Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Facebook extends its work-at-home policy to most employees (cnbc.com)
587 points by prostoalex on June 9, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 468 comments

I am really curious to see where we'll be in a year, two, three down the line wrt remote/office/hybrid work at major companies.

This forced experiment has had some surprising outcomes about the effectiveness of remote workplaces, but working from home for only a year, in pandemic conditions, is clearly not the same as indefinitely in normal times. But there's reason to think that may go even better, not worse; I am really curious to see how it plays out and glad more companies are continuing to let people work remotely.

My biggest question right now about sustained wfh is how much of the current productivity is the result of relationships that were built in the office.

A year ago, I remotely onboarded for a new position and recently I can head back into the office, and there's a massive difference for me between the virtual relationships I built and the in-person ones.

I learned more about people that I had spent months zooming/emailing with over the past few weeks talking to them face to face. Also having a dedicated workspace and a mental break between home & work has increased my productivity.

This conversation, when I've had it with people, usually ends up with the same conclusions: people would like to see their coworkers face-to-face like.... a couple times a month. People have deep relationships with others without needing to see them 5 times a day, after all!

I think the difficulties around relationship building in this time are deeply linked to whether you are able to socialize "through a computer" well or not. I'm not really talking about Zoom etc so much as just text chat or the like. There are definitely people more and less comfortable at it.

It is an interesting question. I have two new team members we added 2 months ago. Neither is very technical and, admittedly, it can get challenging sometimes, because pre-WFH, I could have just showed them what to do instead of spending 20 minutes trying to explain what I want them to do. I could technically grab a screen, but.. apparently, neither learns well that way and just yesterday I had some really odd issues with sound and MS Teams screen sharing.

Anyway, as much as I love remote, in person has its benefits.. like being able to strangle someone when needed.

I've found the opposite.

As a developer, WFH actually facilitates things like pair programming and peer review. Especially for introverts like myself, it is much easier to do a screenshare of your IDE and review code in a group than try to sit next to each other or review code on a big screen in a meeting room. This has become a thing for us now (let's jump on a zoom and i'll show you quickly), for anything that's too complex to slack.

The ability to easily screen share and record sessions as needed means I can get the big picture in the initial live session and review the details later via recording as needed (especially those nitpicky code details nobody remembers the first time around).

I will miss this when we have to go back to the office.

Videoconferencing tooling is still awful.

Bad latency, pixelated screensharing, frequent issues with sound and video. On top of that hardware problems with bad microphone setups, cross talk, etc.

I hope that at some point someone is going to show up and take this seriously. Treat it like a medical service, or a least close to. But I'm not holding my breath. I believe it was least year that I read that John Carmack had measured the latency of his cell phone and found it to in the vicinity of 700 ms.

Unrelated: how do you remember your username?

That's the sound his co-workers make when he strangles them!

Not OP, but as someone who's used such handles in the past, using a password manager.

I'm not OP but it almost looks like they got the username and password fields mixed-up when they were creating their account.

For all we know, their password might be something like "remote_worker"!

My guess would be that that's a phrase.

or you never log out

Hm I hadn’t thought about this in that way - this is very true - we maintain a lot of close relationships with people we don’t spend nearly 40 hours a week with.

And fwiw, I think I fall within this line of thinking - for me going to the office would be productive if it were at its absolute most once per week.

> how much of the current productivity is the result of relationships that were built in the office.

This is going to be the big struggle for teams who formed in person but are now hiring remote.

I joined my current company about six months prior to the pandemic and had ample time to get to know my colleagues face-to-face, making the transition to remote working very pleasant. I'm not sure if the experience has been the same for people we've onboarded remotely; they're productive but I'm unsure if it'll be easy for them to build up the same kinds of relationships.

You also tend to get into situations where there's a social divide between a subset of the team who have constantly worked together synchronously in the past and new starters who only appear in 2D on Zoom. This may not be a problem for some people, but it's a concern for someone like me who gets a lot of their daily social interactions via work.

There's definitely a social part of work that, IMHO, waxes and wanes as you go through life. In your 20s and pre-family it's a significant aspect of your social life. Then I think it wanes as you have a family and kids when you don't have enough time for everything and work socialization is a chore. Then I think once again after the kids move out work socialization becomes more important again.

Of course thats just a generalization.

I find my older coworkers have more friends at work, simply because its the people outside thier family they see every day. I am friends with zero coworkers but also can spend my evenings out with friends - I don't have familial duties

> I learned more about people that I had spent months zooming/emailing with over the past few weeks talking to them face to face.

One thing I thought of that could alleviate this would be the team work getaways. Think 2 weeks away, 3-4 times a year. Obviously not everyone can every join all of them, but I'd imagine most still would do 2. Ideally the families should also be invited.

I am sure it would still come out cheaper than maintaining office space and build stronger relationships than the mere coffee break talk.

>One thing I thought of that could alleviate this would be the team work getaways. Think 2 weeks away, 3-4 times a year.

This proposal is so far outside what I’d consider ok that I’m not even sure whether I’ve understood correctly?

If employees are going away together somewhere for a couple weeks, four times a year, then they’re spending 2 whole months away from home, living in another location (maybe a hotel?) And the suggestion that they take their family along? What happens to the partner’s work? The kids’ school and their friends? Your social life?

And this is just scratching the surface of the practical considerations - totally setting aside the dystopian aspect of spending so much of your own time with your co-workers.

Even with your extra proviso that not everyone would need to join, if a company had this one aspect of their work-practice, then I’d avoid them at all costs

I worked remote for 5 years before COVID. I was somewhere around 10% travel to customer locations, and about 1 week per year to HQ overseas. It was a great balance. I’m not sure how that would scale to an entire company though as one week of travel expenses worked out to around $2000 for domestic travel within the US. Does the cost of carrying office space work out to more or less than $8k per person per year?

COVID style isolated WFH ruined WFH for me and contributed to burnout.

Renting a hotel for a week is probably way cheaper than $8k per person. Your costs were large in part because of the small scale that is done.

You're not including airfare, food, and meeting space. It might not quite reach $2k but pretty close.

But that's likely still cheaper than office space. That ranges anywhere from $20-$70+ per square foot depending on city and how nice it is. So even a tiny desk space is 500-2k a month.

Still, you guys assume this would be within the US, only. Excuse me for saying that, but that's some typical, US-centric kind of thinking. There's really whole world out there. If you're going to go for 2 weeks, go to Asia, South America or Central/South Europe and pay a third of the costs. Heck, do you know how cheap country side airbnbs in Portugal or Italy are? THAT'S how you build lasting memories.

Time becomes expensive then too… Jet lag is also a substantial issue. You have to accommodate the lowest common denominator in these situations. (People who have substantial family, don’t do well with jet lag, and aren’t very fond of long flights in economy)

Personally, 2 weeks is the minimum in my book for any kind of substantial time difference (4+ hours) and substantial flight time (8+ hours each way). I’m sure others feel even more aggressively than I do. I cannot imagine how people with kids would feel. The food and bacteria issues also just make things really challenging for many people.

There’s also the issue that you’re usually there for work, not just fun. Thus, you don’t really get to enjoy the spectacles as much because you’re gonna be doing 40+ hours working. I’ve been in exotic destinations before and had work stuff come up. It is not fun anymore. Terrible if anything. Rather be home than be in amazing place but unable to enjoy it.

You make some good points. Time difference is definitely a factor, but the thing is that with people WFH, you presumable are already dealing with people working in different timezones. So you organize those trips to always be somewhat within +-4h of the most of your employees. And those who can't join, will join into another destination. It would surely be one of those things you'd have to have a team dedicated to organize. But that's a team that would replace a bunch of existing, office-specific operational positions.

Food and bacteria – well, that's true. Although not everyone is affected and these come mostly from poor hygiene of either cooks/staff or the employees themselves. You make sure you choose a trusted and tested locations and educate your employees over tap water usage. I guess not much more can be done.

> There’s also the issue that you’re usually there for work, not just fun.

I think it's a matter of the vision. I absolutely would have made it to be more fun than work. First of all, in my example those would be frequent, so there would be less or no FOMO and not everyone would go to each of them. Which means you could definitely delegate the line support to those absent. If you ended up getting called in for help after all, that's just life. But, that's also unlikely to happen each time you getaway.

