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Wall Street grudgingly allows remote work as bankers dig in (nytimes.com)
210 points by arcanus 3 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 233 comments






Like all industries that can move to remote, I suspect we will soon see a split. Some companies will embrace it, some won't. And that's not to detract from either side of that choice. It's just a choice that has to be made.

What's going to be more interesting is what this does to the market rate for labor compensation between these two pools. Simply put: if you want me to be in the city from 9-6 every day, while your competitor says I can live anywhere and remote in, you'd better be paying me extra to cover my increased rent (in the city) or increased time (commuting). Or put another way, your competitors can compensate me less and I'll consider it a better deal.

If the advantage of face to face is actually significant, then we'll see the remote firms slowly die off. If it's not, then they're going to be here permanently. Or they might just take over.


> Or put another way, your competitors can compensate me less and I'll consider it a better deal.

It seems a lot of people disagree with you:

> In an accompanying survey of more than 1,200 technology professionals, Hired found that 75% of employees would begin looking for a new job if their salary were to decrease, while 45% of candidates disagreed with using the cost of living of the employee's location as a baseline.

https://www.zdnet.com/article/tech-jobs-salaries-are-flatten...

I'm one of them. If my work is bringing in $X in revenue whether I'm sitting in a chair in an office building you're leasing or at home, I don't see why my share of that should be any less.

Put another way, if I'm worth $Y to you sitting in an office, and I can accomplish the same work at home, from anywhere, just as effectively, why should I get paid any less?


But what if you turn that around? If you are currently remote but considering an offer from a place that's in-office, wouldn't you want a higher wage to compensate you for the extra hassle of commuting? That's extra free time you're never getting back.

There are people who prefer to work in an office, and some who have that preference even if it puts them on a train for an hour or two a day. As long as we don't get legislation to force employers one way or another, I'd expect employees to self-select into those who like being around others all day, and those who prefer to work in a private office. It's a serendipitous solution we've been presented to all those open plan offices that a certain set hate: you can have your own private office with a view, but you'll pay for it yourself.

But shouldn't the employees that require extra subsidies (office space, commuting reimbursement, office utilities/supplies) receive the same overall compensation as those working from home with lower expense to the company? It seems to me that if being in the office is an optional preference for some, they should carry the cost of it.

Yes, that was my poorly-explained point: given that some people prefer to add the cost and time of commuting (possibly in order to rub elbows or attend happy hour), and others prefer to add the cost of a home office (possibly in order to retain focus or make lunch for the family), the costs might turn out similarly, and therefore I hope that remote working doesn't result in systematically lower salaries for those who prefer it.

I'll make whichever argument gets me the most money in a salary negotiation.

Which is short sighted if you value your time at all. Spending an hour more a day commuting is directly decreasing the value of your life.

You miss my point, then. If I have to spend that extra hour, I will argue that it needs to be compensated. If I get to WFH, I may argue that I'm paying for dedicated office space at home and that the value of my work is the same here as in the office.

I cycle into my office every day, 1h round-trip. It certainly increases my quality of life and I'm glad I had the choice (not requirement) to return

If you didn't have to commute, you'd have an extra hour per day to cycle wherever you wanted instead of having to specifically bike that path. Hell you could still bike that path if that's what you like. In the absolute best case scenario, commuting is breakeven, but realistically you are objectively worse off for it.

Except that’s not how it often works. sometimes one needs a little motivation to keep up a routine.

That is not the purpose of a commute, nor is a commute required to accomplish that goal. Think of all the other routines you maintain just fine without having to worry about getting fired from your job if you don't want to one day. If this was really the thing you wanted to do most, you'd find the motivation on your own just as you do with all the other things. If you need to be forced to do something, even if you derive some benefit, it's still not what you want. If I chase you with a machete, you may derive some benefit from being highly motivated to run, but that doesn't mean you should be thanking me.

Life is full of objectively bad things that nevertheless have a silver lining. It's good to look on the bright side when faced with problems you can not change, but it's important not to be fooled into thinking that these things aren't problems, especially when they are within your power to fix. That's how people wind up justifying all sorts of terrible situations like abusive relationships and terrible jobs.


Sure but I don't need a commute to enforce a routine for me. And yours is a very specific example, you bike to work, which means you 1. Like biking, and 2. Your workplace is close enough to your house to allow you to bike. I for example like to weight lift and I live quite far from work. I keep a routine for myself which a commute would not be conducive to.

When this came up before, I was reminded of this video:

https://youtu.be/vMed1qceJ_Q

I love using a bike to get around and do all of my daily activities. But I hate just riding around in circles for no purpose other than exercise or getting out of the house.


it increases the value of my life and many others. Stay home pretty please, I am sure you will be very successful by switching jobs every few months!

Should I get a higher wage for living in a more expensive area in the city?

My wage is related to the work I do. How I choose to spend my money is a personal decision.


Your wage is related to how much other people are willing to get paid to do the same job.

Never underestimate the gap between what people say they will do and what they'll actually do.

If you poll employees about literally any topic where one answer benefits them and the other answer doesn't, people are going to respond with a preference for the answer that benefits them.

But in the real world, they still have to go out and find that better job that pays more and doesn't factor their location into cost of living. They're out there, but there far more rare than these articles suggest.


> If my work is bringing in $X in revenue whether I'm sitting in a chair in an office building you're leasing or at home, I don't see why my share of that should be any less.

This is a common but fundamental misunderstanding of what determines your salary. Your salary is determined by the market, with the tacit assumption that the total revenue generated by your employment will exceed the total cost of your salary & other costs over the course of your career.


And yet that cost goes down when employers don’t pay for your office space…

And my cost goes up when I pay for my own office space.

But you don't have a commute and can do stuff at home during work.

So? That doesn't net me money during salary negotiation.

If it means that some actually-a-dog2 realizes that they prefer it enough to work for 5% less, then you need to compete with that.

Let's say you get paid $100/hr for 8 hours per day of work, or $800/day. Now let's say you have to commute an hour round trip to and from work. Since you need to commute to get paid, it takes you 9 hours to earn that $800. Thus your real hourly wage is $88.89/hr. The person who doesn't need to commute works no harder, but it only takes them 8 hours to earn the same wage. They effectively have an 11% higher wage than the commuter, all else being equal. They could work for $95/hr, making them the more attractive option for the employer, while still being better off than the commuter.

> This is a common but fundamental misunderstanding of what determines your salary. Your salary is determined by the market...

Location based adjustments are replacing this misunderstanding with a different misunderstanding which is roughly "The market rate for the position is determined by where *the employee* lives, not by the many others elsewhere that would be qualified by the job"


Your compensation could change because of market forces, modern salaries are a product of supply and demand. Previously both supply and demand for high paying jobs was restricted to relatively small geographic areas. Now that remote working is in the supply can move out of high cost areas. However, the converse is also true, the demand can reach people who were not previously eligible. Some of those people would be happy with a significantly lower compensation package.

So to summarize, your compensation could decrease because there are now a lot more people competing for your job. Or it could increase because there are a lot more companies competing for your services.


I'm on the other side of the coin. I view the associated costs of working in an office as built into my salary. For example, if I go to an office, I suddenly now have to buy gas/repairs for my car, I have to buy office clothes, and I have suddenly lost days per year to commutes. If I work from home, I see myself as freed from those costs.

Put another way, I see my salary as the sum of the cost of the work that I do PLUS the costs associated with me getting the job done. Working from home is simply more economical (and my work/life balance is significantly improved).


In a free market where remote jobs are more desirable than in-office jobs, then eventually, the in-office jobs have to start paying a premium in salary to attract those who would rather want a remote job instead. It isn't "how much is your labor worth?" but rather "how much more do we have to pay someone to come into the office everyday?"

Of course, given your preferences, it doesn't sound like they would have to pay you more to come in the office vs. working at home as long as they pay you what you think you are worth. That is, whether the job is remote or not doesn't affect your pay requirements. If enough people feel the same, then there won't be a pay discrepancy between remote and in-office jobs.


> Put another way, if I'm worth $Y to you sitting in an office, and I can accomplish the same work at home, from anywhere, just as effectively, why should I get paid any less?

The problem is there are likely very competent engineers living in low cost of living areas who would gladly bid lower than your high "city salary" to maintain their preferred way of life.

Given two comparable candidates, the company will go with the one with the lower salary demands.


> The problem is there are likely very competent engineers living in low cost of living areas who would gladly bid lower than your high "city salary" to maintain their preferred way of life.

And there always have been. There’s always been a pool of labor either in the Midwest or Ukraine that companies could call on. Maybe trying to hire top talent while playing arbitrage on salaries either isn’t that easy, or isn’t worth the (relatively) small amount saved?


Aha. Interesting. So you're saying an Indian engineer should earn the same salary as a Californian engineer if they're both bringing in the same revenue?

Interesting.

But it won't happen.

Or... you're not suggesting Indian engineers are worse, are you? Because that would be kinda racist.

