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Ask HN: Is Bay Area in a tipping point for tech talent?
109 points by msoad 5 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 178 comments
Some younger companies like Coinbase[2] and Stripe[1] are sharing numbers that they are not hiring much in the Bay Area anymore.

I am assuming that many positions that require the candidate to (eventually) relocate to the Bay Area are not getting a lot of traction. A fried of mine refused to interview for position like that despite being very junior! She decided the cost of living is not worth it.

What all of this means for the Bay Area talent pool and job market? Talent in the Bay Area are fetching astonishing pay ($600k for L6)[3] which I believe contributed to the out of the ordinary housing market in the Bay Area when you compare it to other cities in CA like San Diego and Los Angeles. I know many older talent have grown roots in the area. They have kids and friends which means they can't easily move. What if with this new wave of remote work acceptance, Bay Area pay won't match the expenses? Companies can hire everywhere in the U.S. for arguably the same talent quality. Some companies are even expanding to Mexico City[4] and other countries which might put even more pressure on Bay Area salaries.

Are we at an end of decades of continues growth and competition in the Bay Area? Will there be big pay adjustments?

[1] https://twitter.com/brian_armstrong/status/14811295897619988...

[2] https://twitter.com/patrickc/status/1480647701221896195

[3] https://levels.fyi

[4] https://www.lyft.com/careers#openings?location=mexico%2520ci...






It's funny that no one wants to admit that Covid-19 was the forcing function for shifting to remote wholesale. I have many peers who have been fighting for internal accessibility of working remotely, most of whom gave up and jumped ship. I even know a few people who left Stripe in 2019 due to their inflexible remote work policies.

So to now come out and say "look at all the remote hiring we're doing" sure leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Yeah, because you have no choice!

The talent has realized they have all the cards and bargaining power in terms of remote work right now. Anyone who is fighting to return to the office is missing the point. We should all be striving to unlock permanent mobility within our professions.


> permanent mobility within our professions.

This is one of the most understated things about remote work. I hate when the arguments for the benefits of remote work all seem to end with "well you don't have to sit in traffic". It's way way more than that.

* I just moved across the country. I didn't hate where I lived but it was meh, moved to Colorado where I'm now going skiing every weekend and a general 180 for my lifestyle.

* I'm planning far more trips. If my office is now my laptop so who says I can't do it from anywhere. I just came back from a few weeks in Hawaii and planning another trip to the Keys in a month or so. I work my regular hours in all of these places.

How I look at work has completely and diametrically shifted in the last 2 years, and it's made me a much more active and healthier person. It's honestly hard to believe how one change in my career (going remote) has been in service of all of this.


This is realistic only in your 20s-early 30s. Once you start a family, relocation is hard, more of a chore than a perk.

It only works in your 20es because everyone else in your age group is also relocating. When you move you tear up your friends network and have to make new friends. Sounds easy, but people only have room for so many close friends in their life, they will be friendly to you but most won't have room to add another friend so making close friends is hard.

I’m at the age where most of m friends are flung across the country. Close relationships take tons of time and mental investment so at this point I like living in lcol and flying out for a week to visit or them visiting me

WFH has obviously lots of advantages for those with kids too. No more paying half a salary for childcare so they can be looked after because you are cooped up in an office. Also in terms of living somewhere kid friendly.

Watching a kid while working is not really possible. They get into too much.

Depends on the age and you can also do some of the work later when they are asleep and start earlier etc.

Under the age of 12/13, it is just not possible. I am a parent of 2 young kids and will NOT believe anyone who says that they can work from home with a 7 year old in the house without another caretaker present. I have seen it firsthand and it is just not possible to wing it with a kid in the house who has no one else to attend to.

I agree with you. There might be some alternatives though. Where I live (Nordic country) we can choose to work less time when we have kids. If one parent only works 80% that means he/she (most often she) can work from 8 am to 3 pm and be done. If the kids are in school or pre-school this may be enough. Of course, it requires pre-school, kindergarten or similar for smaller kids (school basically starts at the age of 6 here).

Without kindergarten I don't see how you could work full time and take care of a kid under 6 years old. Especially not the first 2-3 years.


It would have worked with me at 7 but not my sister. I was babysitting a 2 year old by myself by the time I was 10.

It very much depends on the kid, and your appetite for low-level risk.

In the end, you likely don't lock your knives away, and you can bet that your kids know where they are.


Or, later, when all of your kids are moved out. I've been working at home for about 12 years now. I would not even start a conversation with a company that wanted me "onsite".

My work location exceeds anything any other company could possibly provide me. Except, maybe I don't have snacks sitting around all the time, I don't get free lunches.. and, I don't have a ping pong table to challenge my co-workers at.

I miss a few of those things, but, generally, I'm happier working at home.


I agree, but realistically that takes you in the 50+ range. The median age of the US workforce, so the top of the curve, is 42 (under 40 if minority or in tech but still well above 30).

There is no requirement to start a family after early 30s, or really ever.

It's not directly about constant relocation. It is about keeping options open and the freedom comes with it. Yes, relocating has it's costs especially on one's social circle, but I'd still prefer a job that lets me decide where I work.

What if my aging parents get sick and I want to spend time with them? Maybe my partner doesn't have the ability to work remotely and needs to relocate for work? What if I develop a health condition that can be improved by location (climate, air quality, distance to medical center)? All of these can be pretty stressful situations and apply to all ages. Do I really want to be forced to find another job or deal with possible financial insecurities during any of these?


I suppose once you have kids, working from home is also more of a chore than a perk, which I suspect is a big part of reason for the split in attitude

As somebody who has done it for almost 11 years, it depends: on its own, it's actually cool that you get the flexibility to deal with kids' schedules; however, if it means sharing the house 24h with them or the wife, as it can happen in early age or under lockdowns, it can be very challenging, and there the office feels like respite.

Working from home for the past 2 years has allowed me to help a lot with my own growing family. I do clock in my normal work (if anything I do more now because of my home setup, being able to jump in and out of work, whatever the hour.) My kids have certainly grown up accustomed to the setup, too. We've got good boundaries and I'm able to see and take part in a lot of their "firsts", all while continuing to do good work.

On the other hand, the company I work for that IPO'd the year before COVID is now hiring a ton of remote...in Mexico City, the Philippines, and in Poland.

So I'd correct your phrasing: "The talent in the US have all the cards and bargaining power". So the "smart" thing companies are doing is find talent outside the US.

And also before anyone mentions lower quality devs (for which I have an eye roll and a "get over yourself"), I've worked with enough of these devs by now to tell you there's next to no difference in quality.


> hiring a ton of remote...in Mexico City, the Philippines, and in Poland

I think FAANG developers have protected themselves from that by normalizing leetcode-style interviews. Absolute majority of developers here in Eastern Europe are not prepared to implement some knapsack algorithm on whiteboard in 20 minutes (yes, even the good ones!).


Only a matter of time. If it can be gamed, it WILL be gamed. Do you really believe that non FAANG devs cannot crack leetcode if they really wanted to ?

> If it can be gamed, it WILL be gamed. Do you really believe that non FAANG devs cannot crack leetcode if they really wanted to ?

Well, of course it can! I presume this is how absolute majority of FAANG devs got there in the first place (judging from the popularity of leetcode, CtCI, etc.). It is just that people who have time, ability and motivation to "game" (e.g. learn) all of the required skills (leetcode-style questions, distributed systems design (even for positions that have nothing to do with distributed systems), behavioral (remember, here in Eastern Europe people don't always behave in typical American "happy-positive" ways, in fact you would be considered weird by your coworkers if you do that, but you will fail an interview to FAANG-type companies if you tell them straight up that your boss was an asshole or the code was complete crap) and don't forget about good written and spoken English) usually aim to move to western countries, because why would they chose to work for peanuts on remote (did you see Google salaries in Poland? I assume they will pay similarly for remote positions if you happen to live in that location).


Yep. The "remote or nothing" advocates are forgetting that it is levelling the playing field and now if I have to hire remote anyway, I would hire anywhere in the world. I have worked with many developers across US and the world and I can tell you that there are bad developers everywhere and great developers everywhere. Sure, in some places, noise is high but overall if you know how to hire developers, you can get a good one for a fraction of the cost and this is the reality.

Of course everything can be made to work but in my experience and from what I've heard from others there are some cultural differences, language barriers and time zone problems that makes this is bit less efficient and sometimes outright hard.

For a small or medium company it may also be a bit more work to handle foreign employment laws and tax laws.


> I've worked with enough of these devs by now to tell you there's next to no difference in quality.

Sure. But if your company is not a Tier-1 or Tier-2 company. You will not have access to those quality developers... at least in India.