> you’re gonna be doing 40+ hours working

Well, no. I understand it may have been like this in your case, but it shouldn't be. I see those getaways more as a concentrated leisure/team-building activities you otherwise do throughout the year in the office and still get paid for. Except here you have an added benefit of actually being able to hold some really cool, out of the "cubicle-box" brainstormings/hackatons. Plus all the team building games, parties, etc. – again, all those things you'd normally do in the office to actually bond with people.

My $8k figure was based on 4 company get togethers per year ($2k * 4).

$2k for one week of travel expenses was based on 5 nights of hotel at $150/night ($750), 5 days of rental car at $200, gas for the car at $40, roundtrip flight at $500, travel to/from home airport at $60, parking at home airport at $50, and 6 days of meals @ $55/day ($330). Grand total $1930 plus taxes and tips.

When my company rented out the convention space in the Hard Rock Hotel plus rooms for 50-100ish employees, the room rates were still $150+/night. Granted that was the same week as CES, but I don't think hotel costs scale down that much unless one is willing to sacrifice location or something else.

The other things should be scalable a bit with tradeoffs. That said, I wouldn't be too keen on going on a week long work trip where I can't leave the hotel, must eat every meal at the hotel with my colleagues, and don't have any way to get around. To me, that means a successful event would have to budget for people expensing at least some of their own meals and for people expensing at least a few taxis/ubers.

Again, my experience with big company gatherings is tied to CES which is its own beast, but in the case of CES my company pretty much left everyone up to their own devices in terms of getting to/from the hotel and for most meals. Hotel rooms were also individually expensed (but out of a reserved block of rooms). My company was obsessive about expenses and the cost of CES, so I imagine if there were a cheaper way to do it, we would have been doing it that way instead.

The thing is I did not even think of doing that in the US, one of the most expensive of places. And even if in the US, you don't have to go to another city. No, quite the contrary. Some wilderness. Alaska, maybe? Montana? And that's not for the whole company at the same time, but for individual teams. You want some sightseeing? Sure, how about Puerto Rico? Or abroad, like Mexico, or South America? The options are limitless. Assuming people WFH anyway, it doesn't have to be "close" to anywhere in particular.

Yeah, as a long-term essentially remote employee, IMO you need to have week-long team meetings. Probably quarterly. I hesitate to require weekends. On the other hand, I have traveling about 130 days per year pre-pandemic.

Why do you need week long meetings ?

First off, take "week-long" as maybe a few days--perhaps a combination of broader team, smaller teams, and other syncs. Why more than one day? It's just more efficient if people are going to travel anyway. Especially long distances.

People are social and, in my experience, remote interactions work better when people have previously connected in-person.

> My biggest question right now about sustained wfh is how much of the current productivity is the result of relationships that were built in the office.

None. I started 3 different consulting jobs during the pandemic and always felt very productive and very connected to my colleagues, even though I never met them.

After working remote for ten+ years I disagree. There are things one can better understand about a person in a face to face meeting. When discussions become differently casual. Also some discussions are simpler in a completely informal circumstance ("random" meeting at the watercooler) than a virtual meeting of any kind.

Of course ymmv but blunt "None" isn't right.

People talk online too; it’s different for people who grew up using text messages and social media where they’re accustomed to building and maintaining online relationships.

I’m old, so don’t look at me, but when you look at the cohort of folk who are dealing with wfh successfully and productively, it’s, in my direct observation, younger folk.

None is perhaps true for more people than you think.

The ones who are struggling are the people who don’t “do chat” (ie the “oh no! I despise slack” group and the “let’s have a call to discuss that” group) and managers.

...and to be fair, it’s a lot harder to be a manager remotely; I can’t deny that.

...but people can build meaningful relationships online; it’s just different, and that’s hard for older people, in general.

Many of my best friendships were forged online, often in groups collaborating on doing real work.

I have not been able to get any such spontaneity during remote work with my group or division at a large tech company with mostly young coworkers. I haven't been able to figure out why.

> the “oh no! I despise slack” group

Chat can be super useful, but can also create a nasty interruption culture. I don't know what the tools are to turn chat into a value-adding thing, but I don't think they're in place yet.

It pains me to see the number of people who reply quickly to chat messages all day in order to show they're 'working' rather than doing their jobs.

>Chat can be super useful, but can also create a nasty interruption culture

How is does chat creates an interruption culture compared to people literally standing in your shoulder and directly interrupting you? At least with chat I can decide to ignore the notifications until I’m finished with my current task.

Sending a chat message is a really low bar: people send off chat messages at will, without respect to whether someone looks like they're concentrating, wearing headphones, have the door closed, are in the office, whatever. This is fine so long as chat is regarded as async, but in a culture where people feel compelled to get them in real time, chat becomes super interrupty, even compared to people coming by.

If people exercise good judgement on ignoring notifications, it's less rough, though the tooling is really poor for using chat for async tracking, organization, triaging, and replies, even compared to emails or tickets.

bingo - chat interruptions are more manageable than a literal drive-by

> > the “oh no! I despise slack” group

I despise slack more than probably most anyone. I've been working remote more often than not since the early 90s though, so remote is very natural. Non-stop interruptions will kill you though, regardless of job location, so close that slack tab.

> I don't know what the tools are to turn chat into a value-adding thing, but I don't think they're in place yet.

It's called email.. in the case of slack, just let it send notifications to email. That's how I monitor slack, I'll check my email when I have free time between concentration sessions.

It certainly depends on how willing you are to just have a random off topic chat with someone over IM. For me, there are a few people where if its the last hour of the day, we will just spend 30 mins half working half chatting. This helps build relationships with the people you work with in an otherwise unproductive period. If they are really busy at the time they can just tell you.

Face to face is very overrated.

During 2020 I interviewed people, hired and onboarded a new person, ended up interviewing for another company myself, joined them, have interviewed and hired new people at the new gig. Never met anyone in person. No issues at all.

Been doing similar conditions for much longer than a year though. Over ten years ago I was leading a team of 20+, everyone distributed across the globe, nobody in the same timezone as me.

I strongly disagree, between people that do not turn on their webcam during meetings, don't stay after 5 ect ... there is no social connection and nothing forces them to do so.

I'm glad, but this is one experience.

Many people, if not most, have more potential to connect better when more senses are engaged and more experiences are shared. These relationships sustain over time, with some degradation of course.

One thing that I've expressed to my company and coworkers is that I'd like to see full remote become more of a norm but I'd also love to see team building events remain as well. If there are a few times a year where everyone congregates in one location (probably at less expense than actually keeping an office set aside for them for the year mind you) and has a picnic or hackday that sounds awesome to me.

The pandemic made in person social interaction impossible (mostly, at least really difficult and uncomfortable) but that will pass. We can be full time remote but still occasionally grab a coffee with coworkers if that's convenient for folks. I'm a bit behind most of you (Canada is still mostly shut down thankfully) but I suspect that daily social interactions will start to increase rapidly as second doses start rolling out. Very few people actually want to be locked away at home all day, I think most folks just hate the idea of commuting and being a butt-in-chair again.

> We can be full time remote but still occasionally grab a coffee with coworkers if that's convenient for folks.

+1 this sentence; personally, I'm not interested in the fully distributed model espoused by some evangelists. I still desire physical proximity, with just-enough/just-in-time physical interactions as determined by myself (and relevant coworkers). I would love working for a business that offers something like an internal WeWork - reservable low-density dedicated workspaces, near social venues and transportation.

Yep, I’ve been referring to this as “work locally”, and I also feel this is an ideal balance, although it does limit your access to talent.

Maybe it limits your access to talent, but it will surely expand your access to experienced employees.

This rings true for me. I was in a very hectic workplace when the pandemic began and was able to function pretty much as effectively as I would in office.

Then I made a switch to a different company towards the end of last year and I do not yet feel a part of the team as I would normally. This is despite having a friend in the team. New relationships have been very hard to build with completely remote onboarding.

Personally, I have joined a company and scaled the team from 12-52 engineers over the pandemic. Our productivity is through the roof and everyone is getting really well and forming good connections.

> how much of the current productivity is the result of relationships that were built in the office.

IME these relationships are a function of how much time you spend talking with people and not of physical proximity. At my last job the person I was closest too was on another continent. We worked quite closely so I spent way more time talking with them then some people that sat a few feet away from me. We knew each others lunch and break schedules better than the people we ate lunch with.

