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Amazon will allow many employees to work remotely indefinitely (seattletimes.com)
591 points by chickenpotpie 4 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 547 comments





I quit Amazon 3 weeks ago after nearly a decade. Work from home was one of the biggest reasons.

In my view, the personality traits that are conducive to promotion up the Amazon leadership ladder are strongly aligned with loving work-from-office. Most people L10 and higher not only don't understand the desire for permanent work from home, I think maybe they cannot understand it. It's just too foreign to many of them.

The first announcement was "We can't wait to be back in the office, and we know you can't either". Senior engineers started quitting. Then it was "Okay, okay, you can work from home 2-3 days per week, but only with your L10's approval". The exodus continued.

Now it's "Fine, you can work from home with your L8's approval, but you better be ready to show up on 24 hour notice if we say so!". The biggest benefit of work from home is not needing to commute, and lower cost of living by leaving the HCOL cities.

They don't get it. Other companies do. And anyone who has spent 5 or more years working for Amazon is well-trained enough to get a better paying job with a company that understands the cultural shift that just happened to the developer world.

Edit: I know not all developers are anti-office. But for those of us who are, working for people who don't understand us, who make policies based on what works best for them, is a problem.


I have this theory that one of the contributing factors to the "I don't want to go to the office" trend in the US (which I'm part of), is that cities are also not made for commuting. Coming from Europe, where public transport is really practical, and cities are built for density, your commute is often much less cumbersome AND you can enjoy some social life after work since you're in the city. Here (the bay) it was just the worst. Companies can't build in cities so they build large offices in suburbs. There's a lack of housing so no matter where you live you'll end up paying like crazy. And there's pretty much no practical public transport so you're just going to live through hell. I spent some time in LA and I can't even imagine how people deal with that there. I'm never going to commute ever again after that experience, unless I'm back to Europe.

I've never lived in the US, so I can't comment on the commute situation there, but I live and work in Paris proper and one of the main reasons "I don't want to go to the office" is the commute.

I need 30-45 minutes to get there, and our public transit system is supposedly good. But the metro's still too crowded, dirty, smelly, etc. And I even usually avoid rush hour and take an automated, hassle-free line.

Commuting by personal motorized vehicle is hell, so you can forget that.

I'm contemplating buying an electric bike, but only because I'm lucky I have a place to keep it secure both at the office and at home.

The situation may be better in smaller cities, but I think that this consideration still affects a quite sizable bunch of people (20% of the country's population lives in the Paris region).


Seconding. I live in Kraków, Poland, which has a great public transit infrastructure. For all jobs I had, I could always get into the office in 20 to 40 minutes. That's still 20 to 40 minutes too much - it's 40 to 80 minutes per day, out of my very limited free time. I hated it, and I prefer WFH.

A threshold for me is probably around 5 minutes, counting from my apartment's door to the office door. Anything more feels like wasting time, so I'll avoid it for as long as I have the option.


Calling Kraków's transit great is a long stretch.

I live in Stockholm and have a beautiful 20 minute walk to the office. It takes about the same by bus or metro.

On the other hand I have an 45m2 apartment, since I would rather have a small place in the center of Stockholm than having a bigger one in the suburbs.


Have you considered moving to another city if so where? I’ve always wanted to work in Stockholm

Do you want to take his apartment?

Lmao

Well, I'm spending the fall in Barcelona right now, but I don't think I'll move somewhere else permanently. As I get older I seem to get more attached to Sweden and have hard time imagining building a permanent life somewhere else.

I'm actually wondering what you consider not a long commute if 30 minutes hits the threshold. I've known plenty of people who have longer commutes driving directly from home to work.

It's not only a question of time, but also of how that time is spent.

For example, I would much rather prefer to walk 30-40 minutes instead of taking a crowded, smelly metro for 20. I actually used to regularly walk 50 minutes to get home in the evening because I didn't want to deal with the transit.

There's also the fact that this is the time it takes when everything works well. Again, I take an automated line, which is fairly reliable.

But most of the other lines have "incidents" going quite often (more than once a week). In this case, if the delay isn't extreme (less than 30 minutes) people will just wait and stuff themselves in the even-more-crowded trains when they do show up. Or they'll try taking another line, adding to that train's usual crowd.

When there are too many people, trains usually have delays, because they have to deal with people literally not fitting in the train at the stops.

So even if you're OK with riding a train packed to the brim (say you ride from end to end, so you're guaranteed to have a seat and won't have to fight your way off the train), you still can't count on getting at your destination on time.


That's interesting, I'd generally much rather drive an hour than walk 20-30 minutes. I lived on a college campus for a while where you could walk to everything and I like it much more now driving everywhere.

> I'd generally much rather drive an hour than walk 20-30 minutes

Why?!


The car is climate controlled, has a stereo, I can have water/food in it without needing a backpack or carrying anything, and it's sitting in a comfortable seat while I'd find a super long walk like that uncomfortable. I could use headphones while walking but something about walking feels like a constant distraction if I'm trying to listen to something. And if I'm in a car, I feel like I can go anywhere I want on a whim, while if I'm walking I'll just want to get it over with and only stop somewhere if it's directly on the way.

If you find walking 20 mins uncomfortable and don’t think you have any health conditions I’d recommend seeing a doctor.

I don't mind walking if I want to, on a trail or something, but not if I have to. I guess I'm just not used to it and don't like it enough to make it a habit.

It depends what you're walking through! I'll walk for hours on a beautiful nature trail or a pretty, safe cityscape with interesting sidewalk-addressing buildings.

I won't walk for 5 minutes sandwiched between a fast road strip-mall parking lots, industrial facilities, or open fields.


Lol what’s wrong with walking next to an open field?

It's exposed (to the sun and the wind) and it's dull. Inviting pedestrian environments need a sense of enclosure. Can be sidewalk-abutting buildings, can be trees, can be parked cars, can be all three. And they need stuff to look at that isn't monotonous.

Fair enough, but you couldn't do 5 minutes of walking by an open field?

That kind of thing usually occurs in low-intensity suburbs/exurbs where I can just drive.

For a five minute walk? With having to start and park the car, you might not even make it faster.

Walking the small path between a highway and some fields was literally how I got to high school.

Because he's American. By and large, they love cars.

That's crazy o_O a 20-30 minute walk is like the best commute. I think you're doing your health a disfavor.

Where I live now isn't very walkable anyway, but I am planning to get a treadmill and electric bicycle.

I was vaguely irritated when I moved office because it was 10 minutes walk from home; the previous one was about 35 minutes. So it cut down on my mandatory walking; I had to start going for a walk in the evenings to compensate :)

For me, anything over 10-15 minutes is "long". It has always struck me as a weird concept that 45 minutes-each-way is a "normal" amount to travel to work, or even that people are happy its under an hour.

Edited to say I suppose I am privileged enough to have the option, and that I have traveled more than an hour before (I just wasn't happy about it)


I consider a five-minute commute to be short. Ten can be okay too, if the route is nice (e.g. you live in a pretty place and you travel through it to get to work). That is door-to-door.

Five minutes doesn't even feel quite like I've left home.

It's fair to say that I prefer it that way :)

30 minutes is still 5 hours a week

Times 50 weeks is 250 hours or literally 250/8= 31 active days wasted per year! A month of your life!

It's fine if you walk you can think about anything, but if you drive a car you waste your time.


I can think about anything when I drive a car. Walking exercises your muscles, so it's preferable way of transportation because of health, but not because of thinking, IMO.

> I can think about anything when I drive a car.

The rest of the world would prefer you to think about driving a car when you drive a car.

When you're walking, OTOH, thinking about anything is OK. (The only person you'll kill by doing that unthinkingly is you.)

God, Americans are weird.


Thinking consciously and explicitly about a skill like driving (or hitting a tennis ball) is a good way to screw it up. Obviously you have to be aware of your surroundings. But if you're thinking about when or how to press the pedals or how far to turn the steering wheel, you're doing it wrong.

Yeah, OK, I could have used some phrase like "directing your main attention to" in stead of "thinking".

I used them as synonyms because I assumed the GP meant "thinking" as in thinking with concentration about some specific issue(s), which tends to divert your attention from your surroundings far more than the idle stream-of-consciousness / daydreams we all have going in the back of our heads all the time. Didn't you?

Should probably have said "When you're driving, the rest of the world would prefer you to concentrate on your driving and your surroundings, traffic, pedestrians etc. Deep actual thinking is far better done while walking than while driving."

But that wouldn't have made for a snappy turn-his-own-words-against-him comeback. :-)


Anything more than 10min on a daily basis feels arduous to me.

Once you get used to a life where you do not have to drive more than 5min to get everywhere, it would really suck to have go further. Even better than a 5 to 10min drive is being walking distance.


For me the ideal commute(pre Covid) was an under 20 mins walk/bike ride. That is still nearly 3.5 hours a week not counting dressing up / getting ready for the commute.

Now that I have experienced 2 min commute nothing will be better

Pre-Covid I was travelling 1.5hours each way, door to door. Awful..

Same.. mainly due to extremely unaffordable housing situation as a student. But because of covid my university my university now livestreams and records every lecture and has online meetings for exercise groups. It's actually incredible and in a way this is one good thing that came out of covid.

I cannot even imagine not being able to rewatch part of a lecture as a student. That seems incredibly bad.


I’d take a crowded train any day over driving, though I get why some people loathe it.

I miss taking the train when I was in Europe compared to driving in the US. I had the option to read a book some days or play a game. Definitely more options to find joy when compared to driving when I can only choose from podcasts, music and audiobooks

The main difference for me is the mode of transport provides different possibilities for joy or benefit. While the cons of biking or walking maybe be sweating and climate, there’s a lot of joy and health benefits to be had if the times are comparable (e.g., 20 minute walk, 20 minute bike ride)


Take advantage of the 500eur subsidy for ebikes if you can. And... Well it's Paris, so be prepared to shout and push your way to work... I went recently in a crowded miced car+bicycle place in Paris, and it was pure pandemonium, I don't know how no one got terribly hurt in the half hour I was there.