On the other hand, someone living anywhere in India on the same salary (per contract) as someone living anywhere in the US is earning a higher net paycheque because CoL in India is lower.

Oh my! What should we do to resolve this?


Indian engineers in India did tend to be worse on average than American engineers of any ethnicity when I did a lot of hiring about 10 years ago. As far as I could figure out, the main reason for this was the large number of Indian technical schools with very outdated curriculae and low standards for matriculation, along with a rote learning style. Engineers from these schools needed to have every little detail meticulously specified to get anything done correctly. Pair that with frequently mediocre english, and you have a recipe for disaster.

That's kinda racist. You can't possibly be saying that there's no way there exists an Indian engineer that can compete hand-in-hand with a Silicon Valley engineer on an intellectual level (connections is a different thing).

So this being the case. Why does the Indian still earn less than the Silicon Valley peep?


Please tell me how saying Indian engineers trained in India are worse on average than Indian engineers trained in the United States is racist. Maybe you should also share your special definition of racism, I'm sure it'll be an entertaining read.

You haven't calculated the cost of living yet. If I need to be in an office, I have to live within x minutes of that office and any travel has to be on the weekends or paid time off.

This leads to the phenomenon of cities, where a million shmucks try to do the same thing at the same times and drive up their own real estate prices in the process.

Contrast this with moving to a holiday home or holiday destination, probably with a vastly lower cost of living, or going away for a "weekend" but during odd days and missing all the traffic. Sounds amazing to me.


> Put another way, if I'm worth $Y to you sitting in an office, and I can accomplish the same work at home, from anywhere, just as effectively, why should I get paid any less?

There is something called Win-Win situation. Now you may call it management mumbo-jumbo. But what I see happening is if I save, say 15 hours of weekly commute and getting ready for work etc, I would be willing to take a cut that would seem reasonable based on my money/leisure need. If I keep looking at company's benefit and not mine (or maybe I have none) then of course pay cut seems insulting.


Office perks like almost free meals and stuff are fair game but wage differences are not going to fly assuming they want the same quality of labor remote.

There might be faster career progression for in office people though, and that will be a harder and longer thing to quantify.


I think the angle that's not fully communicated here is that the default expectation is 40 hours of work a week at 8 hours per day. At a company that expects you to be in the office for those 8 hours, many people actually spend more than 8 hours in service of the need to be in the office for 8 hours. That is, if it takes you 30 minutes of travel each way to satisfy a mandate to be in an office for 8 hours, you're really spending 9 hours "on company time", but you're only being compensated for 8. People who don't have, because of whatever reason, travel time can roll out of bed and immediately be ready to work (I have the past 18 months). Why should the employee take a hit out of their non-work time to do travel that the company insists on? If you want me to travel, pay me for it and recognize that you're paying for my time to not be productive because its being eaten up with travel (or recognize that some of the 8 hours of company-time is going to be eaten up with travel so you're only getting 7 hours of work time out of it). Someone could choose to move closer to the office, there by reducing the amount of time used for travel, and the unproductive-travel-time compensation should be reduced.

Historically, both employers and employees have incongruent and hazy understanding and a polite agreement as to how this kind of time gets accounted for (how much it is and who is accountable/responsible for it), especially in salaried positions/knowledge workers. That's probably going to change. If anything, the work-from-wherever trend will help people get a better understanding of and draw the line between work-time and personal-time, productive time and non-productive time, total compensation, and what, exactly, they are being compensated for, and how this time is grokked and tracked.


In that model, why wouldn’t the company insist that you move closer to work to minimize the commuting payment? You picked where you live and what company you applied to work at; they didn’t pick where you live.

If that means that you want to only apply for remote positions, that’s certainly your choice; I don’t blame you in the least for it, but expecting a company to pay you as a result of where you chose to live seems unlikely to happen, to put it mildly.


Expecting a company to pay you as a result of where you choose to live used to happen: if you moved to San Francisco from the midwest in order to work at a company in San Francisco, you would expect a cost-of-living-in-SF to be factored into what was being offered and what you'll accept as compensation; and if you didn't then you were underwater.

I don't have a clear cut way to interpret this interaction either in the past or going forward (everyone's motivations are different). But now physical location factors into the calculation on both sides differently than it did in the past. In the past "travel time to sit at a desk in a specific location" was always completely assumed to be a burden incurred solely by the employee (it had been the government who made allowances for pre-tax commuter costs in some cases). That is no longer the case.

When it comes down to it, getting paid for 8 hours of company time but 2 of them being travel time and 6 being productive is getting paid 33% more. The negotiation may be less directly about money: rather than "I want more money for that 40 hours" it could be "I'll work 32 hours for that money"


Or for that matter, why wouldn't folks decide to live farther away from work to maximize their compensation? I think a lot of people wouldn't mind spending a few hours each day on the train for a 40% raise.

There are a lot of discrimination landmines when you ask employees to live in particular locations. In general, the safest thing to do is to require them to show up in person, and they will decide how far they are willing to live. In fact, if I recall correctly, you can't even ask people if they own a car. Being prescriptive about location can become a lawsuit for class discrimination.

Many people have purchased a house that they intend to remain in, the friction to move houses is often larger than friction to change jobs. Also, there may be a spouse who just doesn't want to move house.

I agree with you on those points. I purchased a house I intend to remain in and my spouse doesn’t want to move either.

None of that is remotely* a concern of my company, though…

* pun was accidental, but pleasing enough to leave it in there.


> why wouldn’t the company insist that you move closer to work to minimize the commuting payment

The closest homes to work are $1.15MM and $1.5MM. I’m not sure if the CEO is paid enough in cash to qualify for one of these homes on salary alone.


>The closest homes to work are $1.15MM and $1.5MM. I’m not sure if the CEO is paid enough in cash to qualify for one of these homes on salary alone.

Obviously yes? You realize that most people mortgage their homes? A 1.5M, 30 year mortgage at today's rates (3.1%) translates to $76,863/year which seems pretty doable for a CEO (unless you're the garage startup type).


It appears that most people are considering the following two scenarios:

1. most employers will pay the same regardless of where I live, and my job security will be the same as before.

2. most employers will pay a bit less if I work remotely, but that's worth it to me since I can pay less for rent and have a higher quality of life. And yes, my job security will be the same as before.

It shocks me that people are not considering the following scenario:

3. most employers will realize that a person living 100 miles away represents the same value to my company as one that lives 5,000 miles away. The latter, of course, is far cheaper, more motivated, and far less likely to cause any problems since they also have far fewer protections. And no, they are not any less talented.

So far, the pandemic has been all about the workforce side of the story. We're about to find out what the employer side of the story looks like. I personally don't mind a future where everyone in this world get equal access to job opportunities, but I don't think that most people advocating for remote work are quite as aware of the long-term ramifications on the US workforce.


The point 3 is similar to the relocation scare of a few years ago to India or similar.

It hasn't happened.

Why? Probably because knowledge work is not at all zero sum. It grows with knowledge workers. So India's knowledge workers got jobs on top of existing ones.

Assuming the same happens now for rural America then it might be a net positive and might even revive some of the dying regions.


> The point 3 is similar to the relocation scare of a few years ago to India or similar.

> It hasn't happened.

We think it hasn't happened. And yet, the likelihood of talking to a CX rep from a Fortune 500 company who is based in the US is very low. Did that somehow help the US-based CX reps?

Perhaps you're thinking that it will be different with knowledge workers. Consider the well-publicized fact that a lot of Boeing software is written in India. How many other corporations are following suit behind the scenes?


"you'd better be paying me extra to cover my increased rent"

I have some sorry news for Americans thinking this way on this one: you just outsourced yourselves.

There are people 2x as smart and who will work 2x as hard for 1/2 the salary among remaining 7 Billion people on this planet and if the bank can hire them instead of you, eventually they will.

In some aspects, relationships do matter, so those have face-to-face types of interactions will be obviously harder to displace.

The US saw a giant outsourcing of manufacturing, and now that US Megacorps are globalized and not locally owned, they don't have any reason to care about local talent, the same will start to happen in services.

I do however think that communicating matters a lot, and people will just find themselves back at the office.

I don't think people realize how quickly this can happen.

Now that we can work 'remote' - everyone is thinking about all the projects they can do for x% the cost, they're looking to trim the budget, and there's a pile of solid applications from Canada, Taiwan, Poland, Brazil, Spain on their desks.


> I have some sorry news for Americans thinking this way on this one: you just outsourced yourselves.

> There are people 2x as smart and who will work 2x as hard for 1/2 the salary among remaining 7 Billion people on this planet and if the bank can hire them instead of you, eventually they will.

> In some aspects, relationships do matter, so those have face-to-face types of interactions will be obviously harder to displace.

I have some sorry news for non-Americans who think most of the high-paying American jobs (especially at banks) have anything to do with being smart or working hard or getting paid half as much.