There is a tendency to talk more with people next to you and only zoom someone for direct work discussion, but in both scenarios there's room to force some socialization. In our line of work we even have tools like pair programming to enforce these relationships.

I was a good bit more productive over the first few months of the pandemic than since then, and I attribute some of that (though not all) to the fact that most of the work I was doing in March to June of 2020 was on projects that had been originated back when we were in the office, while the projects I've worked on since then were originated after we went remote.

This isn't quite about relationships because I knew the people involved before; it's more about not having information that you tend to get just from being around the office. I'm not saying this is an argument for going back into the office so much as being mindful about communication.

The team I was on had never met in person. I think fully remote can work for a large portion of the population, once the same effort and resources are provided to them as in office workers.

I feel in opposite way and my experience including few years of pre pandemic remote working.

At office you can work together with same peoples over years but not get any real clue about who they are truly, because lot of politics, pretending and fears included in office life. On remote work peoples usually more open, honest and direct, in most cases it easiest for them to share stuff that they have passion about or describe real issues in life (But I think that also not true if your work required to do lot of short projects with different peoples).

Also, if you already work with someone for a long time remotely it always nice to meet him in real life and get to know little more.

I've now spent decades working with people I never met.

If you've been working remotely for decades, you:

A) Have a totally different work experience than 99.99% of folks out there

B) Might have different personality type than a huge chunk of people out there (hard to quantify, a guesstimate of mine would be at least 60%)

Perhaps. I note that when I worked in the bosom of the valley long ago (Netscape campus on Ellis), often I was working with others in the organization who were in different buildings and I never met them. Working with others in different countries has also been the norm for me for decades, predating my own remove move.

I wish society learned that there are things more important then corporate efficiency. Maybe optimizing for our quality of life should take precedence over squeezing out that last 10% of work effectiveness.

I recently read Russel Bertrand's essay "In praise of idleness", he made this observation that work efficiency dropped during the world war but life still went on. This was from switching to production for the world war over consumer stuff. His overall point was we should have kept the same amount of consumer work we were doing but get rid of the war production and just kind of chill and enjoy life. I think there's a parallel to the pandemic, where we made this big adjustment, maybe we were less productive, but with wfh quality of life went up in a way. Maybe we are OK with less effectiveness. The world as we can see didn't end, despite a decent effort.

A lot of consumer production was halted or radically slowed during ww2. I suspect a University Don was insulated from a lot of those shortages

Europe seemed to have realized this a long time ago. Many Americans still make work much of their identity, and worshiping The Line (the stock market) is in direct conflict with labor rights.

I'm hoping the pandemic is a trigger for a cultural shift. There still seems to be a bit of "get back to work" attitude though.

Hope it's here to stay for everyone.

I've been remote most of my professional life. The only hang up was meetings where half team was in office other half was remote. It created an odd "legs in two boats / chasing two rabbits and catching none" vibe. Now with everyone Zooming together it's smooth sailing.

When the pandemic is over. Kids are full time in school. Restaurants, bars, stores, and life is normal... It will be even smoother.

I am concerned for real estate because those values could plummet in traditionally high cost of living areas which may put pressure on companies to bring employees back inhouse to keep land value high.

I have also been working remotely for the past around 7 years.

After my initial experiences I have decided that remote only works under certain conditions and the most important is that all meetings are from your personal (office or home) PC.

It doesn't work when the team has meetings on site but don't bother to invite the odd one remote guy. It likewise doesn't work when people sit together in a conference room but you are one of the few calling in.

Bad audio both ways, problems phoning in, people just plain deciding to not bother setting it up... ugh.

I am happy there is now no shortage of remote options.

Similar experience. Pandemic made everyone work the same way I do. That said, I worked in 100% remote teams the previous decade so the Pandemic just opened up the rest of the industry as a potential place to contribute.

I do think many of the WFH productivity gains seen can probably be attributed to 2 things:

1) Many workers (but certainly not ALL workers) had a much more quiet and focused work environment at home, compared to their buzzing open-plan desk in the office, making them more productive.

2) COVID severely limited socializing, so some people poured that time into work out of boredom.

#1 is constant, and might get better for some when schools and daycares fully reopen.

#2 is starting to go away and will be gone by next year.

>compared to their buzzing open-plan desk in the office, making them more productive.

I think this point gets really overblown by people who put too much of a tech lens on things. I've been in many, many different offices (I'm a consultant) and open plan offices are very rare outside of tech, and on top of that, most non-tech workers do not see "more quiet and focused" as a good thing. Most of my non-tech clients have constant back-and-forth dialog in the office, and removing that has, at least in my experience with these companies, made them less productive.

I've got a shitty window AC, a houseful of pets, an out of work partner and a 6x10 office next to a house under construction.

Of course managers want to "wfh" taking calls by their pool and outdoor bar

A big problem with hybrid is that you're forced to live in the same locality as the office, and most companies aren't subsidizing rent, but at the same time you need a decent office setup at home to be effective and that isn't cheap.

I moved apartments (from a studio to a 1-bedroom) at the start of COVID because it was basically impossible to work out of my bay area studio for a full day. I didn't even have a desk, because prior to COVID I basically only used it to sleep and rest, not work. I got a good rent price on the 1-bedroom because of COVID, but rental prices are going back up already.

My worry is: let’s say my employer finally gives in and lets me work full time remote. Great! I can finally move to the Nevada desert or somewhere with low cost of living. I will likely take a modest salary reduction. Still wonderful! What happens 3 years later when there is new leadership or something and they pull a Marissa Mayer and declare remote work “bad” again, and recalls everyone to the headquarters? Now I’m fucked. I need to move back to the Bay Area after 3 years of housing price inflation! It’ll never work out. I fear once I leave I’m never coming back if the company changes it’s mind about remote work.

If Marissa is in charge you will be looking for new work soon enough regardless if they move.

Get the job from the bay area and then move.

Once you have the job, you're a black box that takes inputs and spits out work outputs in return for a monthly payment, and the company doesn't need to care where you actually are doing the work, as long as the black box works to specs (the JD).

> Get the job from the bay area and then move.

What’s to keep you from getting a job that’s ostensibly in Washington state and then moving to California? I believe that’s called, “tax evasion.”

The company might or might not need to pay taxes differently on its end.

On your end, you (the individual) are required to file an income tax return with the state you reside in. If you lie and say you are unemployed that's very obviously fraud.

Whether the company you work for is willing to deal with any extra tax paperwork that might be required if you relocate is of course an open question.

What is defined as relocating anyway? If you work out of a camper van can't you just file taxes in any state you fancy driving to?

No, there are residency laws in each state. I'm not sure what happens when they conflict. For example, camping for 1 month each year in WA isn't going to get you out of paying CA income taxes if you own a home there that you live in the other 11 months of the year.

Is that illegal?

> I will likely take a modest salary reduction

You might be surprised

> What happens 3 years later..

Find a new remote job? There were remote jobs before the pandemic; can't imagine they would all dry up.

In particular I'm curious on the impact to junior employees. Some people think that junior people are having trouble learning things when WFH.

As a junior engineer, this is how I felt. Before the pandemic, getting help was as easy as sending a ping and rolling my chair over. Now, ironically, it's far harder to get help, as getting into a meeting (even a short, impromptu one) is a significantly bigger deal.

I go into a minor state of social anxiety and just struggle to get anything done for a good 10 minutes before a meeting. Mainly because there's far more of a "I'm interrupting this person" feeling when I can't see their screen.

There's a little bit formality with it, but I've also found that "hey, let me record this" is a super power. It makes it a lot less critical that you understand 100% up front and then it's there for reference.

I would tell you no thanks and suggest that we take things a bit more slowly while you take more notes and ask more questions in most situations.

Being constantly on camera without being recorded is already super demanding.

I don’t doubt that this helps you, but it’s not without a cost to those on the other end.

Send them a zoom link on slack, saying you want their input on something. Clicking on the link is literally their job. Source: I'm often the recipient of those zoom links.

(And if you don't get a satisfactory response, get another job where there are helpful senior staff).

To be fair this seems more on the mentor side than on your side (which is bad for the junior engineer)

Having been in both sides of this I try to be helpful when people need my help (unless I'm doing something very urgent, naturally). But yes.