> I've worked with enough of these devs by now to tell you there's next to no difference in quality.

There is. The best devs are equal as developers, but local developers have an intuitive understanding of the market and so will make good decisions for the future without needing to be told, while remote ones won't have that feel and so will write code that doesn't scale. Note that remote and local is relative to your target market. If you want to sell to Poland then developers in Poland have the advantage, if you want to tell to the world you need developers from all over the world to capture as many different cultures as you can.

I don't know about Poland, but I know in India there are a lot of bad developers who wouldn't even try to be a developer in the US. This is nothing about their best developers who are just as good as anyone else but you have to shift through more bad ones. (There are a lot of bad ones in the US as well, just not as many)


What?

Sorry but that makes no sense to me. There are good developers and bad developers. Doesn't matter where they're from.

If you're talking about "understanding of the market" that has nothing to do with development. Might make a difference if you want the 1 man startup kind of person, but still, that has nothing to do with actual development. I sincerely don't understand how you can equate lack of knowledge of a local market with writing code that doesn't scale.

Hiring developers for their understanding of the market sounds to me like you're not in need of a developer. Even then, once a good developer gets into a specific market he'll learn it just like a local developer would.

For some anecdotal evidence, I've never set foot outside of my country (Brazil) and worked with very few US developers that are in the same ballpark as me. I've met people from the Philippines, Greece, Sweden and many other countries that are better. Country is a non-factor.

IMO being a good developer has nothing to do with the zip code you were born in. People become good developers if they're invested in it and work on it. Maybe you're a tad better if you were born with the right genes, but 99% of it is self-improvement.


Being a good developer is not only about coding skills. It is about right the right product. Sure someone can give you a feature list, but if you have an idea should you implement it - the right answer means you get a large bonus, but the wrong can result in losing your job.

I agree with you and never said that. But specifically hiring local developers for "knowing the market" doesn't match that criteria to me.

I've given plenty of ideas that were profitable, relevant to the product, market and vision of the company. Yet I never lived anywhere close to those markets.

Maybe you had contact with only low quality developers of other countries or we're not speaking about the same thing here...


The reason India gets a bad rep because it has a lot of people whose best chance out of poverty is to try and break into tech to make money. So the noise is higher and there is no doubt about it. But thats just because of the population and choices they have. You said US has bad ones but not that many. That is again because if you look at Per capita, there aren't that many devs in US especially people trying to get into tech. Well, that is kinda changing. Nowadays, all these bootcamps popping up are milking money in the US and I am interviewing plenty of people who are bootcampers and can't write a single line of code correctly. So there is that.

> It's funny that no one wants to admit that Covid-19 was the forcing function for shifting to remote wholesale.

On the contrary, I feel like HN has a hard time admitting that remote work didn’t conquer the workplace like we were told it would at the beginning of the pandemic.

Finding remote jobs is definitely a little bit easier now, but actually getting those jobs seems to be even harder than ever now that everybody is competing for them. Some companies are embracing remote, but it seems many more are eager to get back to in-office work as soon as reasonable.


The standard corporate fortune 500 types are pushing very very heavily to go back to the office. In my experience, this seems to be driven majorly by the executives and managers. I believe this is because in so many of these large companies the managers and executives spend so much of their time in constant meetings, which is better in person. In person you sit around in a nice office, you talk with people, and do your power points. Remote you stare at a zoom call with no cameras on and talk and people occasionally talk back. These companies also seem very set in their ways and don't try and change to figure out how to work remotely better. I recently left one of these companies not long ago and these seem to be ring true from similar corps.

I am seeing a lot more smaller tech companies and smaller firms that are embracing remote. The small companies where there aren't multiple layers of management, where cancelling an office lease is a big improvement to the owner. They are going remote. I also took a remote tech job, and it seems more innovative companies are embracing remote.

My prediction, which may be wrong, is that traditional companies that go back into the office are going to face strong attrition to remote companies. And companies that go remote are also going to get a huge benefit in talent. I know a lot of really great engineers that do not want to move to SF/Seattle/NYC/Boston. There are great engineers in small towns and cities that like to live near friends and family, and get good salaries for the area (that are lower than big companies). These people are going to go to the remote first companies, leave their old stodgy companies. This is a huge boon for companies that are willing to take it.


> My prediction is that traditional companies that go back into the office are going to face strong attrition to remote companies. And companies that go remote are also going to get a huge benefit in talent.

Your prediction is right that remote work might benefit small companies, but there is a big risk. As soon as those companies grow to a decent size, then they middle management layers which is typically imported from outside. In a remote-only setup with no opportunity to form strong connections, small innovative companies may find it hard to transition to big established giants.

> it seems more innovative companies are embracing remote

maybe because early stage companies, who do not have communication overhead find it easy to embrace remote and such companies are more innovative by their nature? If that is true, then a real test will come when these companies need to scale.


> remote work didn’t conquer the workplace like we were told it would at the beginning of the pandemic

This is not my observation and experience. I've worked "remote" for 20 years. During that time I've noticed a gradual increase in the prevalence and acceptance of remote work, to the point where around 2017 it was common to have "remote-only" organizations. I worked in a few of those. But there were still "remote-mixed" organizations where as a remote participant you were usually calling in to the dreaded Polycom-in-a-meeting-room (or the modern Google Hangouts equivalent).

What I have seen since 2020 is that the "remote-mixed" orgs converted to "remote-only". They no longer have meeting participants in meeting rooms. They're all online. They have been hiring people wherever they can find them, rather than beard-stroking about whether they can handle another remote worker or not. The result, at least at the places I can see into, is that I am skeptical that they will ever truly go back to how it was. How, for example, can you have meetings where the majority of participants are in a room, when you spent 2 years hiring ex-Amazon people in Seattle and ex-Google people in NYC, and your headquarters is in the city (SF)?


I also did remote for a long time before Covid, and I noticed the industry moving towards accepting remote in sort-of lurches.

First it was OK for exceptional cases where the person was really important or had some medical-ish rationale. Then ten years later all those remotes were "normalized" and people got home-office subsidies. Then Covid hit and it was WFH everybody temporarily. Then Covid obviously wasn't going away maybe ever, and it was "hybrid" which I read as "manager decides." Now the workforce is making demands and we'll see where that leads.

(Ironically enough I turned down a job last year because it was on-site and would require a move, and then Covid didn't go away and they closed that office and put everyone on remote.)

I believe it was Andreessen who said over and over again that proximity is a competitive advantage and thus startups will always favor it and by extension so will the Valley. I don't even disagree with the premise, but it sure looks like people are going to "route around" that advantage in order to capture other advantages for the foreseeable (forever-Covid?) future.


The question (that I cannot answer) is will companies find ways to work full remote. Hallways and lunchroom accidental meetings are where a lot of things get discussed.

I don't believe hybrid with some full remote some not can work. You can do everyone in the office on specific days (M-F, or only Tuesday...), but I don't think a mix can work.


My company is hiring right now and many of the candidates we are finding are looking because their company is going back to the office. I think you are right about the everyone competing for them. There are more people that value remote now than before and are looking for organizations that allow it.

Not that I disagree, but I would like to add that I think another contributing factor is the livability of the Bay Area.

Back in 2013 I might have wanted to live in the Bay Area despite how already costly it was. Today, I make far more than I did back then and there's no way in hell I'm living in the Bay Area both for financial and cultural reasons.


>So to now come out and say "look at all the remote hiring we're doing" sure leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Yeah, because you have no choice!

What you're saying isn't as ubiquitous as you might think. I left my last company because remote work was "just temporary" for more than a year and I was unable to plan my life around "just temporary" remote work. What you perceive as choiceless is still a choice (being badly made) by many companies.


Interesting, I know folks at Stripe that have been remote since around or before 2019, and one of the reasons I joined Stripe was because of the fantastic remote policies (hint: they are awesome). I wonder if 2019 was a tipping point for remote work at Stripe?

The other large companies I've interviewed at for the past couple years definitely felt like they tacked on remote work because of COVID, and I wasn't confident it would last once the pandemic calmed down.


The real question is in 5 years - after it is safe to be 100% in person with no mitigation measures will companies go back to full in office. Right now my company is saying anyone who wants to can be full remote for forever. I've been around long enough to know that once a certain number of people are in the office, the people around the water cooler get promoted first so I'll be going back to the office at least one day a week once it is possible. (I live within a long bike ride of the office so this isn't a big deal for me so long as the weather is okay)

Which is to say i don't trust full remote to last.


> Anyone who is fighting to return to the office is missing the point. We should all be striving to unlock permanent mobility within our professions.

It's not mobility if you're being forced to work in a way that doesn't suit you. If everyone is remote, then the x% of developers that don't want to be remote are left without an alternative.


