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.
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.
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.
Anyway, as much as I love remote, in person has its benefits.. like being able to strangle someone when needed.
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.
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.
For all we know, their password might be something like "remote_worker"!
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.
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.
Of course thats just a generalization.
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.
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
COVID style isolated WFH ruined WFH for me and contributed to burnout.
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.
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.
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.
$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.
People are social and, in my experience, remote interactions work better when people have previously connected in-person.
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.
Of course ymmv but blunt "None" isn't right.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
+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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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%)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Of course managers want to "wfh" taking calls by their pool and outdoor bar
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.
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).
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
(And if you don't get a satisfactory response, get another job where there are helpful senior staff).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
do you punch a timecard or do you get the same check every month or whatever your pay period is?
I think this is European approach, trying to eliminate the luck factor out of ones success.
Many engineering organizations don't have full documentation on institutional knowledge, and many things travel by word of mouth.
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.
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.
"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.
Also people in managerial positions absolutely like being in office, so they will also add more pressure for going back.
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.
Are people.. better humans when spending more time in solitude & less around others where cognitively-draining politics is inevitable?
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
Curious, what are the outcomes?
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.
But you can begin to see some limits of remote work. Obviously military units shouldn't be training remotely. The bonding is too important.
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.
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.
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..
The gravy train for property speculators, chain tax dodging cafes and "restaurants" is over.
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 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.
Parent of three, going on four. Get me out of here!
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.
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.
Just let there be a relatively permanent core and the rest of us can just shop on the open market for advancement.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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...
And hey! Maybe one of your coworkers will see this post!
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.
This line convinced me you know what you're talking about :).
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?
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.
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).
"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.
You only need like 3 to hit $1.5m and that’s far more manageable.
Also, I doubt anyone doing this kind of work will get get a second FANG work after failing the first.
If it is serious, he/she should have keep it private. That's why we can't have nice things.
For some Facebook employees, definitely. Personally, I think I'll be finding a job elsewhere now.
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 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
Nowadays presumably you have someone making sure your promotions aren't lopsided enough to look discriminatory anyway.
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.
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.
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.
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's horrific, but I expect this to be "accepted" behavior once we return to office.
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.
I'm sorry what? How/why are they doing that? Huh? I'm lost
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 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)
> My coworkers are my good friends
I think you need to make friends outside work. Live a little.
> 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
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.
The upsides for me of being in the office massively outweigh the downsides, but only if my colleagues are there too.
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.
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 happens if you don't?
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.
Roughly, "senior" at a lot of places.