> Commuting by personal motorized vehicle is hell, so you can forget that.

This is the standard way of commuting in most of the US.


Hell is well-populated.

Lmao, underrated comment

I’d take your commute, in exchange I’ll give you my daily 3 hours in a shaky shuttle round trip I used to do at fb

This is fairly similar to the US commute in terms of time and annoyance.

> Europe, where public transport is really practical, and cities are built for density

Hmm, European cities weren't built for commuting or public transport, almost all of them were laid out in the medieval era for walking. They then acquired one or more railway stations in the 19th century, creating commuter ring #1 and becoming an order of magnitude larger, and may have been partially redesigned for cars in the 20th century, creating commuter ring #2. A popular conversion was demolishing the medieval-era city walls and replacing them with a ring road. Some were entirely flattened during the war, although generally rebuilt on the same plan.

Now most American cities were by comparison entirely designed for commuting ... by car. The problem with car commuting is that once you're over capacity it slows down the experience for everyone. Public transport just jams you in physically, which was uncomfortable before the pandemic and now just a nightmare. An overcrowded train is not slower than an empty one. (Subway throughput can be embark/disembark limited, though)

The difference to me seems to be the walkable core. That in turn depends on norms about use of public space and perceptions of public safety.

I'm slightly biased, but I think the Edinburgh New Town design with a couple of modern adaptations could be the ideal even for the 21st century. Grid layout, four to six floors, high ceilings, decent size windows, wide streets, occasional shop on the corner or restaurant in the basement.

("New" here means 18th century https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Town,_Edinburgh, not "new" as in postwar new town or medieval New Forest)


>An overcrowded train is not slower than an empty one.

I have taken the "California Train" which runs from San Francisco to San Jose, and advertises its capacity to carry bicyclists. Numerous times, however, bicyclists were denied boarding (each had paid for his ticket) because the carriages had become overcrowded, with the subsequent train arriving in forty-five minutes' time.

This experience made me understand why many commuters in that region embrace the automobile in spite of its many drawbacks.


That's a very infrequent service; commuter rail in most places would generally be higher frequency.

The whole medieval cities designed for walking is not actually true. Not just bikes youtube channel(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnKIVX968PQ) has a great video about this. Here he has taken Houston as an example.

> I'm slightly biased, but I think the Edinburgh New Town design with a couple of modern adaptations could be the ideal even for the 21st century. Grid layout, four to six floors, high ceilings, decent size windows, wide streets, occasional shop on the corner or restaurant in the basement.

Likewise Berlin, though a bit taller: https://goo.gl/maps/HyMJsSFKQNErfWJZA

(New Town reminds me a lot of some parts of Cambridge; I think it’s the stone colour and some of the motifs).


I just moved to the New Town from Chicago and the difference in walkability and general "convenient access to convenient things in the city" is startling. I highly recommend it!

> cities are also not made for commuting. Coming from Europe...

I moved from the Middle East to the US. Cairo was a shit city for commuting. But that didn't stop socializing, because the other big difference between the US and many other countries is how individualistic and work-based society is. Back home, I had relatives, child-hood friends, etc that I was not only able to see, but often EXPECTED to see (even when I didn't want to).

In other countries, life was much more social, and work was just a tiny part of your social life. In the US, everything is individualistic (and nuclear family oriented) and people rely on the office for socialization.


Europe only has good public transport in very few selected cities and you have to ignore strikes in France to pretend its working well and is reliable. The city with the best public transport in the world is probably Tokyo in terms of frequency and service reliability but it is constantly over capacity and things are not getting better. Crowded trains are hell.

so no commute is certainly better pretty much just anywhere.


> you have to ignore strikes in France to pretend its working well and is reliable

This is the same argument has "what about the rain ?" for people who don't want to commute by bicycle.

Yes, it happens. But it's only a few days a year. Contrary to traffic. So you can adapt. Human is supposed to be great at adaptation. And the rest of the year it just works.


> But it's only a few days a year.

As for rain, the average where I am is about 120 days a year. While some of those days are "not much rain", it's still enough that walking/biking to/from work would be fairly annoying a large number of days per year. Plus... winter and snow (which is included in the number above, but more of an issue).


I doubt it rains all day for 120 days a year.

It only matters if it rains in the few minutes you spend cycling. Yesterday it rained here, but I assume it was before dawn.


I believe the "a few days a year" comment referred to strikes, not rain.

To imply that in some parts of the world (desert climate, reliable public transit service), the disruption is infrequent and manageable, and in others (wet and cold climates, unreliable public transit service) the disruption is significant enough to render the bicycle or the public transit economically non-viable for some users.

> But it's only a few days a year.

A few days a year? Thanks for the euphemism, it made for a good laugh.


>Europe only has good public transport in very few selected cities and you have to ignore strikes in France to pretend its working well and is reliable.

Well, until recently I've lived in a very much French city for twelve years and I've never had to face a strike or any problem besides bus traffic being shifted around due to road work. To the point I've now got to get a driving licence in my thirties, as I've never needed it before. Maybe that was just luck.


I'm French and maybe experienced a strike once or twice in my life. That being said, people who commute daily using public transportations maybe affected a few days a year. Usually, strikes are mostly planned in advance. Technical incidents are more an annoyance.

> Europe only has good public transport in very few selected cities and you have to ignore strikes in France to pretend its working well and is reliable.

It's working well and reliable enough.

> The city with the best public transport in the world is probably Tokyo in terms of frequency and service reliability but it is constantly over capacity and things are not getting better.

Things absolutely are getting better; crowding is better than it was. A healthy growing city will always have some capacity issues at any given time, but that's the same as anything.

> so no commute is certainly better pretty much just anywhere.

Not at all proven. Most people choose not to live right next to their workplace even when that's an option. 15-30 minutes' separation is helpful IMO. Even if I'm not commuting, it takes me that long to get my head out of "work mode", and having my home be my workplace makes that worse. "You don't take your work home with you" was always something I looked for in job applications.


Not everyone wants to move every time they get a new job, or every time their spouse gets a new job

I live somewhere in central Tokyo, and as long as I’m fine with a max 1hr commute I can reach pretty much anywhere else in central Tokyo (which is where the jobs are).

Not everyone can afford to live in central Tokyo. 2 hours commutes are not uncommon.

What point are you making?

If your job is on the red line, and your house is on the red line, it's an easy commute, maybe 20 minutes. Calm, relaxing, easy to zone out.

If you change jobs, the new office might be on the purple line. Which does not cross the red line. So now you need to take the red line, to the green line (15 minutes + 10 minute layover = 25 minutes), and then change trains again to get to the purple line (15 minutes). That's assuming there are no delays, weather, construction/remodeling at any of the stations. If your morning coffee takes too long you might miss your connection, and now you've blown out your schedule by another 15-20 minutes, especially if part of your commute takes one of the less-frequent suburban lines.

End result is your 20 minute commute to your old office, has turned into a 40+ minute commute one way, assuming no delays. On a good day. Plus walking to and from the station.

My old office used to be on Castro Street in Mountain View, a 5 minute walk from the Caltrain Station. Then they leased a large building in the warehouse district, a 20 minute walk away. My old train commute + walk was almost exactly 1 hour from San Francisco; with the new office relocation it turned into 1 hour 15 minutes each way, which meant when I got home in the evening, the tram I wanted to take home had already stopped running, meaning either walk 45 minutes, or take a $9 (probably $15 in today's economy) uber home.

What point was he making? Well, switch jobs, and just move closer to your new office! Easy! Just never buy a house and only switch jobs at the end of your lease term, and rent forever.


>Easy! Just never buy a house and only switch jobs at the end of your lease term, and rent forever.

Sounds precariously close to "you'll own nothing and be happy" or something along those lines.


Agree that you want to be living somewhere with enough employers within tolerable commute range, and obviously it's hard to compete with access to the whole world. I don't find a single change to be beyond the pale (maybe I would if it was a 10 minute wait), and I find that in dense cities with decent networks you can be in range of "enough" employers, but YMMV.

> It's working well and reliable enough.

Clean, blanket statement, what a good argument to make! based on what metrics exactly?


> It's working well and reliable enough.

For whom?

Around this German state, a 30 minute drive turns into 2 hours commute into each direction if I go with public transport.

And this is one of the places with best connections.

Back home in Portugal, and many other southern countries, good luck with the bus connections that only come around once per hour, and better not skip the 2nd connecting bus/train.


Well, there are always exceptions, you can always find a place that's 10min by bus and the place that's 2h by bus but 30min by bike

It depends. Though German public transport is one of the best in Europe.


It is one of the best if you are lucky enough to live close to one of the big city centers.

There are tons of places where car is the only option, or after 8pm there are no running public transports (you are supposed to stay home, I guess).


Many Tier 2/3 cities in Europe do it best in terms of access to great public transportation and an easy going lifestyle.

Pitiful wages though. Like you'd be lucky to get $60k in those places.

yet you get universal healthcare, pension, and a bunch of other stuff which makes life affordable.

Not really, house prices are insane and income taxes and sales taxes are much higher too.

I wish I had American citizenship tbh.


I don’t know why this is downvoted. This is very much true. Outside of a handful of largest cities, Europeans are as car-dependent as Americans, and if they drive less, it’s mostly because they are poorer, while cars and gas are more expensive: instead of replacing what in the US would be car trips with public transit, they simply travel less and stay home more. As European nations get wealthier, car ownership rises, and people drive more kilometers. If you use public transit outside of a handful of major cities, you’ll find that it’s full of students and retirees, instead of commuters.