Sometimes you need a forcing function for change.

This is the cynical view. Remember, the reason anyone is looking for work is because they have to work, too. One could go so far as to say the entire human enterprise is carried out by force.

> the entire human enterprise is carried out by force

This is true not because we are human, but because we are living things.


Only according to the pessimist. It’s arguably less true for humans than for other living things. I can end my life at any point.

“The whole world is made of people who didn’t kill themselves today. Life can get very difficult, very sad, very upsetting… but you don’t have to do it. You really don’t have to do it… because you can kill yourself.” Louis CK

Any bad thing I have to do, I am putting myself through. Agency is freeing.


“Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

Expanding out of the Bay Area has been standard practice basically forever.

Unless a company has infinite budgets and plans to maintain small org sizes forever, keeping your entire workforce in the Bay Area doesn’t really scale.

The real question to ask is: Where are these new jobs? Remote? Satellite offices? New foreign offices? Remote is the hot topic, but I haven’t actually seen as many remote listings as I expected given all of the talk. For many of these companies, it could be as simple as opening new offices in other cities. If they’re opening offices in expensive locations like Seattle or NYC then it’s not really about cost of living.

On the other hand, if they really are embracing remote and hiring out of non-traditional locations then maybe it is more about cost of hiring. However, in that case I’ve personally experienced companies become eager to skip the US altogether and start hiring in even cheaper international locations with untapped talent. It’s complicated.

> Talent in the Bay Area are fetching astonishing pay ($600k for L6)

While it’s true that top Bay Area engineers can fetch $600K, it’s much more rare than it can look. Take a look at the median compensation for software engineers in the Bay Area some time. It’s a fraction of that number. Those ultra high paying FAANG jobs aren’t the typical software job, even in the Bay Area.

> A fried of mine refused to interview for position like that despite being very junior! She decided the cost of living is not worth it.

Top Bay Area compensation should be enough to offset the higher cost of living for someone living in an apartment. The cost of living for something like a 1 or even 2-bedroom apartment is negligible for someone who can get into a FAANG job in the Bay.

On the other hand, taking a median software job in the Bay Area is definitely not worth the cost of living increase, IMO, unless you’re using it as a pivot into a FAANG level job later.


> The real question to ask is: Where are these new jobs? Remote? Satellite offices? New foreign offices?

Living in Amsterdam, NL, I can say that I've started seeing A LOT more opportunities from American companies in the last 12 months.

From top of my head: Netflix, Meta, Github, Stripe, Plaid, Lemonade, Box, Amazon - they all target developers in Amsterdam on LinkedIn (some offer "remote anywhere" options, but still put Amsterdam as location to show up in search results)


They target Amsterdam because they already have a financial center there - at least Github and Lemonade. Many times its the European entity for the company (NL and Ireland are very popular choices for business expansion in the EU).

That's possible, Netherlands and Ireland are kind of tax havens in EU. The point remains - the number of job offers from American companies has visibly increased compared to 1-2 years ago.

For sure, totally agreeing it has increased - just wanted to shed some light on why specifically Dublin/Amsterdam (and to lesser extent Paris/Berlin) win a lot of these jobs.

But are they actually hiring? I have seen these ads but they all seem like CV farms no actual plan for hiring. Adverts up for months on end, it really puts me off applying.

Yes, it's just that they are continuously hiring, so they never remove their ads.

Sometimes. I've also seen companies that have the ads up continually because it shows investors they are a growing company - they are not actually hiring, they just keep running ads to look like it.

They do, LinkedIn shows a number of developers working for these companies from Netherlands.

This is actually more Brexit related than Covid related.

It's a lot harder for these companies to hire in London now, so they've been somewhat forced to find new European places (most of which already had small sales/policy offices already).


London too, American VC's and Big Tech are pouring heaps of money into the local tech industry.

> Remote is the hot topic, but I haven’t actually seen as many remote listings as I expected given all of the talk.

Many companies don't openly advertise remote for all positions, but companies are so starved for experienced talent that if a good remote candidate applied with 5+ yr exp, they would be very happy to consider it (modulo restrictions in timezone / country due to paperwork involved)


Shoe-horning your remote self into a position that the company would prefer not to be remote seems like a big risk for stagnation.

I was recently looking for positions and it seems like most of these companies are hiring you as a filler until they get someone just as good. So you're 100 % right.

Without sounding controversial. Most promotions and good things at a job come from people skills rather than technical. And if you can get into the "Good old boys" club or just make friends, then you usually succeed. WFH doesn't really have those options, so not only does the company not want you to WFH, you also arn't making connections and relationships.

After hearing some horror stories from people who took the jump earlier in Covid, I decided against it, since it's exactly what you said. 100 % stagnation.

Although, the only people I have heard doing well are our sysadmins/IT friends. They are very asynchronous and can easily work 3 jobs with no conflicts and are doing very well.


It might depend on company size, individual team etc. Definitely important to find the team which is already remote - see my comment one level up.

It feels like there's a vocal segment of HN users who would be totally fine with that. "Just give me a list of tasks that need doing and let me check in code. Why do managers always want to talk about career progression" etc etc. For people who want to stay in the "mid-level IC" groove in perpetuity, this kind of remote arrangement looks lovely. (I'm personally not interested in that and think it's not sustainable to do that longterm in most companies besides dysfunctional megacorps, but you could probably get away with a good number of years that way.)

IMO the shift to remote is not gonna be reverted (at least in companies above certain size; small startups may work differently); some companies know it under their skin, but didn't internalize it yet enough to be open about it in their job posts; probably they will very soon.

A few observations:

- Often there are already many remote people in the company, and the lack of "remote ok" on job posting might be simply due to: 1) overlook; 2) not wanting too many otherwise unsuitable applicants, perhaps; 3) they may have one job post for generic 'sw dev' position while they try to recruit 100 people to 50 teams; some teams behind this are more remote-ok, others are less

- In my current company, quite a few folks have recently moved away from high cost of living HQ city to smaller city, staying as remote, and got mortgages etc. which means they won't move back.

Definitely before joining, you need to ask questions and ideally find a team which is already 100% remote or close; being the only remote person in a team will suck.


> On the other hand, taking a median software job in the Bay Area is definitely not worth the cost of living increase, IMO, unless you’re using it as a pivot into a FAANG level job later.

not too familiar with the Bay Area - are median companies not already priced out due to the CoL and inability to compete on salary? or are the only remnants VC funded startups that are less sensitive to that?


Look at it this way: There are plenty of Bay Area non-software jobs where people are getting by on $100K or less. It’s not as comfortable as $100K in a small city, but people do it. There’s no reason that an average software developer couldn’t work an average software job for an average salary there and get by.

Contrary to what you read on Blind, HN, and other websites, there are actually a lot of engineers in the Bay Area who aren’t interested in crushing it 24/7 and are happy to take a comfy job as long as it pays the bills and nobody bothers them to much, just like any other location.

That said, most of the median-paid engineers I’ve managed (remotely) in the Bay Area had other contributors to their situation, like having bought a house there 20 years ago or inherited a house from their parents. I don’t think it’s a good idea for anyone to move to the Bay Area now for a median-pay job there unless they really, really want to live in the Bay Area. And some people do! It’s actually a fun place to be, especially if you’re young. Not perfect, obviously, but very fun if you play your cards right.


In 2018, the Department of Housing and Urban Development said that $117K for a family of 4 was low income in SF. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-44725026

If I got a job for a top tier firm and all I could afford was a 2 bedroom apartment, I'd suspect I was played.

What was the point then? "Come for the tech" sure and leave because of anything/everything else.

One of many reasons I will never set foot in the US with the intent to stay: Y'all are nuts


> but I haven’t actually seen as many remote listings as I expected given all of the talk

I've recently done two searches for remote jobs. One in late 2020/early 2021 and another late 2021. The difference is monumental. For the first one almost everyone was "remote until Covid is over". Now the majority are "remote first" and almost all the hold outs have some amount of remote first teams. Almost nobody at this point has a hard requirement that generic coders must be in the office.


The median income stats usually don’t factor in stock compensation. All sources I’ve seen only reference salary.

COVID forcing remote work was that tipping point. I think it was a lot more tenuous beforehand than generally believed due to the cost of living. Great programmers can come from anywhere with the internet.

California has some of the most stringent COVID restrictions in the US, and also the highest costs of living when looking at Bay Area and LA. There's no point to bring people there, especially if they're just going to working from home for the foreseeable future anyways.

I've been remote for several years (pre-COVID). For $600k, they could hire 2 or 3 engineers where I live, still doubling or tripling the local tech pay, and give those engineers the opportunity to buy (or build) and pay off a house in a few years.