I think we're going to see a massive knowledge gap start to manifest itself within the next 1-3 years. Employees that are junior or started during WFH are going to find it difficult to stack up against senior engineers who have been around since before WFH.

Now also consider all of the college students who received a substantially subpar learning experience during the pandemic. My team is already seeing the effects of this when trying to hire new grads.

I think that's an interesting point - most of us more senior folks either have an innate work ethic or have been trained for years to fear a boss looking over our shoulder when we're checking facebook or whatever... Training good work ethic into people who have never worked in an office is an interesting question society will face - but do bear in mind that there are plenty of jobs that are pretty much unsupervised from day one. While a super market might look really open and visible stockers can wander off for a bit without anyone noticing and a lot of the contractor-employee jobs (uber, lyft, roofing) have never had much on site oversight.

That is why facebook can do full wfh. They don't care if you look at facebook all day.

Businesses need to stop caring about if you're on facebook 8 hours a day. If you're getting your work done at the end of the week that's all that really matters.

The idea that the business owns your ass for a minimum of precisely 40 hours a week where you must be solely focused on the outcome of the business is both toxic and nonproductive.

I think that would be a great - but we also employ by the hour not by the task which I also think is great. Sometimes I get tickets marked with three story points and think "Ha, let me just push up a quick patch" and other times I discover a dark dark hole at the bottom of assumptions that eats away at days.

It's really hard to generally evaluate employees on productivity - especially in CS - and so our compromise is that we all lie a bit and say "We're paying you for 40 hours a week" and we reply "Yes - my compensation is tied purely to the fact that I am here for forty hours".

I think it's a much longer road to better employee respect.

Every place I've worked as an FTE, the focus was on the job, not the hours. In fact, I've had many bosses say as much, usually implying that after hours work might be necessary and they'd expect me to take it uncomplainingly.

And I have, though it's always tempered by two things, namely, A. If the job routinely requires > 40 hours a week, then the job is poorly defined and we need to modify expectations, and B. That if I'm working to the job and not the hours, it doesn't matter if I only put in 30 hours one week, if the work is being done (and, likewise, if THAT is routine, the job is also poorly defined, and I need to ask for more things to do).

> we also employ by the hour

do you punch a timecard or do you get the same check every month or whatever your pay period is?

For me pay by the hour means: - if the task will take much more work, company will still pay you and they will take the loses - if the task is done faster, you'll just get more work and company will take the profits

I think this is European approach, trying to eliminate the luck factor out of ones success.

That's not how this works - even if you get your currently assigned amount of work done your manager will always wonder: "how much more this guy could accomplish if he wasn't constantly distracted by Facebook?" Which is a legitimate concern.

I think that "they know everything you do online, including fing around on facebook all day" is closer to the truth

Why? I would think most tech related learning happens with out other people involved. Learning languages, self study, Stack over flow and simmiliar, reading books. Idk if junior employees need to coddled as much as people think. Maybe just the bottom doesn't cut it. Developing your knowledge on your own is a skill you need any way.

I’ve always felt this way about learning too. I’ve never had anyone offer to be any kind of a teacher or mentor long term. However there is a huge narrative around mentors and people talking about how much they learned from others so I have to conclude its either my personality type or just something that used to happen more in the past.

Perhaps, but this assumes that this information is available and accessible.

Many engineering organizations don't have full documentation on institutional knowledge, and many things travel by word of mouth.

I think even experienced people struggle in that environment though. I don't think any junior engineer is truly a blank slate. You've usually had internships, unrelated jobs, made it through college where you develop skills to be resourceful and navigate unclear situations.

"but working from home for only a year, in pandemic conditions"

About 18 months here (UK.) I'm a business owner (IT services) and I now do see the value of WFH. I really, really know the upsides and the downsides.

My staff don't go off the boil when they are at home - they lose it and drift off when they don't feel ... loved. Call it what you will but when you are sat in a room at home which may not be very comfortable or large enough. Your internets are shit and you only have a small laptop screen.

I have forked out on a shit load of screens, wireless keyboards and mice. You want a docking station - OK. Whatever you want. Yes I have sent the phone and yes just plug it in ... the VPN adds a bit of latency, just slow down a bit when you talk.

I am not just quite good with deploying VPNs, I'm a fucking ... OK, I can make VPNs work quite well. I've seen a few use cases recently.

> My staff don't go off the boil when they are at home - they lose it and drift off when they don't feel ... loved.

I just want my own personal home space back. Powering down the laptop for the weekend and hiding it is not the same as leaving it locked up at the office. With WFH and my single bedroom apartment, I feel I've lost privacy, personal space that I had once earned.

And it's driving my depression insane knowing my work and personal are all in the same room. WFH works if you can separate yourself from your person quarters but when you can't it really bites.

Sorry, its taken me a while to respond.

"And it's driving my depression insane knowing my work and personal are all in the same room. WFH works if you can separate yourself from your person quarters but when you can't it really bites."

I'm an old git now and have space but back in the day I ... didn't. I'm not trying to say I understand your particular situation but I do sympathise and I hope it doesn't sound trite.

I wish you all the best and that's why I'm responding to a comment made two days ago.

Take care.

Yeah, the "I spend 20+ hours a day in the same room" realization hits hard.

The people who show up will be winning turf wars and getting all the good projects.

We would basically get few people that will abuse it and slowly we will get back where we were. Worked in a company that was flexible about WFH but they had to change these policies because of those people.

Also people in managerial positions absolutely like being in office, so they will also add more pressure for going back.

I care much more about personal relationships than work relationships. For me, as a person who was already working from home my dating and socializing options got much better now that people don't have to work in the office. I can travel together with my significant other much easier as well.

My employer walked back all their remote work promises. In fact, the new policy is more restrictive than the old one, which allowed at least some flexibility in work arrangements between supervisors and their direct reports.

Yep. One of the FAANGs recently published a 2-weeks/year remote-working policy as part of going back to the office, whereas before the pandemic you could just ask your manager for permission and there was no 2 week limit. Kind of like the ever-increasing chocolate rations in 1984.

The whole 'matrix' of people vs productivity is interesting.

I thought that I'd be more productive working from home, and initially I was. But now I'm interrupted more by my family than I probably was in the office.

I'd assume that people living alone are 'interruption free', but that doesn't necessarily equate to better productivity.

I never thought I'd be back in the office and more productive than being at home, but, well, here we are a year on.

On this topic:

Are people.. better humans when spending more time in solitude & less around others where cognitively-draining politics is inevitable?

There is a right number of days per month where you have to meet people and socialize. It wasn't 22. It is not 0 either. But I believe it is closer to 0 than 22. Personally I feel about 5 days a month would be the right amount to trigger all the benefits of in person knowing.

i’ve worked remote full-time for eight years. The first year she was pretty weird, was a good employee? yes. But managing my home life and my work life was something I was still figuring out.

Am I better am I a better employee now? I think I am, because I can always make time for work if I have to, and I know how to make time for my family if I have to.

I think I would work better at home than I would at the office at this point

> has had some surprising outcomes about the effectiveness of remote workplaces

Curious, what are the outcomes?

I was mostly just referring to the fact that team/org/company productivity does not seem reduced compared to pre-pandemic times. As far as I know, no major tech company is dealing with more outages/incidents or slower product launches than they typically saw, unless their business model was directly impacted by spending pattern changes. I think most companies expected lower output from forced-all-remote teams but don't seem to be seeing it.

The usual way to explain this away is that social capital was built while people could meet in person, and is now slowly fading away. I don't know how true that is; it could be completely true, or it could be just a false "fact" that pro-physical-presence people cling to.

Another factor that I didn't consider is that there was basically nothing to do but work in many places - most things fun were either banned/shut down, or unattractive because they came with the implied threat of catching COVID. This includes vacation. I bet once recovery sets in, a lot of saved-up vacation time gets used at once, especially in countries and companies where significant amounts of vacation can be banked.

Wasn't the video game industry fairly impacted by the transition?

The video game industry noticeably rolled back a number of release dates but I don't know if it's fair to attribute that to team productivity or just a combination of supply line issues (big name games tend to launch with merch and physical perks that definitely would be impacted) along with the cost and stress of dealing with the pandemic. We've got some confounded variables here so it's hard to tell.