Those personal, face-to-face relationships referred to matter a lot. As humans, they will always matter.

The main way that remote will impact workers is by allowing people (mostly Americans or folks who could live/work here via a visa) who would already be naturally good fits for the job to live and work in a different place, but probably close enough to travel to meetings and clients as necessary (with a lot of necessary).

Back office work may be sent abroad or (more likely) contracted out, but the core of the businesses that involve trust and/or personal relationships will be collocated for many many decades to come.


Having worked for years with overseas contractors, I’m really not too concerned about my job security

So being a 'contractor' and 'not connected' is a problem.

But once they have the PM, designers, architect and devs. 'on staff' and all 'over there' - then you are the 'not connected' contractor.

Moreover 'they' are getting better across the board.

Japan made crap until they made the best cars in the world.

China made crap but now they have the top 5G gear and all of the patents, and would wipe out a big chunk of Western companies were it not for 'security' and other issues.

Americans are fairly instantly replaceable with Canadians, Aussies, Brits, and almost as easily replaceable with French, Italian and Germans etc.

'Remote Work' is like an 'unlimited, free H1B' program.

Many jobs are safe, but many are not.


> Remote Work' is like an 'unlimited, free H1B' program.

As someone who manages people in many different countries from the US I can definitively say this is not true. You have to comply with local labor laws wherever you hire your employees. For example, many countries like Poland, England, and France require very longer notice periods and changes in job responsibilities can be a sticky legal issue. HR has to be equipped to handle all of these nuances.


Japan made crap and then they made the best cars in the world. And then they also starting making some real good salaries. This was a great development all round.

If every third-world country follows the South Korea / Japan playbook, the world economy would absolutely explode with growth, and US workers would certainly benefit from this.


The problem with overseas contractors is - you get what you pay for. There are still excellent contractors out there who charge more, but still less than what employees get paid here. The second problem is discoverability. It is difficult to find those excellent contractors from all the not-so-good ones out there.

In typical SFBA companies I meet mostly token Americans. So there's a huge foreign workforce with many years of local experience, a non-trivial proportion with already with citizenship. With the current trends in American politics I'd expect a large number of them to be open to going back home for only $100K or so. I would. Living 10-11 time zones from CA is a big deal though.

In every post about remote work, this argument always gets trotted out. The easiest retort is “if it were that advantageous for companies, it would have happened already.”

Outsourcing has been around for decades now and the overwhelming evidence is that it only gets you so far. “You get what you pay for.”

Sure there’s probably some offshore/nearshore firms that hire great developers but the lions share of them are low-skilled, associate-level developers that are usually paraded around as senior/architects. I say this as someone whose worked in a large consulting firm and had to work with numerous offshore/nearshore teams.


> There are people 2x as smart and who will work 2x as hard for 1/2 the salary among remaining 7 Billion people on this planet and if the bank can hire them instead of you, eventually they will.

Citation needed. My experience working with both proves the exact opposite. I think the Human Development Index of a person is more important in a knowledge economy than whether they're willing to work for 23 hours a day for 24 cents. And the first world countries absolutely dominate the world in this regard.

When I moved from the third to the first world, I was shocked by the high standard of personal "development" - for lack of a better term - of the average person, or even people lower down on the social ladder.


> There are people 2x as smart and who will work 2x as hard for 1/2 the salary among remaining 7 Billion people on this planet and if the bank can hire them instead of you, eventually they will.

I've worked with remote developers from Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia in US companies, and talent in those areas can command SV-level compensation.

Truth is, if you can compete with domestic US talent, you can command US-level compensation, either through immigration or the "outsourcing" you're trying to spook people with.

If the work being done doesn't require talent that commands US-level compensation, then that work was already outsourced 20 to 30+ years ago.


Well, I worked for “megabank” back in the 00s and they tried to outsource to India. It failed miserably, and cost more than it saved. Time zones didn’t work. Language problems. Lack of communication.

There’s a reason London and New York work well together. Time zones and language. And a relatively short plane hop.


> Well, I worked for “megabank” back in the 00s and they tried to outsource to India. It failed miserably,

Your one anecdote is pretty meaningless, you just need to look at the revenue of Indian outsourcing companies, it keeps going up.


My "anecdote" isn't "pretty meaningless". The bank I worked for didn't spend hundreds of millions of pounds on a whim. They spent the money with the aim of saving more money by outsourcing technology work to India.

It failed, and it failed miserably, and my former employer learnt a very expensive lesson. My colleagues in other investment banks reported similar stories in the 00s. That's far more than one data point.

Investment banks are not like other companies. They particularly enjoy writing their own code and systems, so when they tried to outsource and discovered that they weren't correct, or on time, they brought it all back in house.

> you just need to look at the revenue of Indian outsourcing companies, it keeps going up.

That's "pretty meaningless" without any data backing it - what's driving that revenue? Does Wipro, for example, publish its revenue figures for its IT outsourcing arm, and break that down further with key indicators? I can say with some confidence, that Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Citigroup, won't be the "drivers" of that revenue, and that's what the original article in this thread was talking about.


You are just adding more anecdotes which I already told you is meaningless.

> That's "pretty meaningless" without any data backing it - what's driving that revenue?

All the big IT Outsourcing companies are listed on the Indian stock exchanges, you can go to their sites and read the annual reports to see what is driving that revenue. Majority of their revenue comes from the US. Also check the share price of those companies for the last 20 years, where your bank failed, other succeeded in outsourcing their operations.


How is revenue tied at all to efficacy? Your analysis is too shallow to have any meaning.

Its not my analysis, those are the facts, their revenue keeps going up, their profits keep going up, their share price keeps going up, their clients keep going up. Now you do the math.

That has nothing to do with quality of work. Ok their financials are going up. Maybe they’re charging more, maybe they’ve reorg’d, maybe they laid off a ton of people, maybe they made good investments and sold. I’m not taking “they’re making more money” to mean anything other than the sole fact that a number on the balance sheet went up.

You dont have to speculate with maybe's. You need to look at the facts

All the big IT outsourcing companies are publicly listed, you can go to their website and check their annual reports to see how their revenue is going up for. You can see the number of employees keeps going up, the number of clients keeps going up. All these figures are available for 20 years now.


The context you trimmed off your quoted line completely changes the meaning of what you quoted.

It was “Simply put: if you want me to be in the city from 9-6 every day, while your competitor says I can live anywhere and remote in,”

Companies requiring employees to be in the city 9-6 aren’t off-shoring and probably aren’t out-sourcing that work.


> There are people 2x as smart and who will work 2x as hard for 1/2 the salary among remaining 7 Billion people on this planet and if the bank can hire them instead of you, eventually they will.

I think the bank can and does hire them already. In big tech companies, a lot of employees come from developing countries and they're paid the same market rate as anyone else (and companies pay for their relocation).


Moving staff from China or Poland to the US is a non-trivial exercise with all sorts of limitations, and FYI, that definitely lowers the local market rate.

The 'True Shift To Remote' is a big game changer because institutionally, people at the office had a kind of existential value proposition: "We are Here!" - but that prop is distinctly diminished if they don't think they have to be.

BigCorps are making the shift.

It will be interesting to see it play out.


You responded to something the author did not write using a quote taken entirely out of context. While the text of your message is fair and probably true (although outsourcing comes with chunky quality issues that frankly have not been solved yet), it is not at all topical.

I disagree that it was out of context either of the comment, or in the issue at large.

It doesn't matter that in this comment, the particular context was ostensibly 'move to the city to work in the office then get paid more'.

It's irrelevant - excessive demands in whatever form will be acquiesced by hiring better talent, elsewhere.

American workers making any kinds of special demands are going to get outsourced.

The tone of the article (and others is): "American Workers Leverage Over Big Corps" just like in this article: "Wall Street Grudgingly etc.". We saw the same with Apple yesterday.

In reality, the articles should be: "American Corps. looking overseas to diversity talent". Because that's what's about to happen. Anyone who thinks that these companies have any loyalty to their local nations, founding staff or culture, (and this applies broadly to the modern world) is mistaken.


It is possible to find companies that indeed do have loyalty. Personally, I have long ago resolved not to work for companies that outsource (offshore, same thing) engineering. It seems there may be a resurgence here in America of people willing to put their money where their mouth is: Buy local, hire local, keep the money here.

> I disagree that it was out of context [...] of the comment

It is not about your opinion, you are quite simply not responding to the posted comment. Because charitable reading of your comment required it, I have read the original comment that you claim to speak of again.

That comment says:

- Remote work can be done for a lower salary, because you can live anywhere

- If you demand that I come to the office, you should pay for the difference

You have responded to these points by saying that if you want more money, cheaper workers can be found "elsewhere" (i.e. abroad, so remote). This is not topical, because you address a claim that was never made.


> In reality, the articles should be: "American Corps. looking overseas to diversity talent". Because that's what's about to happen.

I've been hearing that since 2006. Yet American programmers still exist and still command a relatively high wage.