Seems to me that many people here simply project their tourist experience while vacationing in London of Paris, as a result getting a wrong image of how people in Europe actually live their lives.


> Outside of a handful of largest cities, Europeans are as car-dependent as Americans, and if they drive less, it’s mostly because they are poorer, while cars and gas are more expensive: instead of replacing what in the US would be car trips with public transit, they simply travel less and stay home more.

Citation? I think we travel less far, but that's not because people choose to stay home so much as because you don't have to travel so far to achieve the same things (e.g. we probably travel less far to visit relatives than Americans, but still visit our relatives more often and spend more time with them).


I’d like to point out that the correlation between size and public transport isn’t always applicable. Helsinki has a fantastic and uncrowned public transport system. It’s also affordable (50-60e) a month. And it’s a tiny city when you compare to other capitals.

And yet despite that, Uusimaa still has 0.4 cars per capita, so that great majority of households own a car anyway.

Uusimaa is a huge area, covering far more than Helsinki. I'm talking specifically about the metropolitan area.

I know nothing about commuting in Finland but is Uusimaa not roughly equivalent to "the economic gravity well of Helsinki"?

Sounds like you two are nit picking over the difference between the I495 loop being the "DC area" vs everything east of Fredricksburg/Front Royal/Fredreick being the "DC area".


I've no idea of the Geography you are referring to in the DC area, being European. That said Uusimaa is a region, Helsinki is a (capital city). Helsinki spans quite a large geographic area and is fairly densely populated but primarily in a metropolitan area. Take a look on google maps and you'll see it's tiny, say compared to London, Paris, Berlin etc. Uusimaa covers a much bigger area with huge amounts of space between the edge and the metropolitan area (mostly covered with fields, private land and forest).

Most of the population of Uusimaa (pop. 1.7M) lives in Greater Helsinki metropolitan area (pop 1.5M).

Yeah, but those 0.2M are spread out over almost as large an area as the 1.5; the Greater Helsinki area has a population density of 283 people per square kilometer, vs Uusimaa/Nyland without the Greater Helsinki area at 56. (according to https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nyland , https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helsingfors_ekonomiska_region and LibreOffice Calc.)

[EDIT:] So, sure, most of those cars must be owned by inhabitants of the Greater Helsinki area. Heck, I live in Helsinki proper, and I have a car. But... Up until last year, when I still worked at the office in the more central parts of town, my daily commute there was by bus and metro (and will possibly be again sometime soon). And AFAIk I was(/am/will be) far from alone in this combo. [/EDIT]


> As European nations get wealthier, car ownership rises, and people drive more kilometers

I'm not sure this is true. Ireland went from one of the poorest nations in Western Europe to one of the richest from 1990 to now. In Dublin, commuting to work via car has been falling since at least the late 90s, driven by increased traffic, and greatly improved public transport and cycling infrastructure (though still quite bad by European standards); it hit 30% by 2018. The number of cars per capita is still, as far as I know, rising, but they're being used to commute to work less.

Rural areas of the country are much more of a mixed bag, and prosperity did drive an increase in driving there (though it has started to fall off a bit during the recovery after the financial crisis). But in urban areas, prosperity does _not_ seem to drive increased car use.


> In Dublin, commuting to work via car has been falling since at least the late 90s, driven by increased traffic

Ah, the classic joke, "nobody drives in Manhattan; there is too much traffic there".

> The number of cars per capita is still, as far as I know, rising, but they're being used to commute to work less.

Alas, 75% of Irish workers commute by passenger car, either as driver or as passenger. Only 10% of workers commute using public transit. That's what I meant when I said that Europeans are very much car dependent too: even in Dublin, the capital, most of the workers drive, and small minority uses public transit. Outside Dublin, cars dominate even more.


We can take Hamburg for example #1. Beautiful city, working public transportation, BUT there are congestions, and try getting anywhere from other end of the town early morning (rush hour) or late at night. Sometimes almost impossible.

#2 I live in Zagreb, Croatia - recently drove from Austria back through Slovenia to Zagreb, ended up spending more time in Zagreb traffic at 11:30 am then driving across three countries.


Hm. I agree to #1 mostly, but it could be better. More light rail like Hochbahn & S-Bahn would be good.

OTOH they extended the Metrobus and Expressbus like mad, at least it felt so after my initial disappointment from around 2004.

Most bus stops have an electronic timetable, dynamically updating their 4 rows. The busses are prioritized on traffic lights and partially have their own reserved lanes.

For when- and whereever I need to go I simply don't care when exactly, because a few minutes later the next one is coming, which applies the same way for sometimes necessary switches.

30mins max from outlying suburb to core, rather 20mins, maybe 50 to 60min from my edge to another edge of town, not necessarily through the core.

Only at night the intervals are getting longer, and the net is less 'dense', but not catastrophically so.

And it is fu****g expensive for single tickets :-(

When was the last time you used the HVV?

Besides that usually I want to ride my bicycle, bicycle, bicycle... ;)

edit: Try this? [·] https://geofox.hvv.de/jsf/home.seam?clear=true&language=en


May 2020.

Yup, inner centre is pretty great for a bike.


He, actually I prefer the outer suburbs for bicycling because downtown is insane. In the suburbs I can tone the paranoia that everyone is out there to kill me at least down a little :)

Well, the suburbs too for sure. I probably meant outer centre, for the thrill of the ride as you mention :).

> Hamburg for example

Even in another much smaller German city of only ~50k inhabitants, my school commute for years was ~40-50 minutes (dependent on season etc.; EDIT: 40-50 minutes per direction, also on mondays and another weekday my schooldays started at 07:05 not at 08:00) when the trip by bicycle to the same school would only take me ~20-25 minutes. Add to that the rapid aging of the population combined with the old people having the absolutely stellar idea to go by bus during the 07:15 morning school rush. Not like they have the whole day free to schedule their appointments... oh, wait And after years of having to deal with these fossils (most with that creepy perpetual half-smile-half-smirk) who think they're entitled to demand that people of all pre-pension ages (sometimes even heavily pregnant women) vacate their seats for them instead of literally just walking one or two steps further to the next seat, thereby not only clogging up the bus corridor while everyone has to shuffle around but also being a general nuisance I've got enough and for years haved avoided riding busses in this city like the plague.

I've seen public transport done differently and better in other cities, one key feature for working better AFAICT being tram lines with low intervals, not like in the above example relatively short busses every ~15-20 minutes per line.


Why you got downvoted is the same reason EU doesn't have startups.

Lived in France in lyon and bordeaux and public transport was top notch. Travelled all over the place and never had an issue. Now in north america…

> but it is constantly over capacity and things are not getting better

Well, you get used to it. I like reliably crowded trains much better than occasionally crowded trains.


Last week my car wouldn't start when I was heading home. I called AAA and waited. And waited. After 2 hours I went to the street and it's 5 miles of housing developments one way and 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 fast food restaurants the other. I got a $30 Lyft after 4 hours of sitting in the dark at my office. AAA called at 3AM asking if I still needed service...

Why would I want to go to the office???


This hits home. I've been working remotely ever since we moved away from LA, largely because the traffic situation there was just unbearable. I don't even know how people with kids do it, since it takes hours to drive a few miles on each side of the work day, how do you drop off/pick up kids from daycare? I realize it's incredibly privileged position to be in but I actually don't know how we'd fit office-based work into our lives again with two kids under 5 -- I guess you have to pay for a nanny and accept that you get to see your kids on the weekends.

In LA or California really you can put your kids in schools by your office.

Boston is often compared to a European city. I also think I fit your observation pretty well, as I can't wait to be back in our downtown office. I'm looking forward to a 25 minute bike commute and being in a lively area packed with things to do. The routine gives me a little bit of everything (exercise, people, fresh air, and amenities) and it's conveniently built right into the work day.

I see the 'European' connection moreso than some other cities here in the US. I've visited Boston twice - once just a few weeks ago - and I could definitely see some attraction of living/working there. It seemed way too expensive to actually live in for my budget, but I may have just gotten too accustomed to a LCOL area. I enjoyed the breadth and depth of the city, and have some family living there at the moment, so I expect I'll get to enjoy a bit more of it next year.

Yeah, it’s an infrastructure problem. I love my commute because it allows me to disconnect from work after I’m done with it. I don’t think my American colleagues understand that, even though i get a lot of sympathy from my European colleagues.

I had to, though, be intentional about setting up my commute so i had time to read a book to and fro, and I’m sure not everyone is willing to think about it in those terms.

I foresee a movement in a few years of “commute forward” people trying to improve on their work-life balance, once they realize how much of life they’re going to be missing once they start commingling work and home life together.


> I foresee a movement in a few years of “commute forward” people trying to improve on their work-life balance, once they realize how much of life they’re going to be missing once they start commingling work and home life together.

Could we just agree that people are different and that some of us do not feel the way you do?

When I'm working I put on work clothes, I sit at my work desk and I take my work coffee cup. When I am done, I roll down my roll-top desk, and go pick up the kids on foot.

Arguably I appreciate that work culture in North-America and Asia may not be conducive of this. But ultimately we can all have the separation we need.

For me I built it around routines and work/leisure separation. For you it is your commute. Could we not let us both have what we want?


I hate the commute, I love the cache clearing it provided. It can be easily replaced by a hike in the afternoon or a book session in the garden.

I have this theory that one of the contributing factors to the "I don't want to go to the office" trend in the US (which I'm part of), is that cities are also not made for commuting

I live (well lived) within easy biking distance of the office (and commuted by bike nearly every day) and after the first few months of COVID work from home, I didn't ever want to go back to the office. We have an open floor plan office that's loud and not conducive to concentrating on work, and we have a distributed workforce (3 USA locations and 3 international locations), so most meetings had at least one zoom participant.