I'm under the impression that video games are always crunching anyway, so maybe the pandemic was just a good excuse to delay and finally get the time they needed.

Delays in video game releases are highly visible. Many companies had regular schedules that were clearly and obviously disrupted. It would be far less visible in many other software sectors, at least in the short-term. How would I know if AWS launched 18 new services instead of 27 last year? Often new product features/releases are not announced until they are ready to ship.

Investment banks have also been hurt by this, although many would argue this has been a good thing.


But you can begin to see some limits of remote work. Obviously military units shouldn't be training remotely. The bonding is too important.

Very interesting, it's the first concrete example of the damage to social cohesion due to covid restrictions I've seen described. It is portrayed in a positive light (I suppose) in the article, though the anecdotal examples I know from real life are rather dark.

Replacing predictions with experienced reality. Seeing things continue as normal and at full pace while working from home which many expected was not possible.

Our company was quite restrictive of working from home previously but after last year seeing that we had our most productive year ever, things loosened up a lot.

Does anyone have a convincing break-down of the overall economic effect? Remote has meant I sleep more (compared to a long commute). As well, my home has advantages - there's a dog here, patio access, etc. I think communication can be hard to do right, but I'm not sure if this resulted in more faults

this is very non substantial, but it feels like we are starting the changing of the guard.

To be honest, once a person next to them cough.

All these millionaires will immediately realize that the vaccine that is 99.999% is still not worth their kids' lives. No matter how low known risk is, it's not worth it.

Cough and whisper "why can't I taste anything?"

Then, everyone will get to work from home.

Nobody will get an advantage of being at the office.

Keep coughing.

It's such a joke too. My firm is letting us know they will be so benevolent as to give us 20% time WFH "hybrid" once we return but "you can't just all take Fridays" and "we will set the WFH schedule for you initially".

Well the CTO & half of his reports were already doing Friday WFH before the pandemic, so.. clearly some people can all take Fridays off, and 20% is nothing new for some people..

I can see that many people who worked in cafes before the event, will retrain to work as therapists and will be helping people to adjust to normal life, in the sense, for example, teaching how to find friends outside of work, how to meet with local people for lunch and so on. There will be a lot of opportunity to teach people how to cook and do other tasks that they couldn't do because of commuting, no time outside of work etc. I think this will lift us out of depression and improve economy in many ways.

The gravy train for property speculators, chain tax dodging cafes and "restaurants" is over.

That last sentence has me baffled so I'm just going to ignore it - the rest of your post is interesting.

I've always thought that work and life were far too closely bound together - I neither want to pick up nor be picked up at work and while I have occasionally made a really good friend at work most of my friends come from pursuing interests (i.e. board games and RPGs) so I'd be extremely happy if workplace relationships got comparatively less important in people's lives.

The ability to engage in additional interests is a really interesting point but I'm afraid we're going to lose it without really strong push-back. The trend of employment since the seventies has seemed to be - whenever an employee isn't working isn't it a shame? During the pandemic companies have mostly (from my observation) been pretty chill about pushing extra workloads due to the generally high natural level of stress everyone is feeling. I'm interested to see if companies treat the extra hour or two we'll all be saving from the commute as a nice bonus for employee moral or time that should rightfully be spent working.

I think your scenario is a very interesting and quite realistic outcome, but my pessimism still has me in the "Wait until everything gets terrible again" camp.

I've been back in my company's office in person (medium-sized tech company) for the last week with a small subset of employees before we all go back, and I've become pretty convinced that these hybrid models will not go well. Even while wearing masks and social distancing, I feel far more connected to the others that work in the office, and whether it's fair or not, personal connection and trust play a huge role in collaborating effectively and deciding who gets what work, who gets promoted, etc. If everyone can choose whatever combination of remote and in-person they want, it seems impossible to me that there won't be extremely strong in-group/out-group effects that will cause big organizational problems for companies. But I'm saying this as a young person excited to work in person, so maybe others (parents, those with long commutes) feel it's still worth it.

TBH your personal experience has no bearing on mine. I can't help but feel like people with _opinions_ like yours are going to ruin it for the rest of us who are orders of magnitude more productive at home. "But I can't socialize"... I don't care. I would rather not work in tech anymore than return to an office full time.

I also think my point was about companies/organizations as a whole rather than individuals. Remote might be optimal for lots of individuals, maybe even the majority, but my guess is that the conditions it creates will cause an organizational problem. I don't think incentives between employees and companies are necessarily aligned here.

You can work in an office and be good at communicating by writing docs.

> _opinions_ like yours are going to ruin it for the rest of us

I guess we will find out in the next couple years who just has a terrible _opinion_ and who is 'the rest of us.' You may not like how that turns out.

Or that managers find out that extroverts create distraction and ruin productivity thus the numbers and their bonuses...

> But I'm saying this as a young person excited to work in person, so maybe others (parents, those with long commutes) feel it's still worth it.

Parent of three, going on four. Get me out of here!

Totally reasonable and I'm glad for parents that there will be options now

That sounds like a problem with the pandemic, not a problem with remote work.

Similar situation. My solution was to rent a tiny office in my town. It’s awesome! Three minute commute.

How much does it run you?

Why don’t you wework?

Is this substantially different than having a manager in a different office?

I'm in SF, but my manager has been in NY for the last 3 years. Being managed from a different office seems to be common in large companies.

Where I last worked it was common to have your manager be in another country, sometimes with a pretty difficult time zone difference.

I was remote but many offices had a butts-in-seats policy because of unapologetically old-school top management. Fortunately there were quite a few middle managers who were able to creatively route around this inefficiency.

I’m fine with the in-group/out-group stuff.

Just let there be a relatively permanent core and the rest of us can just shop on the open market for advancement.

I don't know how long your commute is but I shudder at the notion of wasting my time physically travelling every day. Fortunately I am fully remote for at least the near future and I wouldn't mind travelling out every quarter for a week or something or some sort of periodic in-person work period. But sitting in traffic every day of your work week is no way to spend your life. Even taking mass transit means less flexibility in your day if it's not the automobile commute.

> whether it's fair or not, personal connection and trust play a huge role in collaborating effectively and deciding who gets what work, who gets promoted, etc.

You're assuming a bunch of stuff here. There's something to be said for:

1. Having known people pre-covid, and so having a predefined "connection" with them. 2. The kinds of work that would or would not be more susceptible to personal bias. Web development, for example, is more impervious than people-management.

Ultimately what you're talking about is bias, and bias is shit and should be minimised. Remote working shouldn't be compromised as a result of people not being able to be impartial in their work.

Humans are not machines. There will always be some kind of bias.

Meanwhile I used to go into the office 3 days a week. That gave me enough face to face personal connection, while giving me two days without a commute to have a life, and get my head down and churn things out.

I am still remote but I think you are spot on.

I hate the office but I will be back in as many days as possible as soon as possible. I am not going to be part of an out-group to an in-group that contains the people who decide promotions.

I have no doubt the people who come back to the office the quickest and the most often will get better raises over the next few years on average vs THOSE remote people.

The dynamics here are pretty much face up.

I don't know the term for this, but in-person contact is important for metagroups/in-groups at work. People who are coworkers, but also friends as well, to an extent. People that you trust more than others not part of the group, and who you might even become friends with outside of work. I've found developing relationships like this impossible while fully remote.

I personally felt more connected and more aware of what everyone was doing when we switched to remote because people had to overcommunicate and write docs instead of having private conversations I wasn’t invited to.

I currently have 10 fully remote engineering jobs. The bar is so low, oversight is non-existent, and everyone is so forgiving for under performance I can coast about 4-8 weeks before a given job fires me. Currently on a $1.5M run-rate for comp this year. And the interviewing process is so much faster today, companies are desperate, it takes me 2-3hrs of total effort to land a new job with thousands to chose from.

I'm assuming this is facetious, but... high performers are potentially big winners in a remote world.

Let's say someone gets 5x the person next to them done. Very few companies will pay them 5x. Maybe double...

But if they can manage their time well enough to get X done in some fraction of the time, they could realistically do two or three full time jobs worth of "normal" work, and increase their pay - and income security - over having just one job. This doesn't work when you have to be in person all day, but remote?

A high performer that can produce 5x on a consistent basis in one job will only be able to produce maybe 2.5x on multiple jobs with significantly more convoluted career progression and schedules. Context switching and context setting are both quite difficult.