> Canada, Taiwan, Poland, Brazil, Spain

One of these is not like the others


It will be interesting to see whether companies can make a hybrid model work reliably. I tend to think that combining remote with on-site leads to worse results, because it’s easy to leave the remote people out of the loop.

The one true hybrid work model for tech (in my opinion anyway) is to just have everyone meet in-person in some cadence for sprint planning/PI planning/whatever your cycle is. Everybody syncs up every so often, and then you leave everyone the fuck alone while they go work. Zoom can handle one-off meetings for pairing or other quick questions, but planning out work/carving out architecture solutions is something better done face to face.

The odds are overwhelming that you do not and will never work on the kind of problems where such a minute advantage (if it even exists, which I doubt) makes any kind of difference to the bottom line. Most business related coding is at the end of the day exceedingly trivial. Requiring any sort of on-site time is a thought that belongs in the past.

I agree most business related coding is trivial, but all of the things that a software engineer does that surround the coding are not trivial. All of the best software engineers I know recognize this, and all of the less effective ones depend on them to fill in these gaps.

I’m sure this varies by company.


> Most business related coding is at the end of the day exceedingly trivial.

It is technically trivial. Building business software is fundamentally a communication/knowledge problem with technical aspects.


Definitely this, in fact I suspect that some larger organizations that get this right might become more competitive to smaller firms than before the pandemic, simple because meeting happy people will have their opportunities to steal focus curtailed and actual work time for people will be more clearly boxed out.

That's what the theory says, but my experience disagrees. I find that when the remote workers have to be kept in the loop or the work doesn't get done/get done properly, then managers make sure they are always up to date.

I've not found that to be true in my career. Where remote work is the exception, rather than the rule, the remote employees are frequently in the dark, and often simply fail to work out. Managers can only do so much when you're missing the critical water cooler/hallway/impromptu meetings.

I've worked in remote-only environments, and (effectively) local-only, both of which worked pretty well. Local-first/remote-rarely hasn't worked.

I've not worked in anything close to 50-50, though, so perhaps that has a better shot at succeeding.


> missing the critical water cooler/hallway/impromptu meetings

Maybe that's the crux of it. I've never worked in an environment where things like that amounted to much. If one of those meetings started to become important, it would always end up with "let's find a meeting room and include Charlie and Susan and get this hashed out."

I'd go so far as to say that if that's the way a team is primarily communicating, there is something structurally wrong.


> while your competitor says I can live anywhere and remote in

I think most companies still consider your location when determining your pay. Facebook does for instance, even going as far as tracking your IP to make sure you're being honest. If you choose to move to a lower cost city, they'll adjust your wage. Not sure about the other way around.

That'll probably eventually change, but it could be a useful indicator. The median employee that chooses to live in X may be more productive that the median employee that chooses to live in Y. But that's yet to be seen


> I think most companies still consider your location when determining your pay. Facebook does for instance, even going as far as tracking your IP to make sure you're being honest. If you choose to move to a lower cost city, they'll adjust your wage. Not sure about the other way around.

Truthfully, I don't see this working out in the long run. Companies like Facebook are making desperate grabs to keep control over how work is done and how it is compensated, but I believe market forces will kill efforts like ZIP code based compensation.

In reality, if you're top tier talent, you can command top tier compensation no matter what your ZIP code is. Facebook's strategy relies on every other company colluding with them to suppress compensation based on locality.


> Truthfully, I don't see this working out in the long run. Companies like Facebook are making desperate grabs to keep control over how work is done and how it is compensated, but I believe market forces will kill efforts like ZIP code based compensation.

I think you're right, but I don't think the end game is that everyone gets FAANG-level salaries everywhere.

When companies realize that they can hire people for a fraction of SF Bay Area salaries while still paying them 20-30% more than their local salaries, the overall compensation structure will slide downward toward that number.

Then the next step is when they realize they can hire foreign people in similar timezones at another lower step on the compensation ladder (while still paying more than their local jobs would offer). The compensation then slides further down toward this average.

> In reality, if you're top tier talent, you can command top tier compensation no matter what your ZIP code is.

Works in theory, not as much in practice. There's still value to having people collaborate in person (I say this as someone who has primarily worked remote long before COVID). Companies paying top dollar have a lot of leverage to get employees to move and work in-person still.


"A fraction?" How much less do you think they can pay? This sounds suspiciously like the myth of off-shoring, get the same work for a fraction of the cost, but from what I've heard the competent ones quickly command more pay and are certainly not "a fraction" of a SF salary.

> "A fraction?" How much less do you think they can pay?

Half of Bay Area FAANG salaries is still more than a huge swathe of localities in the country - let alone the continent, where you'd likely plumb a quarter or an eighth and still be above local averages.


I think this would be an interesting hypothesis to entertain if it wasn't already falsified by the observation that FAANG (& similar) pay much more than a 30% premium over the "median" tech job not just in the US, but in pretty much every market where they compete.

An instructive example would be India: TC for senior engineers at Google, Amazon, Uber, etc is already north of $150k there. Note that this is _already higher_ than the median tech salary _in the US_. Meanwhile there are still places in India paying new grads $10k.

You see something similar in Ukraine, where 40-50k was a reasonable rate for senior engineers, and then Lyft enters the market and starts giving seniors 6-figures.

I think the answer, as always, is that there are just not enough sufficiently talented & qualified engineers, even taking into account the global talent pool, to balance the rapidly increasing demand for those engineers. If it was just one or two companies paying this level of outsized compensation I'd be skeptical of the long-term trend, but it's not - this is pretty much all modern tech companies, because the unit economics of software businesses make good developers extremely valuable.

I was curious what the story looked like for South America, and, hey, turns out these tech companies already pay 6-figures there too. Heck, Coinbase is offering _mid-level_ engineers in Brazil 6-figures for remote roles.


> An instructive example would be India: TC for senior engineers at Google, Amazon, Uber, etc is already north of $150k there. Note that this is _already higher_ than the median tech salary _in the US_. Meanwhile there are still places in India paying new grads $10k.

Keep in mind these companies are really trying to get the 1% of developers in that market. Anything below the 95th percentile is unemployable. [0] [1] [2]

[0] https://restofworld.org/2020/india-engineering-degree/

[1] https://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/india-s-ta...

[2] https://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/95-engin...


I would be wary of the 95% figure. Another user on HN (who currently works at FAANG) pointed out that he took the test used in that survey and failed. The interface for the coding test was not reflective of how actual software development is done (ie no syntax highlighting, memorization, etc). Even accounting for the diploma mills and the private universities with underresourced CS departments, the 95% figure seems unusually high.

Even if we assume for the sake of argument that that's true, I think that only enhances my point: there aren't enough engineers that these companies are willing to employ such that they would tip the scale on the supply/demand balance sheet and push compensation down (in real terms; obviously every additional marginal engineer pushes down compensation in counterfactual terms).

It strikes me as unlikely that big tech companies could save a large fraction of their engineering salary payments by firing a ton of engineers and replacing them with newly-hired engineers in different countries, and the only reason that they haven’t done this is that they simply have not had this same realization that you have had. It’s possible, of course, but I have a sneaking suspicion there’s more to the story.

I think some companies might do that. I think they'll wind up losing money as a result.

If you're willing to pay more for identical work because your employee chose to live somewhere more expensive, you're encouraging your employees to live in the most expensive places.

On the other hand, if you offer a fair wage for the work done regardless of location, your employees get better value by living somewhere inexpensive, which lowers the required compensation for the same employee.

I think Facebook is simply creating more problems for themselves by bothering with this.


If the cost of living adjustment were “perfect” then it wouldn’t encourage employees to live in any particular place, right? Presumably the whole point is to give each employee the same “effective compensation” for their particular place of residence. Of course, it’s not so easy to agree on what the ideal method of cost of living adjustment would be.

A "perfect" CoL adjustment can't exist. If it's fairly applied across distinct individuals then it won't be perfect for some of them, and if it's applied consistently to a fixed individual that person has enough tweakable parameters to warp the situation to their advantage and actually prefer one location over another. E.g.:

(1) Bob is optimizing long-term savings, and Joe is optimizing purchasing power for nearby activities like bars and restaurants. After subtracting other comparable expenses, any salary surplus strategy which is a "perfect" cross-city CoL adjustment for Bob will when applied to Joe cause him to prefer a cheaper CoL location because his dollars will go further. Supposing the employer doesn't have power to discriminate based on such preferences, no fair CoL adjustment is perfect for both individuals.

(2) Bob is still optimizing long-term savings. MegaCorp chose a "perfect" CoL adjustment based on Bob's preferred standard of living, but the multiplicative nature of price increases in a high CoL city means that Bob can save a ton of money with a mild decrease in his standard of living. He's incentivized to live somewhere more expensive because doing so will maximize his potential savings with minimal impact elsewhere in his life. If the employer isn't discriminating based on what's paid for rent and other expenses, the CoL adjustment is gameable.


