minutes away from home routine had, for me, the same hidden benefit.

Now that I've been 100% WFH for 14 months, I've realized how easy it is to just get caught up even deeper in the assumption that "you're home, can you do _?" and wind up devoting more and more time to the house and projects and the pets and realize that the last time I was in a space by myself, at least briefly not 'monitoring' or 'on deck', was how many days/weeks ago?

That time where I'm not on call every second to potentially deal with a pet or household or any other 'now' thing, is way more precious than I realized. I've survived with very little of it this past year.

But this sounds like a personal boundaries matter that's helped by having a work commute, but not dependent upon it. Perhaps the commute could be replaced with a dedicated time for oneself for a walk, fitness, meditation, etc. That time shouldn't be (indirectly) provided by one's employer.

In theory yes. But you have to be disciplined to do this yourself (it's so easy not to bother when we have a world of distractions and comfort at home). Ultimately though, I'm not suggesting people take up long commutes for the sake of meditation, I'm just saying long commutes aren't necessarily dead time.

small ridiculous example: Boss my marriage is failing, can you give me more overtime so my wife will love me more.

You're right, that is a ridiculous example that misses the point of what I was saying.

If you consider all the other chores you have to do in a day, saving 2 hours of commute will probably double your free time.

It saves me even more time than that because of tasks like laundry that are mostly hands off and waiting become easy to intersperse with my work. I can also throw one of my pre-prepped meals into the Instant Pot at 11am and have it ready when I start lunch at noon. Those who work at a desk all day should get up to move around at least once an hour anyway. These small tasks the start hands-off processes are a good way of making that happen.

covid gave us a lot of data, and things are not as obvious as imagined, many people said they just couldn't operate at home, but it seems the majority was utterly happy

It does depend on the type of commute. If you walk or ride a bicycle to work that is at least somewhat personal time, and I personally enjoy the structure. If you use a train or bus or something similar and don’t have too much rigmarole around transferring etc, that also can be personal or work time or a combination. The only real lost time is driving, and even then some people enjoy podcasts etc.

In the Bay Area the train and bus system is a crammed, stressful experience where you have to worry about being robbed, harassed, or being annoyed by loud music, homeless _smells_, or inebriated people trying to smoke in a packed car. Regarding cars: don't forget the increase of risk of accident and death from driving, as well as the constant stress of avoiding collisions; I can barely retain podcasts while driving.

Agreed, and the resources that a commute consumes (time, wear and tear on a vehicle, fuel, mental reserves either sitting in traffic or dealing with other people on public transportation, etc) are not considered in compensation...

Your most valuable resource, time, which can be neither replenished nor its true quantity known, is being wasted for very little gain.

I consider my commute time part of work and deduct it from my contracted hours (8 to 6).

That doesn't fly with most employers I've worked for.

> With that standard 8h work 8h personal time 8h sleep. Commute eats up 1/4 of your personal time.

For people who chose to not prioritise living remotely near their workplace.

Often it isn't much of a choice at all. American cities are such that living near a workplace simply isn't feasible for many. It is common to be financially intractable, and American cities are actively hostile to families/children. So the people who get to "choose" to prioritize living near their workplace is generally restricted to relatively high-income earners who are single with roommates or perhaps are dual-income with no children.

That's a relatively small slice of workers.

I go to a coworking space. Having some semblance of separating home from 'work' (even though I do sometimes 'work' from home) helps. I did total 'work from home' - working out of a converted bedroom - for years, and... it's functional, but the process/ritual of leaving and coming back does help me.

I still 'work remote', as a freelancer. I have had engagements where I go to a client's offices, sometimes for somewhat extended periods of time. I will travel if needed.

But the majority of work I do is still done on terms I have some control over, which, ultimately, I think is the key part of the whole discussion. Where I work, what equipment, what hours, when/where I travel, what I wear, etc - things you were mentioning above - having control over those is key, regardless of whether you want to work from home or in an office or somewhere in between.

My neighbor commutes to "work" in the morning by taking a 20 minute bike ride, and commutes "home" by doing the same route in reverse.

Ha! That’s a genius idea! I might start going on morning/evening “commute” walks too.

I think it's interesting how "the ritual" of going to or leaving work. Is such a big part of the discussion around working from home.

I felt it myself at first. I had to do something to break up the day into work and not work. At first I'd pretty much just walk to the bus stop and go home from there. Basically pretend I took the bus. After a month or two I think I stopped. The walk was the new commute. The ritual part just became moving all cables back to my own computer from the work laptop dock. A quick minute and it's over. Work has ended and all is well.

I have a similar thing with my laptop. I have lots of variance though, I have co-working space I can go to, and I often take my laptop to various places around the city just for the wander and to feel connected again. (The pandemic hasn't really affected my city in Aus)

The reality is that working from home means I end up spending almost all my time at home. Almost all 24 hours of it. I think about how quickly life goes by, how much I've already spent behind a computer, and realize that's not going to work for me long term. I will be very disappointed if I look back on my life and saw that it almost entirely occurred behind a computer in the one spot.

