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.
- 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
This is why HN is special!
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'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.
-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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Combining that with the fact that we don't do bars, we cook and need car ownership so we can do hike-trips...
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.
We are actually moving soon primarily so that I can have an office.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Maybe some things would need to change in terms of what office space is leased, and the capacity, in order to manage the cost.
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.
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.
If you could share your findings this would be greatly appreciated. (Is it wired or wireless?)
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.
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.)
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.
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.
There's no depth limit, it's just a subtle cue to consider slowing down, to help prevent flame wars.
They would buy ergonomic things that could be justified though.
I don’t miss that.
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)
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.
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.
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 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
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...
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.
That's what the local pub is for.
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 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.
Or are you renting them access to your equipment :-)
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.
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...
So yeah, these sorts of workplaces exist and thousands of people have to contend with their on-site limitations.
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.
So unless the item is listed on that list, you are SOL.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You are otherwise reinforcing the point that you can't just bring whatever equipment you want to the office, as the parent poster claimed.
I am reinforcing no such point. I bring my own keyboard but it isn't noisy. I also bring my own mouse.
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
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 "invested" my commute savings savings in a Tudor GMT watch my ISA and some bullion
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
„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.
Have you consider team atrophy as a pre-existing/chronic condition which maynot have cure?
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).
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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!
With that standard 8h work 8h personal time 8h sleep. Commute eats up 1/4 of your personal time.
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've worked from home for a few years now, and before that I would have to take vacation time to go visit them.
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'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.
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
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.
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 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.
Do you have data to back up your suspicion?
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.
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".
The pandemic has done some of that figuring out for us.
These flats would be considered tiny by American standards and you have a lot less privacy/independence from your neighbours.
Yep, that sounds as ridiculous as your statement.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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%.
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 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.
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!
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).
Even listening to an audiobook or podcast is such a passive thing it's hard to call it "doing" something.
What do you do?
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.
But nothing distinguishes a junior and a senior more than the ability to work independently.
(Although obviously those statements aren't absolutes, hence the use of the word "often".)
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.
The seniors used to be called "architects," and the "driving projects/design" used to be called RUP.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pollution is the clear example. Unless forced externally, producers will just ignore negative externalities.
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.
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.
My solution was to figure out how to afford to live in the city. I am privileged in that sense, however.
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.
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.
We are not talking about beer with friends once in a while either. We are talking about regular very time consuming activity.
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.
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.
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 :)
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.
But if you live in a HCOL area, and you want a yard, you're pretty much locked in to hour+ one-way commutes.
One of which was that my 6 mile commute in Austin took between 45 minutes to an hour.
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.
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" is just not true for any area of the US or Canada.
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.
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…
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.
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.
Also, having a social aspect outside of work makes job changes way less scary and stressful.
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 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 reckoned that it would be £10k post tax just for the additional cost of commute (65 miles)
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.
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.
Your most valuable resource, time, which can be neither replenished nor its true quantity known, is being wasted for very little gain.
For people who chose to not prioritise living remotely near their workplace.
That's a relatively small slice of workers.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
I think they'll pay for a monitor if you're full-time WFH but that requires special permission.
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.
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 . That's 5 hours per week for someone who works five days per week.
I was spending 1,5 hours per day in a train, and walking to the station for 10 minutes or so, yes.
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.
My hope is two days in the office for meeting days or interviews, rest engineering time at home.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
It's dangerous for practical purposes, because that law is not well enforced.
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.
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.
Believing second-hand rumours on the internet would be less intellectually honest than believing my anecdotal evidence.
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.
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.
? 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.
Right?! They suck for everyone else, but as far as looking out for their members' interests, they're pretty much the gold standard.
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.
I doubt all of our Google Meets are recorded. And even if they were, who'd bother listening through all of them for wrongthink?
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.
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.
In a normal job that's 25% of your time that's flatly uncompensated, who would opt for that.
I'm not sure if you are being sarcastic, but how could you possibly be productive after that?
I use it for focusing on purely creative works, but I definitely can’t use it in a professional setting.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I actually did this for a time, fortunately not every day but frequently enough. Wouldn't really have been sustainable long term.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Businesses have to justify offices and cubicles to their workers but from all of the arguments I’ve read, they’re coming up short.
Why would I ever go back to the office?
How do Zoom calls work? Do you just throw on an Afghan monk-style or use a Snap filter?
I've never been so psychologically stable and productive in my entire working life.
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.
* 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
- 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
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.
Is this hyperbole? Why do you all have 2 hour commutes? That sounds like hell
- time saved
- gas saved
- car wear saved ..