> California has some of the most stringent COVID restrictions in the US,

Note that the Bay Area (and SF especially) has had the best Covid outcomes of any metro area in the USA with the exception of Honolulu, with like 1/3 the deaths of most other places.

Bay Area Covid response (both government action and individual choices and behavior) has saved a lot of local residents’ lives and prevented a lot of future chronic illness.

Or to put it more starkly, if everywhere in the US were as on the ball as the Bay Area, at least 500,000 more Americans would still be alive.


Comparing this: https://sf.gov/data/covid-19-cases-and-deaths ...to this: https://usafacts.org/visualizations/coronavirus-covid-19-spr... ...does not suggest that SF is doing anything extraordinary. Comparing to the national average involves comparing to places like NYC, that got hammered early when the death rate was at its highest.

According to the NYT, Austin county has had 193 confirmed Covid deaths per 100k throughout the pandemic. San Francisco has had 78 deaths per 100k. So Austin county has had about 2.5x more deaths than SF per capita.

Note that Austin county is not related to the city of Austin, Texas. The city of Austin is in Travis county, which has had 118 confirmed Covid deaths per 100k, pretty much the best results anywhere in Texas. (Because people in Austin have also been cautious, and the local government has taken what actions it could despite state-level opposition.)


Ha! That's what I get for using a search engine and not checking closely enough what it sends me to. But the difference between either one and NYC, is larger than the difference in policy.

More importantly, perhaps, the peaks (for NYC, Austin, or most other places) occurred in either the heat of the summer, or the depths of winter. If you compare the deaths in SF to the deaths in other cities when the weather was similar, you don't see much difference.


Weather obviously correlates with people spending time together indoors, but it’s not the only relevant factor. Government policy and individual choices determine to a large extent how many risky exposures people undergo and how risky they are. Notice that e.g. Vermont had very low numbers of deaths, while similarly cold places in the midwest had much higher death rates. The difference is primarily political, not demographic or weather-related.

In pre-omicron waves, the virus got to dense exposure in one place then spread geographically outward like a wave or fire (omicron has moved too fast for that pattern to be as visible). For example NYC, Boston, etc. were the initial epicenter in early 2020 (Seattle and the Bay Area also had plenty of early cases but strong reactions flattened the curve); the fall/winter 2020 wave pretty much started at the Sturgis motorcycle rally then spread outward across much of the country from South Dakota; and Florida was the initial epicenter for the Delta variant, which later spread throughout the south, then later on to the northeast, midwest, and west. These geographic waves of infection have perhaps as much to do with epidemic timing as local weather patterns. But severity of each wave has more to do with local social responses than with precise start timing.

County by county or state by state comparisons in the USA are pretty stark (>5x difference between best vs. worst results), but are still limited to a large extent by common features of the federal response, American media environment, etc. If you look at international comparisons, there are 20x or 50x differences in outcome between countries caused by more starkly differing policy responses (obviously lower income countries are much more constrained than high income countries, but within each category some countries have had much worse policy response than others). Countries with fast, coordinated responses who empowered health officials, communicated clearly to the public, and dedicated the necessary resources ended up doing very well in comparison to those who made excuses, blamed others, misinformed the public, sat on their hands, and prioritized politics over health.


If you compare, say, Florida and California: - they were about the same in per capita mortality in the first wave - Florida was higher in summer 2020 wave - California was higher in winter 2020/21 wave - Florida was higher in summer 2021 wave - California is higher now

The relative policy differences between California and Florida did not switch back and forth. The weather did, and it repeats from year to year. It would be nice to imagine that we always have control, but the actual data suggests that it's mostly a placebo. Other than vaccines, nothing humans have done has had much of an impact on the progress of the disease. The differences you refer to (e.g. Vermont) are largely explained by population density (the population of New Hampshire, for example, is about twice as much in the same area).

If policy such as you describe had a big impact, then we would not see Sweden with a lower per capita mortality than France. Actually, while Sweden is slightly less, they've been very close the entire pandemic, and their policies are very different. If you used the same criteria for policy that you would for, say, a vaccine or a treatment, you would reject it as ineffective.


> California and Florida

State policy only goes so far. Both CA and FL have a mix of communities full of careful people with okay-to-good leadership and places full of people fed a steady media diet of misinformation with mostly failed leadership. Florida had every possible advantage going into the pandemic, especially mild weather year around that lets people e.g. eat outside, but the state government completely flubbed the response. CA also had plenty of state failures: the policies about “reopening” were poorly timed, poorly targeted, and not responsive enough to changing circumstances.

What ultimately matters is people’s behavior at the individual level. Federal policy, state policy, and local policy can strongly influence this (e.g. by sharing good advice and accurate information, providing financial resources, supplying equipment and services, doing contact tracing, coordinating relief, ...) but in the USA there are plenty of individual people who have failed in their basic duty to society spread throughout the country.

> Florida was higher in summer 2021 wave - California is higher now

Florida was the literal initial epicenter of the 2021 delta wave in the US. It was seeded there (among other places) because Florida is a major travel hub, but got so bad because Florida is under-vaccinated and people didn’t take basic precautions compared to other initial seed sites. The Bay Area almost completely dodged Delta due to vaccinations and precautions while the under-vaccinated the CA central valley got hammered.

Now with omicron, people throughout the US have largely given up on non-vaccine interventions and the vaccine doesn’t perfectly protect against infection, so somewhere on the order of half of the population of both states (and every other) is going to get infected, but the number of hospitalizations and deaths in both states will almost entirely consist of unvaccinated people. Places in both states where people are vaccinated will be fine, while the FL panhandle and the CA central valley will get wrecked.

There are a bunch of US states with significantly lower population density than Vermont but significantly worse results. Or if you want somewhere to compare to the US that isn’t Vermont, the Bay Area, or Hawaii, look at most parts of Canada vs. most parts of the US. (Note, population density of Canada as a whole is not really relevant here, as most of the people live in a narrow urban band near the border.) Canada has generally had far fewer deaths than the US, even if we compare areas right across the border from each-other.

Sweden has had horrible results compared to its comparable neighbors (Finland, Norway, and Denmark). They backed off of their initial failed policy, but not before costing a lot of lives. Fortunately the Swedish public is generally more cautious than the leadership. And fortunately they ended up getting most people vaccinated (better than Finland which saw most of its pandemic deaths in 2021). Of course, the USA has done about 2.5x worse than Sweden.

> nothing humans have done has had much of an impact on the progress of the disease

This is empirically nonsense, and also a horrible attitude toward public health crises. What is true is that a public health intervention today that ends after 3 months won’t save someone in 6 months. Vaccination is much more permanent than social distancing.

Places where people universally wear masks (the higher quality the better) consistently have lower reproductive rate of the virus. Places where indoor dining was closed dramatically reduced the reproductive rate of the virus. Places where people started working from home, doing virtual school, closing public transit, etc. dramatically reduced the reproductive rate of the virus. Etc. There are hundreds of peer reviewed papers analyzing these trends; they aren’t a mystery.

Places where there was initial masking, quick mobilization of testing, a coordinated contact tracing effort, isolation for the sick, quarantine for travelers, support for the out of work, etc. did relatively very well (e.g. China, South Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, ...). We are talking about >10x fewer deaths than they might have had.

The problem in most of the US and most of Europe is that interventions came too slow, and when they were relaxed, in many places priorities have been wrong: useless interventions have sometimes been persisted (sanitizing surfaces, 6 feet of distance, masks outdoors) while the most important ones (esp. the closure of indoor bars/restaurants) were scrapped, and not enough was invested into getting people better masks, improving indoor ventilation, ensuring sick people stay home, etc. The criteria for re-instating social distancing and masking was based on the wrong metrics with thresholds set too high, and so lagged necessary response timing by weeks if not months. Political pressure and misinformation has overridden public health departments.


That's 100% what people are missing.

I lived in NYC till 2021. It's a global city, unlike SF, where COVID hit early and hard. It's a highly concentrated city as well, that few other places can rival. It's not a car town, that forces people closer.

By all oranges to oranges comparison - Bay Area isn't a standout.


Covid didn’t “hit early and hard” in the Bay Area because people and government in the Bay Area took (relative to the US) strong, fast countermeasures. Before that we were on track to be similar to NYC but a couple weeks behind.

NYC got unlucky being the first place in the US with significant spread (and being a dense, transit-dependent city), but local and state government also severely fucked up the initial response, reacting too slowly and not aggressively enough (e.g. if NYC schools had closed a few weeks earlier, it would have saved a huge number of residents’ lives, but the mayor was afraid closing schools would make him look bad). And NYC in 2020 could have easily been twice as bad as it was, if it had reacted even later than it did.