I need to separate work from home and home from work. My home is filled with distractions and the first couple of months of the pandemic were horrible becuase I couldn't get anything done. I started going back in to work in the summer (2-3 minute commute depending on the single traffic light along the route) and my productivity went back to normal. It was actually better than normal because work was mostly empty, so I had a big office building designed for 600 workers mostly to myself. Now, unfortunately starting today we are all back in the office, so I'm having the same transition issues as all the WFH people, but because my nice empty office building is now filled with people.

That's the key for me. I think every remote company should pay for co-working space for their employees if they choose to. Also, it's important that co-working spaces design it to be more like a quiet office with stations with big screens etc. Not like the old co-working concept where it's like a cafe, cramping multiple people together.

I recall once interviewing at a startup. Their office was in a co-working space. When I arrived in the morning I knew after 5 minutes that I'm not going to work there. The entire team of 4 people, including the CTO who was supposed to be my manager, were sitting together in a tiny room with zero privacy.

I would never use a co-working space. I want to be home, not in some pseudo office.

I also wonder how the end of pandemic norms will effect people who claim they want to be in the office. If they can get their socialization outside the office, we could see a resurgence of neighborhood clubs.

Different strokes, but personally, having worked remotely for several years, I like having it as an option. There's a space not too far from my house with a reasonable day-of hot desk rate, with a nice view and the usual amenities. I like working from my house, but a different scene once or twice a month (that isn't a coffee shop) is refreshing for me. It's also good to have the escape if something noisy turns up in the neighborhood and I need to get away. :)

I hope we do see a resurgence in local clubs and venues. Modern communities can be so isolating, it's no wonder people get most of their socializing done at work.

Our space is pretty small. Main room has seating for.. perhaps 8, and a separate conference room and a separate smaller 'single desk' space. There's usually only 2-3 people in at any one time - 5 is a big day, and for most people, it's a "part time" thing to get them out of the house.

It's not 100% the same thing as 100% total privacy, but it's generally not very noisy, and there's enough quiet to concentrate and focus when needed. There are some larger spaces in the area I've been to that are nice looking, and conducive to group work/meetings/collaboration, but don't work well for "I need solo time to think/work".

Agreed! I had an hour-long one way commute too and it's been great. My work day went from 11 hours to 9 at most. I have more time to cook, I can get up later of earlier, I can do laundry, dishwasher etc...

My company wants to go 2 days home and 3 days office. I've said I'd do it the other way around.

I do miss my colleagues as well, but two days a week should be enough to garner most weekly advantages of being in the same place.

And it's not just convenience, either. 2 days in office would open up immense possibilities for me regarding housing, I can live in a cheaper home outside the big city and still commute less than 10 hours a week.

> My company wants to go 2 days home and 3 days office. I've said I'd do it the other way around.

That's exactly the same as me. Company is talking about everyone coming back in for 3/2 starting in mid-September. My response is I'll see you for 2/3. I have a 20 minute commute which isn't too onerous, and I like having some in-office time as I find it valuable.

What will really be the test for me is how I feel after a month or two of the kids being back in school. Right now being home is still fairly social for me. Previous times I've tried to work remotely it was the loneliness of having only myself in the house for days on end that killed it for me.

I'm also a bit of a realist, though. Being remote (or at least 'more remote' than the rest of the team) is a serious career limit, so if everyone else starts spending most of their time in the office, I will probably follow along.

I suspect the partial in-office/wfh arrangement will be fairly rare. Office space is costly to use only 2 days a week. Companies can do hoteling but it breaks down when you have very technical employees who like very particular desk setups (multiple monitors, chair positions, special keyboards/mice). The more common arrangement will probably be mostly WFH but meet up occsionally in some per-hour rented office for collaboration. Sucks for WeWork to have blown itself up before this :).

> Office space is costly to use only 2 days a week.

So downsize. We were doing partial WFH before the pandemic because our office had more people than seats (open office seating); everyone picked different days they preferred for home and office, and the office ended up mostly full most days.

Or if everyone's two days is Tuesday and Wednesday. :-)

Just spread it around so all five days get coverage.

Also, depending on the type of commute, I need to factor in the exhaustion that comes with using public transportation like Bart. So for me it was an hour each way plus a substantial time to decompress from standing in a packed sweaty train. In the evening it usually meant that I was just too tired to do anything else after work.

Before the pandemic I did a lot of WFH, looking after my chronically ill partner. I basically got my face-to-face load out the way on a Monday, which was Meeting Day.

> My company wants to go 2 days home and 3 days office. I've said I'd do it the other way around.

Mine is pushing some similar nonsense. I don't think anyone thought about it too hard:

1. I still have to live within a reasonable driving distance of the main office.

2. I still have to maintain a home office, sacrificing valuable square footage without being reimbursed for its use.

3. I still have to furnish this home office, without being reimbursed for anything except computer accessories.

At least for Bay Area companies, the "hybrid" 2/3 or 3/2 or whatever schemes are insufficient. They partially alleviate the long commute problem, but they do not solve the high cost of living problem. WFH has been nice in that it lets me skip my 4+ hour commute every day, but what would be even better is 0/5, allowing me to completely move out of the Bay Area and still keep my job (at lower comp, fine).