The thing is that even if the cost of living adjustment was perfect, that still incentivizes living in a high cost of living area.

It's much easier to move from an expensive city to an inexpensive city than vice versa since your savings will go much further in the inexpensive city.


Compensation should be adjusted to value created not expenses incurred.

Then some of my coworkers should pay the company.

Ha, spat my coffee out at that one

Most of tech either isn’t remote or hasn’t been for very long, so strong candidates with large scale prod experience are still concentrated in markets where these skills are most valued and attainable. If you want those candidates, you have to compete with offers from local big tech.

> strong candidates with large scale prod experience are still concentrated in markets

As I keep asking when this comes up, if this is true then why are salaries for FAANG engineers so much lower in London? London, as you may know is 100% not cheap, and yet salaries there for FAANG tech people are approximately 50% of those in SF/US.


Because in the UK (where all of my ancestors are from) they don't value software engineers like they do in the US.

In the 1990s we were paid and managed like accountants. When the Web went mainstream, Bay Area VC companies created a sudden shortage which slowly spread.

ISTM that the main cultural difference is that UK companies consider developers as cost centers, not profit centers. Therefore, the bean counters have an incentive to either eliminate us or consider us as interchangeable cogs in the system.

But FAANG do. So why don't they raise salaries?

> I think Facebook is simply creating more problems for themselves by bothering with this.

This was always the policy, they paid wages based on the market. They did, however, pay identically in all of their US offices (prior to Covid) which is perhaps why people are surprised about this (entirely normal and expected) practice.

Given that I don't live in the US, I don't like this policy, but it's been around forever basically, at all large tech companies.


> If you're willing to pay more for identical work because your employee chose to live somewhere more expensive, you're encouraging your employees to live in the most expensive places.

I think the salary adjustments aren't so extreme that you're actually indifferent from living in an expensive place. Also, most employees aren't unattached 20 year olds. I choose to live in a high cost area because my family is here and this is where I grew up.

> On the other hand, if you offer a fair wage for the work done regardless of location, your employees get better value by living somewhere inexpensive, which lowers the required compensation for the same employee.

Would you be okay if the 'fair wage' was based on a global developer workforce? For instance, median programmer salary for the UK is ~$41k while the US is $74k, not to mention salaries in developing countries. Everyone assumes that fair consistent salaries will just take inflated San Fransisco levels and apply them globally when in reality, its more likely that we readjust all salaries based on lowest cost of living.


This works great until they start offshoring jobs to countries where software engineers make less than the total median American wage. Then do we all hope Polish or Indian immigration services approve us for a work visa?

Practically, what does this look like? There's $3M beautiful coastal homes in my area, and a few miles inland, you can get what might be called a 'starter home' for $900k. Is my wage going to be based on the extremely expensive coastal area, or the marked up, but still comparatively affordable inland area? It's all the same 'location' if we're talking at the county level.

I would think they use a metro-area scheme similar to what the government uses for their employees https://www.federalpay.org/gs/locality

Because, I mean, waterfront property has a premium everywhere, and even in the same exact "starter home" location I'm sure you could teardown and fit a $3M home. Those choices aren't determined by the metro area.


If I were looking for work and I were a top tier candidate, I would not let companies play games by determining pay based on my location. I'd work with a company that pays me well no matter where I choose to live. After all, where I live should only concern them if there's some kind of tax implication.

Top tier candidates aren't stupid, and ones that would willingly subject themselves to that are probably just looking for a year or two stint to bolster their resumes. Either that or they aren't as smart as they make themselves out to be.


> Facebook does for instance, even going as far as tracking your IP to make sure you're being honest. If you choose to move to a lower cost city, they'll adjust your wage.

That's the official HR policy.

In real life... key contributors are magically exempted. If you aren't making SV rates no matter where, that's a career red-flag.


Any Facebook employee that wished to would surely find it trivial to use a VPS or something to mask their true location.

Technology is not always the solution. If your employer asks you to affirm something, and you do that, and then cheat (because, let's say, cheating is technologically trivial), then you take a huge risk. A lot of people will not take that risk. It's enough to make example of 1 or 2 people who are caught, and the rest will fall in line in no time.

Is my opinion, the company is cheating the employee by paying them less for the same work just because they live somewhere else.

One side fully presented the terms at the start. The other lied. If you don't like the terms, don't accept them. It isn't like facebook is the only employer.

It has never worked differently. If you want to average out the pay you'll be paid much more closer to Bangladeshi pay than to SV one.

It’s more a legal thing. Companies have to follow the local labor laws and pay taxes to the appropriate states.

Not sure the courts will really care about your opinion when there was an employment contract in place?

You and the company still needs to know/decide which locale you get taxed in and which regulation to follow.

Even in California, SF has different payroll taxes and regulation than other cities in the area. Massachusetts requires employers to open a unemployment account in state. If the employee moves to a state the employer doesn’t have a employees previously, you need to register in the state and it might mean you have to now pay sales taxes on revenue in the state.

So unless you become an independent contractor and deal with this things yourself, the employer needs to know where you live most of the tax year.


More and more remote companies use PEOs. No need to incorporate in 50 states, you just pay someone else to.

We use it too, but doesn't change the fact the the employer needs to tell the PEO where the employee is located. PEO also have limits, like MA example, the company still needs to open the unemployment accounts directly with the state. Sales tax is another thing that you have to do directly.

My point was that main reason companies need to know where the employee is compliance, employment law, taxes and potentially IP protection. While the employer wouldn't care about the location because of pay scale, they still need to know for other reasons.

Until we can all live in some United Kingdom of the Internet, the unfortunate fact is that local laws apply to companies and employees when the employee resides in the jurisdiction.


I worked at a company that switched to a PEO, people seemed weirdly outraged.

Playing games with your employer probably isn't the best idea if you're looking for a long term relationship with them.

It's not just the company caring for their own purposes (although there's that as well), there are external requirements which depend on the employee location which force them to need to know. Such as which taxes and how much they are required to deduct and even which health plan choices are available.

Facebook probably has really good data on IP geolocation, probably much much better than anyone, both through data users willingly provide and data from attackers they are certain to be fending off constantly. They'll know you're on a VPS.

I wouldn’t be so confident as to think Facebook won’t catch me lying for years.

Don't you have to give them your legal address when you start working for them?

I believe Facebook could catch them if it wanted.

Ultimately it's the employees that will make the choice, not the company. My wife works for a large NYC-based bank which has been trying to mandate 100% return to office since October 2020. They keep pushing it back by a month or two at a time due to employee backlash, and a year later still maintain that things will be back to "normal" soon. It's become a running joke among employees.

At a certain income threshold, rent becomes irrelevant. The difference in top decile salaries between, say, NYC and Pittsburgh is far more significant than the slight difference in a rent.

That doesn't sound right if you're talking about multiple people (ex: family with two kids and you want a room for each).

Rent is only part of it though. I'd gladly pay the equivalent rent in a better city assuming I keep my salary. I'm just trying to get a better quality of life.

For many, time is the more important consideration. Working from home allowed me to reduce a 1-1.5 hour commute to nothing, work out on my lunch vs after work…at the end of the day those can easily add up to a couple hours per day that could be spent doing something else.

> Like all industries that can move to remote, I suspect we will soon see a split. Some companies will embrace it, some won't.

I actually wrote more about it in my blog post, "Remote working and the elephant in the room": https://blog.kronis.dev/articles/remote-working-and-the-elep...

To me, it feels like we have people in the industry with wildly different preferences in regards to working, preferences that are oftentimes at odds. For a long time, the trend of working at the office has been set by the folk that are more comfortable with this mode of work and that has been considered "normal", however in the past few years many have also gotten a taste for the remote work alternative.

Personally, i wouldn't want to go back to the office, resigning and looking for a remote opportunity (or even starting my own company) being preferable to that. For other folks, the opposite is probably true. Neither is wrong, it's just that they're at odds - some people would feel as uncomfortable with remote work and async communication, as i would with in person work. The long term consequences of this remain to be seen, however.


I wonder if the remote firms will be at an advantage because of reduced real estate expenses. Offices aren't cheap, and the past couple decades have seen a downward spiral in square footage per person at offices. Now it's reached its final form, roughly zero square feet per person. Combine that with a drastically expanded recruiting pool and it's easy to see how remote work firms could come to dominate.

I’m considering hiring in person only for tech ventures (software dev, product managers, designers etc, standard affair)

My observations are that people that could afford to migrated to a lot of the same areas

I think there is a market need for it. Something as simple as going to a local event after work with some of the people you enjoy being around (not company mandated nor suggested) requires nearly zero planning compared to trying to coordinate coming out from home

My hunch is that there is an audience for it

I bet local businesses (bars, lounges, similar things) would even give discounts to attract that kind of crowd again. The after work and well compensated crowd that acts spontaneously.