The lesson here is that public health response matters, public health officials should be empowered, and political leaders should act as fast as possible instead of dithering around and trying to pass blame.


> a highly concentrated city as well, that few other places can rival

If you mean population density, New York isn't even particularly competitive once you get out of the USA:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_world_cities_by_popula...

I lived for 8 years in SF without once driving a car, so I'm not sure what the "car town" thing means in this case.

And yes NYC is a global city but not more than LA is. Per the NYT, LA had 277 deaths per 100K and NYC had 435. Not sure what the argument is here.


If you just count Manhattan at ~70,000 / sq mi it's certainly up there in terms of population density. The outer boroughs (and Staten Island specifically) pull down the average quite a bit.

Death rates go hand in hand with income, obesity rate, age, and general health pre-covid among many other things. You absolutely can’t simply compare death rates from one state to the next that easily without controlling for variables such as age (many times more deadly for the elderly), wealth (multiple times more deadly for the poorest vs. the richest), obesity rate, weather etc etc. This is why several countries have far lower or higher deaths than other countries with very similar strategies.

Death rates go hand in hand with (delayed a few weeks) unvaccinated people getting together indoors without high-quality masks, and breathing each-others’ breath.

People working public-facing jobs or indoor jobs with many coworkers, taking public transit, with kids in daycare, etc. end up with a lot more inevitable inter-household exposure. And obviously people who are elderly, immune compromised, or with other health problems face (orders-of-magnitude) higher individual risk when infected.

But personal choices to avoid exposure make a huge difference to the reproductive rate of the virus.

And government responses providing free test capacity, mandating masks in indoor public spaces, restricting indoor dining, early in the pandemic closing gyms and schools, providing places for people to isolate away from their households, providing financial support for people unable to do their jobs safely, guaranteeing sick pay, etc., and recommendations discouraging unmasked indoor inter-household mingling make a huge difference.

SF has not been perfect by any means. Something like a third of the deaths throughout the pandemic were caused by spread resulting from the relaxation of the restriction on indoor dining for a couple months in the fall of 2020. Early on the city did a poor job getting test capacity where it was most needed in low-income neighborhoods. The city could do a better job providing and encouraging the use of high quality masks. The messaging on boosters hasn’t been forceful enough. And city guidance was too slow to react to changing scientific knowledge (e.g. a 6-foot rule makes limited difference; sanitizing surfaces is useless; masks need not be mandated outdoors except maybe in dense crowds). But overall response here has been faster and more competent than almost anywhere else in the USA.


I'm not commenting on the need or efficacy of COVID restrictions either way, just their positive effect towards promoting remote work.

It's hard to say for sure but I think probably yes. It was essentially an accident that the bay area tech scene ever existed at all and other than nerds writing code and VC's getting rich I don't know how much residents of the area even liked it.

The way to make the bay sustainable is to build taller buildings for people to live in. However this isn't especially popular and even if it was, there is enough bureaucratic cover for a minority to stall it off indefinitely.

I think if you could do that in the next 20 years the bay could maintain it's hegemony. Seems exceedingly unlikely to me.

I suspect it will keep enough momentum to beat out most markets for some time to come, though already by a smaller margin and with a seemingly worse quality of life these days.


NIMBY is why you can't have affordable housing in the Bay Area. There are many areas in the US that are essentially a "better deal" for techies if you can work remote.

NIMBYism is human reluctance to change manifested.

Housing prices in Austin, Raleigh/Durham/Cary, Pittsburgh, Boulder, Bend are becoming unaffordable to folks who were there 10 years prior. And I wouldn't be surprised if existing residents are complaining about the influx of new transplants.

It's tough to predict housing demands and tougher to build infrastructure and houses fast enough for these population changes.

However to f0e4c2f7's point, I agree that unless the Bay Area mitigates its high rents, the region will stagnate. High CoL and creativity are inversely related.


False. Is supply and demand and income inequality. Ever since the global internet companies became ludicrously rich, more and more engineers with outsized wallets have squeezed everyone else out. It’s always been expensive and there has always been NIMBYs but it’s been crazy since 2010.

It takes one or two houses to change the comps in a neighborhood. I sold my house last year. Two married Google engineers came in $250k above everyone else, which was already $500k above list. We found another all-cash offer that was willing to go 50k above the Google engineers so we sold for $800k above list.

Ever since then the house prices in that neighborhood are 300k above those prices. So the price in the neighborhood jumped $1M last year.

Saying it’s nimbyism is stupid. It’s capitalism.


They're willing to pay that much because there isn't enough housing in the bay. If the neighborhood was denser prices would be lower. There aren't an unlimited number of people looking to buy multi million dollar homes in silicon valley.

You wouldn't have as much supply problem without the NIMBY's -AND- it is capitalism. Capitalism is the market reacting to limited supply and high demand. Limited supply is caused by NIMBY, and high demand is caused by tech company hiring & growth. Both are true.

The way to make the bay sustainable is to build taller buildings for people to live in.

This doesn’t seem to be the solution to the problem. People don’t want to “buy” and raise families in high rise condos. I live in Berkeley and we have a shit ton of new condo units coming on the market every month and I can’t believe they’re anywhere near capacity and every one has low-income housing units.

The greater Bay Area has a shit ton of available land that could fill a need for single family homes. Heck running Bart to Marin would bring a whole new world of commutable homes in range. Turn 92 into a 6-8 lane highway instead of 2 and the whole half moon bay side of San Mateo county comes in range. If the goal is affordable single family homes improving access to these areas from a commute perspective would do more.


> People don’t want to “buy” and raise families in high rise condos. I live in Berkeley and we have a shit ton of new condo units coming on the market every month and I can’t believe they’re anywhere near capacity and every one has low-income housing units.

Your feelings are not everyone's feelings, and not everyone wants the same things. I have two kids, and would love noooothing more in the word than being able to live some place where we could walk to our daily activities rather than piling into the damn car. That's only possible with high density and shared parks. That's exactly what I want.

But even if I'm only 5% of families, there's still tooooooons of non-families that would love those condos. Much better than 6 unrelated people splitting rooms in a four bedroom detached house, plus that frees up the detached house for those that really want it for their families. Look around at all those single family neighborhoods in the Bay Area with seemingly inadequate street parking. That's because there are soooo many adults splitting up those homes.

There's also all sorts of people that want to downsize as they age, and also get out of their cars to live their daily life.

This doesn't have to be you. But there are tons if peol who feel this way, and their preferred way of life has been literally banned by law. There's only a very very few tiny areas where it's allowed, and it's in such ridiculous demand that it's often more expensive than much more spacious housing.


> People don’t want to “buy” and raise families in high rise condos

There are hundreds of millions if not billions of people happily doing this. Including in the U.S., e.g. New York, San Francisco and Boston.

> improving access to these areas from a commute perspective would do more

You're describing massive public works to sustain a low-density lifestyle. Those populations couldn't pay for that infrastructure. So it's asking, once again, cities to subsidize suburbs.


There are hundreds of millions if not billions of people happily doing this.

Let me be clear - I'm responding to a post about "Skyscrapers" in the Bay Area, which is a poorly defined term but if you say its 10 stories how many residential buildings of more that 10 stories do you believe exist in SF? I've lived in the Bay Area my entire life and literally zero people who have raised a family in a "Skyscraper" or high rise. New York is the only city I'm aware of where this is a common occurrence but even in those communities raising a family in a High-Rise is a sign of wealth.

There are not hundreds of millions of people raising families in Skyscrapers and high rises, there's likely not even enough inventory in those types of buildings for that statement to event make sense.


For the “in the US” section, you’re probably right. Perhaps he’s from abroad. I was raised in a superblock-style neighborhood. Lived on the 6th floor (which would be the 7th to Americans)! Honestly, only the mid wealthy lived in non-flats. Everyone else had a flat.

No one has yet brought up an essential issue: California bans non-competes. https://www.vox.com/new-money/2017/2/13/14580874/google-self.... As long as California does, and most other places allow them, we're going to continue to see surprisingly high levels of startup formation and company success in California, despite all the bad things being true.

>As long as California does, and most other places allow them, we're going to continue to see surprisingly high levels of startup formation and company success in California, despite all the bad things being true.

If that were truly the case wouldn't a number of other states also be banning non-completes in hopes of attracting businesses? Some quick googling shows only the District of Columbia, North Dakota, and Oklahoma have similar bans on non-competes as California.


States are not truly serious about nurturing businesses, especially small businesses.

You gotta have the talent and funding available too. Ain't none of that in ND or OK. Maybe some in DC but that's such a heavily government focused area that I don't know why anyone would do a startup there unless it was government centered.

I always like to suggest this is the best way to create a startup friendly environment in your state.