I presume you’re in eng because we’re on HN but are you not? If you’re in the Bay Area, you should be able to afford an okay home here (assuming you stop playing the startup game and join a public tech company). Being only able to afford Tracy or something sounds like very low pay...

My company is going to a 2 days at work and 3 days home setup. But they won't pay for anything except the computer -- if I want a monitor or a docking station I'm on the hook for that, they won't provide it. I recently shelled out for a $500 chair, and I know two colleagues who paid $2-300 for docking stations (I think I'd be happy with a cheaper one, personally).

I think they'll pay for a monitor if you're full-time WFH but that requires special permission.

1. Why? I can live 2 hours from my office and still have a total weekly commute that is less than my pre-pandemic commute. If I can somehow fix an overnight in the city it's even less.

2. This is true, although you get 'reimbursed' for that by not commuting. And since you don't commute you can live somewhere cheaper, or get a bigger house for the same price.

3. My company paid for all that, so no issue here.

Two hours from your office? Is this hyperbole?

If you live two hours from your office and go in for three days per week, that's 2h per leg * 2 legs per day * 3 days per week = 12 hours per week on the road.

You were spending more than 12 hours per week in traffic?

The average commute in the United States is a little less than 30 minutes [1]. That's 5 hours per week for someone who works five days per week.

1. https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2021/one-way-...

I used to commute 1 hour one way pre Covid, so 10 hours per week. If I go into the office for only 2 days a week I could live twice as far from my workplace and still only commute 8 hours a week. I was meaning to say that even with 2 days in-Office per week it opens up possibilities regarding housing.

I was spending 1,5 hours per day in a train, and walking to the station for 10 minutes or so, yes.

There are only so many hours in a day. Are you willing to wake up at 5AM to get to the office and be home at 8PM for 2 days a week?

I guess it depends on the type of job, but for me (software engineering), WFH works extremely well.

I often -often, not "sometimes"- get more done by 8AM, than I used to get done in over half a day (or even the entire day) at the office.

WFH won't work for everyone. It takes real self-discipline, and not everyone considers home to be a suitable place for work.

Even in these cases, I think we'll be seeing alternatives, like small "work hubs," ala WeWork, that are close to people's homes, and allow them to have a lot more autonomy than the main office.

I’m the same I had been WFH in SF for at least two years and joined a new employer pre covid that required me to go into the office. Once COVID hit my manager was really surprised by how much more productive I was. At this point we’re on a flex schedule going back, will see how that goes.

My hope is two days in the office for meeting days or interviews, rest engineering time at home.

I've worked from home for years, and found the same thing - it's made me look like, maybe not a 10X dev but definitely 2X.

But now everyone else I deal with is WFH too and... It turns out they don't appear to be benefiting in the same way and performance has probably dropped on average.

Give it a couple of years and most people will be back in the office as before, I expect.

I have gained a kind of hyper-focus and desire to do the work I had entirely lost thanks to the 9-5 grind, I've been working from home since before covid too. 9-5 5 day weeks seem almost designed to cause that kind of long-tail unproductivity.

Agree with all of this, but it also requires to schedule pretty much any interaction. Also all the interactions are going through your employers systems, which are all recorded. So any gossip or informal catch up, or sharing real “corporate incorrect” opinion is out of the door (if you work for any large organisation).

It was fine the first 6 months of working from home but I feel increasingly professionally isolated, not knowing what is going on, even though I spend half of my day talking to people on a headset.

> but it also requires to schedule pretty much any interaction.

That's a small price I'm willing to pay.

> So any gossip or informal catch up, or sharing real “corporate incorrect” opinion is out of the door (if you work for any large organisation).

Just speaking personally, any company I've worked at where gossip/whispering/staff looking over their shoulders and feel the need complain/etc. were important factors was not an environment I wanted to be a part of anyway.

> but it also requires to schedule pretty much any interaction.

This is another positive.

> So any gossip or informal catch up, or sharing real “corporate incorrect” opinion is out of the door (if you work for any large organisation).

I'm not sure what "corporate incorrect" means here, but gossip is generally a net negative in the workplace that tends to build cliques and factions that often manifest in a bigger problem.

Assuredly there are other non-company channels to do those things, but the question is ... why?

> gossip is generally a net negative in the workplace that tends to build cliques and factions that often manifest in a bigger problem

It isn’t useful at lower levels. It’s pretty much the definition of senior management. I wouldn’t have wanted to discuss replacing a senior person, whom I found to be ineffective, on corporate Zoom, for example. That said, temporary hierarchical rigidity and some people explicitly opting out of the promotion race isn’t a bad thing.

A problem for whom? Unionisation is a net positive for everyone not interested in profit; a good union ensures good working environments which improve efficiency (amount achieved per time spent), and it reduces worker exploitation (e.g. fairer compensation for labour).

How do you arrange something like that behind your boss's back if you can only communicate with your colleagues via corporate-approved communication channels?