Its funny to even mention it, but people with bad commutes wont even apply or pretend they dont have a bad commute, and people with a reason to be home (that many other companies now cater to) also wont show up.

I still think there is enough talent.


> you'd better be paying me extra to cover my increased rent

The corollary of what you said is to pay remote employees with the same title less, which they won't all accept... especially the ones living in the same geo area due to the fact that they were commuting before the pandemic or are still occasionally commuting in and haven't moved to a lower COL area yet.


I think the bigger effect is this will create I believe a new round of Off Shoring for a set of jobs that used to be considered immune or at least resistant to off shoring.

I could be wrong but your statement of "if you want me to be in the city from 9-6 every day, while your competitor says I can live anywhere and remote in, you'd better be paying me extra to cover my increased rent" will hold true for for the global workforce as well, and I am not just talking the traditional off shore to India or china, but it could be that EU companies find cheaper information workers in US Mid West, or US Companies finding cheaper employees in EU, or Australia , etc

The high salaries of NY, LA, Silicon Valley, etc I think will be the first losses in this battle, many companies have already told their employees that if you choose to go remote to a Lower cost of living state your salary will be adjusted to reflect that.

It will be interesting but the employees pushing for full time remote should be advised to be careful what they wish for, as they just might get it and not like the consequences


> many companies have already told their employees that if you choose to go remote to a Lower cost of living state your salary will be adjusted to reflect that.

But at the same time, that makes the company vulnerable to the employee seek another company that will allow the remote work with a better compensation. Unless the ceos get together and conspire to suppress wages like they have done in the past, it is really uncertain how the workforce landscape will shape itself in the near future.


It's also going to give rise to a class of services to undermine this. You can just have your official address be wherever and so long as the tax benefits make sense financially you'll make more money with a fake address in a state with no income tax while mostly living somewhere else.

I think this leads to stronger evidence for property tax as the primary form of taxation. If you're paid in crypto and not paying property tax on that PO box that like 18 other people use for separate companies (address as a service or AAAS lol) the company won't know, the state government won't know either. Even if you're paid in cash it's hard to really track down.

So we will continue to wind up with different types of tax havens throughout the world. The long-term ramifications IMO are that nice places to live are going to charge very high property taxes and very high costs for obtaining citizenship, and you'll pay that for safety and security and for things that you enjoy (maybe it's walkable, maybe there are lots of parks, maybe the security is strong, maybe everybody looks like you or something).

I'm not arguing the ethics of this or anything, I'm not sure where I stand or what makes sense - just an observation.


> You can just have your official address be wherever and so long as the tax benefits make sense financially you'll make more money with a fake address in a state with no income tax while mostly living somewhere else.

Do you not expect governments to use their powers to issue subpoenas to banks or get location history from mobile networks or license plate readers to figure out this fraud if their tax revenues suffer?

A few years ago, Connecticut had Newegg send them a list of all purchases shipped to the state, and then mailed everyone a tax bill with penalties for failing to pay use tax. The onus was on the recipients to prove they already paid the use tax.


> Do you not expect governments to use their powers to issue subpoenas to banks or get location history from mobile networks or license plate readers to figure out this fraud if their tax revenues suffer?

Well let's not be so hasty to call this fraud. I don't know the legal details but lots of individuals and corporations do things for financial/tax reasons that undermine the spirit of law and we don't call it fraud. Also things can change. I think there is a more broad discussion to have here on taxes and such. Like why am I paying more in taxes than Buffet (contrived example)? Isn't that fraud?

But I think the underlying thing to noodle on is what if a lot of people do it and just ignore the government? Or how will the government know if you're paid in BTC from an overseas company? That's where I think property taxes (and probably sales taxes) come into play because the police or tax authority can show up at the door and seize the property.

And in the case of San Francisco PO box let's say I buy a 2 bedroom house and then it costs whatever and I say ok I rent it out to 15 people with 15 bunk beds and rent it out for whatever + something so I profit (hell maybe it's even a co-op) and then you just tell your company that's your address and where you reside but you drive around in a van full-time or just 1 month in SF, spend 8 months in Oklahoma and 3 months in New York or whatever.

From SF/CA perspective you are living and paying taxes there, but the point is that your company pays you the higher wage while not living there (and taxes are deducted and soforth) but you're saving by getting the higher wage without the cost of living (again this would be a financial calculation to see if it's worth it and all that so I don't want to argue details at the moment b/c idk). In a sense you're tricking your company because they have this policy of "if this is where you live and pay taxes then here's your paycheck" but the actual living part doesn't need to be done where you "live".

Another example is living in Texas or Florida where there's no income tax. Set up a PO box, say that's your address, and there ya go. (Over-simplifying it a bit).

No doubt in my mind that schemes like this are occuring. Question is what happens when everybody does it? And what does the world look like when every person has access to the equivalent of a tax haven and is instead choosing where to live based on other factors?

A couple things:

> why can't we just regulate #of people in a house.

Well, tell that to the families of service workers who can't afford rent. What's the right number of people per address? Etc.

> The onus was on the recipients to prove they already paid the use tax."

Sure but if you live somewhere else you can just decline. What will Connecticut do when 50,000 people living all over the world just don't pay the tax? What will the U.S. do if there are millions? It seems like it's hard enough to go after corporations and they have big legal entities and property in the U.S. to seize and litigate over. Hell, maybe you get enough people doing it and law firms start representing people with medium net worths and so now every time you go after someone it costs so much money you go bankrupt over the tax. The problem for the governments is ability to enforce, which is why I think long-term everything rests on enforcement of property taxes. And you'll pay property tax because you want roads, police, etc. and if you don't pay the tax then they can block you from your property. Probably in-person sales taxes as well because you can also enforce those decently enough.

The scenario is like a lion trying to crush ants. It's probably not effective.

Also please don't take this as an anti-anything statement. I'm just trying to think through and predict future outcomes and just have some fun with scenarios :) I pay all of my taxes, and probably pay too much even...


>Well let's not be so hasty to call this fraud.

I am going to refer to it as fraud, because that is the usual way the word is used in the context of the legal consequences one opens themselves up to making intentionally false claims about your residence in order to evade taxes. The law does not require anyone to pay taxes on unrealized gains of stocks, so no, it is not fraud if Buffett does not pay tax on unrealized gains of stocks.

>A couple things: > why can't we just regulate #of people in a house.

I never wrote this, so I am not sure who you are responding to.

>It seems like it's hard enough to go after corporations

It is not hard if they are evading taxes by committing clear fraud with no plausible deniability, such as claiming they were physically in one place when in reality they were in another place. The news articles you see are for cases where there is a lot of gray area in the law.

>The problem for the governments is ability to enforce

It is called freezing bank accounts. It is where much of the power of the US comes from, and many times why opposing entities who do not trust each other choose to do business in the US.


> I am going to refer to it as fraud, because that is the usual way the word is used in the context of the legal consequences one opens themselves up to making intentionally false claims about your residence in order to evade taxes.

> The law does not require anyone to pay taxes on unrealized gains of stocks, so no, it is not fraud if Buffett does not pay tax on unrealized gains of stocks.

You're not violating the technical aspect of the law anymore than Buffet would be. Can you tell me the proper amount of time someone must live somewhere in order for them to truly live there? Pass a law? Those won't work. Already people are doing this - what do you think people who are living in vans do? They claim residence somewhere, maybe their parent's house and then they just live in the van or maybe they have some other place they stay. People do this with Florida to evade New York City taxes, etc.

> I never wrote this, so I am not sure who you are responding to.

Just pre-empting a response. Long story short the first answer many have is legislation but it is too burdensome to address any actual issues.

> It is not hard if they are evading taxes by committing clear fraud with no plausible deniability, such as claiming they were physically in one place when in reality they were in another place. The news articles you see are for cases where there is a lot of gray area in the law.

I think you're operating in the current model but not thinking about what can and is likely to happen in the future. The U.S. already can't go after many people who are outright breaking the law. Once this reaches a critical mass it's basically like trying to stop people from pirating songs. It's just not going to work. The lion and ant thing is really great here to help visualize.

Also, who is to say where you really live? Ok maybe you do live with 14 other people in bunkbeds in San Francisco. Is (insert company) going to fly/drive/walk someone out there and show up and check on you? It's impossible to enforce. So you can definitely draw a Bay Area salary and effectively live somewhere else. You can even do it in other countries. Plenty of digital nomads. Have you ever heard of one being prosecuted?

> It is called freezing bank accounts. It is where much of the power of the US comes from, and many times why opposing entities who do not trust each other choose to do business in the US.

The dysfunction and instability of the stability of the U.S. democracy is eroding power like this, for better or worse. You can't freeze a Bitcoin address, etc.


I think on the whole you make a very good point, but don’t underestimate the impact of time zones & differences in language & culture.

Communication may not be geographically limited anymore, but there are still barriers to overcome.


The companies I've seen adjusting salaries are adjusting for "market rate" of salaries, not CoL. This can result in moving to an area with a higher cost of living and a lower salary.