I took advantage of working from home to move farther from the office (now I'm within biking distance of a transit station that will take me to work, but the commute takes over twice as long as it used to), and will do my best to go to the office as little as possible. (we don't have a return to office date yet, but we reportedly won't be expected to be back 5 days a week)


Same here. I actually love my commute since it allows me to do 30 minutes of free soft exercise a day.

But I hate being at the office. There's nothing I like about it. Noise, disturbances, poor desktop setup, too hot in summer, too hot in winter, no place to take an actual break...


Obviously it's a personal preference, but most people I know who have easy commutes (<20 min, walk, bike or public transit) still don't want to go into the office. Neither do I.

It might be nice for a change of pace of a specific purpose (i.e. planning meeting that is just easier in-person).

If I want to go downtown and socialize with coworkers, I can do that after work (and have while WFH).


As a counterpoint, I loved my commute to work in the Bay. After almost 16 years of not riding a bike, I took a chance on getting one and fell in love with riding around the city. For the first year I also rode BART pretty much every day. It had its downsides but honestly I just learned to have a more positive mindset about it.

Obviously this isn't viable solution to many people, and cycling has lots of risks, but its just an anecdote I had.

ALSO, the days I had to drive my car in the city were some of the most stressful ever(big car too).


Bart is beyond a minor downside, it’s absolutely atrocious public transportation.

This mindset is mind-boggling to me. BART’s operational reliability is excellent. The new cars are really nice. Trains in the core come often. What exactly makes it “absolutely atrocious public transportation”? Of course it doesn’t serve all destinations, but that’s inevitable because the Bay is mostly suburban sprawl.

Dirty, noisy, unpleasant rider experience. The terminals are sketchy. Try public transportation in other places (europe) for example. Hands down a better experience all around.

This is a result of America’s and California’s larger ills, especially extreme housing unaffordability (California) and lack of an adequate social safety net (America). Of course these symptoms are lessened or absent in countries that have addressed the core issues—the same is true in other areas besides public transportation. It’s not a BART thing, it’s a society thing.

I think of course if you compare it against the best transportation systems in the world you're going to come up pretty short with BART(Tokyo for example was AMAZING). I come from Atlanta where MARTA is a pretty big farcry from effective public transportation, so maybe that is why I don't mind BART as much...

Personally I find it super sketchy so I always avoid it and just uber.

This is valid, especially when there isn't a lot of other riders around and when you start going to some of the worse areas of the Bay(or insert almost any American city).

BART is overcrowded, but thanks to grade separation, it’s the most reliable system I’ve used.

This is a very romantic view of Europe. Some cities do it well, but try commuting into Paris, London, Brussels for a year.

Actually I lived in London and Paris and it was great compared to canada/US were I lived as well.

As somebody who works in London, you are right that infra is much better here than at least some places in the US (was shocked when I visited Austin) but the commute is brutal, overcrowded and often unreliable. For example the train line I used to rely on would fail 1-2 times a weeks such that I has to find another way into the office.

Unless you're rich you will be living 40 mins - 1hr out, I am more like 1hr20 so I can own a home that isn't tiny or in a high crime area.

The commute costs, if I pay a year in advance, ~£5k/yr, set to go up by 10-15% next yr.

Generally speaking, and especially taking into account the climate crisis, it really doesn't make much sense to do all this even when there is more infra.

It is time for more companies to accept that WFH is largely a win/win.


Europe is just as bad.

House prices are obscene in/near big cities, and commuting still sucks (used to do 2 hours each way in London!).


I lived in Lausanne and my commute was non trivial (EPFL is on the edge of Lausanne in the middle of a huge field, no housing nearby, even student housing was at least one stop away). I lived in LA and my commute was just two blocks, a 3 minute walk (got an apartment in Westwood next to UCLA). So I guess my experience is a bit different.

>"your commute is often much less cumbersome AND you can enjoy some social life after work since you're in the city"

Been "from home" for the last 20 years as I am an ISV and pretty much "enjoy some social life" without any commuting to work.


Again, this is a huge generalization. (Almost) no city in the world is built for commuting at current modern volume.

yeah no, tell that to someone living in for example paris, london or madrid, where even with decent public transport you are gonna lose on average a bare minimum of 2 hours daily commuting to work.

Funny, I left Amazon two weeks ago because WFH burned me out. I'm currently taking a sabbatical.

* Zoom fatigue is real.

* I find it much harder to collaborate with peers.

* I feel like less of a part of the company. Not being in the office, so I'm no longer seeing that busy bee activity on the floors, not able to mingle with other people from other teams, not seeing new faces, no team activities, and no desk with my name on it. It's a very isolated feeling.

* I find it even more Groundhog Day. To wake up from bed, walk a few steps to my desk, and start plugging away. Yeah, commuting can suck, but at least there's more stimulation and "life" to it.

* Deadlines, at least from my perspective, got even more ridiculous since WFH started.


I suspect the problem is that Amazon doesn't want to change the way it works. So WFH is more or less the same as the office, but with Zoom (Chime?) instead of conference rooms. But of course that is awful.

Companies that are embracing remote work are changing the way they work. Becoming a true distributed organization isn't easy and we're not really sure what that looks like yet, but it's much easier to cope with than WFH in an organization where the executives say "we can't wait to be back in the office, and we know you can't either".

Edit: Of course, if you can't wait to be back in the office, maybe Amazon is just the right place for you in the long term. That's perfectly reasonable. I just doubt your experience is representative of the emerging industry trend toward permanent remote work.


Like writing essays on slack/confluence/email is better than zoom. Not really for me.

Do you know of any companies doing new things with WFH? That sounds very interesting!

No, but I'd like to know about them too!

I've worked at two companies that have embraced remote work, and are hiring "anywhere", though still obviously limited by language, jurisdiction etc. The changes I've seen are mainly cultural: preference for asynchronous communication and preference for structured coordination over ad-hoc. So fewer meetings, and those that remain tend to be standing meetings on a regular schedule with a defined leader and consistent agenda, and they often get cancelled or ended quickly if possible. Slack tends to be more asynchronous; you're not expected to respond right away, and people turn off notifications when they need to concentrate. Waaaay less email, to the point where it's mainly meeting invitations. More writing and documentation, but even then, a preference for things like Jira, Notion, Coda or Team Retro over more unstructured tools like generic documents or spreadsheets.

Now obviously none of that is new or confined to remote-first organizations. But I do see deliberate thought about how to collaborate more effectively, and how to mitigate the downsides.


Don't underestimate the impact of COVID on your mental health. I was WFH for years back then, and it was not like that.

This is an important point. The transition to working from home is not "Here is a laptop with network access, try to ignore the pandemic, go", that is a recipe for a bad experience. Like wise, working from an office completely sucks if it is "Here is your cubical and desktop with network access, try to ignore the pandemic, go".

There are real traps when it comes to WFH that need to be considered, even outside COVID. Trying to work from the couch or bed is 'possible' but 99/100 a terrible idea. You will likely need a fairly dedicated space, setup that supports your workflows. These things take time to workout, and having a supportive company that gets this can make such a difference.

Once I found what works for me and was clear about what I expected from employers, things were generally a lot better. Saying that, if your bosses ever become heavily anti-WFH, they can make things suck pretty quickly, but the same bad office politics/dynamics I guess.


> * Zoom fatigue is real.

The issue I had is once we started going back to the office 2x a week, all my meetings were STILL on zoom all day, I just took them from my cube with my mask on. It was a total bummer!


Been going back to the office one day a week for a a few months now. People are okay with dropping the masks when not in the main flow of traffic (hallways).

One on ones with the boss are much nicer when we can go outside for a stroll....


> Deadlines, at least from my perspective, got even more ridiculous since WFH started.

This. People keep talking how much more time they have for work now that they don’t have to commute, and don’t realize how terrible that is for them.

For me, the dealbreaker is the groundhog day effect that working from home has. Never heard anyone one describe it that way, but it’s so true, i will probably steal it. It’s the primary reason why it still feels like April of 2020 for me. Time paused then, and hasn’t moved since.


I get the feeling that a lot of discontent related to the archaic 8-hour work day. I have personally interacted with at least a dozen other engineers at my workplace who openly admit they "actually" work maybe 2 hours a day. The rest of the day is spent idly feeling burned out forced to sit at their workstation for the next meeting or instant message to reply to. I personally suffer burnout from this.

Hmm, that sounds familiar, but I think the same was true in the office.

I had that groundhog-day effect for a while too, living in California. Then I moved to Montana. It's impossible not to notice time here. The leaves changed colour, it snowed, it rained, it was hot, and the leaves changed colour again. My daily routine is a bit monotonous, sure, but the world pulls me into it.

This is so accurate, especially the 3rd bullet. When WFH, all interactions are centered around your immediate work responsibilities; although minimizing social interactions at work sounds great for some, it can make it much harder to gauge where you stand in relation to all the people you work with.

One thing I found helpful was some chill time in virtual rooms periodically. For those who opted in it seemed to work well. For folks who are all business all the time it was fine to opt out.

IME different life seasons can bring different preferences. With a young family and project house I don't want to socialize as much with coworkers as I did when I was a single 20 something.


The problems with virtual rooms is that you can't have small breakout conversations naturally. In-person I can walk around a space and talk to small groups of people. On a virtual conference call, if I'm speaking everyone has to listen to me, which makes speaking for some people even harder.

There was a "meeting" startup on HN last year (several years ago?) that had such a product. Each "room" had multiple tables, which you were free to move between. You could sorta hear people at the other tables; the closer the table was, the easier you could hear the people at it. There was also a "stage" feature that allowed someone to address the whole room at once.

It seemed like a pretty good experiment, but I don't think it caught on. Maybe Slack (or Teams) should aquihire them and implement something similar.


gather.town? We used it for a few virtual meetups where I'm based.

Among us with proximity chat as a work conference call?