Technically planning unionizing inside of the workspace has always been legally dangerous - the correct way to do it is to meet outside of work, at say a cookout or over drinks. Those methods can work too, although being remote can make them impossible. Unfortunately a fully remote company is much more union-proof, and that’s a very sad tradeoff.

It's not legally dangerous. Legally, you have the right to discuss unionization with your co-workers and your employer is legally forbidden from preventing it or retaliating.

It's dangerous for practical purposes, because that law is not well enforced.

I use my personal communnications devices to communicate with colleagues when communicating in a personal context.

I use my work communications devices to communicate with colleagues when communicating in a work context.

I suppose some people may have employers that prohibit them from having personal communication devices in their place of residence, but that's going to be a very different high-security type environment anyway.

I don't have a problem with asking a colleague to give me their personal cell number on a work communications channel. I don't think I'd want to work in a place where doing so was prohibited.

> How do you arrange something like that behind your boss's back if you can only communicate with your colleagues via corporate-approved communication channels?

I'm a Betriebsrat, a Germany-specific "workers council", member at my employer. By law, the company is mandated to provide us with the resources we need (e.g. access to company wide email distribution lists, a private MS Teams channel, private folders on the file servers, a locked office for personal meetings of the council and with staff members) and is prohibited from interfering with all our duties. Any form of censorship or surveillance would be a big no-no which could even land our execs behind bars.

workers councils are a great thing.... too bad they're only in Europe

Unionization is not net positive for everyone. Why are you looking at "good union" examples instead of much more realistic "bad" ones?

Because I'm not an American business owner, nor cheering for one.

Why does it cause you to pick the evidence that confirms what you already believe in? Do you think that being blind to reality is good for your "team"?

I'm not being blind to reality. The only unions I have ever interacted with have been good ones. I've only ever heard about bad unions on Hacker News; even police unions are good at being unions (though when you're unionising against the people, that's an inversion of the power dynamics a union is meant to promote, so I still don't like police unions).

Believing second-hand rumours on the internet would be less intellectually honest than believing my anecdotal evidence.

> The only unions I have ever interacted with have been good ones.


As a non-American non-employer, my current job is unionized, and I believe that union to be a major factor in the rampant dysfunction, though probably not the driving factor.

I think that every time I've had a friend or family member working in a union environment that wasn't more-or-less minimum wage (e.g. unionized Starbucks workers are a counter-example to the pattern I'm describing) they've had similar observations.

I'm still very hesitant to attack unions in general, because as a student of history it's pretty clear that the situation we have now is better than the situation without unions. So I'd rather live in a unionized society than a non-unionized society, but I'd rather work for a non-unionized employer than a unionized employer.

Would you say that cooperatives are better than unions?

> The only unions I have ever interacted with have been good ones.

Well, that's what I would expect to see in US too, but it's a survivorship bias at work. Obviously, in country which is (quite commendably, in my opinion) anti-union, only capable unions would be able to survive.

> that's an inversion of the power dynamics a union is meant to promote

Power dynamics that you are talking about are pieces of fiction, which oversimplify reality in order to boost one or another political viewpoint. It's a very popular piece of fiction, too: paint one side as "the ordinary people", the underdog, morally superior, and thus taken advantage of. And the other side is, obviously, the devil.

Anyone sees these stories quite for what they are when it's the story from the other side of political spectrum. For example, if anyone would come here to HN and tell the story of immigrants taking "our jobs", it would be dead in 5 minutes, and all the logical inconsistencies and fallacies in it would be split open. And, just to be clear about my personal political opinions — this takedown would be completely correct.

But it works for both sides. "The people" are often not much of an underdog, as are "the workers". I know quite a lot of real businesses, even in IT, where "the man", the business owner, takes home less money than he pays his senior engineers. The situation with police unions just highlights this disparity between the story in a way that you can't just sweep under the rug — but it's always there, even if less apparent.

> It's a very popular piece of fiction, too: paint one side as "the ordinary people", the underdog, morally superior, and thus taken advantage of. And the other side is, obviously, the devil.

? That's not what I mean at all. Think of Uber; the drivers don't have much control over when they work, if they want to afford to live in a building. The people in charge of Uber, however, do have control over when the drivers work.

In a school, the teachers have more power than the children – but oftentimes when that power is exercised, it's in dealing with bullying or classroom disruption.

Acknowledging that some people have more power than others is not the same thing as declaring the powerful evil.

> "The people" are often not much of an underdog, as are "the workers".

But in this particular instance, they are.

> even police unions are good at being unions

Right?! They suck for everyone else, but as far as looking out for their members' interests, they're pretty much the gold standard.

I know plenty of people, myself included, who consider most of what you described as a blessing.

Not having to have "how are the kids?" conversations and instead being able to play a video game or watch a TV show during some down time is worth every bit of company gossip I'm missing.

>Also all the interactions are going through your employers systems, which are all recorded.

I doubt all of our Google Meets are recorded. And even if they were, who'd bother listening through all of them for wrongthink?

Google Meet has a transcription option. I would be profoundly surprised if this were not coupled with a keyword filter of some sort.

I've seen what the Google Meet transcription does and the output is only useful for summoning the Dark One.