“Cost of living” was always code for “employer bets you will accept lower pay because you will not have a better option “.

Pay is usually max(COL, local market rate). You don't need a super high COL if the local market is very competitive, but COL can raise the pay because you still need to convince people to move to your location and most people won't do that if it has an abnormally higher cost of living without a corresponding pay increase.

I'm finding with the teams I'm working with that the junior employees are the ones most impacted by not working from an office, but they often don't realize what they're missing -- the less formal forms of mentorship, stronger community, interacting with more people that's not on their team and in their role, overhearing context, the ability to have a 3-min quick chat with a senior person without a scheduled meeting, and developing that stronger sense of "what good looks like." I'm really concerned that we're going to have a two-tiered system where a bunch of people early in their careers are going to feel stuck in a few years and not even realize why.

As a junior employee (1 year experience, entirely remote), you've pretty much hit the nail on the head. I've been having a miserable time working remote for all the reasons you've mentioned. It doesn't help that my team seems to really lean into independent work. The biggest thing that I wish I had was more opportunities to learn from senior devs.

Now that I feel like I have enough experience to find a new job, I will be looking for a workplace with a strong emphasis on in-person work & collaboration.


Most programming I have seen is independent work. You go off for a day or two and come back to share your results. For a junior dev, they need to be spending some time screen sharing to a senior and explaining what they have to get some feed back regularly.

Don’t give up because of the comments here or because of your experiences. There are still companies out there that believe in hiring juniors and believe in the merits of face to face work - they are harder to find these days, but I think it’s a competitive advantage. If you’re in Chicago, London, or Brisbane, reach out.

In my hybrid office, the juniors are also mostly the ones going into the office, so maybe they've appreciated your point.

I also observe that they are also the ones hanging out outside the office, so I would guess this is part of it too. Seniors tend to compartmentalize "work friends" vs friend-friends.


This seems like it would be taken care of fine by formalizing some remote training, mentorship, and pair programming activities. Something that better work environments already think about, remote or not. Not sure why this would be some sort of unsolvable problem.

Edit: also a remote culture of hopping onto a one-on-one voice, vid, and/or screenshare helps too.


This is true, so much so we just don’t hire juniors because we haven’t figured out how we’d manage, we’re fully remote. If We did hire juniors I’d probably want them co-located near me somehow.

Ultimately I think people will work more in offices again for this reason and for the reason that even the company I work for, which has always been remote first has a large group of people who live in the same city, they meet in person more often and seem to call much more of the shots and receive promotions more than others.


IMO, This is the biggest problem with WFH. I personally have avoided all internship/development programs since COVID started at my company because I know it will just make my life harder and be frustrating on both sides.

We're already starting to feel the effects of the reduced talent pipeline especially as we get deeper into the Great Resignation.


The career-related reasons why early-career employees want to go in to office are valid. But that is not the whole story.

For many early-career engineers living away from families in cities like SF, Seattle etc have better office spaces than personal living spaces - better buildings, better air conditioning, better TV, better restrooms, better kitchens, better stocked fridges etc. This factor does not apply as much to later-career employees who live in the suburbs.


Any ideas how we could fix this?

It's just about applying the existing communication technology and having policies that support mentorship or these other things that are supposedly impossible to do without being in person.

I believe that most of these supposedly intractable problems can be solved with a Discord/Matrix/IRC whatever and just enforcing policies about communication. Have a bi-weekly required five minute voice chat and at least one hour of time per day where people need to have the chat open. If juniors are not asking questions or seniors are not replying within X hours or whatever follow-up sessions from the five minute intro discussions is appropriate, then they get warned, and if the lack of communication effort continues, fired. And you make that policy clear.

You can also look into various types of 'multiplayer' virtual presence. Several different browser based or 2d or 3d (even VR) options for this.

I feel like people just stop trying to communicate more than a weekly meeting or something a lot of times when they are remote. That in no way proves that different types of communication or mentorship or whatever require face-to-face. People just need to show up online to communicate.


It can't be fixed industry wide. I guess it could be partially fixed at individual companies. But those are just band aids. It's just how it is. If you're not face to face, the relationships will be at arms length.

In addition to the mentorship issue, think about promotions. Especially to more senior levels. The people in the office or with pre-existing relationships will be the ones getting promoted and will be the power brokers. If you are someone who doesn't think that will be true, then (IMO) you are confusing how you wish the world to be for how the world is.


Don’t hire junior devs if you are a remote only company?

I just wish I could find a 100% normal in person job. Like I had in Feb 2020.

I don't want to work from home.

I don't want to interact with others through a screen. Zoom calls are like torture to me.

I don't want to spend all of my time in the same place.

I want to go to work on the Tube, have lunch and go to the pub with my colleagues, and then go home.

I think video work is another thing we'll just regret in 10 years time, like how social media and the Internet fucked up communities. A sugar high for some, and then a crash.


I find that I agree. I like living downtown in a city and walking into the office. I don't care that rent is higher. I'd be living here regardless.

For me, the biggest thing is that I feel bad when I'm not fully productive at home. Half hour lunch break feels long, and I end up feeling guilty if I don't get enough done. When I'm in the office? Hell yeah I'm taking an hour lunch, possibly longer with some coworkers. We'll have random concersations and shoot the shit about life, work, etc.

I am much happier in the office. I hate remote. It's okay that some folks like it, more power to them. But I want to be in the office with coworkers who have to as well.


That’s great for you and I hope you find that but there’s an entire class of us who are sick of 1+ hour commutes, inane “water cooler” conversation that goes nowhere and just want to do work.

Work for me is not an extension of my social life, it is how I provide for my family and support my social life outside of work.

We’ve waited for ages for WFH to be normalized and I hope that this trend continues.


So you're poor and live miles away from everything.

I don't see why we should optimize life around this but meh. You do you, I guess.

I already quit so w/e.


Wall Street banks posted record profit and revenue during the pandemic, as government stimulus supported consumers stuck at home and companies sought to do deals, proving to bankers and traders that they have little need to work out of the office the way they used to. The attendance numbers are low. The financial industry employs 332,100 people in New York City. In October, only 27 percent of those people came in daily.

That says it doesn't make economic sense to bring people back to the office.

The executives pushing for that may be the ones on the way out.


Government stimulus is the main reason there's been a bull market and that's why banks' profits have been through the roof. I'm pretty sure that whether or not bankers worked remotely had little to do with it.

When J Powell eventually turns off the money printer, the market is going to pull back, the banks are going to go through leaner times, and the old-school executives in charge of them are going to be in a much stronger position to argue for employees to come back to the office, regardless of the merits.


They will have to come up with very strong arguments to the board though. It can be pretty hard to explain why should they spend a lot of money during leaner times to rent prime-location offices in some of the most expensive cities in the world.

A key word being "rent". There are a lot of downtown office space renewals coming up that are not being renewed.[1]

[1] https://wolfstreet.com/2021/08/24/end-of-the-era-of-voraciou...


I mean it's also been a ridiculous bull market completely irrespective of where people are working.

I'm willing to bet that trading desks can make more money in person than working from home, for a given market regime. An astonishing amount of real-time information flies around on a bank's trading floor. If I were a risk manager at one of those banks, I'd want to be as close to that information as possible.

Economic sense for the big companies, but probably not for cities and local businesses.

Do the Wall Street banks own the mortgages of the commercial office spaces?

I work at a hedge fund. Despite a recent return-to-work mandate, literally no one in my team is in the office. Our job is super stressful and emotionally taxing. Not having wearing to pants makes it somewhat bearable.

Same, except my team is in the office again.

Your job is “super stressful and emotionally taxing?” Why do Wall Streeters always grossly overestimate their jobs? Managing money is really not that hard especially in the past 10 years. Even monkeys can do it.

Why would anyone pay $500k+ a year for a job a monkey can do? Starting a private zoo is certainly cheaper.

Why did you assume that the person is managing money? They could be a front office developer or support person - having been there, it is indeed stressful when the application is down and angry traders are shouting because they are losing money.

Monkeys can do it, but can they sell it?

While I do think that attitudes towards remote work have fundamentally changed, it'll be interesting to see how things shake out over the next 5-10 years. I suspect that as people start to go into the office more, there will be pressure to do so for your career to advance, in many fields. If your boss's boss works in the office, who is more likely to get a promotion, the person that works from home or the person who goes in and eats lunch with them once a week? In an ideal world, the answer would be "the one who does better work", but we don't live an ideal world.

> as people start to go into the office more, there will be pressure to do so for your career to advance

China's "lying flat" movement is already starting to take a hold in the West, and I think as the reality of climate catastrophe and other systemic breakdowns continue to remain visible in the post-pandemic world, there will be an increasingly large number of people that have absolutely zero interest in "career advance".

I wouldn't be surprised if everything you say happens for the subset that is still clinging to the fantasy that career can create meaning. However I think this group will represent an increasingly small number of workers, especially in the new generation arriving to the work for now.