OTOH I sorta wonder if the investment in semiconductor fabs and sales orgs in say Arizona is partially founded in the lure of effective non-competes.


yea but they can form in california but hire remotely, startups can hire talent far cheaper in other regions than the bay area.

How about we look at the numbers?: https://www.zumper.com/blog/rental-price-data/

Y/Y: It looks like NY, SJ have recovered (at least for the single bedroom) while the Bay Area is lagging. Some winners are Miami, San Diego, and Orlando. It seems that Florida has seen the highest rise in rental costs. Some losers are Newark, Virginia, St Louis. It seems the shittier cities have lost the most, and the sunnier/friendlier ones have won. In that sense, San Francisco has done averagely.

Based on that, I don't think SF/Bay Area is going downhill as people are imagining. They are doing much better than other places especially that they are already very expensive.


that site is full of crap, i live in Miami, and if rents were that high, people couldn't live here, there is not big tech or unicorns paying faang salaries here ma dude.

in TX at the moment, jeez the number of people we are gaining is absurd, home prices have increases 40-50% in the last 2 years

The "Open Secret" is there was always a "bunched distribution" at the top of the talent scale in SF/Bay Area that really only made it worth it for the FAANG-level orgs over the last decade or so. The top 10-20%? Absolutely better there in terms of talent than anywhere else in the country. Below that, you're just paying 500K when you could get an engineer of equal/better skill anywhere else for 120K. It makes sense for FAANG to lock up that top 20% with 500K salaries... it does not make sense for companies that aren't going to get one of those engineers to try and swim in that pond unless you're making a serious run at being in that level. It really hasn't for the last decade, COVID just made the music stop for a moment and forced everyone to reckon with that.

> you're just paying 500K when you could get an engineer of equal/better skill anywhere else for 120K

I'm not bullish on the Bay Area. But top 50% engineer sitting next to a top 10% engineer will vastly outperform one alone in the middle of the country.


The point is rather that _you're probably not getting one of those_ unless you're FAANG. But you're paying them like they are. Anecdotes are not data, but I've personally seen and worked for several mid-size tech companies open SF/Bay offices, plow a ton of cash into them for decidedly mediocre results that they could have gotten for 1/10th of the cost almost anywhere else and then sheepishly/quietly "phase them out".

> out of the ordinary housing market in the Bay Area when you compare it to other cities in CA like San Diego and Los Angeles.

Many of the high-paying tech jobs in Los Angeles are consolidated in the Venice Beach area, so-called “Silicon Beach.” If you think you can get an affordable house in the desirable neighborhoods around there (Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach, Venice, Brentwood), you’re in for a shock.

You might try heading inland to Inglewood or Culver City to save money, but you’ll be looking at $1.5M houses with bars on the windows. Prices have just gone insane over the last couple years.

Plus, if you’re hoping to escape the crime and addicts of the Tenderloin and Market Street, Venice won’t offer much relief.


Coinbase and Stripe are not startups. They are institutions.

The hacker houses here are still rammed to the gills.


I've always understood the alure to the bay area wasn't the talent but the talent with the correct mindset.

For example, getting software devs that are willing to work long hours to push out a new release. etc.

take this with a grain of salt as i've never been to the bay area.


> getting software devs that are willing to work long hours to push out a new release. etc.

That is a function of being single, young, and naive, not of location. Once you grow up, you realize that working long hours on someone else's dream while your family needs you is idiotic.


The talent tends to be well connected and there are resources everywhere. If you ride a train or drink coffee you will certainly see someone coding there. If your company needs tech services, they are there. If you ask a random adult on any street they can likely explain web services. So not just the talent, not just the mindset, but also the density and availability.

No, it's absolutely the talent. You want grinders? Go to NYC

When you can't address basic Maslow levels (food, housing, etc.) financially, you definitely are incapable to supporting top level Maslow levels which are central to innovation, creativity and improvement.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs

The SF Bay Area crossed over that boundary a fairly long time ago.

I finally gave up in 2016 after being born and raised in California and have decades of Tech career in the SF Bay Area. It's no longer viable for ACTUAL innovation there. For the most part there is no technology innovation happening in SF Bay Area Tech companies anymore. There is plenty of revolutionary political innovation but nothing in technology and the direction of that is distinct ANTI-innovative.

Innovation no longer requires being in the SF Bay Area to be achieved. My recent formation of a new Tech company (in 2016 in upstate NY) and sale/exit in 2018 proves it to me. YMMV of course.


> I am assuming that many positions that require the candidate to (eventually) relocate to the Bay Area are not getting a lot of traction. A fried of mine refused to interview for position like that despite being very junior! She decided the cost of living is not worth it.

Cost of living is high, but for a junior engineer I think it might be possible for a good case to be made that it is worth it assuming that the junior engineer has a fairly recent bachelor's degree from a good college.

One of the lessons you should have learned incidentally while getting your degree is that if your rent and utilities and much of your food are covered and you are busy enough that you don't have a ton of free time you can get by for at least 4 years without having much extra money.

The median household income in San Francisco is $112k per year. The average household size is 2.26 persons.

This means that half the households in San Francisco are getting by on less than $112k per year. That's for everything--rent/mortgage, food, utilities, insurance, transportation, clothes, entertainment.

I'd consider if I was a junior engineer taking the San Francisco job if it paid significantly more than $112k, and then for the next few years live like I lived in college. Live in the kind of housing that the people who are making under the median household income live in, and everything you make that doesn't go to living in that housing with a lifestyle similar to a college student put in in your 401k or other investments.

You already know from college that you can live this way for 4 years and come out OK. If you can just do that for a few more years, you can have some nice savings built up. Then you can figure out if you want to stay in San Francisco but upgrade your lifestyle, or move to someplace cheaper, but with a nice fat portfolio of savings and investments that will serve you very well later.


For Stripe/Coinbase, 74%/89% eng hiring out of Bay Area. Today, a lot of that hiring could be happening in other parts of the US. But before you cheer too much about that, consider that the shareholders of those companies are already looking for ways to hire outside US. After all, if your setup can accommodate someone from Kansas, how hard is it to onboard someone from Canada or Mexico?

A data point - my company is already hiring more than half of the new hires outside the USA. Or to paraphrase a politician, that whirring sound you are hearing is one of the last remaining sources of good jobs getting sucked out of the country.

Previous discussions: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27696235 and https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=29784222


I've been a part of two large companies that have made a conscious move away from hiring in the Bay Area. For both of these companies, the major drivers were that the market is so saturated there that it's harder to find people there.

A ton of companies outside FAANG are emerging as both 100% remote and async-first. Of course this doesn't make them perfect but they are succeeding both commercially and culturally. As soon as x number of Zapier's in the world who grew and attracted talent from all over, this will become the default way of working and building companies and the Bay Area will be way less relevant.

No.

Once the pandemic is over, startups that are in-office will be more productive and faster than bigger companies. The bigger companies will notice this, and force in-person/in-office as well and remote will quickly devolve.

Remote is survivable, mainly because of the pandemic, but it’s not preferable for business. In-office is much more efficient and it will be immediately evident once it is enforced.


I'm curious, do you have any data on that? Or is this just your gut feeling?

My experience goes mostly the other way, that remote workers are more efficient, but of course, two sets of experiences doesn't make a large data set.


https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-021-01196-4

> Our results show that firm-wide remote work caused the collaboration network of workers to become more static and siloed, with fewer bridges between disparate parts. Furthermore, there was a decrease in synchronous communication and an increase in asynchronous communication. Together, these effects may make it harder for employees to acquire and share new information across the network.

Discussed on HN - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28494920

It's not a perfect study but we don't really have that much actual research and evidence either way.


Interesting. That's a good start. It's interesting how it focuses on communication. I'd suggest that the gold standard is "business value", though I don't know how you'd measure it. My casual experience matches what this study says. But the flip side is that most people I know work a few more hours a week (replacing commuting time with work), and have replaced meetings and casual chatter with writing code.

I also wonder how we will quantify "remote work" between different disciplines. HR vs Sales vs Engineering vs creative work, etc.. I'd guess the effects are different on different disciplines.


"a decrease in synchronous communication and an increase in asynchronous communication."

Lol, aka less meetings/broadcast missives, and more actual conversations?

There are so many factors and variables at play that I'm not sure there will be a definitive "answer" whether remote is better or worse. I think it strongly depends on the team, the company the industry, etc.

My experience is that remote done well, where everyone is enthusiastic, etc, is even better than in-office.

But for some jobs/companies it seems the in-office bullying is an important part of "motivation".