Facetime or Hangout with a personal account.

Also, a lot of people at my work are on Discord. I wouldn't be surprised if that were the common channel for semi-private employee chats.

your company monitors every zoom call?

not sure how "corporate incorrect" you are intending, but I feel pretty open to discuss things I'm dissatisfied with with my team. I suppose if push came to shove, I would be fine with that being public record.

The biggest one in this is the 10 hours per week of commute, which if anything actually is a lower estimate of the "all in" time commuting takes.

In a normal job that's 25% of your time that's flatly uncompensated, who would opt for that.

Another equivalent view point is that your commute was being compensated and that now employers will begin to pay less as the supply of people who are willing to work remote increase.

The biggest perk for me is the ability to hit that bong in a middle of work day, while watching weird ass japanese hentai with my surround sound home cinema.

Depending on your company culture, you could do that in the office as well. In some companies I worked at, weed brakes were an everyday occurrence for engineering, but gamedev in general and Tel Aviv in particular are a bit different from the usual white-collar office culture.

Though I'm sure the hentai lunch breaks aren't on the list of perks at even the most relaxed of FAANGs. No idea though, I'm pretty far removed from that world.

Strip-clubs for corporate events were a staple in gamedev for a long time, and in many companies still are.

> The biggest perk for me is the ability to hit that bong in a middle of work day

I'm not sure if you are being sarcastic, but how could you possibly be productive after that?

It really depends on the type, certain strains can make one more productive potentially. At least that's what I've heard from others.

Going along with the other reply to this comment, there are a select few individuals who can handle low/medium doses of sativa strains and be shockingly productive.

I use it for focusing on purely creative works, but I definitely can’t use it in a professional setting.

All of this +:

I can just start calling people, no need to find a room with my laptop where I only have the screen of that laptop, just to not disturb the others in the open office.

I have breakfast with the kids, am home for package/groceries deliveries.

I have much better relations with colleagues in other countries because cam on is the default and we are not with a group of locals and 2 people on cam. It's a big equalizer.

I like it like this and would be annoyed as well if this was taken from me.

You are pitching being able to do laundry, dishes, clean, etc. as a perk. I feel like it’s a negative as part of my mental space is occupied by household chores as well. Blending errands and cleaning with meetings and focused work is a pain now. It feels like I’m doing an insane multitasking balancing act most days.

This as much as you want to do it though. I share OP's view point, but will also let those house keeping tasks rote away for a while if I'm not in the mood too.

They'll still need to be done at some point, but now we have more choice on when we want to do it, and not just between 8PM and 8 AM or only on weekends, as it was the case before.

How did you cope before? Who did all this for you before?

In the evenings and on weekends.

So keep doing them on weekends or evenings if that works best for you. WFH gives you the option of doing them at other times if that meets your needs better.

Wouldn't you rather keep evenings/weekends free of chores and do some of them during the work week? That's what I prefer and do at least.

my mommy

I read it as pitching flexibility in your schedule as a perk. The details are the details (and vary from person to person)

A one hour commute is a very long commute.

Not an uncommonly long commute, perhaps, but only because—particularly in the US—we’ve made some really unfortunate choices with regard to city planning. It shouldn’t be this way.

Pretty much anyplace where someone commutes into a city from comfortably outside the city is going to have a substantial commute. I'm actually very convenient to a decent commuter rail system to a city with a good mass transit system. And it would take me around 90 minutes door to door to commute in. It would be shorter if I lived closer in but it would be hard to be much under an hour.

I was curious about this so had to check.

I live in a fairly large city with decent transit options (for the US), and (notably) a high-speed commuter rail system going into the city. I'm considering moving out of the city in a year or so, and if I do I want to be convenient to a station on that rail system.

Using a friend's address in the suburbs as a proxy (who lives near where I might be moving), Google Maps puts the travel time from there to my office at 32 minutes via commuter rail. That's with an 8 minute walk and 11 minute walk on either side, but if you assume a bike ride rather than a walk I'd imagine you can cut each of those down by at least half. The rail line has headways of a little under 15 minutes at rush hour, so that could possibly extend the trip a little bit if your timing's not perfect, but still well under an hour.

Of course if you need multiple transfers to get to your destination (and your local transit system doesn't have very short headways) that will increase your travel time substantially. The commuter line I'm thinking of takes you right into the heart of the city where many jobs are though (including my own) so that's not always a concern.

That's probably an unusually good commuter rail system. I'm about a 10 minute drive from a less frequent commuter rail, so figure 15 minutes out the door until the scheduled train comes. There don't seem to be any express trains running right now so it's over an hour into the city and that's assuming I don't need to catch a subway on the other end--which I would have to do to go to my company's city office. So, for me, at least 90 minutes--and that's for someone fairly far out (it would also take me a good 60 minutes to go in by car with nominal traffic but more like 90 anywhere near rush hour even leaving early) but convenient to a rail line.

I actually did this for a time, fortunately not every day but frequently enough. Wouldn't really have been sustainable long term.

The inherent problem here is that you work in the city, but don't live in the city. I think that with better housing policies (namely, better density), this would be far less common.