I think that all depends on how much longer people give money real value.

Edit: And I’m not insinuating people would instead give something like crypto real value. More along the lines that as these economic systems fall apart, the abstractions they were built upon will mean less and less until a house is a house and farmland is farmland and no amount of tokens or gold will buy that from somebody else.


Modern day advancement is usually done when you hop to a new job anyways.

What's a "promotion"? Is it like quitting and getting a nicer job in another company?

Kind of, but it doesn't increase your pay as much.

In some cases, those lunches will lead to doing better work. Partly from having better, more full picture of the pressures your grand-boss is facing, from having direct opportunities to ask questions or get guidance, and partly (a minor part probably) from a willingness to give a little bit extra at a critical moment to someone that you have a more personal relationship with.

You can have lunch with someone once a week and still work from home. These kinds of issues are not related, it just requires a different attitude and approach to networking within your own company. No matter what, if you are more social you will make more money. It is not required to be in the office to be perceived well by your peers.

You’re totally right, of course, but there’s a massive power in changing from one default to another. With remote working, the overwhelming default is not “I’ll have a casual lunch with my boss’ boss a couple times a month.” where a 50-person company with everyone on-site, you’re likely to eat with your boss’ boss a couple times a week in the cafe.

The problem is that if everyone doesn’t come back in the office you just end up spending your time on zoom in an office desk which negates the whole point. Working in a large bank in europe where we observed the same, between a third and half of the staff decline to come back

The problem is that even if everyone DOES come back to the office, you still end up spending your time on Zoom (or Teams in my case) in an office desk, as you inevitably have meetings with colleagues in different offices, countries or outside companies, suppliers and vendors - which negates the whole point.

I'm waiting for all the studies reinvestigating the height salary and career premium in the age of remote working.

I'd love to see a 2019-2021 salary change by height study. Or Zoom interview vs in person interview acceptance rate by height. Did short people benefit more compared to tall people given the remote work+hiring situation?

The bankers I'm very sure want a return as it's easier to squeeze those additional unpaid long hours out of staff when they're working in the office.

> In the early days, our team experienced the burn that comes with the realities of having a large monorepo ... This severe lag stemmed from having code housed with so many other services — regardless of whether or not the code actually interacted with or affected those other services. Naturally, it quickly became apparent that this model was incapable of supporting an agile, fast-moving company.

Google would like a word.


How well do those, now remote working, bankers understand computer security? How well do those who are not 'best in class'? How high do they prioritize it? That will be the limit IT can strive for.

Happy hacking!


>She often woke up at 4:30 a.m. to drive from her home in New Jersey, catch a bus into Manhattan, hop on the subway, squeeze in a workout and get to Jefferies’ trading floor by 7:30 a.m. Work dinners ran late into the night, and redeye flights to London were common.

>For Ms. Batchelor, Jefferies’s new policy means coming in to the office three days a week. Although she plans to travel to meetings when necessary, Ms. Batchelor said she was grateful to spend more time with her children and cut back on her long commute. “I didn’t know what I was missing,” she said.

Sometimes I wonder if journalists compete to get the most eye rolling quotes. As if anyone would believe this woman with 3 children was not fully aware of the tradeoffs they were making in exchange for the higher pay.


As if anyone would believe this person was not fully aware of the tradeoffs they were making in exchange for the higher pay.

In my experience working with highly motivated, highly paid people they often aren't particularly self-aware or introspective. In their mind it's not a tradeoff; they usually believe that every job in their industry is like theirs. I suspect this is due to the fact that they've worked long hours and said "Yes" to every request from the beginning of their careers. They genuinely don't understand that things could be different.

This is why so many businesses are struggling with remote working. They honestly don't get that people can work differently.


> I suspect this is due to the fact that they've worked long hours and said "Yes" to every request from the beginning of their careers.

Also, "say yes to and do everything your boss/the police says to you" was ingrained into children for centuries.

The cost of that obedience propaganda, however, never showed up until modern day cutthroat capitalism.


>they usually believe that every job in their industry is like theirs.

It was, for the woman in the article. But no one forces them to be in that industry, other than their desire to earn high wages.


no one forces them to be in that industry, other than their desire to earn high wages

Changing career later in life is a risky thing to do, especially if you don't have much in the way of transferable skills. Wanting to avoid poverty isn't quite the same as a "desire to earn high wages". People might know they'd happy on low- or mid-level wages but fearful of ending up with no wages. That's a reasonable concern.


People who work in Manhattan and fly often to London aren't in category of ending in poverty, more like having less paid (but still above average) and less stimulating job.

Of course if one has so messed up life priorities that job and life satisfaction coming from it is their #1 concern, way above raising their own kids, then its another of those sad stories later.

People are fearful of many things, usually not in very rational or smart way. One thing about being a proper adult (and a good parent) is to understand which fears are real and address them, and which are just some self-illusions because folks can't get their mind straight and sort out themselves and their lives (for the lack of better words).


And no one forced her to take a break and take conscious perspective of how we live our lives.

This is a common experience: we all take things for granted or assume that things have to be done a certain way, simply because that's the way we've been doing it for so long.


> But no one forces them to be in that industry, other than their desire to earn high wages.

High wages are definitely a factor but being competitive and feeling energized by trades paying off count as well. It's a combination of high reward, betting excitement, and the pleasure of crushing your competition in a context where score is easily kept (in dollars).

If those are the things you enjoy, it's difficult to find all that in other industries.


I don't think that's a fair summation: it's really common for people go with what's familiar without critically examining it and both economics and psychology are rife with studies showing how people make decisions less than purely rationally. Some of the most famous examples are related to that quote above: people buy larger houses thinking about the times they'll use extra amenities while ignoring how infrequently they do so or how much time they're spending every day commuting to where they could afford that wish list, or downplaying how much time they spend commuting because they want to think they have a 45 minute commute rather than an hour and are thus “running late” almost every day, etc.

Even very smart people do this kind of thing — I'm thinking of someone I knew who has a math Ph.D. but chronically misjudged their bank account — because they aren't approaching it as a rigorous analytical problem but are just running along on habit, what their peers are doing, and often the stories they tell about how it'll get better once they're further along in their career. If you've been telling yourself that the long hours will get better once you have experience, then that promotion, then at the next job, … it's not hard to just keep doing what you've been doing, especially if you're well paid enough to say it's worth it because you'll retire early.


>>Sometimes I wonder if journalists compete to get the most eye rolling quotes.

They definitely select the most eye-catching/rolling quotes out of an interview, been there, done that, been astonished at the way the article turned out.

That said, however, this is NOT unusual. When I worked at IBM in Manhattan, my manager lived in Poughipse, and woke up at 4:30 every morning to catch the train, slept on the way in, and was in the office before I was, and I lived about 40 blocks away. And he most definitely did NOT make the big banking salary and bonuses.

A lot of people want the suburban quality of life for their kids, and were willing to sacrifice a lot for that. Now, seeing that it is unnecessary, they are pushing back. Which is a damn good thing.


Not that I disagree with the point on journalists behavior, I think while people are to a degree aware of the tradeoffs they are making initially, over time they normalize everything and get basically Stockholm syndromed and peer pressured into their situation.

Early in my career I met a manager type guy in his late 30s that prided himself of only having taken a week of vacation in 4 years and was fully convinced that those kind of things are a pre-requisite of success for everyone. He got a lot more relaxed about life a couple years later after divorce and bankruptcy, having to start many things from scratch.

So I do buy that people can have a revelation about changing lifestyle, even if initially it was a conscious decision to prioritize career over family.


> As if anyone would believe this woman with 3 children was not fully aware of the tradeoffs they were making in exchange for the higher pay.

I believe her. Life doesn't have an open enrollment period every year where you're presented multiple career and lifestyle options, and asked to choose one. Instead, one generally converges into a local optimum and breaking out can involve significant energy and risk.

From the perspective of remote work, the pandemic helped a lot of people break out of their local optimum.


Exactly, click bait nonsense. The thing is that before companies could claim "work won't get done if you aren't in the office". Now that that has been proven false, the are grudgingly trying to keep their employees. Remote work is the new carrot just like healthcare was in WWII.

Intentional selection bias and cherry picking is a real problem in media and other domains. Waiting to hear all the pieces you want to hear and then weaving them together to create the story you want in others' voices. It makes things seem more legitimate than they are because it is a set of real data, it just happens to be a heavily manipulated and carefully chosen set.

It sounds innocent at first because you're not creating false data directly, but you are falsifying the representation of the data which is just as bad if not worse.


> As if anyone would believe this woman with 3 children was not fully aware of the tradeoffs they were making in exchange for the higher pay.

1.) The tradeoff now is different. It changed.

2.) People used to long commute say pretty much same things when they change job. I realized how much easier my life is when working from home during covid too. I can completely relate to "now realizing how much better it is when I save full hour a day and plus can organize my own day as I wish".




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