No, that’s not a fair AKA at all. I’ve seen multiple million dollar projects get built from the ground up, and they all required large amounts of synchronous communication to get started that wouldn’t have been feasible in an all-remote world. I want to emphasize that I’m not saying this out of any personal attachment - I absolutely prefer to work remotely and I hope that going into the office 5 days every week stays obsolete. But companies (and employees) that go all-remote are going to face a real price in innovativeness for doing so.

> Once the pandemic is over

Pandemic is not really going to be "over". The hope that it would just become endemic is fizzling out. We'll certainly continue living life, but it will never go back to the way it was.

My money is that Omicron will bring record deaths that we'll start seeing a few weeks. People will realize wishful thinking doesn't do much to fight pandemics. Most people will think Omicron will make them immune forever, and we'll get new variants periodically, sometimes they'll be short and mild sometimes they'll be awful. People will start realizing that it's waiting for an end that's exhausting, and getting on with life, even if that means things are never quite the same, is preferable.

"Back to office" will increasingly seem like a liability. Employees are already getting sick of the perpetually moving "back to office" dates. After 3 years of perpetually moving back these dates more and more companies will realize it's much healthier and more productive to just move forward as things are.

> In-office is much more efficient and it will be immediately evident once it is enforced.

People may hate remote work during the pandemic, but I have seen very few people find that their teams are any less productive and plenty that have found them more productive. I've worked for successful remote teams for years prior to pandemic. The only issue in the past that remote startups really had was that VCs didn't like the look of not having an office in SF.


> My money is that Omicron will bring record deaths that we'll start seeing a few weeks.

I really hope you are wrong in this prediction.

> but I have seen very few people find that their teams are any less productive and plenty that have found them more productive

I've seen the same. You hear about isolated instances of teams being less productive but like you said, most folks I've talked to said their team has become more productive with remote work.

IMO remote work is here to stay and is the future and I think it all boils down to not having to be co-located with your co-workers. Once management and HR figure out that this lets them have a 10x larger talent pool, they will get onboard (if they haven't already)


> I really hope you are wrong in this prediction.

For the record I also hope that I am wrong on this. I very much believe that we really don't know at this point (unfortunately rising hospitalization data, and uptick in deaths has me concerned).

The trouble is the media chanting of "it's mild!" has meant people have basically ignored Omicron when we didn't have enough information to say "it's fine!" being mild and highly contagious can easily mean more deaths, and we haven't had enough data to say where the balance lies.


>My money is that Omicron will bring record deaths that we'll start seeing a few weeks.

Are people still trotting out the "just wait 2 more weeks!" shtick?

Anywhere I can go to make this bet with you? Willing to put down $100 that there aren't record deaths in the US in the next 3 weeks.


This is overly reductive. There are pros and cons to remote work. In-office is better for high bandwidth collaboration and social cohesion, but remote is better for IC focus, talent pool, and commute times. Which one is overall faster depends on cultural factors and work styles specific to the company.

In aggregate we're only 2 years into the majority of companies giving full-remote serious consideration, so it hasn't really been fully tested yet. I don't think fully remote will be the default by any stretch, because at the end of the day many people are not cut out for remote work, but it's definitely going to be stickier than a lot type A management blowhards want to believe, and I predict we'll see some major all-remote success stories at scale over the next 5-10 years.


That's my personal experience too - that my team and I are more productive when we work from the same office. I don't know how realistic it is for everyone to return to the office though - many other people like remote and most people are kind of entrenched in their positions.

You make a lot of questionable assertions. Why would being in office be more efficient?

I'd assume it'd be easier to build camaraderie between in-person coworkers than faceless Slack names. Coworkers that know each other well can probably collaborate better

As someone who has worked remote long before the pandemic, this is a myth in my experience. I have had at least as many friendships formed with remote coworkers as I have in person office workers.

Occasional get-togethers do help with this quite a lot, but it's not necessary.

What I find strange about this reasoning is: doesn't every hacker have friends from around the world they've never met in person? From various software projects, open source contributions, online community connections etc I have a fairly long list of people who are very important to me that I've never met in person.


> I have a fairly long list of people who are very important to me that I've never met in person

It happens for some but I can't say its the norm. Most people's meaningful relationships are based on real life, at least initially or some of the time.


You can solve that with occasional, in-person team meetups (a few times per year).

Meeting people in person, at least once, is valuable. It improves communication, helps people feel assimilated to the company and team, and creates a mental image of a three-dimensional co-worker (instead of just a faceless Slack handle)

Sitting physically next to people every day, especially for engineers, is often not valuable. This is especially true for those who have significant commutes or families.


> You can solve that with occasional, in-person team meetups (a few times per year).

Unfortunately this doesn't really cut it. There is a huge difference between the teams I worked in where we were all remote vs the ones where all of us were in the office. The camaraderie, the amount of slack we gave each other, how fast we delivered and the overall mood was much better despite having wildly different personalities.

With remote, you are interfacing with only one dimension of someone's personality and they may rub you the wrong way in a PR comment or otherwise and you can easily right them off. It's different when you go for lunch with the same person and talk about work or other stuff.

Another thing is that talking about work-related-but-not-current-project-related stuff is much easier when people in the same location and the conversation starts off spontaneously. Whereas in a remote setting it needs to be a bit more organized so there is an overhead.

There are a lot of pros to remote though, like not having to be subjected to your colleague's poor hygiene.


> You can solve that with occasional, in-person team meetups (a few times per year).

Doesn't ring true to me after spending 2 years in a remote-first setup. Even post-vcxx setup where everyone could meet freely didn't facilitate as much in-person interaction as I was looking forward to.

> Sitting physically next to people every day, especially for engineers, is often not valuable.

For junior engineers trying to onboard, sitting close to their mentors is big help. Same for senior TLs who are coordinating complex technical projects across a team of 10-12 engineers or even more. Having everyone around is a big time saver for the overall project. WFH/Remote setup is great only for the engineers who are self-sufficient and neither need mentoring from others nor have to coordinate and lead other engineers' work.


>Sitting physically next to people every day, especially for engineers, is often not valuable.

You make a lot of questionable assertions. Why would meeting up a few times a year be as good as seeing someone every day?


Even still surely some hybrid solution would suffice - where's the gain in daily office commute? I really start disliking my fellow workers when I am forced to see them everyday. Once or twice a week makes everyone more tolerable.

> some hybrid solution would suffice

Hybrid enables a move from San Francisco to e.g. Petaluma. It doesn't permit most workers to move to Idaho. That argues for an expansion of the Bay Area over its demise.


It's hard to tell what will happen; surely most American companies will leave a main headquarters in the U.S which will probably be hybrid. Than they will have lower cost centers (that will be either remote or hybrid as well). Overall probably this will push down wages in SV and move it up in places like Germany or Ukraine. But I don't think it will be that dramatic. Salaries will still be very generous in SV.

Im personally way more productive working from home as I can craft an environment that allows concentration on a task without constant interruptions.

I get that teamwork will suffer etc. so the jury is out for me. That said if I ran a company it would be fully remote.


How about taxes? In my East-European country I am paying about 10% net on taxes (including social and health, including expenses, excluding VAT). Nothing illegal or offshore, just normal accounting from local semi retired lady.

In Cali I would have to juggle with deferred stocks, exit taxes, local taxes, federal taxes etc.. And net salary would be about same.


In California, you will be paying 30-40% in taxes (Federal, State, Social security etc) if you have a well paying tech job paying more than 250K USD. Even after those taxes, you will be taking home 60% of your pretax income, which is around 150K USD per year. After accounting for very high living costs (3/4K rent, 1/2K living expenses, insurance premiums), you can still have 20-30% of your pre-tax income.

Also, if you have heard crazy stories about American healthcare, rest assured that a tech job paying you 250K USD will also offer you very good insurance that you don't have to worry about it generally. I am an immigrant, did this exact calculation and am living a far better lifestyle than what I could ever afford in my home country.


My estimate is about 50% on 300k/year, just taxes no living expenses. But main reason is tax unpredictability. I would have to pay small fortune on accountants and it still does not guarantee, there wont be fines latter. If you are partially self employed, and receive part of salary in crypto.. Things get complicated very quickly.

I am not worried about healthcare. It is just ultra expensive if you want good quality.


somehow you are assuming you can only make 300k in Cali paying 40% taxes?

I sure hope so, maybe my friends who grew up in the Bay Area who are not techies will be able to move back home if they want to.

Tech didn't cause the housing shortage, that's entirely the responsibility of long-time residents that control the very local government structures that restrict housing.

As bad as the SF Bay Area is, it's not as bad as LA when it comes to salary-housing cost mismatch. So the average person who was born in LA is even worse off than the Bay Area. Tech is not the cause of California's housing problems.