I was wanting to do that for my birthday last year, but I know too many people who don't own laptops


In my case I setup a Mumble server which allows break out rooms

Exactly right. It’s extremely dehumanizing, ultimately making a tool of a human, and that will probably make it easier for people to exploit others.

And that's a totally valid view. Strangely enough, I suspect Amazon will be a great company for you long-term if you go back. Management is aligned with your needs, not mine.

The question is whether there are enough developers like you to run one of the largest software companies in the world, while maintaining 'the bar'.


I quit Amazon a few months ago for the same reason. Holy shit Amazon culture does not work over video. I used to work hard, but I would stay late with my cool team and we’d build things. That stopped happening and I burned out.

> To wake up from bed, walk a few steps to my desk, and start plugging away. Yeah, commuting can suck, but at least there's more stimulation and "life" to it.

You're allowed outside for non-work reasons too though haha. I've incorporated an hour of just wandering around into my day and it's the best work situation I've ever had


This was key for me as well. Just leave the house with my headphones and some podcasts or music, and wander around for about an hour, rain or shine.

I try to do it every day.


It's usually when a "work-from-office" culture (for both you and your company) collides with the "work-from-home" culture.

Working from home is amazing if the company and the employee can embrace the changes that come with it. If your social stimulation happens to come from your office and your commute, maybe that's a problem? Same goes for meetings, usually embracing work from home comes with more async communications, more emails, documentations and less meetings.

But I agree, even at it's best work from home makes you come across less people face to face than a commute + office time. And I think in the coming years we will see some cultural impacts of this between people who love work from home and people who abhor it.


I found the meeting lid increased as did a lack of decision making. But that’s mostly because there are too many facilitators and not enough engineers. Most of my career WFH has been built on solid in person relationships. So I do get the dichotomy. I think more on or off sites are needed for sure where people get a chance to work in person just to have the human connection and informal pieces.

I'm with you. But you missed the social interaction part. I actually like my coworkers as people and enjoy(ed) hallway chit-chat.

Some members of the team, for example a woman that does documentation, I see almost not at all any longer because she's not one of the WebEx invites. But she was always just down the hall in the office.


> I find it even more Groundhog Day. To wake up from bed, walk a few steps to my desk, and start plugging away. Yeah, commuting can suck, but at least there's more stimulation and "life" to it.

How about replacing your commuting by a morning walk outside?


> zoom fatigue You mean chime fatigue I assume ;) it’s like zoom fatigue, just can’t get that ringtone out of your head forever

All that stuff can be ameliorated somewhat imo with a cultural change. At my job (admittedly a much smaller group of a few dozen, nothing on amazons scale), we initially had a ton of zoom meetings but have cut out most of them since people want to have uninterrupted days of productivity, with room to schedule their own submeetings with peers when it comes time to collaborate with specific people. We all still live in the area so we've gotten together in a park and do potlucks and stuff like that after we got our vaccines. For the lack of commute thing, I find it helpful to build in a morning routine rather than wake up > work. I tend to my garden in the mornings, workout, and usually do a walk around my neighborhood to serve as a faux commute before I make my cup of coffee and begin the workday. Sometimes I head out to the golf course early in the morning and get back home before 9. Other coworkers surf at dawn. If I had to commute it would be tough to fit in gardening and working out or golf without waking up indescribably early to make it all work.

If you’re going to work from home, do so for a company where WFH is first class. I’ve worked for remote-only companies and for mixed companies. The mixed ones were really terrible WFH experiences. The remote-only / remote-first ones were excellent. It really makes a difference.

/anecdote


Funny enough, I start with Shopify tomorrow. They went remote-only last year.

Welcome! Feel free to ping me on Slack if you’ve got questions and don’t know who to ask (:

CrowdStrike has been primarily remote-only for 10 years.

I've worked remotely for about 15 years. It isn't what it is cracked up to be.

But TBH, after the pandemic hit, I found written communications to be far better than they had been previously.

That really leveled the playing field for me. But from my point of view, I've derived much of my communications from mailing lists, forums, listservs over the years. When people get around the water cooler and and I am just hanging around Thunderbird, I'm at a big disadvantage.


I'd second the remote-only / remote-first point.

In particular, "remote-first" can effectively work, and bring diversity in the work place that is always welcome. It requires discipline and a real buy in from every layer of the company, but when it works I think it's the best.


What makes a good experience vs. a poor one for you?

A team that has strong reading and writing abilities and a culture that promotes documentation and decentralization of work through tickets or some other form.

Vs

A culture that will always prefer an hour long zoom meeting to a 2 minute exchange on stack. A zoom based culture is one that hasn't fully walked away from the office.


Hasn’t fully walked away from the office and probably hasn’t learned that “management by meeting” is probably an indicator that management isn’t sure what they’re managing for. Probably.

You are right - the market has shifted and developers can now work from home, far away from their office, and still get paid great salaries. This may also work for marketers, designers, and few other digital verticals. For the majority of regular people (teachers, bakers, warehouse workers, hospitality workers, waiters, medical workers, etc etc) this is going to stay a pipe dream with physical barriers in place that will never enable them to get something similar.

What an advantage in life to have chosen this career path over any of the above ones. And what a shame whenever we come across one of those "I am a developer and it's horrible!" type of posts.


HCOL => High Cost of Living

I looked it up so you don't have to.


It's the circle of life.

Success leads to ossification, which creates opportunity for new life to exploit untapped potential.


  > Senior engineers started quitting. 
  > The exodus continued.
Wasn't this already happening pre-pandemic?

Definitely. But it's gotten worse, in my view.

The Toronto office (where I worked) is seeing a shift in the seniors vs juniors ratio. The rate of senior engineers leaving is exceeding the rate of promotion and hiring- not that Amazon has ever had an easy time hiring senior engineers in Toronto.


I'm curious. Why? Amazon pays competitively, and they're the biggest player in online retail and cloud services. Why wouldn't engineers want to work for them?

Anyone who does any research during their job hunt will read that Amazon has the worst work-life balance paired with aggressive/punitive performance reviews.

The other big names will pay you the same or more and treat you better.


Because their reputation as an engineering employer is awful?

Their reputation as an employer is as awful as can be. And why would anyone who knows how they treat their warehouse workers -- and who doesn't? -- think they're fundamentally a friend of any employee?


For the engineers that can pass Amazon's 'hiring bar', other companies will often match or do better on total comp. For a long time in Toronto they were the highest offer, but those days are over.

Amazon also has an on-call culture that - depending on the team - can be brutal. And it's often viewed as the team's own fault and problem to fix.

There are some really wonderful niches within Amazon that I will continue to refer friends to.


Amazon doesn't pay competitively.

I was just last week in an interview for a role at Amazon and was told that -- while they would entertain a permanent remote arrangement for the right candidate -- it was the interviewer's honest opinion that being fully remote would hurt my chances to advance in the organization.

I figured, well, at least he was honest with me.


I'm not anti office at all. In fact sometimes I almost miss it.

However, I'm anti commute all the way. I'll never go back to working full time at a office where I need to commute to.


> a company that understands the cultural shift that just happened.

Can anyone name some of those companies? I would like to start applying in those places.


You forgot the biggest benefit of working from home:

Using a camera cover, and working butt naked.


I live in Seattle and thus a notable percentage of my social circle works at Amazon.

The folks I know who work there were almost entirely all prepared to quit if the company forced their initial "everyone back in the office" requirement, especially in this current job market.

It feels rare to see Amazon ever make a change to such a publicly stated policy like this, I can only imagine that the groundswell of feedback from employees was quite startling in how much of a problem their retention would be with such a hard rule.


Many employees voted with their feet. From the outside it seems like Amazon has already suffered significant brain drain, they are likely trying to stop the bleeding at this point. In addition to their poor reputation as an employer, seems like they've backed themselves into a corner.

As a former Amazonian, I'm giddy to see their chickens come home to roost.

With stack ranking, many engineers blacklisting Amazon, and the sheer size of their engineering department, they must be close to literally running out of engineers to hire in America, right? At least if they stuck to in person work and limited their hiring pool geographically.

If they can turn someone into a backend engineer in nine months they can hire forever even with a lot of turnover.

> Lambda School to Launch New Backend Engineering Program, Jointly Developed with Amazon

https://lambdaschool.com/the-commons/lambda-school-launches-...

> Inspiration for the new backend program came from Amazon Technical Academy, which trains current, non-technical Amazon employees for software development engineering roles within the company. Amazon Technical Academy’s curriculum is based on the critical knowledge, skills, and attributes required to succeed as a software development engineer at Amazon, which Lambda’s program will cover in their entirety. Amazon Technical Academy is part of Amazon’s commitment to upskill 100,000 of its own employees by 2025.


They can hire new grads every year

Getting expensive to move to Seattle though


Running a giant company with nothing but new grads is really asking for every project management problem ever discovered.

Nah, all the new grads will be able to balance a red-black tree on a whiteboard in seconds, so they should be able to easily handle all other engineering tasks

Day 1. Searches, “what is all this docker and kubernetes stuff?”

It's one of the reasons I left. A team full of new grads with nobody to properly teach them. Poor designs are drafted and implemented leading to unmaintainable systems.

Every problem is a solution in the waiting. Imagine a "every project management problem ever" as a service for enterprise customers of AWS. Every year there could be an almanac of recently discovered screwups. Amazon Studios would have a long run reality TV series.

Big co manager api from aws sounds fantastic! You send promo request, they send that less than stellar feedback from 360 review three years ago and your “consistently exceeds (needs more impact)” response.

Let alone the project management problems, what about the "Worst Case" from yesterday.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28825009


> is really asking for every project management problem ever discovered

"Oh but they can just google the solution. Welcome aboard."


I know that they are hiring across the world for their Vancouver office.