That presupposes one wants to live in "better density." A lot of people who work in cities have no desire to live there. (Or they have a partner who works in the suburbs, want the better suburban school options, etc.)

It's not like the only two options are cities and sprawling car-dependent suburbs. (Well okay, in the US those are mostly the only two options.) That suburb I mentioned in a sibling comment thread with the 30-minute rail commute is a town of about 13,000, houses there generally have backyards (though not huge front yards), there are plenty of quiet side streets, it's still walkable, etc. It's an "in between" kind of density. The problem is we've mostly legislated these places out of existence; you can't build places like this anymore in almost all of the US. I just happen to be in an area that was built up before modern zoning codes prevented it.

This video is a good overview: https://youtu.be/MWsGBRdK2N0

Of course, if you want to live super far away from the city and drive in, that's fine, I just wish that wasn't basically the only option besides living right in the city. Places like this still exist, and I think there's a lot of demand for them, but because they're not expanding (again, legislated away) the cost of living there will just keep going up because supply will never increase.

I would love for more of the housing you are talking about to exist, but one has to deal with reality as it currently exists even while working to change it.

Yes, that's true. But you do also need to work to change it, or it won't change.

Unfortunately that probably means that if you have a city job, for now you'll be stuck with either long commutes, living right in the city, or expensive housing in the remaining walkable suburbs.

Or you can move somewhere that has already figured this out. :) But I understand that's out of reach for many people; it's out of reach for me.

IMO, that also falls under "city planning". Why do the suburbs have better schools? Maybe if we had better public parks, people wouldn't feel the need to have individual private backyards? Etcetera.

Now, sure, if your partner works XX miles in the opposite direction from you, and/or you have some other unique community attachment, and you can't change jobs, you're always going to have a long commute, and that's a life choice you're going to have to make. But there's no reason that should be the norm.

You can't just handwave away the problems that city planners and politicians have already been trying to solve for decades and have failed to solve.

But when those problems are solved (not likely to happen in my lifetime) I'd be willing to reconsider raising a family in the city near me.

It's the kind of commute where you have said you don't want to be a renter for your entire life nor devote your entire paycheck to the mortgage.

That said, I actually like my commute that is 30 minutes of bike followed by 30 minutes on the train. I get exercise in the morning and evening and make steady progress on my backlog of books.

I would hate it if I was driving. That's just wasted time.

> I can wake up later since I don't have a commute. I don't lose two hours a day due to the commute.

Commutes are also dangerous if they're by car. Not only are roadway congested, everyone is in a rush, and people are driving after just waking up and then again after a full day of work.

From a purely economic standpoint, commutes are responsible for a 10% drop in hourly wages[1].

[1] https://go.frontier.com/business/commute-calculator

One more:

Depending on company culture, meetings with 10+ people can end up with just a few people talking and others not participating at all but still being forced to attend. Tolerating such events is much easier when you simply turn off your camera and lay on the couch, stretch around etc. instead of sitting awkwardly and pretending to care.

Hear, hear. As someone with dietary restrictions, the ability to make lunch at home every day is also huge (to say nothing of not being in an office which "helpfully" offers the temptation of junk food during moments of stress).

I thought I would gain weight from lack of commute exercise, but healthier eating has meant a net loss for me.

I'm not gonna lie, it lowers my stress levels by at least half. The sheer fact that people can't randomly drop by and I can more control the flow of my day by ignoring email and slack until reasonable interval checks. People can still get me if there's an "emergency" but those are few and far between.

My mental model on commute time is that every 1 hour is a year of my life wasted over a 24 year career. More than that if I work for more than 24 years.

I recently committed to a 40m commute for the next three years to take my young child to our chosen school. I rented a desk near the school b/c of course 40m is too far for multiple round-trips each day.

I used to commute an hour pre-pandemic so I thought, how bad can it be?

Let me tell you - after a year of working at home, any commute feels like a giant waste of time and energy, which of course it is. I cherish the time with by child, but being strapped into a car seat in the back of the car is hardly quality time.

My first response is: Your poor kid has to be strapped into a car seat for an hour and a half every day? That sounds aweful.

We live in a paradise that is closer to a puffin colony than the nearest streetlight, so we accept the rough edges.

You sound like you need to learn more empathy and how to be less judgmental.

Not only that but when you combine it with having the freedom to relocate to a low cost of living destination suit your optimal lifestyle the benefits stack up even more.

For example living 15 minutes to world class hiking trails or surf spots. Not having to take a flight or drive for hours each way to go do those things on weekends you can now do them every day before or after work. Getting to live in a large house out in nature, far away from the city crowds.

It's a game changer

Many fully remote companies are giving reduction of pay from HCOL cities... this still may work out but not always a straight comparison.

> I don't lose two hours a day due to the commute.

Realizing I was basically using an entire work day or even a little more per week just to commute was what made me put in the effort to move to remote work(pre-pandemic by a couple years). And once I started, I noticed the little niceties as you mentioned and it would take something drastic to get me back into an office again.

I 3d print and make useful things for my house on CNC mill machine I received few months back.