Those local power brokers that own the land and profit off of housing scarcity are also setting the narrative. So by creating a tech boogie man, they can deflect any political energy away from any solution that might help the housing situation, from which they directly profit.


The reason they can't move back is mostly not due to techies inflating housing costs, but due to artificially, deliberately and chronically restricted supply of housing, implemented via policies such as zoning. It's an artificial scarcity that can be undone by legislation, but you need legislators (of both sexes) to grow some balls first.

They’re both issues contributing to rising housing costs.

> They’re both issues contributing to rising housing costs

Do you think Detroit is celebrating the demise of its automakers for having reduced property values? Bay Area homeowners are lords who convinced their peasants that the merchants are eating their lunch.


> Do you think Detroit is celebrating the demise of its automakers for having reduced property values?

The automakers aren't gone, they just moved out of the city and took the jobs with them. Detroit home values also were not as inflated as San Francisco home values. Sometimes two things are actually different.


> automakers aren't gone, they just moved out of the city and took the jobs with them

The transmission mechanism between industry and home prices is employment. The people praying for an exodus of tech workers should also be prepared for the impact it would have on the public purse.


California's reliance on state income taxes over property taxes should help soften the blow.

> California's reliance on state income taxes over property taxes should help soften the blow

Assuming someone leaving the Bay Area will go elsewhere in California. And even if they move to e.g. Sacramento, why would their tax dollars continue going to the Bay? Their votes moved with them.


It's kind of beside the point, but it's because of how California collects taxes from citizens. Property taxes are artificially low due to Prop 13. In order to collect needed taxes, California has instituted a high (very graduated) income tax rate. Income taxes are collected by the state and property taxes typically by the county and/or city.

In my state, Illinois, we have the opposite problem. Our state income tax is a flat rate (4.95%). In order for politicians to raises taxes, they target property taxes. The result is one of the highest property tax rates in the country.


High wages would not increase housing costs, unless there was insufficient housing.

We should be fighting for higher wages everywhere, not limiting them because we gave away all our power to landlords.


Sure, buy one (well-paid techies) is a minor, possibly vanishingly minor cause, and the other (artificially restricted supply) is the major, fundamental root cause.

California’s not even building housing at the rate that existing families are having babies.

Even if there were zero in-migration, there still wouldn’t be enough housing for the rising generation.


I don’t see the Bay Area getting cheaper anytime soon.

I believe remote work has two futures.

The first is many companies will return to requiring a majority of time in the office. There are admittedly hard to measure reasons management will want back in the office, and the first is productivity (I don’t mean how much an IC produces, but how much revenue per employee a firm generates).

The second future is all our tech jobs get offshored, similar to what happened after the dotcom bubble burst.

I believe that companies will probably wind up going to future #1. Or at least companies that are heavily invested in R&D.

There will probably be more satellite offices and more geographically distributed tech startups.

But in the first future I believe SF and Silicon Valley will still serve as one of the largest tech employment hubs. For example NYC is still a major financial hub, despite major top-25 US banks being headquartered in places like Texas, Virginia and North Carolina.

Edited to comply with Dang’s reminder of site guidelines.


> I’m going to get downvoted to hell

Please don't do this in HN comments. It adds noise, breaks the penultimate guideline (https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html), and is uncorrelated with reality.


I have worked at a number of places that relied heavily on off-shoring and my observation every single time was that while individual developer costs are generally much lower, you incur a lot of other hidden costs due to things like language barriers and asynchronous communication cycles.

But the biggest factor preventing a mass transition to off-shoring is that off-shore devs are always contractors since very few orgs can handle the logistics of international employment. As someone that did contract work for 5 years, contractors do not engage the same way that employees do. We are generally immune from the client's political bullshit and if things get too messy we are much more likely to waltz to another contract rather than help fix your org's fundamental problems.


I'm contracting for a startup right now, and find myself much more engaged than when I was working full-time on salary for a mid-sized (~1000-2000 employees) company.

I had a really hard time being motivated for the mid-sized company, because it felt like there was very little impact to my work, and a lot of time was spent bikeshedding and yak shaving, the work I did do was not very interesting, I wasn't being challenged, and I wasn't learning new things. I was basically a glorified button-pushing monkey. In my last year working there I started tracking my time for my personal analysis, and found that I was doing ~15 hours per week of work (which included >5 hours of meetings, some of which were large conference calls which I would fall asleep during). I ended up quitting to take 6 months off work.

When I started contracting for a startup (working on interesting things), I found I have much more ownership over the tools I work on (I've sort of become 'in charge' of several applications that I'm the only developer on), and I'm billing per hour also. I still struggle to get more than 30 hours per week, but I've probably turn out more code in a month here than in the last year at the last place.


The differentiating factor in your case is startup vs mid-size company. Not contracting vs FTE.

Contractor vs. employee is not as huge a logistical nightmare these days if you are confident you really want to pull someone in and they're amenable, you can always pay companies like remote.com to be the employer of record and handle the international stuff for you. It's expensive but not egregiously so compared to tech salaries, and they really do handle most of the time-consuming and messy stuff involved. You are still going to be constrained by the more or less business-friendly laws that various countries impose, in terms of it potentially being difficult to fire people, having long notice periods, various taxes and benefits that are mandatory, etc., but at least you don't have to actually incorporate.

I definitely agree re: language and async headaches. I won't work with shops that route all comms through a PM anymore, that usually means that the devs don't speak much English and the code quality is going to suffer due to poor naming conventions and lack of quality tech documentation.


> The first is many companies will return to requiring a majority of time in the office.

I think it will be the major choice for many companies for one simple reason, they've paid for the office. Either via rent or by building it.

An office also normally has a vibe, a community spirit, etc. That has disappeared with remote work. People complain they miss it yet still don't realise the only way it's coming back is if everyone has to go to the office.

I think the hybrid way will be popular for a year or two then companies will go back to demanding that people are in the office. Especially large corporations.


I was remote before the pandemic, and I really enjoyed that my company had an office and vibe, as you say. I went there almost monthly and internalized the culture myself. I think a lot of people actually want to work from an office (if it is a nice one), and the mix of base office culture with remote workers visiting regularly works really well IMO and I’d love to return to it.

Part of the reason so many people wanted to go remote was that a lot of offices sucked (in addition to commutes, etc). It’s be great if we got better offices for those who wanted them and more flexible remote for others (but that’s probably too optimistic).


> The second future is all our tech jobs get offshored, similar to what happened after the dotcom bubble burst.

I think a few factors might moderate this outcome:

1) Timezone-spreads matter. The 4-hour span of West Coast to East Coast time zones isn't ideal, but manageable. Beyond that, realtime collaboration becomes a serious challenge.

2) Maybe (I hope) remote-work enablers like dedicated workspaces and interactive whiteboards will get more widely adopted.

These could make a "middle ground" between those to extremes more competitive.


I think countries in general wouldn't want to outsource huge chunks of their IT/tech positions, that's not really good. 20-30% is manageable, but more than that is strategically very dangerous for the economic competitiveness of the country. I expect governments to start putting caps on this (by taxation or whatever) at some point to restrict it.

> I believe that companies will probably wind up going to future #1

I agree. There is some temporary leverage tech employees have right now, but as it fades, the inexorable pressure will be to return to the office a significant amount of the time. Middle managers at many companies exist primarily to build kingdoms, and they like to see their subjects.


Hmm really not agreeing here. It's gonna be a huge deal breaker for many talented devs. 1-2 days a week in office sure, but more than that? You will lose a lot of people for very little gains.

Sure, right now, I think you're right. But I don't think the leverage will last. And I expect there to be a bifurcation between what you can earn remotely and what you can get if you're willing to come into the office, and that will bring a number of people back into the office as well.

I think we will see a permanent increase in remote work, but I don't think the level we see now will persist for more than a couple years.


Why not? What was so great about the old way of doing things? I can't really see the advantages. Hybrid + fully remote sounds much more sensible to me but maybe I'm looking at it wrong. Consider that each year that passes we get more used to the new way; even middle management who have incentive for things to go back to the way there were - even they are probably starting to appreciate no commute and not having to work in crowded open space every day.

Now a fully remote company is something else, that's probably hard to do. But hybrid together with a certain percentage of fully remote workers makes a lot of sense to me.


I've worked at a company for a while who has had hybrid onsite/remote teams for many years. If you're remote, you accept the career limitation. The people who want more money, more promotions, more everything -- they show up at the office. It's pretty easy to forget about the remote folks when in-office discussions and decisions are made.

It's not great, but it's just a simple reality that plays out no matter how hard people try to work around it. This is why I won't work remotely for a company that does hybrid teams. I will only work on a team that is fully remote, or one that is local enough to me that I'm part of the in-office crowd.


Could be, everyone makes their own calculations.



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