I basically get weekly recruiting emails from the Vancouver office (I work in Vancouver) but I tell them that I’m not doing the online assessment. Surprisingly the recruiters always go silent shortly after. I am a mid level Senior engineer and Amazon can pound sand if they think I’m going to take their dumb online test without any commitment from them whatsoever.

Amazon fails to understand that it is currently a worker’s market in software engineering so they are the ones who have to convince engineers to work there.


The assessment is ridiculous time commitment anyway. You have to set aside a 2.5 hour block of uninterrupted time to do it, and from what I hear it's pretty brutal anyway.

I get pinged by Amazon recruiters almost every week right now, and once I discovered the assessment was 2.5 hours during my last job search, I had trouble finding the time and energy to fit it in amongst all the other job search requirements I had to do.

Ended up getting so far along the process with 6 other companies that I just didn't bother to take it. Still ended up with a job offer with a 60% bump in pay and what seems like a better environment than Amazon would have been, without any threats to force me back into the office or needing to relocate.


At least according to Levels, the Vancouver office pay sucks.

Lots of equivalent paying companies in Canada now, yet alone USA.


I’m in Vancouver and get multiple recruiters contacting from Amazon weekly it seems? I’ve engaged a couple times out of curiosity and their offers were always hilariously low.

Extra inappropriate when one considers the insanely mad cost of housing in Vancouver.

Back during the HQ2 circus, wasn’t Vancouver the city that tried to pitch themselves to Amazon that “we have talent like Seattle, but our average software engineer pay is much lower!”?

This has always been an advantage of setting up shop in Canada, though ideally this leans more on the "Canadian dollar is cheaper" aspect than the "we simply underpay everyone" aspect.

One of the highest three COL cities in North America!

Vancouver has some of the lowest (listed, admittedly) incomes in Canada too.

Yep can confirm, got multiple Amazon Vancouver specific recruiters in my inbox last month, and I'm in Ireland

I replied back to one of these and explained that due to their anti-union actions, and they way they treat employees, I would never be interested in working there, no matter the salary. I thankfully have never received any more of their spam.

To be fair, very few tech companies would hire someone who starts off by expressing their support for unionization. It's certainly a good "unsubscribe" tactic. For example, if you want to get rid of unwanted Linkedin outreach, just put into your title "Go unions!"

Being against anti-union tactics involving privacy and surveillance issues is not the same as being pro union.

Employers won't hold it against you for being against tactics that involve privacy and surveillance issues in general (eg: "I wouldn't want to work at a place that spies on every single Slack message I send to coworkers"), because they give you the benefit of doubt that from their bottom line perspective you will be a net-positive contributor. The minute you include the word U-N-I-O... (eg: I wouldn't want to work at a place that spies on unionization efforts), that benefit of doubt is lost, and now everyone is wondering why that topic is on your mind.

None of this is a reflection of the value of unions from the employees' perspective. But it's important to realize that unions are one of the instances where the employees' and employers' interests are not aligned. So, emailing a recruiter and mentioning unions has only one possible outcome - none.


God, America is weird.

Sounds like you both dodged a bullet.

I'm in the US and Amazon's Dublin office was trying to recruit me last year. I've turned down invitations to interview at Amazon about every other year throughout my career but this was the first time I'd been contacted by an overseas location. Their message even acknowledged that it would be a big move especially with the various travel restrictions in place at the time but they wanted me to interview anyway. Seems like they're running out of people everywhere and poaching each other's local labor markets.

That is really interesting, it does seem odd that they seem to be trying to hire cross continent all of a sudden

Same here, I have been contacted multiple times for Amazon Vancouver positions. I am from Slovenia and they told me they would be glad to help me out with the overseas move and sponsor the Visa..

This is where news and reality diverge

They stopped being able to hire seniors easily. So I quit, because working with 8 people 1 year out of college, and myself with 7 years exp, was awful.

In my opinion, "bar raisers" often impede the hiring of candidates who could be good senior level employees.

After doing 5 years of interviews, I think part of the issue is Amazon doesn’t really do onboarding, so everyone is scared of making an L6 offer, because the new hire is expected to perform equal to an L6 who has already been at Amazon for years, on day 1.

Not to mention the absolutely ridiculous amount of grilling over leadership principles.

I interviewed w/ Amazon - they contacted me during the pandemic and I though what the hey, ignore the worst reviews of any company on glassdoor, let's see what they're all about.

The interview was, and I hate to use this word, followed a template clearly put together by an MBA who went into middle management without any work experience, The two people to whom I talked showed the enthusiasm of a dead wet beaver while asking the questions. This was for a storage position that I've been doing for 20+ years at some of the biggest accounts all over the planet.

During the 2 hours, I got asked two very basic questions. Then a bunch of weird generic scenarios - what have you done that fits this scenario and how did you handle it.

About half way through the second interview I decided there's not enough money in the world, and decided to have fun with it. I tells ya what - I made up some of the most ridiculous obviously fake <and then vanilla ice walked into the meeting> stories ever. They sent me a rejection letter, just to ask me to interview for a similar position two months later. I asked their recruiter to read their employee reviews and only contact me again if they offer 7 figures. Been a year now - nothing. Maybe they got the hint.


For what it's worth, the Amazon interview experience is modelled that way for fairness. We are pretty much told that we can't deviate too much from the script because by doing so we might advantage a candidate over another. There are exception with more senior employees that tend to disregard that advice but overall it's pretty well followed.

Sorry about your bad experience though.


Not complaining about the use of a common script for all interviews. A good script would have many avenues where you can ask the person about his specific resume. I've done a lot of emc/netapp/pure storage as an example, but only xiv from ibm. the way amazon handles this is to not ask a single question about storage, for a storage role. this is the wrong way.

well, let me correct myself. for this sr position in storage, i was asked one question about storage. "what is the difference between object storage and file storage."

imagine you are interviewing to work as a mathematician. a sr level one, you walk in, and the ask you no math questions, except "what is the difference between multiplication and derivatives."

here is the issue i take with this completely undeveloped script: it tells you zero about someone's technical skills or abilities. this means the hiring criteria, for highly technical roles, might as well be what color car I drive. if this is what leadership uses to determine who is good during an interview, they're going to have useless, illogical, and bogus criteria for performance. and this means the job will be frustrating and will wear me out. oh look - that's what all the tech employees are saying about amazon on glassdoor.


I can tell you that when training interviewers, Amazon makes it very clear that candidate experience is the most important thing about the interview. Stoically asking questions without a wink of emotion certainly does not fit that. :(

Oh to be clear I don't think your experience was terrible only because of the script. It's not like they tell you to be cold and unpleasant so I'd put some fault on your interviewer as well.

One option might be to add this explanation to the script so the candidate understands why the process seems so alienating.

People really undervalue self-narration. It works so well in many areas of life. I narrate with my kids, "I'm parenting you this way to get X outcome." Here's my canned start to every interview:

"This interview has a simple three step format. There's no gotchas or narrow trivia here. I'll start by asking you technical questions about the work you say you did until I've gotten the information I need about that. Then there will be a few social questions. Lastly, I'll open it up for you to ask me anything you want about working here."

Doing this seems to help the people with social anxiety and/or autism. Setting specific concrete expectations right up front and then sticking to it really comforts people.


This is really good advice, thanks!

> Then a bunch of weird generic scenarios - what have you done that fits this scenario and how did you handle it.

That part was particularly frustrating; often I couldn't think of anything relevant to the specific wording. At least you got a rejection letter, though. Multiple interviews over >1 day and I had to log in to the Amazon Jobs account to see my application's status had changed to "no longer under consideration".


It's amazing right now how in this market so many companies are simply ghosting on rejections. They seem so desperate in their recruiting but then can't bother to at least call with a rejection out of the usual courtesy that used to be a standard part of the process?

Strange, indeed. A "sorry, no thanks, good luck elsewhere" email would have been fine. Feedback would have been very useful but I suspect they'd be reluctant to offer any.

Yes, I anecdotally have had two different recruiters at different companies on the phone before interviews tell me they definitely would follow up after the interviews with feedback and in one case I got a form letter email and no response to a reply email I made (asking about that feedback they had "definitely" promised me) and the other time no response at all but checking their portal and showing the thing was closed (again after promising me they always give feedback). It's so very weird and doesn't give me a lot of confidence right now that recruiters aren't just wasting my time.

It feels rare to see Amazon ever make a change to such a publicly stated policy like this...

Jeff Bezos recently stepped down as CEO. Google tells me that happened July 5th of this year, a few months ago.

He founded the company. It's essentially under new management for the first time ever.

I don't think you can infer much from this incident. There are too many unusual factors at play and we don't have an established track record for what the "new normal" (post Bezos) will be for Amazon.


Jeff was still with the company when the last version of the policy was announced, i.e. "3 days from office, 2 days from home." It was probably the head of HR who came up with it.

Jeff accepted it like, "Oh well." You could tell he couldn't care less.

But Andy Jassy looked ashen. I think his becoming CEO was the reason Amazon changed course. If Jeff had stayed, he would have let HR decide the policy for the entire company, and it would have been disastrous for AWS.


It is amazing that some americans can be so picky to give up their many hundred thousand/per year jobs because they dont want to go to the office.

I am just envious at how developed your tech scene is.


They aren't given up anything. They can walk into multiple other jobs with similar pay and benefits, and that's the problem Amazon has.

It isn't being picky, it is employees having actual worth and choice. Employees can "pick" the pay, conditions, and benefits that suite them best: In this case moving out of one of the highest housing cost areas in the country.


I think you misread his comment. He's saying that what you're describing is a privilege developers in many other countries don't enjoy.

It’s not about being picky, it’s about knowing your worth. If an employer chooses a ham-fisted approach of forcing everyone to work out of the office, then they will have to pay the consequences of their top talent leaving for companies that are more flexible (and often pay the same or more)

Wasn't amazon but this is exactly what happened, they mandated "back to the office, no exceptions" last summer, I put my notice in and went to work for a company that was 100% remote, within a year I got promoted from lead upwards.