At this point if a company wants me back in office, I'll go and work for the one which doesn't really there's no value in being packed in a shop with people who don't want to be with you.

It's other thing to orchestrate something by purchasing bit of inputs from everyone on team.

The pandemic has flipped things on their head. Before it was “how can I know that you’d be productive outside of the office?” and now it’s “how is the office is any way necessary or an improvement on working from home?”

Businesses have to justify offices and cubicles to their workers but from all of the arguments I’ve read, they’re coming up short.

Laundry? I regularly take a 20-minute bath in the middle of my workday. With salt, bubbles, scent candles and a book.

Why would I ever go back to the office?

No bath bombs?

How do Zoom calls work? Do you just throw on an Afghan monk-style or use a Snap filter?

I haven't had a single zoom call in my current company since the interview. Audio calls are extremely rare, one in 4 months on average.

I've never been so psychologically stable and productive in my entire working life.

I've been working from home for years, and while all the things you listed are huge. The number one thing I missed the most in the 20 or so times I've been to the office in the last 7 years, is having my own bathroom.

That said, I miss going out to lunch, accidentally meeting people from other teams, reading on the train, meeting friends in the city right after work, and just being around people in general.

I wish I could get an in office part time job that paid benefits, but I don't think those exist.

Agreed with the above. I'll also add that for many years my wife and I have had the goal of living in Europe (we're Americans) but finding suitable work in Europe seemed nearly impossible:

* EU work visas seem very hard to get

* EU software jobs seem to pay ~40% less than comparable American jobs before taxes (and EU taxes are more significant)--this leaves little slack for travel

* My wife's field is communications/marketing and she's pretty specialized to English/American-culture and the demand is quite a lot lower for her industry than mine

Then there's the hassle of long-term remote: figuring out taxes, selling our home, the logistics and costs of moving those possessions we're unwilling to sell to Europe, etc.

Work-from-home enables us to work from Europe for a few months at a time--we'll have to work odd hours (~2pm-9pm iirc) and we'll probably have to pay Europe rent and our American mortgage; however, we'll probably take most of our vacation during our abroad months so the odd hours will only apply for a few weeks and we can afford the additional housing cost (especially if we save for it during the months we're in the US). I think the tax situation should be okay since we'll be in the US for the majority of the year, but I need to find out for sure.

IANAL but technically you working remote from Europe on a tourist visa is a violation of a bunch of immigration laws (and probably some tax treaties).

Will your firm catch you? Likely not if you are only working abroad for a few weeks, if you're doing it for longer, you'll probably get an email asking for clarification on your tax status (at best). At worst, they'll pull your VPN logs and demand that you get back to the states before you trigger some payroll issues.

You're most probably wrong. The limits to working in a foreign country usually apply to getting a paycheck from a local employer, or performing tasks that are locally regulated. Nothing's stopping anyone from writing a book anywhere, for instance. You clearly don't need any kind of work permit to do that kind of work. But you can't call yourself an independent contractor and start fixing houses in a remote country while invoicing from abroad. Doing software development is much more like the former than the latter.

Consider also that foreign employee of foreign firms have long traveled for business (well pre-Covid they did) and there is typically no work permit required for short/medium stays. In most places it just requires a typical tourist visa or equivalent when under 3 months.

Maybe this will be much more common and laws would change, but it's hard to see why countries would resist such residents; they bring their own job, they spend foreign money locally and they're no strain on the local social welfare system. Economically, they're just as beneficial as tourists and not as much of a risk as the average immigrant.

It does really depend on the country and visa, so certainly look into it. It's not a default no-no, and tax treaties often exist to make international economic activity easier not harder.

My country has a tax-treaty with the country I do most of my work for, and so I only pay taxes in one not the other. Without such a treaty I'd have to pay taxes in both countries and it would make it unviable.

How would you go about finding out for sure? Do you need to visit the foreign embassy? Or is there some kind of lawyer you would talk to? If so, which kind?

As a non-American working (legally) for a while in America (in Silicon Valley), I ran into a situation where my visa lapsed and I wasn't sure where I stood legally (like I wasn't sure if I was even allowed to be in the country any more). I can't remember how I found a lawyer. Anyway, I did a 15-minute consult over the phone. Actually, he was really casual about payment, at the end he said "mail a cheque to my secretary" and hung up, haha. Probably was mostly treating the call as a loss leader.

Anyway, among other things, he said that doing any work inside US borders, if not on a work visa, is technically illegal. Like apparently if I'm on vacation in the US, and I pull out my phone to answer a few work emails, that's technically a visa violation, not that in that case anyone's gonna mind. IANAL TINLA. And of course you're interesting in jurisdictions other than the US.

So, yeah, I think the way to find out is find a lawyer in the jurisdiction you'd be wanting to work from, one who advertises themselves as specializing in visa issues.

I looked up the relevant tax codes myself and got them vetted by my accountant, but I'll admit it was a really clear cut situation for me and my government has really well written descriptions of the codes online.