But a 5xer will quickly promoted to principal level (L6) within a decade of entering their industry if they hop around a couple of times.

L6s usually make 2.5x of what their peers make. So the conventional process really isn't that bad.


Honestly, if you can consistently produce 5x and provide good estimates, then you should be consultant / contract hire for mid-tier companies. You will make a lot more money and have a lot more agency over your own life.

Finding clients is a hustle, but so is holding 3 jobs at the same time. So, pick your poison.

It's not my experience that high performers get paid more than peers, people who switch employers and negotiate better pay are the ones that are paid more. Staying at one company and working on career progression is a slow grind to good pay.

The way I see it is that I can come in to a fresh role on that 2.5x peer rate by performing a solid interview at architect/principal level. I then do this for multiple roles concurrently then I'm on 7.5x my peers. Which is actually a pretty good estimate to what I know I'm making in relation to others. I also find the principal/architect roles are sometimes less hands on and you're being paid for knowledge and advice, so it actually makes it less of a burden to product high output.

That’s where the “hop around” comes in.

Man this is true. I tried splitting a week between two contract gigs and I was wiped out by end-of-week. It wasn't worth the money.

I feel like this is the post-covid take on the classic SO thread: "I automated my job, do I have to tell my boss" [1]

It really depends if you view employment as "they are paying you for 40 hours per week" or "they are paying you for a specified output, good for you if you can get it done faster!"

[1] https://workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/93696/is-it-un...

It's an interesting point but I think that we're honestly vastly overestimating how highly performing high performers can be - 5x is a pretty reasonable number to me for an extreme skill gap including an experience gap but ruling out the most junior folks.

We've already got a wage spread that more than covers 5x with most folks fresh out of college looking at 50k/annual if they're outside of SV and some devs within SV making 500k or more.

A 10x can't be a 1x in 10 places. Maintaining 10x the average productivity requires being in harmony with the work environment, the environment makes the 10x engineer as much as he makes himself, you can't do that while working 10 jobs.

This is all good if you’re just given sprint tasks and expected to crank out code for them without much supervision. What happens when any 2 of the 5 jobs decide to schedule a recurring meeting at the same time?

I currently run 3 full time contracts concurrently, and yes meetings clash, but it's easy to get meetings rescheduled if you just ask. Sometimes I have two calls on at the same time if I know its a call where I'm mainly going to be listening. Can always claim "bad internet" and drop out of one to answer question in another.

The new hacker news challenge: get a remote job at all FAANG companies

It's the software engineer's EGOT

Wait, what? You should write about your experiences (anonymously, of course). This is kind of hilarious if true, though I'm a bit skeptical.

And here I am doing the job of 3-5 people with multiple cognitive shifts a day, with a good for region/weak for industry salary -_-

Approach management and discuss a comp increase? Tell them you constantly have tech recruiters hitting you up with far loftier packages but you love the current firm and just want to have a more equitable compensation package.

If not, start looking. There are thousands of good-paying jobs out there. We're in a significant labor shortage for engineers and many companies are upping the stakes through stronger compensation and fully-remote-forever work environments. Take advantage of the situation.

You should spend some of that money on good legal counsel

Why should they? Unless it's some kind of contract I don't think you can be sued for not doing your job - you can be fired (and likely would be), but incompetence doesn't generally lead to legal problems.

Many employment contracts expressly forbid you from accepting other employment without prior authorization from the company. If his employment contracts contain that provision, then he would definitely be in breach. But... damages would probably be limited to just the salary that the company paid.

Definitely true for most high-paying companies (meaning experienced enough to not have employment contract full of beginner's holes like this).

Explicitly forbidding another full time employment, full rights on all intellectual property, non-competing agreements etc. Also explicitly expecting to work ie 40 hours.

I would take this with grain of salt the size of Jupiter, since such behavior would quickly show on any employment feedback source that any proper company hiring should check beforehand. Being blacklisted forever for well-paying companies will bite back very quickly too.

In most of the Europe, I believe this would be illegal simply due to amount of work expected - there are hard limits on that.

If true regardless, it might not be the smartest idea to brag online about committing multiple frauds, which casts another doubt about the whole story.

Depends on the kind of contract involved. A full-time employment contract (what is often called "permanent" in the west) is one thing, a B2B arrangement is another.

Personally, I haven't had an employment contract for over 6 years now, and in fact to stay in the clear one should ensure they have at least two simultaneous clients - though most ignore that, at least in Poland.

Could be seen borderline fraudulent since no employer signing this kind of contract would reasonably expect this behavior. So that could add a criminal element in addition to the civil damages.

Conflict of interest - say you're working for two companies that are in vaguely similar spaces (e.g. Google and Apple). Seems like grounds for a lawsuit.

I presume this would be considered fraud.

Working for the competition.

I'm predicting we'll see a new version of the get rich quickish scheme: how to hold 3, 4, even 5 remote jobs at once.

Just buy my course to see how I made millions in my pajamas! Also if you get three friends to sign up, you get in free!

Dude, you're my hero, I'm currently at 3 jobs at once (used to be 4 but the contract ended) and this is 100% true, I like some jobs more than others and it really boosts up income and learning, can you share more secrets? It's been a hell of a ride for me

This is fascinating. What's the long-term plan? Save enough on this plan to retire early? Eventually work a smaller number of them "for real"?

It's not very satisfying so definitely not retire early. However, it's a good way to raise the equivalent of a seed round without having to give up any equity and simultaneously execute on practical customer discovery regarding the needs of modern engineering teams in a remote-only world.

You’ve hit the three corners of the Fraud Triangle—opportunity, incentive, rationalization.

There were a lot of big words there but am I right at reading your statement as - "I'm exploiting employers so that I can found a start up that is able to monitor truant employees?"

Not interested in employee monitoring but otherwise spot-on.

Takes a thief to catch a thief :-))

The most unbelievable part of this is that you have 10 "mid-to-senior level in "must have" positions like Data Science or Data Engineering" that only pay $150k each on average. I do not believe you.

I 100% believe them. I'm doing something similar but with 3x concurrent roles and am considering adding a few more. You'll be surprised how bad you have to be to get fired. I can go days doing nothing, then crank at a few hours work for one pull request on a Friday and people are happy.

You're a true 10x developer.

Too bad you can write only one of those positions on your resume.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret: You can write absolutely anything you want on your resume.

At $1.5M a year compensation somehow I don't think their resume is at the top of the priority list.

You should really consider working for several of the large bay area legacy companies like HP, Veritas, Symantec, NetApp, etc. The "work life balance" at these places is quite good in the sense that most engineers aren't working much.

I think you could easily do two or three jobs at once and accumulate overlapping stock grants quite easily. That overlap eventually gets your yearly to a serious amount.

you might want to check out this guy, with the kvm and offshore servicing, https://lateralwork.com/ . 20 remote jobs - next goal

That's hilarious and it sounds like a great anecdote for parties!

I'm in the opposite situation, I quit my only job because I couldn't stand wasting my time and I'll just keep on running my business (less money but freedom and time to make more and grow).

Out of curiosity and if you're happy to share, are you still running your own company while "working" these jobs?

> still running your own company?

No, I sold my company in 2019 and exited last summer. It took up far too much time to pull off anything like this. The new venture is purely in fundraising and research mode until I stop this little experiment.

Wow you really do sound serious. I have done ghost development for 2 jobs before, as in I took the job and had juniors help me out although I was doing majority of the work. Never thought of 10 jobs.

This seems way better for me to set my own funds straight than chasing investors for my product ideas. I do not think I can pull off the work needed though...

Thank you for your service as being a literal leech on the economy. There will always be people who try and exploit the system - trying to guard absolutely against them is a futile effort, but I hope the number of folks following in your footsteps is quite few.

And hey! Maybe one of your coworkers will see this post!

I'm a tech culture reporter at Protocol and I'd love to talk to you about this, if you're down! I'm at akramer@protocol.com or @anna_c_kramer on Twitter, and happy to provide my Signal over email if that's preferred. Let me know if you'd be interested in chatting.

It’s a joke

How much work are you doing at these 10 companies? Are you writing code or just literally doing nothing?