Turns out sometimes not only is the grass greener but it's much better tasting as well.

Ironically the place I left announced a "developers can work from home forever" policy a couple of months ago (after they'd lost 7 out of 9 senior devs off their 9 teams - the attrition rate wasn't much lower for non-seniors).

They are so fucked it's not even funny - literally decades of accumulated domain/business knowledge walked out the door.


The social contract is different here. You focus on the salary but most employees are considered fungible here by most employers with 'industry standard' as a synonym for 'sucks about as much as what we consider our competitors'. Due to the unique circumstances, employees in some industries finally have some ability to try to better their lot so it would be irrational of them to not avail themselves of likely a once-in-many-lifetimes opportunity before the iron fist of our corporate masters comes crashing down upon our spines again. Yes, I am old and cynical - how did you know :) ?

They aren’t giving up anything. They’ll just switch to working at another company offering them hundreds of thousands. Those jobs are plentiful.

The way I read the parent comment, it's not that people are "giving up" the ability to make hundreds of thousands, but rather they're able to give up their role at a company paying that much because the market allows them to make that money elsewhere.

This is not possible everywhere.


The flip side is that many feel an intense pressure to do whatever it takes to get the most lucrative job they can find because the US has much less of a social safety net than many European countries.

Once you get beyond a certain threshold that's not really true. Or it's a story they tell themselves because they care more about money than other considerations.

Have you ever had a 1 month long holiday? Not sabbatical, just regular PTO.

Yes, multiple times--most recently a few years ago was close to that just pre-pandemic. Another probably 4x in the 3 week to 4 week range in previous job. Pretty standard tech industry jobs. More recently have had many other multi-week holidays that were a combination of tech events and pure PTO.

I realize a fair number of people can't do that or, commonly in my experience, feel that they can't do that but it's not actually impossible if that's what you prioritize.


It is amazing that some Americans are so picky about going to the office instead of actual vacations with all your corporate access disabled.

These types of jobs have 4+ weeks of vacation anyway.

Has this changed recently? My offer from AWS came with 2 weeks of vacation, non-negotiable, and was part of why I rejected it.

Wow, that is very poor. I don’t know many Amazon people though, but I have read they are stingy. Although, I assumed 3 weeks of vacation was a minimum for white collar employees, especially in finance/law/engineering. I got 3 weeks when I came out of college in mid 2000s.

It grows up to a maximum of 4 weeks with seniority

Nothing to do with being picky. It's just about people having different priorities.

Why are you asserting people are giving up anything? I got a pay raise when I quit my in office job.

Do you really mean "give up" here? You're strongly implying that you're not in America, so there's a decent chance English is not your first language, so maybe you don't mean "give up" in the way it usually means in English.

To be explicit, there's nothing being sacrificed. People leaving their jobs because they don't want to go to an office are finding new jobs that pay the same amount or even more. They're not giving up anything.


American programmers are mercenaries, capitalist minded workers, that have access to a digital hive mind that not many other professions can fully access. We hold a lot more power than I think we realize.

Europeans work to live. Americas live to work.


Probably worth mentioning that you aren’t safe if you hide out in some low-paying European job. Sooner or later the US/Chinese platform companies are going to come and eat your boss’ lunch

So you may as well come over and get a share of the spoils


Easier said than done...

You should stop being a crab in a bucket, and go try to improve your own situation instead of being unhappy that others have done so in their own lives.

The other thing to add on is that Amazon is having a hard time recruiting, at least anecdotally from friends who work there. Between their reputation as a company and hot job market, filling some senior level eng roles has become near impossible.

I have shared this story on here before, but my first "real interview" out of college was at Amazon and to this day it is still one of the worst experiences of my career.

The recruiter was great, super nice, got me all organized for a full-day loop. They gave me some things to prepare, so I did. Admittedly, I was under-qualified for the job as a fresh grad but was assured that'd be fine.

Still, the entire team made it abundantly clear how much I was apparently wasting their time even being in the room with each of them as they took turns throughout the day talking to me.

Felt so unbelievably toxic, and even though this was in the early 00s, I have never even considered working there since.


Very similar experience. It was a boring and tedious interview. The behavioral part of the interview felt odd with a focus on tailoring my experiences around Amazon principles which I wasn't aware of until a few days before the interview. The employees seemed nice, though, but not really cheerful and a little standoff-ish. It honestly felt like a more traditional style of interviewing.

I contrast that with another FAANG interview I had, where you had lunch on campus and they tried to leave a positive impression.


I found my Amazon interview to be surprisingly easy and friendly, except for one interviewer who gave me Alien Dictionary and got offended when I told her this was a well known leetcode problem. Oops..didn't get the job.

I interviewed for Amazon Brazil once, it felt like I was being questioned by the police as if in a movie:

- 4 straight hours inside a room

- every hour the interviewer changed

- got asked the same questions over and over again

I was quite upset that I didn't pass... couple weeks later I was not, what a shitty experience it was.


"- 4 straight hours inside a room

- every hour the interviewer changed

- got asked the same questions over and over again"

It's the same in UK, at least they standardised it!


It's the same in North America as well. If you get scheduled during lunch time, you will get the opportunity to go outside at least :)

All that is moot now because of covid.


It's the same in the US too. My last (internal transfer) job interview at Apple was 8 hours long, 8 interviews.

I think I might have you beat with 9 hours, but that was an external interview

Apart from getting asked the same questions, the other parts are quite common in the industry. I mean, some places might move you around a bit between rooms, but literally every job interview I've had over the last 25 years has been essentially 4-6 hours of tag team wrestling with coding/systems/personality questions.

Indeed, but when these hours are unpleasant they are an eternity, which probably tarnishes your memory of it.

They're always unpleasant! :-P

This sounds like a fairly normal interview process. How do tech interviews typically work in Brazil?

I don't think it's a "Brazil" thing, I've been in Europe for a while now, I only mentioned where it was because maybe it's different between (Amazon) branches.

The current job I'm at was like 5-6h of interviews, it was hard to pass, but it didn't feel like the interviewers were trying to play "good cop, bad cop"


They also sort of shoot themself in the foot with their interview process. I recommended the absolute best person I know for a position he was exceedingly qualified for. Amazon would have been lucky to have him.

They blitzed him with leadership questions and were “not inclined”. Incredibly dumb given their current situation. He’s not even bad on those dimensions, they just can’t get pretty off topic imo.


A recruiter contacted me one for a position at Amazon, and I straight up said I will never work there because of the way they treat their employees. (Probably burned a bridge with that recruiter, but oh well)

It's not possible to burn a bridge with a recruiter, these are 'salespeople' who get many no's per day and have pressure to perform.

A recruiter call doesn't mean a company has interest in a candidate. It just means the Amazon job description and your resume both included the word JAVA.


Both Facebook and Amazon have contacted me recently, and in both cases it was a senior manager doing the recruiting. Maybe just a new strategy in general, or perhaps it's because both companies struggle with reputation.

I know a local Amazon director and he was spending a lot of time with recruiting, he had to hire a very large amount of people and that was his top measure for that year. Even paying above the market, with their reputation and the competition on the market it was difficult to meet the target.

If they were contacting you with a specific interesting position, that would be something. If they were contacting you with a generic position they just needed to fill...that sounds like a lot of cringe.

I have only actually talked with the guy from Facebook. All he did was talk about how great his teams are, how super intelligent his engineers are, etc. While he politely listened to what I had to say, he was definitely on a mission to market his little slice of Instagram and get me interested in running the Facebook interview gauntlet.

He even suggested that it would be totally okay if I was one of those people that wanted to study for a month or two before interviewing. Study?! For a job interview?

It was a weird experience. I normally shun recruiters, but I was just curious enough to hear what this guy had to say. His LinkedIn profile didn't indicate any past involvement with recruiting, so I wanted to know why a senior manager would spend time recruiting random people -- he must spend every waking hour on these calls.


Studying a month for a job interview...well, if you need a job and have the time, it can definitely work out well in the end. The leetcode problems are kind of fun to work on once you get into them, but they are definitely of limited use.

My Facebook interview was weird also, but the people were super nice and the coding problems were fairly easy. I failed on distributed systems architecture, oddly enough, as it was an area I had no experience in for a senior hire (but I got an offer from Google the same day I was rejected from Facebook, so I didn't have much time to be sad about it).

But managers recruiting random people, just seems weird to me. If they wanted me for my specific skill set, that would be great! But if they were just looking for general hires, they must have lost a bet or something.


I probably burned a bridge with Activision-Blizzard a few years ago. They contacted me about a potential job, and I said "When I was earning my degree, I dreamed of working for Blizzard. But then earlier this year, you announced record profits, and then only a couple days later announced the lay-off of over 800 workers. No thank you."

And considering their current controversies, my opinion on working for them has not changed.

If they ever contacted me again, I'd probably just laugh.


You sure showed that HR drone.

But...you're aware that record profits aren't a blank check to employ whoever you want in whatever positions they want, right?

Of course. But to make a layoff announcement right after a record profits announcement is pretty poor taste.

Clearly they could afford to keep the people that were working while said profits were extracted

Don't worry, they don't last that long.

Both and I someone else I’ve spoken to have been reached out to by Amazon recruiters for different, both technical roles.

Neither of us get any attention from “good” companies whatsoever, but we both at least got a handful of messages from Amazon recruiters. They seem desperate. I didn’t bother pursuing as a little research showed they wouldn’t offer enough for me to relocate anyway. I’m not a fan of the FAANG hiring/placement and would probably not engage Amazon on that unless they could offer me a particularly enticing role, at least not now. Am I missing out on money? yeah probably.