Thanks for the heads up. I'll have to look into this more deeply. I'm curious if anyone knows where the appropriate place to ask would be (foreign embassy?). FWIW, I'm not planning to hide this from my firm.

> EU work visas seem very hard to get

Not sure about other countries but it's pretty much automatic in Germany for any job over EUR 55k (or something like that). Which is nearly all software jobs worth taking.

Really? I've looked at France and UK specifically and the requirements on paper seemed really difficult. You basically had to have a letter from the company saying that they couldn't find a EU citizen who could do the work, and even if that's pretty laxly interpreted and IIRC many employers weren't even willing to accept candidates outside of the EU. Perhaps it's changed or I'm misremembering.

Post Brexit the EU thing is no longer applicable, but the news recently makes me fear for anyone trying to travel here for work or leisure. EU citizens visiting family being thrown in jail and deported. We are turning into Gilead. I’d wait it out a few years until we’ve managed to get rid of Johnson, Patel, Gove, Raab and all the other swivel-eyed loons.

I was a long-time skeptic of remote work, but after this last year I am convinced it can work well - and perhaps not just work well but work better than traditional office work. Our experience has been that people are just as productive in a 'visible sense' as when they were forced to commute and come into the office. But I also get the sense that people are happier, because they are able to skip frustrations (commute), retain their family life in a better way (seeing kids more), and free up mental bandwidth (by taking care of little chores/errands at will). They are able to create the work environment they want, eat more healthily, and do things like go for a walk and recharge. For creative work, I think there will be significant long-term benefits to having a work force that isn't just productive, but also happy, healthy, and fulfilled. Companies that are trying desperately to hold onto the old working model with stopgaps like "hybrid work" are simply dating themselves and will lose their best talent.

I can microwave fish and have no shade thrown at me

> I don't lose two hours a day due to the commute.

One of my bitches about Silicon Valley is top managers of tech companies locate their companies a short drive away from their homes and estates in Palo Alto, Los Altos, Woodside and force the schmucks that work for them into long commutes.

>> If I need a 15 minute break, I can start a load of laundry, or run the dishwasher, or do some other chore.

That is not universal. That is a subset of work-from-home. Many people working from home can no more step away for a break than they would if at the office. For instance, customer support/contact people cannot just step away from the phone. Others working at home have employer systems that monitor them live. Any unscheduled breaks get noticed and recorded.

Even amongst highly-paid "knowledge workers" there are issues. I do occasional home days but am not able to take breaks. At any time one of my five bosses might call. We don't have any monitoring software but they expect me at my desk ready to respond, not walking the dog or doing laundry.

Or my talk therapist girlfriend, for whom working from home still means having phone or video appointments starting and ending every hour. Though at least she can take a short break if someone no-shows (most of that time is for doing notes).

I suspect most people working from home have some opportunity to take breaks here and there, though. I'm aware of certain professions with invasive monitoring (I've seen nurses that work for pharmaceutical companies report this), but it doesn't seem to be particularly widespread. I'm not familiar with anyone in my personal life who have an expectation of immediate response to superiors (though on the rare case the CEO contacts you, you should make sure to get on that pretty quickly ... but that's why I get email on my phone/watch).

I like to take walks around the blocks during very long conference calls. And for that matter I will walk around my house and advance the laundry or make a cup of coffee or just pace and wave my arms for a shorter and more involving call.

>> expectation of immediate response to superiors

It depends on whether you are working primarily via email/text or live talk/chat/webcam. When my boss calls me on the phone during the day he expects me to answer.

Not being able to take even a 15 minute break and having to report to five different bosses sounds like an outlier occupation in terms of austerity. What if you need to go to the bathroom?

Five bosses? I'm genuinely curious how this works

My guess is that it doesn't work as well as four bosses.

I laughed and upvoted, but you never know. Maybe the utility curve turns a corner.

At least it’s fewer than eight.

This, and

- Walk kids to school in the mornings, pick them up in afternoons

- Buy groceries when it suits you in the middle of the day.

- Do sports in the middle of the day

- Start slow cooking during the day

- Avoid being called into pointless meetings (no-one can see that you are actually not in another meeting or phone call)

- Take breaks with your wife

It is time humanity takes lesson from all that happened in the last two years and aim to build a more sustainable environment. Not just for us but for our future generations.

One of the benefits of working in the office that you can leave your work notebook in the locker so you can't use it after working times.

Yep. I just changed jobs to have a shorter commute to support my wife and children better, and also expect to only be in the office ~3 days a week.

Working from home has been an absolute boon to me. I've done partial WFH for my entire career and it feels totally natural to me. I do miss being in the office, maybe once a week or so.

I found scrubs (pants) are ultra-comfortable and industrial strength functional.

Flight suits are adult onesies. And resistant to fire and McDonald's coffee.

Just to add to the plusses you already mentioned, the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere just by the practice of driving to the office everyday is immense.

The best thing about the pandemic has been improved air quality. Do we really want to go back?


> I don't lose two hours a day due to the commute.

Is this hyperbole? Why do you all have 2 hour commutes? That sounds like hell

I think it would be good to sum all the commute free week

- time saved

- gas saved

- car wear saved ..

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