Yes writing code, I provide enough actual progress that people must assume I'm either extremely methodical or woefully incompetent. I put in about an hour per job per day. I'm logged-in on slack/teams/etc and disable idle indicators. I use a virtual KVM to switch between laptops as needed. The biggest problem I run into is video meetings occurring at the same time, those I usually just disable video and blame it on internet problems.

Many of these positions are mid-to-senior level in "must have" positions like Data Science or Data Engineering where measuring progress can be difficult for even full-time contributors. I target overly funded growth-mode companies where they're focused on adding unnecessary headcount to work on poorly defined projects.

> I target overly funded growth-mode companies where they're focused on adding unnecessary headcount to work on poorly defined projects.

This line convinced me you know what you're talking about :).

I very much look forward to the podcast series.

You are my new hero.

I get that this is a joke, but — would that be legal in the US?

In Germany it definitely would not, at least not without it being specifically allowed by your contract.

But maybe in the US, as long as you didn’t have a conflict of interest?

Would the amount of total time worked matter? Would doing it in multiple states simultaneously matter?

While it is not explicitly illegal, you are most definitely violating your employment agreement so your employer will fire you if they find out and might sue you as well.

The problem is really that multiple parties may be able to claim the rights to all of your output while you were on their payroll, which is obviously messy from a legal standpoint.

But, as he said, he does not have any output at all.

This is the way

If real, this guy has contracting jobs. He's probably not an employee in any of those companies.

There aren't any laws about how many jobs you can have. Your employer is free to fire you if they find out though. Usually you have agreed not to have multiple jobs when joining, especially so at places like Facebook.

A typical silicone valley company's contract usually have some clause saying that all your creative work while contracted with the company, even on off hours, belongs to the company. So signing two such contracts with two different companies usually means they both own the code you wrote for both companies, or maybe even trickier legal implications.

Of course you can try to get that clause removed during contract negotiation, but I doubt many people would be successful on that negotiation (you might have better luck to exclude some of your open source contributions).

Every SV company I've ever worked for has explicitly disclaimed rights to my work done off hours with my own equipment... as they are required to do under CA law.

I'm not sure how you can claim all work was done during off hours with ten full-time jobs. If OP got caught he could have some very expensive legal problems.

I was responding to this sentence in the parent:

"A typical silicone valley company's contract usually have some clause saying that all your creative work while contracted with the company, even on off hours, belongs to the company."

My experience, working for a number of silicon valley companies, has been the exact opposite. There is a clause that says (in legalese) "we don't own stuff you do on your own time with your own equipment if it isn't related to what you do at work"

It is my understanding that California public policy actually requires companies to put this disclaimer in work contracts.

Isn't this illegal in California.. you can't sign your rights away.

This thread is being laughed at on Twitter:


10 remote is a bit excessive.

You only need like 3 to hit $1.5m and that’s far more manageable.

Where are these remote jobs paying 500k?

Obviously holding down 3 staff engineer jobs at FANG. No problem. Everyone's doing it now c'mon ya doofus

Even top of band senior pay can do $500k at FANG.

I guarantee you that you won't "get by" at a FANG doing bare minimum for more than a month.

Also, I doubt anyone doing this kind of work will get get a second FANG work after failing the first.

I figure 3 Big N is comparable to 10 other remote orgs.

They would have to last 1 year to get the full TC which isn't the point. They do the minimal amount of work to collect a $150k salary and then get fired in 4 months and move on.

no way does this lead to anyone being anyplace long enough to actually vest.

How do you prevent them from suing you if they find out?

This is the US, anyone can sue anyone for anything. That said, California has very favorable employee-protection laws around non-compete, non-solicit, notice periods, at-will employment status, and ownership of work. It's very unlikely an employer will sue over $10-20k. So far, they all just fire me and move on.

Not to mention if he gets caught in one job, he will lose a bunch of other jobs as well.

Can you explain your workflow for landing new jobs? Where do you look first? Do you mass apply or seek out specific jobs?

Is this serious?

Doesn't matter. Industry management will hear about it and start cracking on their remote worker. FUD is out either way.

If it is serious, he/she should have keep it private. That's why we can't have nice things.

Where do we look for these remote jobs. any specific websites to checkout the openings?

this can't be true, how would you pass background checks?

Uhh, I'm a real person with a clean record? There's no way for a company to ask the IRS if a person has multiple employers.

They can ask Equifax though (assuming your employer participates):


You can (and should) freeze your Work Number file.



Hilarious if true.

Beautiful. There's no good reason for most of us to be in the office these days and I'm glad to see even big companies starting to acknowledge reality

Clearly great news for Facebook employees. For reference, the previous policy was that only level 5+ could request to work remotely.

> Clearly great news for Facebook employees.

For some Facebook employees, definitely. Personally, I think I'll be finding a job elsewhere now.

I'm curious to hear why - what do you see as the drawback of more remote coworkers?

I'm mixed on remote work, even as an engineering IC, despite claims that only management want in-office.

To me, the downside of remote coworkers is we've already seen a dynamic at many companies that start with "we'll allow remote workers" straight to "if we allow any in-person collaboration, then remote workers will be second-class citizens, so to pre-empt that, we will actively discourage any in person collaboration."

For example, Coinbase didn't just allow remote but shut down the SF office for this reason. Twitter is re-opening their office but in a crippled state, where the food options are massively downsized, and employees are actively discouraged from eating with any teammates.

If you're the type of personality who gets energized by collaboration with teammates, if you like the real teammate relationships that more easily develop with facetime, then it's not a matter of allowing remote coworkers but whether those remote coworkers now get to advocate for actively destroying any office culture.

Again, I understand why there's many advantages of remote work, but let's not pretend the people who didn't want to go remote are unaffected.

I'd think the obvious rejoinder to that approach is, if they want to work remotely, they take the rough with the smooth. No, they are not going to be as plugged into casual office conversations. Their choice.

That's not what's happening in reality though. I gave you two notable examples but I know of a few more as well. This isn't hypothetical, many companies are actively seeking to destroy their in-person culture (outside of company offsite events). Of course, since every corporate move has to have a feel good PR element to it these days, the buzzword to justify this direction is equity/equality, and that since DEI candidates will be more likely to be remote, it's especially important to destroy Bay Area office culture to make sure remote employees are on equal footing. Again, I know many people at SV companies so this isn't speculation but what I've actually seen happen at several companies. And I'm really not trying to cast judgement on whether this is good or bad for the industry long term, just again noting that the idea that people who don't want to work remotely are largely unaffected by these decisions is totally false.

This is my experience as well. Companies are aiming for equality of outcomes even though WFH and office employees work in different environments.

I think it is totally fine for an employee to make the decision to work from home and obtain greater freedom at the cost of worse promotion outcomes.

The problem is that if employers say “hey you can work from home, but you are less likely to get promoted than your peers working in the office” they open themselves to discrimination lawsuits. What if there is a strong correlation between those who choose to work from home and a specific demographic? Well it turns out that women may be much more likely to WFH given the choice. Does this mean that the WFH policy is sexist given that women are much more likely to WFH and WFH employees have worse career outcomes?

I believe that this isn’t discrimination by the company because non-women who WFH have similar career outlooks to women who WFH, but there may be a case there and nobody wants to put that case to the test. Instead we get these WFH policies which bring everyone down — to accommodate those who made a choice to sacrifice their career prospects by working from home.

Disclaimer: I love working from home

Source: https://hbr.org/2021/05/dont-let-employees-pick-their-wfh-da...

Wouldn't it be simpler to declare everything "hybrid" and then you don't have to track who's in the office, even though you expect there will be stuff like better promotion outcomes for people who spend more time face-to-face?

Nowadays presumably you have someone making sure your promotions aren't lopsided enough to look discriminatory anyway.

> Wouldn't it be simpler to declare everything "hybrid" and then you don't have to track who's in the office.

That doesn’t fix the issue. Even if everything is declared “hybrid” there is still going to be an “in” group of people working in the office most days and an “out” group of people working from home most days.

> Nowadays presumably you have someone making sure your promotions aren't lopsided enough to look discriminatory anyway.

Having objective performance evaluations which are agnostic to WFH would be ideal but I am not sure if they are realistic. You are working against human nature and tribalism: it is much easier to have favourable opinions of those you interact with regularly. Not to mention that very few work places actually have objective measurements of employee performance, it is mostly all optics and how well the employee sells themselves.