The most interesting thing though, was how robotic the recruiter felt. The messages I got felt more like some mass automated messages than someone reaching out to speak to me about open roles.


> (Probably burned a bridge with that recruiter, but oh well)

They seem to have a lot of recruiters and I'm surprised if this even got you off their "contact every month" list.


Good, if you treat all your employees like garbage don't be surprised when not that many people with actual skill are willing to join

Another nail in the coffin for downtown Seattle's recovery?

I was downtown this weekend and it was much busier than I expected. I rode the light rail from the new Northgate station, and the train was (relatively) full after the university stations. I hope the two are related.

It's not as doom and gloom as you might think. Without such a huge wealth gap between the people who work for the downtown industry and tertiary business you might get lucky and have a cultural resurgence as artists, musicians, restauranteurs, local retail, etc etc can afford to live and set up shop downtown again.

People seem to forget that outside of the supermega metro areas the typical downtown/financial districts are basically dead.


> People seem to forget that outside of the supermega metro areas the typical downtown/financial districts are basically dead.

Before working in tech I lived in mostly small and medium sized cities. The downtowns were always packed, and usually the artists were local, but as much as I hear "artists and musicians" brought up with respect to a cities value, they don't lure people in. It's just a bonus. What does is good schools, affordable home prices, stable jobs, and a decent economy.


I'm surprised that's your experience to be fair. Mid sized cities like Columbus or St. Louis's downtown effectively shuts down at 5pm in my experience. All those tall buildings are offices, most of the restaurants around them serve business people and don't offer dinner service and close after the workday. Night life is in other neighborhoods adjacent, but not in downtown.

St Louis and Columbus are much bigger than the towns I'm thinking of. The two towns are basically suburbs with a downtown area. I was able to bike to both of them from my house. In my favorite of the two there were two restaurants that offered dinner service and were owned by locals. Everything else was chain restaurants and they all offered dinner and late night/bar services.

Yeah if there isn't a ton of office space downtowns seem a lot more lively, since businesses stay open outside of 9-5 and people might actually live closer by. Even lower manhattan is considered a dead area after hours due to all the offices and not a lot of other businesses and housing to draw demand outside of 9-5 m-f.

A lot of core downtowns (whether financial district or something more diverse) were pretty dead pre-pandemic after hours even if nearby areas of the city were pretty lively.

> Before working in tech I lived in mostly small and medium sized cities.

How long ago? If you compare downtown Seattle to downtown Seattle 10 years ago, it was much better back then. Things changed quickly this decade, I wouldn't be surprised if the places you left packed are struggling today.

Seattle in general isn't struggling at all, it grew 25% this decade and the housing market...but downtown has a huge hill to climb in going to back to a fun place to visit on the weekend.


When was downtown the fun evening getaway? I've been here 15 years, and unless you're looking for a Frat Bro party in Belltown, Fremont/Cap Hill/Ballard were always where the real social life was. They're all doing just fine now - you wouldn't know there was a pandemic on.

I’ve been visiting Seattle since a toddler living in the tri-cities circa late 1970s. It indeed was a place to be, at least for a kid then a teenager and even when living in the U district and working at crackdonalds on third and pine.

But when I tell my son Seattle center used to have arcades and a roller coaster, he doesn’t believe me. Or when I talk about sending my great aunt and uncle off back to Alaska on the ferry at the water front (the Alaska marine highway used to start at Seattle rather than Bellingham).


The two I'm thinking of are in Texas and they're doing well.

If I'm reading it right, the problem you're calling out is that it is unaffordable to live in a downtown metro after it reaches a certain density. People still think they can hack together solutions by subsidizing housing, rent control, applying grants, etc but I'm more of the mind that there's probably a max size to a city, where once you hit a threshold it either takes a nosedive into poverty or becomes so unsustainably expensive that it chases out what desirable things may have existed there in the first place.


There's no lack of denser, cheaper cities than Seattle. If there's a max soze, Seattle isn't there yet. Poor design is the likely issue, likely cars being the problem. Cars take up a huge amount of space, both for wide roads for getting places, and parking both at home, at work, and at shopping centres.

> the problem you're calling out is that it is unaffordable to live in a downtown metro after it reaches a certain density.

I don't know where you got that. Affordability downtown isn't really what is keeping people away (and it is not like rental buildings have lots of vacancies, nor are close to downtown condos, towhomes, and SFHs difficult to sell), but retail and restaurant choices have been decimated over the last decade, it isn't thriving from the point of view of someone going there to do things.


Ah, retail and restaurants are low-margin businesses, so I usually associate their decline with a rise in cost (labor + real estate). Usually restaurants don't just go away, they're replaced by fewer-in-number but more-expensive options that people don't want or can't eat at regularly. Cost also correlates with density, but I think that's more abstractly. Eg: more businesses show up, more workers are needed, more houses are needed, supply and demand flip flops as inventory in a relatively-fixed area shrinks or becomes a rental market instead of buyers market.

Retail has declined due to online commerce. Seattle ironically lost its downtown Bon Marche/Macy's to become more office space for Amazon.

The homeless factor can't be understated in Seattle, especially with all the encampments downtown. I worked at 3rd and Pine McDonalds in the mid-90s, and for as bad as it was back then, it is ten times worse today.


I was just in Seattle for the first time in about 5 years. The situation was... not good. And this from someone who has spent a lot of time in SF and always had a not totally positive take on Seattle with respect to the grunge factor compared to other PNW cities.

Compared to other PNW cities, Seattle is about average. Portland isn't much better, Vancouver is...better because it is Canada but otherwise has very similar problems. No one can decide whether the term "skid row" was coined in Vancouver, Seattle, or Portland, they all had a similar place that was muddy because logs skidding to the mills which became a home for the down trodden.

So at least as far as its peers in the PNW, Seattle isn't very much of an outlier. Well, unless we can compare to other Seattle-area cities like Bellevue, which can simply push most of the homeless problem onto Seattle.



I imagine there are nicer areas of Seattle than Downtown just as there are nicer areas of SF than Moscone/Union Square/Market Street but ick. Not really a city person except to visit anyway but the northern West Coast (and maybe the whole West Coast) has just gotten worse if that's possible.

There are several city parks outside of downtown overrun with homeless encampments. Many roadside parking strips and interstate greenspaces too. It's widespread.

The city is trying to move people into housing but there's a lot of mental health and addiction problems that make many people resist the outreach support.


All of the west coast cities have similar problems (soaring housing costs, high growth, great tech jobs, lots of homeless people). Even when we count non-coastal cities in the west (Spokane, Reno, Sacramento, Las Vegas), it doesn't look better.

Is it due to the weather? ( you don’t freeze in winter)

Combination of weather and a political climate that makes harsh approaches to a difficult problem unpalatable. It's probably mostly not housing prices although that doesn't help.

> as much as I hear "artists and musicians" brought up with respect to a cities value, they don't lure people in. It's just a bonus. What does is good schools, affordable home prices, stable jobs, and a decent economy.

Sounds very dependent on what stage of life you're in. I can see how people who are already looking to start a family would want the things you mentioned, but for those of us who haven't married yet, good options to socialise and meet people are a prerequisite before we even start to think about schools and buying homes.


I think you're oversimplified and over-regimenting. Cities are like organisms. A healthy city needs a large number of different kinds of organs and systems all working in concert. Some may not be entirely essential—you can live without an appendix and give up a kidney—but almost all of them need to be in place to have something someone would call a thriving city.

Can you be more specific about what you're arguing? I can't really tell.

I'm saying artists and musicians aren't a bonus. A city without them might be functional, but no one would love it and few would call it thriving. No part of a city is really inessential.

My hometown wasn't really known for artists or artistry and I still loved it. I think the desire to be around art is one that only part (maybe even a small part) of the country shares. Having it is nice, but not having it isn't really missing out on much, and it's fairly low on the hierarchy of needs.

"you might get lucky and have a cultural resurgence as artists, musicians, restauranteurs, local retail, etc etc can afford to live and set up shop downtown again." Or you might get what you have now: boarded up businesses, open air drug markets, rampant unprosecuted crime, needles and human waste everywhere.

Curious, when was the last time you were in downtown Seattle?

The thing with the needles is crazy scary - I keep seeing them a lot recently when in Seattle, not only downtown.

Just the other day I visited Capitol Hill around 15th Avenue and an entire park is full of tents, and a person defecated in an alley by Kaiser Permanente in broad daylight. Reminded me of Tenderloin district...

Feels like the city is going downhill - especially if you have family I'd stay away


2 weeks ago.

> you might get lucky and have a cultural resurgence as artists, musicians, restauranteurs, local retail, etc etc can afford to live and set up shop downtown again.

The question really comes down to how much downtown real estate is paid off or under mortgage, which basically depends on how recently it was sold to a new owner.

Anything under a mortgage will be subject to a CMBS that was valued based on the worth of renting out the units in the building. These will have terms setup such that if the owner lowers the rent, they will be required to pay an additional down payment to cover the lost value in the mortgage's collateral (the building) from the now lower rents.

CMBS's will be invested in by multiple investors at different risk levels, creating different incentives on modifying or maintaining the collateral requirements, and anywhere from 50% to 75% of the investors will have to agree to any changes to the loan terms.

In short, some landlords downtown are bound by terms forbidding them from lowering rents without having to pay a huge capital expense for the privilege to do so.


What is stopping local restaurants and retailers from serving downtown workers? Back when I worked in a CBD, I almost always ate lunch at local/regional businesses.

> What is stopping local restaurants and retailers from serving downtown workers

The lack of downtown workers going into offices. Effectively there is no one working near those restaurants.


After reading the article it’s not clear why this is a change to such a publicly stated policy. The only thing that has changed is that the directors have discretion to choose how many days in the office will be required for teams. The headline is extremely misleading.

Because they'd publicly sworn to SLU businesses that they were going to be dragging employees back.

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