I'm not sure about an increased risk of lawsuits, though worse promotion outcomes is a bad answer for other reasons. That sounds like remote employees are less productive than on-site employees. I don't think companies would want to design a remote-work policy with that belief.

> That sounds like remote employees are less productive than on-site employees

The linked study (in my comment) says otherwise. WFH employees were better performers on average. This means that WFH employees — when normalized for performance — had much worse promotion rates that their office peers.

This matches my personal experiences. Companies have decided that hybrid is the worst of both worlds (right or wrong) so they're actively choosing remote-only over in-person only.

Helpful insight

This doesn't work. As soon as a meeting has 2 people in person, the first time a zoom glitches or a leaf blower is in the background; the 2 in the office will feel disdain for remote.

If the office mic in the room only picks up one person, the remote person will be left out; the 2 in office will feel disdain for the remote miscommunication.

Just get rid of all your meeting rooms, and have everyone do the meeting from the desk, so it sucks for everyone.

I mean, that's kind of horrific, but it's the sort of thing people are thinking of.

The other mechanism is, even if people are in offices, construct teams so everyone is in a different one, and so everything is remote even if you are in an office.

It certainly sucks for everyone sitting at a neighboring desk.

It's horrific, but I expect this to be "accepted" behavior once we return to office.

> To me, the downside of remote coworkers is we've already seen a dynamic at many companies that start with "we'll allow remote workers" straight to "if we allow any in-person collaboration, then remote workers will be second-class citizens, so to pre-empt that, we will actively discourage any in person collaboration."

My perspective on that is that, at my workplace, the L4 lockdown in NZ was actually a significant improvement, which might sound counter-intuitive. That's because there was an implicit decision-making process where people local to your floor/building/city tended to talk together and remotes were second class. Once we were all on an equal footing - forced to be explicit in who we bought into Zoom/Teams/etc sessions - we got improved and more thoughtful interaction.

Since we've left L4/L3 we've managed to preserve that culture, even with people dropping into a cadence of a few days in the office and a few days remote, because it's normalised the idea that every conversation has a remote component. That's persisted for a good 9 months, so we'll see how it persists.

> and employees are actively discouraged from eating with any teammates

I'm sorry what? How/why are they doing that? Huh? I'm lost

> Twitter is re-opening their office but in a crippled state, where the food options are massively downsized

Is this permanent? My employer is reopening, but I'm expecting it'll be awhile before amenities like free meals and snacks get back to normal. There may be more health restrictions initially.

I'm in a similar situation, so I guess I can answer. I start in a new role soon and particularly requested a team with no more than 1 day wfh/week.

I work in a applied ML and really, the technical aspects of the jobs are the 'easiest', ie. most well defined. In most cases focus + time will be sufficient for me to produce technical work. However, the real challenges lie at the intersections of models, infra, code, product and users. The goal is rarely is to build the best solution, it's to build the right solution.

Solutions to these can only be found by collaborating with people who own each specific part. Intense whiteboarding, pair programming, brainstorming, etc were the most interesting parts of my job. All of them have been reduced to a shadow of what they were during remote work.

Also, if I'm going to spend 50% of all my waking hours with a group of people, then I better like spending time with them. Being cooped up in a room my myself all day isn't fun at all. (and I have a huge community outside work, but it I don't like waiting for the other 50% to enjoy it)

My coworkers are my good friends and if they weren't then I'd go somewhere else. (not drinking the Koolaid. I have no allegiance to corporate, just my nuclear peer group)

A 'flexible or remote-optional team' is a lie. Remote and in-person are diametrically opposed office cultures. Both require very different cultural traits to flourish. Ones that try to stay on the fence will inevitably converge into one of the two or end up as a complete disaster. ( coordinated 3 days at work, 2 days at home etc can work...but that's just at-office culture with benefits)

> I start in a new role soon

> My coworkers are my good friends

I think you need to make friends outside work. Live a little.

Way to be presumptuous

> and I have a huge community outside work, but it I don't like waiting for the other 50% to enjoy it

I literally addressed this. I stay in a group home and have a large community outside work. I don't want to wait for 6pm everyday to access people I like.

If anything, try making friends with people you spend time with for 50% of your waking hours. Live a little

Mostly that by having remote co-workers I get many of the downsides of remote work without any of the upsides.

Once a few colleagues are remote, all collaboration has to assume remote as the default. Even if I'm in the office I'm still stuck with remote collaboration, but I still have a commute.

Facebook is pretty big. Couldn't you just find a team that is predominately in the office?

Why don't you become remote then? Remote all the things!

That's one option, but personally I find remote utterly miserable and terrible for collaboration. I'd rather find a job where I see my colleagues in person.

The upsides for me of being in the office massively outweigh the downsides, but only if my colleagues are there too.

Because they enjoy the office. I prefer going to the office some but not most days and like occasional trips elsewhere so full remote is fine. I have friends who really like the social aspect of the office and working on a team where most of their teammates are remote would be very undesirable to them.

In practice I feel like you could just aim to have some teams be mostly people who like office and other teams be mostly remote. Would be awkward hiring wise though to send someone to a different team just on there office vs remote view.

How is remote making collaboration worse since it forces people to overcommunicate?

i onboarded last summer as an intern and it was pretty miserable. language barrier with my intern manager mediated by zoom/blue jeans/portal plus the famously poorly documented codebase made it damn near impossible to get things done. i got a return offer but i'm pretty sure it was because everyone was struggling (skip said as much). i'm surprised they're doing this.

We have a manager using a throaway account here. Of course you’re not going to find a job elsewhere.

This is great news for some, but not for most. What will happen is that most employees will choose to return to onsite work because of the perks and deeper connections with colleagues.

If most of your team is not working remotely - let's be honest - it'll be hard for a remote worker to not feel disconnected with the rest of the team.

what is "level 5+"?

L3 is new grad L4 is an intermediate level - you must be promoted to L5 in a fixed time frame (2-3 yearish) L5 is a senior level

>you must be promoted to L5 in a fixed time frame (2-3 yearish)

What happens if you don't?

You're basically evaluated according to L5 requirements. Given that you weren't promoted at that point, it's likely you're not performing at those requirements, and you'll be slowly managed out. More often as people get close to the red zone, they just swap companies preemptively.

How does this contrast with Google?

AFAIK, Google has a very similar policy. At FB, E5 is a "terminal level", so once you hit that level, there's no push or expectation to reach beyond that. I've been in the E4 red zone at one point, and spent about a year getting evaluated at E5 levels before getting the promo. You're not automatically out if you don't reach it in time, but you have to be showing progress, and it does get more urgent the longer you spend in that zone.

Google used to require you to move up to L5 in a certain number of years or you would be looked at askance. But they dropped that recently.

Google’s terminal level is L4. Not sure what happens if you’re not promoted in the given timeline.

I used to manage a team at Google. L3 basically meant you had to be told what to do. L4 meant that while you may not regularly give a lot of strategic direction to the team, you could be relied upon to just pick up the ball and carry it forward toward shared objectives. Your code was good enough to not require a bunch of time- and energy-wasting back-and-forth with reviewers. What you delivered stood on its own and was more an asset than a liability to the team and the product.

If, after a few years, you still need to be told what to do in order to be productive day-to-day, you’re simply not developing, and unless you figure out what’s going on you’re probably going to struggle to build a successful career.

For my own team, the bar I set for giving higher assessment ratings was how well you could make and keep commitments to the team. If, after working in the code base with the group of people for a year or so, you couldn’t independently come up with useful things to commit to doing and couldn’t deliver in the timeframes you said you could, I would start asking you whether you are really happy and motivated doing what you’re doing with your career. For the few times I had to do that, the member of my team ended up admitting to themselves that they were making a mistake trying to do this type of work, and they moved on to something else where they were more happy and successful.

This is sometimes called an "up or out" model: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Up_or_out

Avg. 4-5 years of FB experience out of college or 8 years of experience in industry.

New grad is L3, mid level L4, senior L5.

If new grad is L3 then what are L1 and L2?

Non-engineering stuff, typically. Cafeteria workers, security, etc.

So I suppose intern is also L3?

At my company intern engineers are the same level as new grads yes.

Additionally, previous guidance was 1 day per week from home. Now it's 2.5.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact