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Ask HN: Employers, why do you want us back in the office?
356 points by devoutsalsa on Feb 5, 2023 | hide | past | favorite | 900 comments
Many of us were remote, and now many of us are being asked to come back? Knowing office workers all work with remote people in other offices, and there’s not much in-office dynamic like maybe there was 20 years ago, what are your primary motivations dragging us back into the office? Nearly every meeting I’ve had in an office since 2014 has been a video conference with remote people.

I'm in my 20s. I live alone in a city where I don't know anyone. Remote work destroyed my mental health.

All I wanted was to be able to go into an office and talk to a real life person. I would go weeks at a time not talking to a single person in real life.

I don't think people understand the plight of the young office worker until they've experienced the torture of solitary confinement. Day in, day out. All alone. I don't have a girlfriend, friends, or a life in this city.

I tried to join clubs and a maker space, but no time - I was working all day. The maker space closed early. I'm creative, I like working. I just wanted to go to an office. That's all I wanted. I wanted a routine. I wanted to commute and people watch. I wanted to feel like I was living life. But no, I had a remote job.

I got a new job that's supposed to be 3 days a week in office. Guess what? My team can't get enough remote work - they're not going to go into the office. And here I am, again, in the torture of solitary confinement.

I've been thinking about getting a new career, going into the trades. Anything that would allow me to have consistent interaction with other people.

I've become anti-technology, anti-society. I'm an optimistic person, yet I slip into depression because the only thing I want - to be able to go into an office - will not happen for me.

I think you're the most honest pro-office person here. Everyone else is making justifications that dance around this idea that they need the office for the human connection. What you describe is very real and I understand that it hurts.

I think what's happening is that we're in the shaking out phase where companies are deciding whether they'll be remote/hybrid/office. Each company will make that decision based on the preferences of the people with the most influence, and because opinions vary so widely there will be lots of diversity in outcomes.

And that's a really good thing. It's unfair that those of us who can't stand being in an office were made to go into the office to satisfy the social needs of other people who aren't getting enough socialization in their personal life. But it's also not right for people like you to feel like you have no choice but to be isolated.

What we need is for people to not feel trapped in a job that has the wrong balance of remote and in-person. If you are the only one of your coworkers who feels the way that you do, maybe the answer is to find a company where the majority of employees share your desire for in-person work. I know that sounds overwhelming right now, but once you've made the leap once you won't be stuck in the wrong alignment again.

One of the other issues is that I don't hate the office in principle.

However open plan, sales folks yelling on a phone, demands that I don't wear headphones to drown it out, is all so draining.

I remember the lead up to Christmas 2019, some fucking idiots decided that what we really needed in the open plan office, where I'm already positioned near the café, was removal of mini-meeting rooms, and 2 hours of carollers.

I don't want to listen to some people singing their echoing Christmas songs in a "jazzy" way. I still had to do calls and support other teams who I couldn't hear over the noise.

If working from the office actually meant having a small closed off space for my team so we could collaborate, have meetings, design sessions and planning it would be great.

If going to the office meant having other teams available to whiteboard their problems in an available meeting room, come up with a plan and roadmap the improvements it would be great.

However they got rid of offices for teams, they got rid of cubicles so that other people's calls would at least be muffled, they got rid of partitions between people's breakout spaces and the rest of the floor so I have to listen to inane conversations at other people standups.

If this kid wants an office because he needs social interaction, that's fine. We can do a hacking session once a week. We can go to the office to plan and design fortnightly. I've done paired programming, problem investigation, where we have just an open call between two people and a screenshare so that you aren't alone and we can talk it through.

In principle the office is a social space with productivity possibilities. In practice, most companies appear to want to make the office the most unpleasant location to be.

To paraphrase a coworker, they demand productivity... but then manage to make the office the most unpleasant, unproductive environment available.

An uncomfortable desk and ancient HP monitors, none of which I can upgrade or change; loud coworkers; tons of unrelated teams, for whom sharing space is unnecessary; and calls with people, most of whom aren't even in the same city (or timezone). Meanwhile I can do all of that at home, more effectively, with far more flexibility.

Yup, my home office has 2x 27" monitors, my camera is just right, as is the mic, I've got a deep, 2m wide real wood sit-stand electric desk, a Aeron chair, all my stuff is right here, it's quiet (though I can always play music loud if I want) and lighting is just right. I'm within 2 minutes walk of a shop and take-away.

No office I've ever worked at came close, the closest I've had was having dual monitors, as for shops, most offices took longer to get to the front door, never mind actually reach anywhere!

Like you, I appreciated his comment. It was honest, and I have been there. We are in the shaking-out phase of this change. The bigger problem is management isn't across-the-board good at determining productivity in-person or remote. Good managers are rare, and staring over someone's shoulder to make sure the work is getting done correctly is harder in remote work. The systems to provide this checking and oversight are still maturing - I don't mean employee surveillance.

I've been at the other end of the spectrum where I don't get work done in the office. I get involved in crosstalk between coworkers too much. We go to far too many pointless meetings. Everyone wants to share about their family while I'm working. I feel over-socialized and it affects my work and my ability to disconnect at the end of my day. This is a job. I get paid money for the work I do. I should not feel indebted to people who parody themselves as my friends (coworkers) who need this last-minute thing done by me at the end of the day. I'm off the clock and I want to disconnect. How many times have I worked through lunch? How many times have people called my personal number for non-emergency needs? The workplace infringes on my work-life balance, and remote work gave a large part of that back to me.

If we care about both groups of people (those over-socialized, and those isolated), we should give the worker the option. A good supervisor should be learning how to engage with the employee in the way they wish to communicate, as long as the work is getting done.

> I've been at the other end of the spectrum where I don't get work done in the office.

Open offices are what destroyed the experience of going to work.

When I had a private office (the first 17 years of my career) I loved going to the office. I had all the silence and privacy to get work done, but at the same time I could step out of the office 2-3 times a day and hang out with the team, chitchat about work, projects, life, hobbies and have a real human connection. When it was time to get back to work, could go back into the private office.

But open herd rooms these days broke everything. No concentration, no privacy, no in-the-zone ever, just forcefully being distracted all day. So now I just hate all these people around me making noise all day. Thankfully the pandemic put an end to that so I can concentrate on work away from the office. But I miss the human connection we had then everyone had private offices.

I'd go back to an office enthusiastically 5 days a week if I had a private office. But if you force me into an open office, I will never again want to go in person.

As a 49-year old software developer that had the real-office experience early in my career: same.

And the crazy thing is some companies are pushing for even worse than open-office plans and have moved on to "hot desking", all the same problems of an open office except you also don't even have your own desk space, just nomad your ass around the office and hope you find a spot to slap your laptop down.

The fact that some companies have mandated return to office and also have adopted a system where you literally have no space of your own at said office just seems insane to me and makes me wonder when the bunk capsule style hot desking is coming.

Just think of the office rent savings if we stack them 2 or 3 high! Nevermind the fact that the company thrived for 2+ years with almost nobody in the office at all.

I had an office at my first position that I shared with one other person, and after that a cube, and that was mostly fine as it removed the majority of the noise.

I don't need necessarily a personal office. But I need them to be reasonable.

A closed off space for just the 6 folks in the team would be fine, and a separate small space for someone to go to for a call or a 1:1.

I didn't put this together until I read your comment, but I resonate strongly with what you say here. it's been so long since I had an actual office that I had forgotten and, looking at it through this lens, it's true: what I like about working at home isn't so much the working at home part, but that I now have an office.

I listed private office as a requirement for my current job. Now I'm in the office almost every day.

At one point in time there were talks of sharing the space. I told them I had other options. The talks died.

Don't only negotiate on salary.

Put yourself in the executives shoes for a second, they're not stupid people, they know how large the risk of blowback is and how many employees they might disenfranchise or lose. They're that confident that remote work is a bigger threat to their long-term performance and they don't want to get lapped by the companies with an in-office culture

This argument is an appeal to authority that I just can't buy. You don't have to be a stupid person to succumb to your own biases, you just have to be human, and plenty of executives make irrational decisions based on their subjective feelings.

FWIW, I read GP's comment as more an elaboration of incentive structures rather than an appeal to authority.

You're still right that plenty of people make irrational decisions under whatever incentive structure they're in, but I think that the steelman version of GP's argument would probably go something like:

    If we see a large % of companies going full-RTO, then maybe there's something to be said for the bet that RTO is a long-term competitive advantage.
...or, they might all just be lemmings, too. It's hard to say just yet, but I think it'll be interesting to see if there's an effect on stock performance over the next 10 years based on what companies decide now. (I feel like that's probably how long it'll take for the full impact on company culture to play out.)

It's quite safe to say that whatever companies do next year or the following one is purely due to executives bias or lemming effects.

If there is a very strong impact on competitiveness, maybe we will notice in about a decade, if companies don't collude in stopping it.

Not like you are providing any cogent argument. Execs sure have their own biases but they do have a lot of data to make important decisions like RTO policy. If you disagree with them, maybe it says more about your ignorance, blind spots and biases?

Sure, I'll bite. What's the data on remote work?

I was talking to a CTO at a mid-sized startup (200 people or so; private company; I think ex-YC but not 100%); been there for a decade type concern.

Person flatly said no one works in WFH. I am also a manager and responded my team busted their balls the whole time, and delivered results. My personal opinion is my team did 120% of their productivity. I also acknowledge that some people are not built for it and their productivity may fall. I believe a manager can deal with this (either creating the right task-incentive structure, or getting the person off the bus). After my impassioned argument, the person said ..nope .. people just don't work during WFH. This was a social event, just the two of us talking, so I am quite sure this guy was being honest.

I also ran into a different person in a leadership position (just not very high; more like technical leadership; ex-professor; stints at Google). He was convinced the real reason FAANG hired so crazily was because productivity per employee had dropped dramatically. His belief was no one worked during WFH. Again, my impassioned arguments and personal anecdotes did not really move this person.

Just replied to another comment in this thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=34679651

TL;DR: if there is no data, decision makers are going to stick to what they know best. And what current execs / c-suite knows best is in-office. They haven't learned management techniques for fully-remote yet.

I also started compiling research showing the value of in-person interaction: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=34673235

As do the people being asked to commute. It’s the same base rate.

Executives are indeed stupid people

> Workers with full schedule flexibility report 29% higher productivity and 53% greater ability to focus than workers with no ability to shift their schedule, according to a just-announced report from Future Forum. But do bosses trust employees to be productive when working out of the office?

> Microsoft released a new study, where it found that 85% of leaders say that the “shift to hybrid work has made it challenging to have confidence that employees are being productive.” More concretely, 49% of managers of hybrid workers “struggle to trust their employees to do their best work.” This lack of trust in worker productivity has led to what Microsoft researchers termed productivity paranoia: “where leaders fear that lost productivity is due to employees not working, even though hours worked, number of meetings, and other activity metrics have increased.”

So workers are more productive with remote flexibility, working more hours and managers and execs still want more.


There is a bit of a leap of faith between "Workers with full schedule flexibility report 29% higher productivity" to "workers are more productive". Everything else being equal, I would trust the managers more than the employees' self-assessment.

> Microsoft released a new study, where it found that 85% of leaders say that the “shift to hybrid work has made it challenging to have confidence that employees are being productive.” More concretely, 49% of managers of hybrid workers “struggle to trust their employees to do their best work.”

nothing about this figure from managers says employees are more or less productive, just that managers having a feeling workers are less productive, they can't trust them etc.

sounds like the managers are just projecting their feelings onto employees.

Yep, they are uncomfortable because they can’t fall back to idiotic / superficial metrics ie. “butts in seats” and it will require more work/introspection etc. to find actual better metrics and use them

You are making the dangerous assumption that these people know what they are doing. Time and again, winners and losers emerge of this and many of the top level executives turns out to be dead wrong.

And you are making assumption that these people are all stupid. What is your arguement?

Intelligence aside, do we/they have proper data on the topic to make an objective and sound decision in the first place? It’s not really something that can be just “thought out” like a step in a game of chess.

In my opinion and experience, coworker’s performance vary greatly in and of itself and we can hardly ever correctly measure a single person’s “productivity” in a non-faulty way. Many companies’ simply fall back on more-or-less subjective, textual analysis of their workers and base basically every decision on that.

> do we/they have proper data on the topic to make an objective and sound decision in the first place?

Let's assume none of us have any data to make an informed decision. Then what is our "default path"? In-office arrangement is something that has been tried out for decades if not more. The decision makers, who are typically C-suite or execs, are specifically the ones who progressed and thrived in that system. Guess what they are going to choose when there is a lot of uncertainty? Obviously an in-office setup, with maybe some concessions to working from home 1-2 days a week because that's comfortable even for them.

The only exception would be young founders who haven't learned any setting yet, and in fact who would like the allure of a "digital nomad" lifestyle more to embrace fully-remote.

stupid =/= incompetent

I've known math wizards, PhD mega-thinkers who would be terrible at leading organizations and pushing projects.

Lots of mgmt is incompetent, and there is a bell curve there just as bell-y and curve-y as other employee ranks. Like, basically by definition 50% are below average like anywhere else.

The missing piece is that plenty of these < 50th percentile can get jobs, often high level ones in respected companies. It's often who you know, how you make people feel, and what sort of connections and optics you bring to the table.

I’m not making that assumption, it would be as dangerous. I’m making the statement to not assume their intelligence based on their position (high level c-exec)

Execs know that they have no idea how to measure performance so they can't risk someone taking a paycheck and doing no work, because they can't detect that.

I think you're wrong, people are generally short-sighted, stupid and selfish, including executives.

We used to have diversity in work environments in the US and then allowed everything to become monopolized by a handful of big corps who demanded hyper normalization at the office.

I agree with what you said at the end though, but would add OP needs to do the work of building a life outside of their job. Doing so is “work” in a physical science, vanilla dictionary sense. What we do to play Society: The Game is a job and coworkers have lives that do not revolve around other coworkers. Adult life is going to suck for OP if they don’t build a social network or even just general social skills outside of the office space.

I agree with your statement about him being the most honest person here. The most I can give him credit for is that you're already out and it keeps you from going back to your house.

Everytime I read that "humans are social creatures" it's a dog whistle for "i want to see people miserable and pressured to do it"

He doesn't want you back in the office. He wants people like him back in the office.

Working in person isn't the issue here -- not having friends is the issue.

People do make friends at work, and that's a good thing. But it should never be your primary place of making friends. (Friends and family won't lay you off like a job might. Having a network outside of work is critical if that ever happens.)

Asking your coworkers to come into the office just so you can get some needed face time with other people doesn't seem fair to them. They have social lives outside of work and aren't being paid to be someone's social outlet.

C'mon that's just bullshit.

Once working, you spend 8h a day with a group of people.

It's by far the easiest way to make friends since the needed repetition of making contact (a minimum requirement for friendship) is already solved by going to work together.

Making friends as an adult is hard. Work is the easiest shortcut in establishing meaningful relationships with strangers.

Edit: addressing some of the comments below.

Some of the commenters describe a friend as someone who will maintain a connection with you no matter the circumstance (loss of job, moving to a new city etc)

I believe that is an unrealistic expectation.

Friend just means someone you have established a platonic relationship with right here right now. You may drift apart in the future, but what's important is that the connection and relationship is genuine and real.

Ummm, no! Maybe some people get their social life from work but many don't.

I have 1 friend I've made during my entire career that stayed with me after the job ended. The others I've lived with, or went to school with, or met following other interests.

If you just mean socialising with colleagues, sure, I do that. But they aren't my good friends.

We are dismantling every place people form new friendships and then wonder why young people are becoming more lonely.

No, we're really not. People still live together, people still go to school together, people still have interests out of work, people still go to bars and clubs.

The office may have been a good place to make friends for some young people, but certainly not all.

I was quite lonely in my early twenties. I had moved away from home and university and all the people I knew. It's quite normal. And nobody worked remotely.

>People still live together

More and more people are staying with their parents because they can't afford to move out.

>people still go to school together

More and more people are doing online/remote learning. During the pandemic, all learning went remote and it ruined childrens' social skills.

>people still have interests out of work

Less and less of these out-of-work interests involve regular, face-to-face social interaction and community building.

>people still go to bars and clubs

People are definitely going to pubs less - this is an issue that has been in the media for a decade and a half. When people do go to pubs, clubs and bars they're less likely to talk to people they don't know. People are certainly less likely to chat up a member of the opposite sex at a bar in 2023 compared to even 2013.

The housing issue I will give you.

The Covid related ones are not dismantling the places young people meet, that was a public health emergency that will not continue forever.

If people are choosing not to meet in person now, that is also not dismantling the places people meet. That is a choice.

I know that the isolation of Covid has had a terrible effect on young people's mental health and I do not want to diminish that. But it isn't a dismantling of the places they could meet for the main part.

>If people are choosing not to meet in person now, that is also not dismantling the places people meet. That is a choice.

We are seeing a whole generation miss out on social connections, reporting mass loneliness and depression. You can't just hand wave that away "they made a choice". If an individual does something, its a choice, if an entire generation does something, its the environment that changed.

Ok, something has changed then. But it does not appear to me to be the result of dismantling the places where people could meet in person. I'm not trying to handwave it away.

Maybe the internet and social media is encouraging people to forge remote connections rather than physical ones?

I agree with you that it's not a deliberate dismantling, but (as much as it pains me to say this) Gigachad's right that there's at least a decay of sorts.

Call it network effects working in reverse, or a change in incentives, but there really are less serendipitous encounters in young peoples' lives.

I honestly think that what has changed is the dominance of social media.

I agree, and it's a problem. But out of every place being dismantled, I'm ok with dismantling the workplace.

We’re dismantling bars? We’re dismantling gyms? We’re dismantling cafes? Meetups? Singles events? Speed dating? Tinder?

> The others I've lived with

Sure, you get a few shots at that.

> or went to school with

That's work for young people, who are better at making friends.

Digital nomad here. I like being one. For me making friends, the best places are: Tinder (it took a lot of effort) and just giving compliments to people on the street (it took some effort to learn).

Regarding complimenting people on the street and potentially turning it into a conversation, it takes some practice. 10 years ago when I did some solo traveling (before uni even) for the first time, I had the choice to stay inside and feel even more agony or to go out and experience social anxiety and pain. I've experienced a lot of social anxiety and pain (initially). It feels better than feeling lonely.

There are courses on how to make friends (and influence people :P, see "How to make friends and influence people", it's a book, I haven't read it though). If you really want to, you can consciously make an effort on bettering social skills and meet anyone everywhere and maintaining it.

A good channel (a bit too broad though) is Charisma on Command [1].

[1] https://www.youtube.com/@Charismaoncommand

Contrary to the other person, i find you, at least through this interaction, to be quite likeable.

Disagreeing with someone doesn't mean you dislike them.

I'm a silly goose, haha. I didn't think in terms of "like/dislike" when I read your comment.

With that said, I realize now that I over-interpreted the word "bizarro". I gave that quite some tone in my mind. I now realize there are a few wildly different tones you can give to that word.

Fair enough, i had the impression that you were irritated by them hence the assumption.

What bizarro world is this?

I'd prefer more thought and more empathy (note: not sympathy) in your statement. I'm presenting a different way to look at things.

From the HN guidelines [1]:

Be kind. Don't be snarky. Converse curiously; don't cross-examine. Edit out swipes.

Please don't fulminate. Please don't sneer, including at the rest of the community.

Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith.

Eschew flamebait. Avoid generic tangents. Omit internet tropes.

Please don't post shallow dismissals, especially of other people's work. A good critical comment teaches us something.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

Why is my statement any different to what a person on the street would say when a random stranger tries to interact with them? People on the street always WANT something from you. It is rarely ever for the benefit of the recipient.

Thats why 99% of people have their guard up and are not interested in random chit chat let alone making friends. Reading Dale Carnegie wont change that.

These suggestions are being thrown around as preferred alternatives to meeting people at work.

Thanks for the reaction :)

> People on the street always WANT something from you.

One can learn to spot the difference. This is not always the case. Also, this mentality doesn't help. I see where you're coming from, but when you do what I do, this mentality doesn't help.

> Thats why 99% of people have their guard up and are not interested in random chit chat let alone making friends.

Only true for the first 2 minutes, in my experience. And yea, you can't make friends with everyone. The first 2 minutes people live on autopilot. Approaching them is tricky and needs to be done precisely because you're not talking to the real person (IMO). You're talking to the person who has a whole program in their head that they need to execute and the chance they see you as something that once to sell something is high. It takes a bit of time for most people to understand that you're really just there as another human being. For some people it takes 0 seconds though, for others it takes longer. I personally have noticed it takes less long for guys (being a guy myself), because they're not afraid I'm secretly trying to hit on them.

> Reading Dale Carnegie wont change that.

I mentioned in my comment that I didn't read him either.

> These suggestions are being thrown around as preferred alternatives to meeting people at work.

That's because for me they are. Like I tried to mention: this is my preferred alternative. I'm living this. It's a different perspective that I'm offering.

It's a hard perspective to offer as it's a "show don't tell" type of thing. I've showed many friends, they were all amazed and all bestowed magical abilities upon me of how amazing I was socially. They couldn't explain it away as training. I'm not a naturally social person. I consciously trained it.

They didn't believe it. So I trained a few of my friends to do the same. They see it. They're surprised. It takes a while to train, depending on the person. Though, as far as meeting people and making friends is concerned, 20 hours per week for max 3 months ought to definitely do the trick. So that's 240 hours of training to fix one of the biggest issues in people their lives: making sure they can consciously always build a social life.

It's the regular world, for a person who is naturally adventurous and sociable.

It's not natural to me but trained :) Trained a long time ago, so maybe natural now? Trained nonetheless.

The biggest thing I've learned in this regard are a few things:

1. Be positive / optimistic (read Seligman's stuff on learned optimism)

2. Be playful with people (aka not too serious, see creative interpretations in things, roleplay. Doing improv workshops helps a lot)

3. When starting to talk to people, you can:

A. Comment on the situation "This train is going so slow"

B. Give them a compliment "Excuse me, (they look up at you now you have their attention) I just wanted to mention that I like your whole vibe. The guitar, the clothing style reminds me a bit of a hippie actually, haha (they nod in agreement). Yea, just wanted to say it's cool is all."

In most cases the conversations don't go anywhere for me. That's fine. I'm just there to chill and have fun, no need to prolong what can't be prolonged. In one out of 10 cases it goes somewhere interesting.

A related comment I made in a different topic: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=34653505

> Making friends as an adult is hard.

Pick a social hobby. Pick up sports, hiking / running / reading / trivia / sports groups.

Take a class.

Take up a cause - volunteer your time at the local farm, shelter, political office..

Kids don't go to school with the goal of making friends. The friends are a byproduct.

This is very easy advice to give and oft repeated, but I’m deeply skeptical that this is something that works for most people (unless we substitute friends with acquaintances).

> unless we substitute friends with acquaintances

Isn't that the case for 'work friends' too? The people we never see or hear from again the moment they get a good offer at some other company or we ourselves move on to other roles? There will be exceptions of course, people you meet at work who you actually form real meaningful connections with, but there will also be exceptions for the people you meet while volunteering, or while playing a sport. Either way, most of the people in our lives are strangers or acquaintances.

It’s often repeated because a lot of people make friends this way.

My board game buddies are my closest real life friends, and I met them exactly like this.

However people do need to accept that not everyone makes friends the same way.

Maybe the more interesting question is what does it take for this to work?

I’m just going anecdotal here from college friends that have dispersed across the US.

Warm intros, so to speak, help. If you join a running group attended by a friend of a friend it seems to stick better than joining when you know absolutely no one.

Public transit helps. It’s hard to be consistent when going to the activity requires slogging through traffic.

And lastly, an activity that encourages repeated regular attendance. Hiking is an activity that is super flaky attendance compared to say training for a triathlon with a specific event day.

In my experience the reason board games work great is because you are forced to interact, understand the people, you play better when you figure out how they think etc. It forces you to create a rapport. You inevitably find out when you have chemistry with someone and want to play more with them.

Most people meeting over other activities I believe have similar stories. Dancing for example, or other group sports.

Shared experiences are key. If you've ever been on a tour with randos you'll know. You will form friendships with all kinds of people you never would have expected to back home.

I've made some very good friends since leaving university. The simplest thing to do is to start with something YOU enjoy. Food, sports, music, pottery, knitting, boardgames even coding (gasp but that's our work).

If you have a passion and you want to be there, and so do the other people - the odds are in your favour that you'll get along.

Worked fine for me. Made new friend groups at a local club, and two churches. I keep up with most everyone who was more than acquaintance still.

You have to get out there. The Internet is not a great place to form solid human relationships.

Have you tried it? In my experience you are much more likely to make friends who voluntarily get together for a shared recreational experience than at a workplace where you are required to be. Try joining a bowling team. You'd be amazed at how much hanging out with the same group of people for four hours a week, every week, and having a few beers and laughs with them while you bowl can be to striking up a friendship (or three).

I've made a bunch of friends through Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes. I'm a somewhat awkward programmer dude who has a hard time making friends.

My best friends are people I met on Kijiji - we joined bands together. Bonds form from mutual struggle.

Yes a byproduct of consistently spending time with the same people.

I’d argue the socialisation is just as important as the formal education.

So what happens when you have no interests, no hobbies, no cause? And for those that do, but lack the time or financial resources to persue them? What then?

If you lack the time, then your problem is one of not having proper work/life balance. If you lack the financial resources to come up with enough money to go bowling once a week then your problems are deeper then not having friends.

if you lack financial resources, that's the problem to tackle. Making friends and having leisure activities will be secondary until your financials become stable and good.

Once you have the financial resources, _then_ you tackle the problem of no interest/hobbies/causes issue - which, i say is relatively easy to tackle as long as you have money; try different things until something sticks!

Slight miscommunication here. I'm talking about someone that genuinely has absolutely no interests whatsoever. Even after trying skiing, bowling, hiking, just about every time sport, reading, music in all forms, performance arts, painting, board games, table top games, video games, travel, etc. And everything is dull, boring, uninteresting, and unejoyable.

That's the kind of person I'm talking about

In that case, this person might actually have a medical condition of some sort. Humans tend to be curious and that curiosity is manifested as an interest in something.

Either they have not tried everything, or they have imbalances or an illness that makes them feel this way. If this is true, there should be no shame in visiting a doctor or therapist of some sort. Otherwise, depression would set in sooner or later and get worse.

This person is likely suffering from a mental illness. Start there.

I have done all of these things and cannot recall making a friend from any of them.

Perhaps my definition of "friend" is stricter than others. I differentiate between friends and acquaintances and a lot of people don't seem to.

But I think the more obvious answer is just that some people, like me, have a lot of difficulty connecting to other people. No amount of going to a gym will help that.

As someone who organized two very large social groups on Meetup in NYC, let's delve into your suggestions a bit more.

> Pick a social hobby. Pick up sports, hiking / running / reading / trivia / sports groups.

It is very hard to pick up a new hobby as an adult.

By 30, most adults (in the US; earlier outside of the US) will have real full-time job responsibilities, a significant other and a few children. Since the children will be young and will need almost all of your time and attention, that leaves little time for anything else.

Families with access to parenting groups will likely be living in bigger cities with high-enough density to support that. This also assumes that you have enough free time/money to participate in these activities (unlikely if you just spent most of your free capital on the house that you just bought because houses are at an all-time high now...).

Many new families are living in HOA-run communities that are wholly designed to be traveled by car, in towns that are also designed to be traveled by car, because you'll likely be commuting to work and back...by car.

Taking your kids on a walk to the grocery store that's 15 minutes away and seeing lots of people on your path isn't possible in these towns. Instead, you're driving four minutes to a huge supermarket where you'll run into families who are also rushing to pick up their groceries because time is scarce, and then driving right back.

Can you interact with neighbors and enjoy community in this environment? Sure! If you like your two or four neighbors in your surrounding area, and if they aren't filthy renters like me who aren't in it for the short-term. (Rentals are also increasing...because houses are at an all-time high and life happens...)

If you're childfree and live in a large city, then, sure, tons of opportunities to make new friends. Unless you're a lawyer working 100+ hrs/week or a SWE grinding at a startup that just hit PMF and is hyperscaling. Or you suck at breaking through cliques. (Lots of people suck at this; myself included. Don't feel bad! Most people make most of their lifelong friends in grade school or church, as a youth, so most times, you're trying to shoehorn yourself into a group that has developed decades of direct and indirect ways of communicating and interacting with each other.).

> Take a class. > Take up a cause - volunteer your time at the local farm, shelter, political office..

This is actually good advice, but, again, time is scarce for many people.

This is more or less like saying "wanna lose weight? just eat less!" Not invalid, but also not helpful and very dismissive of people needing different things.

> Kids don't go to school with the goal of making friends. The friends are a byproduct.

...of being in an enclosed environment with other humans for eight hours a day, doing things they might or might not want to do. Kind of like work actually...

Let's be clear. I'm not saying that it's impossible to make friends as an adult. I've done it, and I've met tons of people that have done it!

I'm just saying that it's significantly easier to make friends at work.

More importantly, it is a lot easier to foster a culture and a work community in the office.

We tend to make friends early in life at school or church, but those friendships are because there's a very wide pool of individuals in a single location. Literally everyone in a geographic area who is your age. That inherently tends to include people of similar economic status and cultural background. You have this huge group of people and can pick your preferred subset from them.

Walking into a job, literally the only thing you have in common with these people is an employer. While time spent together is an important component of building relationships, it lacks the other substantially important pieces of relationships: Common interests, similar backgrounds, similar worldviews, etc. (Though it doesn't mean they're inherently absent)

If you are working in the same position then surely you share quite a lot of shared interests, likely have the same degree even. I had plenty of great conversations about different topics of CS with my coworkers (even though I’m way more “academically inclined” then most of them are) at every workplace. Sure, not everyone is interested in their own field of work, but imo that’s then the greater problem, one really shouldn’t waste half of his/her waking life on something they entirely dislike.

Similar backgrounds and worldviews are not necessary for a solid friendship, as long as you have shared interests and mutual respect.

> It's by far the easiest way to make friends

But I generally have nothing in common with the people I work with.

I'm friends with people who share my world outlook, my moral and philosophical and aesthetic views, and there's no correlation between that and working with people.

> Friend just means someone you have established a platonic relationship with right here right now.

NO, that's not friend, FFS! That's an acquaintance or a coworker.

Don't get me wrong - I'm a very sociable guy, I love hanging out with people, but I only have a few actual _friends_.

> Some of the commenters describe a friend as someone who will maintain a connection with you no matter the circumstance (loss of job, moving to a new city etc)

> I believe that is an unrealistic expectation.

I'm sorry, but if you leave a job and lose all your connection with someone, _you were never friends._

I moved to a new continent in 2016 and I'm still in touch with my small group of actual friends, and I even made two more here.

OK. i'll give another example.

I played WoW for a good 8 years everyday through high school and college, became great friends with some of the people I played the game with.

When I finished school, I hung up my WoW character and said good bye to my friends in the game.

Although I no longer keep in touch with any of them, those were some of the best 8 years of my life and I am truly fond of the memories I made playing the game and working together.

Is that not the same as a work place?

I think the larger point is if you can walk away from a relationship after 8 years without an attempt to keep in touch, you're not friends.

+1. I have a group chat with my wow friends and we have been mostly connected (with some brief periods after Cataclysm where everyone stopped playing) for almost 15 years now. We’ve had in-person meetups and I have a solid conversation with them at least once a week on voice.

What is your definition of a friend?

> Is that not the same as a work place?

No. In the workplace, you have to accomplish stuff every day of suffer serious consequences. You spend 8 hours a day with your coworkers, sure, but that time is not spent socializing. You're under the gun to produce.

In a game (or other recreational activity), none of that is true. They are inherently social activities. You can get to know each other, you are at play. It's a very, very different thing.

> It's by far the easiest way to make friends since the needed repetition of making contact (a minimum requirement for friendship) is already solved by going to work together.

I disagree as the workplace isn’t a good locus of interest for personal relationships. I’m not interested in my coworkers hobbies. I have developed friendships with co-workers but they are rare.

Some of my happiest times at work are when I worked with friends. But they were friends before work and I worked with them because they are friends, I didn’t become friends because of work.

I also think it’s valuable to have checks and balances in life and having my personal life wrapped up with work, although great for my employer, puts too much risk in losing my job.

Add to this, that my workplace was distributed and I switched from driving into work to get in video calls with people in different locations to doing that from my home office.

If someone doesn’t see humans for days when working from home, that is an individual problem to solve and there are many options to solve that. Work is not efficient for solving that problem.

Join a gym, get a dog and walk it, join a grocery/csa co-op, use meetup, join a church, volunteer, visit seniors in your area, tutor kids, join a book club, do yoga/tai chi. The list going on and on and all those are more likely to result in human connection and friendships than going into work.

As a rule, I don't make "close" friends with people I work with. Falling out with people is a real thing, and getting judged for things that are in my private life (whatever they may be) is not something I want to deal with 40+ hours a week.

With normal friends, I can at least avoid them. Co-workers? Not so much.

I'm nice, I'll socialize, but I won't share or divulge any detail of my private life.

Work is the worst place to make friends. You don't get to choose the people you work with. If you change jobs or get sacked, your social circle is vaporized. Work is a place to make money. I work remotely, don't miss the socialization because many of my co-workers are sucky people. I have friends I've made through hobbies, veterans groups etc.

> Once working, you spend 8h a day with a group of people.

Until they, or you:

- quit and move to another company in 2-3 years

- move to another department in the company

- get fired

Then what?

Then you keep in touch with them.

The best friend I've made as an adult was met through work. Then he took another job, and I moved across the country when I went remote. We still keep in touch and occasionally travel to visit each other.

Most work “friendships” are transactional. Always exceptions of course, like in your case, but it’s important to be clear eyed going in.

A lot of people in my life have had their feelings hurt when their “work friend” stopped talking to them after leaving the company, because they failed to understand this important truth.

The kind of person who can't make and keep friends unless they are forced to work in the same office won't. It that person could keeping touch and would pick friends able to keep in touch, they would keep.in touch with whoever they studied with or was in their hometown.

But, we are talking about someone who need coercion to make friends. And they can be nice super ethical person, but there is that skill they don't have.

At any point in life I keep in touch regularly with about 40-50 people.

Most of them are from outside work. Because "but you spend 8 hours with them every day" is not true for most people. I now work with completely different people than I those I worked 3-4-10 years ago. I have friendships significantly longer than that, and I didn't have to work with them side by side all this time.

> Then you keep in touch with them.

But... I no longer "spend 8 hours in the office with them". I spend 8 hours in the office with a completely different set of people.

See? Your friends will inevitably be outside the office life.

If you've become friends, you stay in touch. It's that simple. I've worked in three places since graduating , and I keep in touch with probably a dozen people from those jobs. I've been to their house parties, met their pets, gone on hikes with them, started and introduced them to new hobbies.

I keep in touch with a friend after having only worked together for a year and he even left the country.

You can absolutely make friends at a company, you literally spend half of your awake time there. It is more time then what you spent with your school mates back then.

> Friend just means someone you have established a platonic relationship with right here right now.

Ahhh, that makes more sense now. You're using "friend" to mean what I would call an "acquaintance".

I think the workplace is one of the hardest places to find true friends, because the relationship is dependent on the job. And, can you really be truly open and vulnerable to workplace friends? Can you safely talk smack about your boss, or your cube neighbor, or the company? Can you show up on their doorstep in crisis at 3am and have it not affect things at work?

I believe this comment and similar ones are evidence of how deeply society has been fucked over by sociopathic workaholics.

Sorry, but I have to disagree.

I'm happily married, children, dog, several distinct groups of friends, great job at a great company, lovely house in a nice village, etc, etc, etc.

I worked from home for about 4 years as a freelancer and found it incredibly isolating (but lucrative, so endured it) but finally had enough and get a permanent job back in an office. This was 5 weeks before what would be the first of several COVID lockdowns and roughly 3 years later there's still no realistic "office culture" where I work.

Last year was incredibly tough for me. Incredibly dark. Despite everything that I ostensibly had going for me I was suddenly crushingly lonely, anxious, probably depressed. 8-10 hours per day of constantly interacting on Zoom calls doesn't just cut it. It's not the same.

I don't think the answer is to necessarily "return to the office" as a 100% arrangement. I don't think that's possible in reality. But something has to change; undeniable dilemma.

I started a new job during the pandemic (well, 2...). What sucks for me is that my boss has been like "Yeah, you can go back to the office." But both him and my direct coworker have said that they will never go back to the office. Pretty sure I will never physically meet them before I inevitably try to find some other job.

And what is more isolating than being home alone? Well, working completely alone in an office building meant to hold like 300 employees that was last updated in the 80s.

My basic idea about all of this is to restructure where people work. Take all the employees that want to come into the office on a regular basis and put them in the same building on the same floor.

You could … ask your boss for an in person 1:1. I did. My boss lives halfway across the country. We made it work. I am a long time remote worker (12+ years)

We have weekly group meetings and no one ever really has anything to say, and I've tried steering the conversation to anything interesting or getting to know them and it goes nowhere. The boss is the first one to bail once hes bored of the conversation. There are bi-weekly group meetings with the director where its a forced conversation that he doesn't actually know how to lead ("alright everyone, find something to talk about").

Like, my whole issue could be entirely down to the job. I'm getting weird vibes from this place and these people (yelling in meetings about various things that aren't important at all).

I think what I'm finding out is that having great coworkers in my previous in person jobs either hid or overrode my new found hatred of system administration. If I liked what I did then maybe all of my comments would be different here.

I guess after 8 years of being a DBA/SysAdmin have taught me to stop applying for these jobs.

Edit: Like, I'm married. I have friends far away I see monthly and game with weekly. I'm not dying here. I just want the 8 hours of work to not be as lonely. My jobs won't get my best performance this way because I'm mentally so disconnected from what I'm doing since I'll never meet who I'm doing it for.

You have to go back to the office. All my friends and coworkers who have tried it haven’t gone back to remote work. People weren’t meant to sit alone all day.

So how does the office solve that exactly? I worked in an office in the before times. It was me sitting alone all day. Sure I was surrounded by other people technically but I was working on my own stuff and didn't interact. There was more annoyance than anything: constant chatter, super bright fluorescent overhead lighting, sickness spreading, etc

Different folks, different strokes. I started working remote about 3 years before Covid and won't go back to the office.

My company no longer has any offices. We got rid of them, saved us some layoffs apparently.

Same. Both because I prefer it, and because it means my job opportunities aren't geographically limited.

I am very happy not going back to the office. Perhaps I'm a sociopath, I don't know, but I would rather retire than return, and my boss is well aware. My company is on "mandatory" 2-days-a-week in the office, but I haven't been asked to return, and still sit in my shed. Which is awesome.

I don’t know where you live, but have you considered finding a “third place” to work from or frequent at lunch or after work?

I’ve found that working from a local cafe, in my little suburban “village” centre has been really fantastic for this. I work, I bump into people I know, I meet new people and get to know my neighbours. It’s great.

Given their ubiquity, local libraries might be good to advertise meeting facilities for remote workers during the day. Before anyone complains about the noise and distractions from other workers - it's probably better than an open office layout.

Was listening to radio the other day. Was some writer that used to sit at her local café to work but during covid she stopped because it got too crowded and now she can't go back again.

I've worked from home for more than 10 years and after covid I signed up for a co-working space to go a couple of days a week, work and hang out. Since everyone is doing different things than what I do, I love it. Designers, sales, photographers, lawyer and other IT peeps.

Always someone to chat with when taking a break and getting a coffee.

You have to change, not the world.

I’ve got friends but you can’t fill 100% of your social interactions with meeting friends. Unless you have a very large number of them, you won’t be able to see them daily, and even if you do, you end up consuming all of your free time with socialising and having no personal time left.

Remote work left me choosing between fulfilling social interaction or personal time after work, either option leaving me unsatisfied. I can’t wait to get back to the office, those were the best years of my life.

Remote work is making me depressed and isolated.

>I can’t wait to get back to the office, those were the best years of my life.

Huh. It's wild how different two people's experiences of the same thing can be. I hated the office. I hated commuting. I hated meeting in stuffy rooms. While I like (most) of my coworkers, and enjoy the occasional drinks with them, I could also never see like 99% of them ever again and never even think about it. I vastly, vastly prefer WFH and would trade those "relationships" away in a heart beat in order to have it.

It's hard for me to wrap my head around the "best years" of someone's life being those where they're surrounded by people who think of them so little that the flexibility of doing laundry during the day beats ever seeing them again.

This thread has a healthy mix of both camps, which is pretty surprising to me.

> surrounded by people who think of them so little that the flexibility of doing laundry during the day beats ever seeing them again.

My coworkers have all gone back to the office part time, they go out and do stuff in the city almost every week after work, they go to huge javascript meetups, go to the pubs and clubs, and I'm here sitting alone doing very little because my city doesn't have a large tech scene. Remote work has given me the ability to work senior level jobs which just don't exist here, but it's not enough.

I've decided, I'm packing my stuff and moving state this year primarily so I can work in the office with everyone.

Cool man. Glad you found your people!

I'd say the living situation at home makes a big difference. You may have a good living situation and good social interactions with family at home. The camp that likes the physical office may be a lot more isolated if they had to work from home. It's also the same reason a lot of folks like going to coffeeshops and other public places to feel less isolated while working.

Sure, friends are part of it -- family is the other part of it.

If you don't have either -- filling that void by spending all day in an office sounds even more depressing. I'd focus more on making friends and finding a committed relationship.

There are lots of solutions here outside of working in-person: Find roommates. Start playing sports. Date more. Find an in-person hobby. Volunteer.

What I know is that those first few years of my career in office were the best years of my life. I’ve been scrambling around trying everything to fill the gap left by remote work, I go to meetups, I have family and friends, none of it is as significant as working together with people for the majority of your day.

I’m going back to the office and I won’t take another job that has most people remote.

> What I know is that those first few years of my career in office

In that particular office.

Ive had spells of time like that. Mine were at universities working together in labs.

Ive worked software jobs in companies and startups where the developers sat in the same room all day and didn't speak. Completely unsociable. I found that much more soul destroying than remote working.

And that is waaay better then toxic environment. I will take a social, it is manageable. But seeing someone humiliate or verbally abuse or whatever other on daily basis sux. And it sux even when it is mild, it sux when the place is run by cliques and what not.

> Mine were at universities working together in labs.

Me too! Research labs were the best. Office workplaces grind my soul to dust.

> Remote work left me choosing between fulfilling social interaction or personal time after work, either option leaving me unsatisfied.

Congratulations, you're an extrovert. To me, that sounds like the PERFECT arrangement. 0 pressure to interact with people, but in case everyone is feeling like it, we meet up with friends over the weekend.

I like having personal time to work on personal projects 3-4 days a week. I'm also fine with only 2-4 hours of face to face interaction per week.

> People do make friends at work, and that's a good thing. But it should never be your primary place of making friends.

Yeah... good luck with that.

Not to say that people don't make friends outside work, but there are many variables involved with that.

But just use Meetup.com, right? Sure, if you want to spend a few hours with people of retirement age, not if there's anything wrong with that.

Not having friends is just the surface level of the issue. If all you want is friends and friends alone, then that really isn't that hard to arrange.

If the use of "friends", however, is those who are in your age cohort as well as romantic possibilities, that's an entirely different beast that can be ironically difficult to conquer once college life has been long since left in the dust.

For many, if not most, the office was the deciding factor as to whom you would associate with in adulthood. Plenty of people have met long time friends as well as their husbands and wives at the office. With remote work, this is extremely difficult to pull off. I've been fortunate to have made one or two good friends through my years of remote work, but I had 100x more social opportunities back when I worked in a physical office. I miss the fact that I could have a best work friend kind of like how I usually had a best school friend as a child. But it's usually impractical to make such connections when all you have is Slack and Zoom, neither of which are good for shared 1-on-1 experiences. There's no chance to say "Hey, wanna run to Starbucks with me?"

I wouldn't give up remote work entirely, but I'm finding there's a lot left to be desired that would be met in an office. The office is the missing variable that gets people to spend sufficient amount of time together on shared goals. That's not easily going to be replicated by introducing yourself to random people in town.

Completely understand your point of view. In my case, growing up I was interested in computers, and back then (late 90’ early 00’) kids my age were not into that. So after school I would roam forums. I would some times exchange IM with people I shared interests with, and chat with them every day. Most of them were adults and young adults, I didn’t know where they lived, how they looked, or their names. However I never felt the need to meet them in person. And my interactions felt as real (or even more) than interactions in the physical world.

Fast forwarding to now, I find myself mentally fine when working from home. Of course things are different since I have family to interact with at home, but for me, not engaging with colleagues about non-work related things is what makes remote work not as fun as the olden times. This is also harder to arrange because my colleagues would rather go out or do something else rather that keep chatting with me about something else.

Meetup works great in many cities and plenty of young people use it. If you’re joining a tricot or bingo group though don’t be surprised at finding yourself surrounded with “retirement age” members.

In some cities it’s unused though. When I lived in Athens it was terrible, just crypto groups used it.

That has not been my experience in the LA region for many years. Some get some RSVPs, but be prepared for everyone to drop out the very last minute or not show up. Long ago, it was pretty great.

I'm sorry to hear that. FWIW I've also seen a decline in quality post-COVID (especially of events), but Meetup has remained an incredible source of friendships, social events, and great intros in Belgium.

> Yeah... good luck with that.

I have had very good luck with that, thank you. That doesn't work for you -- you find friendships in the workplace. That's great, too. Clearly, neither approach is the right one for everybody.

I make friends with parents of my kids classmates, neighbors, people of similar interests that I run into at the cafe. I started a new job and I’m not bummed that I don’t have any “friends” there yet.

You are confusing between friends at work and the employer itself. Layoffs are irrelevant: your friends (including those at work) will support you if you are laid off, unlike your employer.

Also, once you make a friend at work you can meet outside the workplace, or communicate with non-work communication channels.

But you won't because the reason why you spent time together was someone paid you to. How many people are you still hanging out with the company you worked 10 or 5 years ago? Very few if any..

For n=1: Most of my friends, and definitely my closest friends. That said I made more close, long-term friends as hire #11 at a startup than I did as hire #111 at a midsize tech company.

Depends on the person. I still text a guy that I worked with 5 years ago and we still play games together online from time to time. I don't keep in touch with my old boomer manager though because we don't have any mutual interests.

All the friendships I’ve ever had have been, like, do something together for a few hours every couple of weekends. The only thing remotely on the scale of office life is a family.

I hear you and doubt nothing about your plight, but frankly that feels like a you problem. I can sympathize while also rejecting the idea that I should have to come into the office so your not lonely.

Have you considered a co-working space? It seems like that could get you what your looking for. Beyond that I'd look to get creative around finding ways to get social outside work. A martial arts or social dance class for example. Frankly I think it's much healthier if your coworkers aren't the core of your social life.

FWIW I too had this problem at the start of the pandemic. My solution was to build a gym and workout with my friends 3x a week. Obviously this isn't a solution for your plight in a new city.

You should look at the bigger picture. People usually find friends as a byproduct of of some activity, such as work, studies, hobbies, or activism. If you remove the activity people spend a third of their waking hours on from the list, the result is a massive reduction in the number of friends people have. And it's going to hit the people who can't easily make friends the hardest.

This is not an individual problem. It's an issue that affects the entire society. Social isolation feeds many undesirable things, such as political polarization and extremism. If a society wants to survive, it has to deal with the issue somehow.

> This is not an individual problem. It's an issue that affects the entire society. Social isolation feeds many undesirable things, such as political polarization and extremism. If a society wants to survive, it has to deal with the issue somehow.

Agreed, and I think the best way is for people to realize that "the people I chat with at the water-cooler" are not my friends, and take action based on that. Job loss and retirement are often terribly isolating events for people for exactly the reason your specify. Work is 1/2 of their waking life and they rely on it too heavily for their social needs.

Forcing the majority who prefer work from home to work from the office because a minority of people will feel lonely does not "benefit society". It hides a real problem that some people have while sacrificing the rest of us to do so. If the majority of us wanted to work in the office this would be a non-issue. GP would've simply gone to the office, found the majority of their co-workers there and been perfectly happy, while those of us who wanted WFH were happily home. Better to tackle the problem head on than sweep it under the rug.

The friends you meet at work are no different from the friends you meet at dance/martial arts class. They are tied to an activity, and if you quit the activity, you are likely to lose most of them.

The core problem is that remote work can easily mean 8 hours/day of social isolation. Especially because those are the hours people have the most energy to try new things. If people spend that time avoiding social contacts, they are obviously not going to make many friends.

Historically, neighbors were a key source of friends, because they were the community you lived in. 20th century changed that. Today neighbors are simply people who happen to sleep near you temporarily. They are probably away from home during the day, their jobs are unrelated to yours, and they will likely relocate sooner or later.

Who will form the community you will spend your time with by default, if it's no longer your neighbors or coworkers?

There is no default. There never was. This is exactly the idea I am saying we need to combat. Building lasting relationships takes time and reciprocated effort. The people who want to WFH aren't going to become "friend candidates" because they are forced into the office. The are either already "friend candidates" prepared to reciprocate advances, or they aren't interested. Remote isn't the barrier here. Physical proximity just has the potential to give someone the illusion of a connection that hasn't actually been formed. Once someone realizes this and learns to put effort into their social connections, they are far less likely to end up isolated than just hoping showing up at work will make the difference.

And that is where dance/martial arts class is different. Everyone there has decided to show up. Your also a lot less likely to get laid off from book club than your job.

If people want to work together in the same space 8 hours a day more power too them! Go have a good time in the office and let us WFH folks be. But if there aren't enough who want to be in the office to satisfy the office dwellers it doesn't become the WFH folk's responsibility to keep them company. If we are open to friendship, we already were.

Defaults matter, because people take the easy default choice most of the time. If people don't meet other people by default, they will have fewer casual acquaintances and they are less likely to meet the ones who will become good friends. Then there will be fewer friends overall.

> Once someone realizes this and learns to put effort into their social connections, they are far less likely to end up isolated than just hoping showing up at work will make the difference.

This is fundamentally the "communism would work, if" argument. Individual people can choose to make the non-default choice. People on the average don't do that.

> People on the average don't do that.

This is part of the idea I'm contesting. Remember, "65" has an office they can go to, their problem is no one else wants to. Unless you are asserting that you are a better judge of what is good for 65's co-workers then they themselves are, presumably "on average" they have found sufficient social interaction to satisfy themselves outside of the office. And if you are asserting that you know better than them and they should be forced into the office for their own good, I soundly reject that notion.

Just "going with the default" of spending time with co-workers and is exactly how people end up isolated late in life or after losing their jobs. People who are struggling with isolation now should introspect on why they are struggling to make friends and address that instead of attempting to force others into being around them. That's not how friends treat friends.

Again, communism would work if everyone behaved like a good communist. They don't, because the default is acting in the interests of yourself and people near you rather than in the interests of the wider society. If you insist on communism, the whole society suffers, because most people take the default choice and do what's good for them.

If social isolation during work is the default, people will have fewer friends, because making friends takes more effort. They may be satisfied with their situation, because they contrast the outcomes of having more friends with the effort needed to make them. But the entire society may be worse off than a society where people have more friends because working with other people is the default.

Fundamentally, everything based on the idea that people should make different choices is doomed to fail. To make the society better, you must work on structural level and change the defaults.

There is a certain irony to stating "Fundamentally, everything based on the idea that people should make different choices is doomed to fail." in an argument that everyone choosing WFH should either make different choices or be forced to.

> If social isolation during work is the default, people will have fewer friends, because making friends takes more effort.

I disagree. If these people were making friends by just being at work, they wouldn't be feeling so lonely right now. They would already have plenty of social connections that would not just evaporate because your not in the office anymore. Even those just entering the workforce should have these friends from school. Instead constantly being around people at work makes people "feel" less lonely, hiding the fact that they haven't actually made a deeper connection. Shoving people back in the office will just hide it again, it won't fix the problem. It'll just decrease the quality of life of everyone who happier right now. On the other hand leaving things as they are and instead supporting those feeling isolated in finding other outlets lets the majority of people keep doing what's working for them, and the rest are likely have motivation to fix the problem.

> I disagree. If these people were making friends by just being at work, they wouldn't be feeling so lonely right now. They would already have plenty of social connections that would not just evaporate because your not in the office anymore.

The issue is finding friends after relocating to a new area. That's easier for some and harder for others. With coworkers, you already have a pool of people to spend time with. Through them, you can meet other people and learn about activities that are available in the area.

I firmly reject the idea that I must go back to having a commute and give up all the QoL improvements of work from home just so I can sit around the office awaiting the day we hire someone from out of town, so that I can serve as tour guide and social matchmaker.

Furthermore a read through the comments on this thread make it pretty unambiguous that the problem is not restricted to people new to the area.

This is much more than a one person's problem, but it's a general issue that many older people with well-established lives don't sympathize with unfortunately. As much as others can deny, work is source of most people's friendships, relationships, mentorships, and other social interactions. There's hardly a substitute for that outside.

> This is much more than a one person's problem

100% agree, that was poor phrasing on my part, it was meant to communicate where the responsibility for fixing the problem lies, not claim the problem was isolated to a single, or even small number of people.

> There's hardly a substitute for that outside.

Strongly, 100% disagree. Work friendships tend to be fleeting, causing job loss or retirement to be isolating events. Yes lasting friendships can and do form in the workplace (I've formed some even while working remotely!), but getting laid off is a great way to discover just how many of those work friendships were of convenience.

Meanwhile there are tons of ways to meet people outside of work. Dance classes, workshops, exercise classes, book clubs, beekeeping clubs, etc. I submit that a person who can't form friendships outside of work is unlikely to form the lasting kind at work, and is better off in the long run examining why that is, rather than papering over it with a temporary bandaide.

I see what you mean now. Good points.

It's a symptom of societies that require you to work way too much and get everything (status, health care, socialization) from your job.

Would you like college to be remote too? School? Let's all wake up in our pijamas, hop on a zoom and live most of our lives like that?

> Would you like college to be remote too?

I think the university system is pretty hamstrung by the number of students it can accept. A lot of grad programs are coming online (I used to work at 2U which does this) and this is good both for students and the school as more students get an education and the school gets more income. Whether or not I want it to happen (I think it's probably an important part of reforming the university system) it seems like it's happening anyway.

> School?

I think most studies show this is pretty bad, so no.

> Let's all wake up in our pijamas, hop on a zoom

Probably twice a week I get through the whole work day in my PJs and I'm great at my job, so that sounds fine.

> live most of our lives like that?

Nah I'll go to the grocery store in the AM for supplies in my PJs but that's the extent of it.

For many college is remote. That's the new norm for many.

It was common even before the pandemic. Plenty of colleges offered certain courses or even full degrees remotely.

Yes! Yes! So much yes!

It's time saving AND money saving

This is true but also “fix all of society” is a hard first step and there are folks who are unhappy now.

Oh I'm not saying that, I'm saying this is HN and most people posting here have the ability to take a step back from work and build a social life for the sake of their mental health. Working yourself literally to death isn't cool.

I also think it's fair to say that a lot of people are happy going to work and a lot of people really aren't. I feel like all of these threads are super passionate with one side trying to convince the (super unconvince-able) other side, which is why my responses are something like "get a situation together that works for you". "Convince millions of other people they're wrong and you're right about something they care about deeply" is a steeper climb.

> general issue that many older people with well-established lives don't sympathize with unfortunately

Many young adults have friends.

> As much as others can deny, work is source of most people's friendships, relationships, mentorships, and other social interactions.

I will deny it. Citation or speak for yourself.

> As much as others can deny, work is source of most people's friendships, relationships, mentorships, and other social interactions.

And other commenters assert that most people don't get those things at work.

I think it's easy to mistake our own experiences as being similar to "most people". We should probably try to avoid ascribing our own preferences as being the same as the majority's.

Also, in the case of something as personal as friendships, it doesn't actually matter what "most people" do.

> frankly that feels like a you problem

It's also a me problem, so there's at least two of us.

Me three. I happen to have a strong friend group, but being single and living alone, the first few months of the pandemic were miserable from a solitary confinement standpoint. Even in recent years if I have to WFH for any reason, it's just the worst thing. Plus I'm just not productive when I'm working home alone.

I'm extremely thankful that my company is mostly comprised of people who prefer and thrive working in our one office. And no, I'm not using my coworkers as my friend group. Despite loving some of my work friends, my strongest friends are all outside the office. But the office environment and the people in it give me life.

When it comes time to look for a next job (if ever), the biggest requirement by far will be a working environment that's mostly, if not entirely, in office.

I'm 27 for reference, but I've felt this way ever since the start of my career.

Isn't the pandemic the issue here though?

At least three you can count me in as well

It's funny how people (in this thread and in general when the topic comes) find infuriating the idea of making friends or just socialize at work, when most friendships starts because some people happen to spend 8h/day at the same school/university

> It's funny how people (in this thread and in general when the topic comes) find infuriating the idea of making friends or just socialize at work

I have yet to see someone find this idea "infuriating". What people find infuriating is people who want to drag everyone else back to the office so they can pretend we are friends.

> most friendships starts because some people happen to spend 8h/day at the same school/university.

"Most" feels very strong here. I have exactly 2 friends I am still in touch with from high school, unless you count social media connections. None from college, but admittedly, that was a pretty isolating time in my life due to the combined demands of work and school. Anecdata, but looking at my friend group, I'd say this is pretty representative. Which is a perfect example of why I advocate strongly for finding friends outside work. Turns out "we were forced into the same building" just isn't the basis for a lasting relationship people hope it is, and these often dry up when the constraint is removed.

I did find it annoying. The most annoying thing is I seen people doing then being treated as some kind of hard worker - but they were not. They did not produced more or anything. They just spent s lot of time socializing. And if you want to compete, you then have to stay late and move your socialization to work too.

Which has obvious impact on spouse kids and genuine friendships outside of work.

I would not mind it, if people socializing in work would not pretended their socialization is work.

I don’t see people finding the fact infuriating. People are upset because they feel like people are asking them to come in to the office because someone else wants to socialise.

Enforced socialisation doesn’t seem reasonable any more than denying that some people like to socialise at work. Two sets of people, two different needs.

I don't agree with the first sentence but it's just the feeling I have when reading some posts

I agree with the rest though, now that people had a taste of WFH, you can't force them to come to office just for the sake of socialization. My point was to acknowledge the issue that some people used to see work as a place to socialize just like high-school or university, and this way of socializing has been suddenly taken away from them with WFH, and there is nothing weird in that

It’s funny how people find it necessary to participate in in-group/out-group dynamics/politics at work, long past high school.

What if one could get paid for doing a job without any of that by skipping “socialize at work” altogether?

That works fine until your workplace is 3 people or more. Human nature can’t be wished away.

There's a thing called CC on your email client. It certainly lets you add more than 3 people.

I’ve asked around my friend and coworkers group all 20s and everyone feels this way. Remote work is terrible for young people.

Anecdata, but my friends in the 22 - 26 range don't feel this way. _But_, they have an active social life (football club together) and go out together every weekend or every other weekend. And they don't mind remote work. So I don't think it's an age issue, but more a socializing issue?

It probably would have been better if I hadn’t moved out of my parents house. For a brief moment I was living the dream in the city with a 5 minute walk to work, then I found myself remote working sitting on a Monday thinking about the dinner party with friends I’ve planned for Saturday for the weekly social interaction.

Your username is “gigachad” and you never considered the option of going to a gym on weekdays? Not going to say I have made lifetime friends at the gym but I have nice conversations with other regulars fairly often, it’s a good serotonin top-up.

Even works for finding romantic partners as well if you’re not creepy about it, in fact two regulars at my gym just got married.

There’s always the bar as well but of course alcohol-based socializing is not quite so healthy.

Yes I’ve spent significant time at the gym. It doesn’t fill the void of spending 8 hours working alone.

I have so many great memories of work from 6-3 years ago, but 3 to now is just a void, sitting at home on Teams calls. What makes things worse is my city has the oldest population in the country so there is hardly anything going on outside of work as well. I've made the decision to move to a bigger city where I can work in office with everyone along with every other benefit of a larger population.

To be fair, gym is fairly individual activity here. You will be seen as annoying if you try to interact with others.

That’s why I do classes, there’s usually way more social interaction, not to mention access to coaching (which I strongly believe many solo lifters would benefit from)

I have a strong social group but am also in the single 20s group, and realized I cannot stand remote work.

Not true of my friend and coworker group. You should think carefully of confounding factors before taking anecdotal data and extrapolating to something that applies to a much larger group.

100%, I'm sure there is far more than two of you. As mentioned I had the problem at the start of the pandemic and had to reflect on why work was the majority of my social life, and I think that reflection led me to a better place.

That turn of phrase was to meant to mean it's your problem to find a solution too, I should not have to change my behavior to accommodate you wishing for a bustling office. It was not meant to imply that you are alone in feeling that way and I apologize if it was taken that way. Anyone having a hard time with remote is in good company.

Again if they are available in your area I'd recommend checking out co-working spaces. They are great ways to work around others who feel the same as you, and, as a bonus won't come and go with the job. Part of the reason I feel so strongly that your core socialization shouldn't be work is because so many of those connections, even the ones you thought were close, will disappear with the job.

Was a me problem as well, I joined a local coworking space, started grad school, and joined a local community focused CrossFit.

I used to love the office, but I never see anyone there. Once is started focusing on local community activities things got better. I’d suggest adjusting your hours such that 5-8 pm are free for social activities. I usually start work at 10, break for dinner, and then do an hour or two before bed.

I can second the GP’s testimony, even though I’m not new to my city / have a decent social life outside work.

The only thing that fixed up was moving to a company that was mostly in-office, with a few people hybrid/remote. Being able to interact in person with people working on the same project as me was rejuvenating, and that might be understating it.

Same and same. Also, I hate how these days it's somehow shameful to even think about making friends at the workplace, that somehow work friends are work friends and can never be your "real friends". Looking at my parents' generation, most of their current friendships are people they met at work. In fact my parents met each other at work.

We go to school and make friends with other people at school. Why is it wild that you'd want to go to work and make friends with other people at work?

I've made plenty of real, meaningful, long-term friendships at work. But I also have solid friend groups of people I've met outside work. I value all of them, but I'm not going to give up the opportunity to have more flexible working arrangements because some people seem to think they can only make friends at work.

> We go to school and make friends with other people at school. Why is it wild that you'd want to go to work and make friends with other people at work?

"Want" and "need" aren't the same thing. We made friends at school because we had no choice. We were required to go to school, so of course the result is that we'd end up making friends there. But even as children, we had other opportunities to make friends: recreational sports leagues, boy/girl scouts, church groups (if that was your family's thing), volunteering, etc. Sure, I'm not saying those sorts of things could replace socialization at school.

But in the adult world, we've already been socialized, and we should be able to meet people outside of required, structured activities. It's a shame that some people perhaps didn't learn that as well as others, but I don't think that's a problem best solved by requiring unrelated people to come to an office, when remote work offers so much more flexibility and many more possibilities.

This is exactly the attitude that I'm protesting against. I don't agree that you can make even close to the same depth of friendship with someone who you see 2 hours a week, vs someone you see 8 hours a day 5 days a week for months. Work or school are really the only places where you can spend that much time with someone.

Then again, part of the problem is that people have forgotten what real friendships are like. "Friends" these days are just people you go to restaurants/clubs/concerts/vacations/hiking/camping with so that you don't have to go alone. That's not friendship. That's just people you hang out with.

It might cure the itch for a real friendship, but don't confuse it for one.

Look, I have plenty of close friends of many years who I see every single day. My home is essentially a community gathering spot at this point. My social calendar is as packed, if not more packed, than my work calendar. And for me personally there’s no overlap between the two. I am friendly with all of my colleagues, but I would not call them friends.

Forcing me to come into an office would not change that; I completely understand that those in a new city without a strong group of friends would benefit from going to the office— and at most jobs they’re already free to go in if they choose, to work alongside people who also _choose_ to go into the office. Choose is the key word here. Work for me is a job first, and I’m not looking to make a best friend at work, so don’t force me to come in for that reason alone.

> I don't agree that you can make even close to the same depth of friendship with someone who you see 2 hours a week, vs someone you see 8 hours a day 5 days a week for months.

With the exception of fast food, I have never, ever spent this kind of time with a co-worker. I don't deny jobs like this exist, but it would certainly be the exception for all the tech jobs I've worked.

> that’s not friendship, that’s just people you hang out with

weird I thought you were talking about coworkers for a second

You’re assuming your feelings about how other people make meaningful relationships are universal. It can be true for you yet untrue for others. It seems a bit much to state it as fact.

Establishing a common goalpost is critical to even discussing this topic. I agree that "meaningful" is personal and subjective, but it's also incorrect to take the lowest common denominator definition of friendship as the valid one.

Totally agree re your first sentence. The second sentence is stating things as fact with regards to how you feel about relationships.

I don’t see how a persons feelings about how they think about relationships can be invalid.

Work friends can 100% be real friends. There is nothing shameful about making these at work. There's also nothing about remote that makes it impossible. I know, I've done it.

That said I would be very, very careful about assuming your work friends are real friends. People are often surprised to discover which connections vanish when you quit working together. Hence why I strongly advocate for finding friends outside of work. Makes it much less likely you get laid off or leave your job one day and suddenly find yourself lonely.

Yeah, some of the people I work with I’ve known for 20 years! For me it’s weird to imagine spending a large chunk of your life with these people and not forming some sort of personal connection.

You go to school to learn so you can earn not make friends. You are paying tens of thousands a year to be taught by the best and you think it's for socializing. Think of all the people who cannot afford school is there no way for them to make friends.

“I was working all day.” Are you getting paid to work 16 hour days? If not then stop giving your employer free work. You’re devaluing your skill.

Go for a walk outside. Say hello to a stranger.

Volunteer at the library e.g. helping illiterate adults learn to read, or helping English as a second language speakers by chatting with them.

Go to a game store. They usually have open board/card/rpg games you can join. Some bars also have this.

Look online for activity groups in your area e.g. a photography group that walks around the city together. A gardening group. A sewing group. A painting group. Some of these might be advertised at your local library. Some might even meet there. Can’t find one your interested in? Make your own.

Look at public events in your city. Some of these are run by non-profits that would love if you volunteered to assist. Be careful about what you volunteer for though. Since you are looking for human interactions do not offer to help with their website, for example, since that is solitary work. These events need plenty of on-hand help.

So I'm supposed to deal with the hassle of commuting, losing hours of my day, because YOU are starved for human connections? Get out of here...

same to your argument, why is it my problem that you live far away from work, that you need to hassle and lose hours of your day commuting? live right next to work. It's not our problem that it's a hassle to you. Same if you have kids .. etc. It's not our problem. It's comfortable for YOU to work remotely but it's more comfortable to ME to work from office. Comfort here is always subjective to the choice you prefer.

So we should all go through the hassle of relocating closer to work each time we switch jobs just because it makes it more comfortable for office minded people? You can try to swing the argument the other way but there's no getting around that the opposite side of yours doesn't involve other people doing extra things for other people's comfort-- requiring the office adds extra things to EVERYONE while allowing remote allows savings for the people who care to.

I don't want to relocate myself to be next to some office. I work on a computer specifically because I can do it from wherever feels right to me.

You're right that it isn't your problem that it's a hassle for me: because that mindset is making it MY problem when I don't want it to be. That argument is an incredibly selfish one.

It's not the same argument.

> why is it my problem that you live far away from work, that you need to hassle and lose hours of your day commuting?

It's not. Work from homers aren't forcing office people to do anything. On the other hand, office people want other office people back.

Lmao that's not an equivalent argument at all.

One is you _forcing_ me to do something (come into the office). The other is me not forcing you to do anything. The company is the one making you stay at home.

Sure, we all go back to work in an office. Hurray! Is the company going to force everyone there to be best buddies with you as well? What if nobody in the office likes you? Is it now company policy to be friends with everyone?

OK so you work from office, and I'll work from home, what's the problem?

Gen Z and A are going to have serious problems. Work and School are biggest sources of friends. The two things they missed out on. I doubt many friends were made in the chat box of an online class.

School goes on until you're 18 or so (and even later if you go to university). Two-ish years of online schooling certainly hurt a bit, but is a small percentage of available childhood socialization time.

It’s so many small things chipping away at young people’s social lives, car dependant design, remote schooling, remote work, the loss of public spaces and facilities, social media, etc. We can see the trend, young people are constantly getting more lonely and isolated, but we only make changes that make it worse.

Actually I’ve seen kids share Roblox usernames through zoom chat boxes and then socialize via zoom calls while they play an online game on their iPads… it is totally possible to socialize, it just starts online now

Feels like a major overreaction.

> I doubt many friends were made in the chat box of an online class.

Many people became friends online. We have apps, for meeting people, online, and THEN dating them.

You might be underestimating the impact this has.

I don't know you; maybe you don't desire interaction as much, or maybe you just didn't take the time to really digest what the parent said.

For many people, it is really hard to be new in a city. Some people have _no idea_ how to make friends out of college. With remote work this becomes so much harder.

This doesn't necessarily mean that _you_ should be forced to go to the office as a solution. I'm just saying that this can be a really big problem, especially if your team is full of people in a new city.

If you care that little about the social interaction at work, then you probably aren't someone that we are talking about or miss working with...

And yet you have an issue with them not wanting to come in!

I literally never said that.

Yeesh. Who said you're supposed to do anything?

Literally everyone in these threads advocating for a return to office?

Not the OP on this thread. It looks like they were just sharing their feelings/experiences without proposing any policy changes. I don't see a reason for anyone to adopt a tone.

Relating to this a lot. I've barely had much in person social interaction since 2020, where college for me ended up remote for the pandemic. Was a relief when classes went back in person a year later, but too little too late for me to build up any meaningful social interactions there, and now I'm in a remote job to the opposite end of the country (and other parts of the world with even more disparate timezones), so I'm pretty much in a similar boat of no meaningful in person interaction.

I like technology as an auxiliary means of communicating with people, but having pretty much 95-100% of my interactions occur over texting and calling (people don't even usually bother to turn on their cameras) has been a personal hell, and honestly has soured my opinion of the entire internet. Beyond just work, what few personal relationships I do have at this point are usually also remote, so actually spending real life time with people is this far distant tertiary form of interacting, when it's the natural bloody thing we're evolved to do as a species.

Now you have companies like Meta investing in the metaverse "future" where we sit in VR headsets, trade crypto for fake digital goods, have romantic relationships with virtual avatars, and sit in virtual offices so our twenty-poly character models can discuss around a fake whiteboard. I just want to be around people again.

I have every sympathy for you--social contact is a basic human need. But I see this argument here and there and I feel like I have to point out that this is an argument for you to get social contact, not to make millions of people commute to/from work every day.

Getting on the social on-ramp is hard, especially if you live in a culture where overwork is praised and normalized. I had that problem too (I moved from the US to the Netherlands and this was one of the major reasons why). I super suggest taking a step back from work--it's clearly keeping you from doing other things that are critical for your mental health--and then using that time to invest in other parts of your life.

The problem is that the solution is entirely within your grasp, but you've decided that the only way to solve your problem is through in-office socialization.

Find co-workers who are local and suggest meeting for lunch or dinner on occasion. Hopefully you've developed some level of rapport through video calls and chats so this won't feel weird to you. Your company/team should be organizing regular get-togethers anyway. If not, they are failing at doing remote work. I hesitate to say "find a new company where they are better at this", but that's better than "require everyone to come into an office to fix your social life".

Beyond that, don't center your social life around work. Go to meetups dedicated to topics and activities you're interested in. Just get out and walk!

> I tried to join clubs and a maker space, but no time - I was working all day. The maker space closed early. I'm creative, I like working. I just wanted to go to an office. That's all I wanted. I wanted a routine. I wanted to commute and people watch. I wanted to feel like I was living life.

That seems to be a problem you've created for yourself, and it's a bit selfish to want to require everyone else to go to an office in order to make your choices work for you.

Stop working all day. Set boundaries with your employer. If the maker space really closes by 5pm, negotiate a more flexible work schedule where you get to take a 2-hour break (or something) around lunch or in the afternoon so you can go to the maker space, but then you work later into the evening, or get up earlier in the morning to start work. Also, I'm not sure how any of this would have changed if you were working in an office: the maker space would still close early, and you still would be working all the time and be unable to get there during their open hours.

If you want to people-watch, take a 30-minute walk in the morning and in the evening, to replace what a commute would be like.

> I'm an optimistic person, yet I slip into depression because the only thing I want - to be able to go into an office - will not happen for me.

This is a bit much, frankly. If you really truly are so inflexible that you can't imagine a good life without an office job, find a new job that has an office you can go to! This isn't rocket science. These jobs exist. Stop advocating making life worse for all of the people whose lives have been markedly improved by the extra opportunities for remote work, just because you can't figure out your own life.

My story is very similar to yours. Used to be ok with remote work but then I had a break up last year and need to get back to the office. Unfortunately all the tech jobs are in other cities of Australia so I can only get remote jobs.

Made the decision this month to pack up everything and move to Melbourne so I can work in the office among other things.

Welcome. Plenty of 3 day in the office and even 5 day in the office tech jobs here.

Also great cafes you can work from on the remote work days.

PT and urban sprawl sucks though, which is why I did the opposite and work remotely 100% now.

I'm from Adelaide. PT is effectively non existent and urban sprawl is worse. Melbourne is like a utopian society to me. I'm quite happy to live in an apartment near the CBD and take the train in. It blows my mind they come every 5 minutes, I'm used to trains coming every 30 minutes or just not running at all half the time.

You're completely right to feel this way.

Reading about your struggles made me reflect on my twenties in tech and what a day to day looked like. Most mornings would start on a tube commuting into central london, getting to see how people dress, was anyone attractive on my route? what music should I listen to on the way? Then getting into the office, I worked with with engineer that was a developer at roscosmos and escaped the soviet union. We would walk the streets of london and discuss what problems we were going to solve that day and have a morning espresso while doing it. The city was always buzzing with traders and office workers. Work was tough but I had a lunch outside to look forward to with my team. If it was thursday or friday most of us would head to a pub for a late boozy lunch or end up at bricklane for a curry and the night just went on and on.

Amazing time and when I compare that to the last few years of remote work it cant even come close to the interactions and experiences I gained during that time. My day to day has been wakeup, grab a coffee, walk into my office and start responding to emails. I then try to squeeze in time to walk my dog and then get back to continue more meetings and zoom calls. Once the day ends I'm pretty exhausted and try to get outside to ride my bike or go to the gym. I physically interact with less than 2 people a day. My wife and the barista at the local coffee shop.

I completely empathize with how you're feeling!

Are you me? Jesus I took a regular job in January 2020 because I was over being a contract developer working at home. No luck now..

I agree fully with you. I'm in my 30s though everything else the same. I would definitely feel oppositely if I had a partner and kids (like my brother) but I don't.

People saying it's a "you" problem are missing the big picture. For a lot of people, the workplace is a primary context in their life.

I'm in my early twenties and still studying, but working as well, for around 15hours a week. Fully remote. Much worse, the only human interaction I have during this time is a weekly 30min team meeting.

It's two days a week for me. Mostly alone, just sitting in my bedroom and working on my own tiny project.

I'm lucky because I do have social interaction in the university, but I feel just how much of any job-related motivation this kills. If I would be full time amployed, this would be driving me into a depression as well.

I'm sure that you will be able to find some nice people to hang out with and talk to.

This is actually a symptom of a much larger problem with our society as it exists today, which is that we've systematically dismantled all our communities and support systems outside of work and the (immediate) family.

Humans are social creatures, and for the vast majority of human history, we've existed in communities of various shapes. Evolutionarily, psychologically, and even physiologically, it's not healthy for us to be going to work for 8 hours—with or without people—then retreating to a home with just our immediate families 5 days a week, (nearly) 52 weeks a year.

The shift in zoning after WWII to heavily prioritize hard separation between residential and commercial areas (motivated, in no small part, by racism) is a major culprit in the creation of this new lifestyle, and disruption of previous forms of order. (Though I believe the first big shift was probably the Industrial Revolution.)

I don't have much of a solution to offer in the short term, because it's not a short-term kind of problem. However, I do know that there's a movement called Intentional Communities[0] that's supposed to be working on counteracting it; perhaps you could look them up and see if there's anything in your area.

[0] https://www.ic.org

I slip into depression because the only thing I want - to be able to go into an office - will not happen for me.

There are tons of companies that still have offices. Get a job with one.

Blaming the fact that you don’t have any friends or romantic partners or a “life in this city” on remote working is absolutely absurd. Relying on a corporate office to bring you those things is most likely going to end in disappointment. Get a job that doesn’t demand your entire wakeful life on this earth and find some hobbies you can share with people where you’re not constrained by the weirdness of office politics and culture.

Your feelings are shared by many others our age. Friends at work are important, especially if you're living alone. I live alone in a city with friends within reach, but only having friends outside of work is not enough social interaction for me.

Consider how much social time there is in high school and college. There was barely a moment to be alone. Classes are full of discussion, meals are eaten together, and shooting the shit with siblings or roommates fills in all the other time. If you forego social interaction during work hours, I don't see how the math adds up to get back to the baseline from high school and college.

It sounds like you have an office to go to even though your team doesn't come in often. This is the case for me too, but luckily I'm at a big enough company where there are people my age on other teams. At first, barely anyone came in, but someone has to break the deadlock so I kept coming in every day regardless. Fast forward a year and there is a group of 20-somethings that come in every day. I've formed some of the best friendships of my life here. I recommend going into the office every day even if it's going to be empty. It's a good routine anyway to get out of the house.

While I don't have any personally, I'd also recommend housemates. A lot of my friends from work have housemates and I feel like it's an easy way to build a large friend group since you can share each other's friends. It especially seems to help those who are new to the city and don't have a friend group yet. Your housemates can also easily become your friends!

I really sympathize with your situation. You're simply asking for what used to be normal to return. Don't lose hope - there are so many of us like you and we just need to find each other.

Just wanted to say I relate completely. Moved a year before pandemic to a completely new place straight out of school and struggled making friends. COVID ruined what little social circle I had started to form.

If you (or anyone else reading this) are in the SF Bay Area in a similar situation and are looking for potential friends, hit me up at my profile email

I've been thinking the same, for me, it's also the work hours were to get ahead I have to do 60 hours on the business side AND homework to get more skills. Even just a part-time job or something to have a mental reset, money would be tight but every angle I see it could be easier to be happier.

I have no opinion on whether or not remote is good (I work alone, at home, and I'm fine with it, but I also understand the draw of office life).

I would strongly suggest volunteer work, as a way to socialize. Geeks have extremely valuable skills, and can give a great deal, to most volunteer efforts.

In my case, I have been involved in a fellowship, for my entire adult life, and it richly satisfies my socialization needs. I also do a great deal of tech volunteer work for it.

I wish you luck, but I'm not sure that returning to the office would fix things.

I was a remote worker for an earlier part of my 20s as a consultant.

What you have to do is you have to be proactive about your social activities and find a thing that allows you to do that. I ended up starting my own social group off of reddit. That helped a lot and taught me a lot about groups.

Couchsurfing was great for the social aspect. Another thing to note: Just because you are around coworkers it doesn't mean you'll relate to them well. Some have a tendancy to stab you in the back.

Wow, this hits close to home.

I just moved a thousand miles from school to a new state. I live near work, which is about 30 miles from the nearest city (no public transit to speak of). If there's any spots for young people to socialize nearby, I haven't been able to find them.

My long-term girlfriend has a career near where we went to school, so many weekends I'm traveling there, or she is here. Both of which are great, but neither of which are conducive to making friends in this new place.

I'm really excited about the job, and I'm a late sleeper. I tend to work 11am to around 9pm.

I've had some roommates, but they've been pretty uninterested.

Luckily, work is fully in-person, and it's a very young office. The first few months were rough, but I've finally made friends with people, I had a barbecue, we went skiing, went to see a co-workers band perform.

My personal situation could be a lot worse, but it could have also been a lot better. Compared to the last year of my Masters program, the adjustment period was very painful, and I think not having human interaction would have made it worse.

-- Though, (and I'm just realizing it now), if the job were remote, I could have just stayed in the part of the country where I had many friends. Sadly, I work with hardware, so that's probably not going to happen.

I feel ya, try being a remote area drillers offsider. Week after week, in the dark on night shift. No radio to even hear another humans voice because there isn't any reception in the middle of nowhere. No one to talk to. Hella wrecks your mental health.

Makes you appreciate the jebus out of f2f hands on trades. Stuff where your actually involved with people and the results of your work aren't a constant reminder of how detached from society you truly are.

Similar happening to me as well. I thought remote work will bring me freedom of time and place but spending 2 years at home without any interaction with outside people made me a negative and depressed person for a few months.

But I somehow found the balance by going to a co-working space, going to the gym and playing any physical sport.

PS: I live with 6 people but it still happened to me.

From the employers PoV imagine a world where you have an influx of junior employees and interns. They need a higher level of structure and need the social outlet of work. If you're trying to build up this talent, it seems easier to do in the structure of an office. Imagine a junior employee even potentially moving somewhere for a job?

Currently, the economy is not aggressively hiring at the junior level. But this could change. What does that world look like when junior employees go into a fully isolated and remote setup? Either we need a structured central place for supporting those employees or society needs to solve these social and economic problems in a completely different way.

Remote work is easier for senior employees with families or a more established life. I think many here probably fit into this category. After even 4-5 years of life in an office, you probably lose the need to regularly see employees. But being junior / early on, it's a VERY tough road to be fully remote.

What is your office environment like?

I too would like some in-person time with colleagues, but I also know that with an open plan office it can be so noisy that I know that nothing will get done.

Prior to 2019 a well used phrase was "I need to work from home so that I can get stuff done" and we all understood it. A lot of actions have been taken over the years to ensure that we know who the boss is, Taylorism is the cause and the boss gets an office. We have had decades of research showing that open plan offices increase sick days by 30%, and reduce productivity.

Unfortunately you are right at this inflection point where those of us who have suffered the worst of it are fed up and want change. The best we can do is work from home.

Have you told other members of your team this? I don't need to see my friends every day to know they are my friends, but would once a week or fortnight help, even if it was to pair with one other person?

> Day in, day out. All alone. I don't have a girlfriend, friends, or a life in this city.

You expect to find a girlfriend on the job? I don't mean it as a snark. But in office means that work and communiting takes even more of your life. Unless she comes from the job, which is unlikely in male dominated profession, being with team won't get you girlfriend.

> You expect to find a girlfriend on the job?

The parent didn't say this. He probably meant it as in "if I had a girlfriend, not having friends wouldn't be as rough".

I met my wife and all my previous girlfriends at work. Only one was a software engineer but they were all smart...

> but no time - I was working all day

This is your problem. The rest is a red-herring.

I've been in the same place you are now. I completely agree with the need for a healthy routine to be able to keep depression at bay and not having a environment to socialize robs you of key experiences we all need to have in our youths in order to be well adjusted later in life.

Having said that, you're in a great place to make a few key changes that might help! I moved to another country and learnt a new language and a whole new culture when I was in the same place as you!

Perhaps that's not a option for you, but maybe you could travel to a new city for a week or two! Trial out a few places and see what fits you. It takes a bit of effort and persistence, at the cost of routine, but having a fresh start might be the thing that gets you out of this.

Edit: You might want to look up Croissant to go and meet other remote co workers, there's a fair few of us around the world ;)

I am there 100% too. And yet every time I bring it up somewhere like reddit I get responses like “just deal with it, I’m not coming into the office just because you are lonely.” Chances are that these are not the people that I would miss in an office environment in general. I probably wasn’t having fun office conversations with them.

I need my habits and routines, and I just don’t make myself stick to the routines when I stay home. Less of a reason to shower at the same time or at all, less of a reason to take walking breaks during work hours.

It has come down to me being able to handle a bullshit job when I like the people I work with and see them often enough to where we are inbetween work friends and real friends. But a bullshit job where my coworkers aren’t even interesting or nice to talk to? I’m just not gonna want to work with them ever again.

If you're in NYC and want to grab lunch let me know

I'll chime in here for Seattle -- same offer

> I tried to join clubs and a maker space, but no time - I was working all day.

Benefit of remote work is generally that its flexible and you can schedule time in the day to get out and do things than otherwise the usual office grind would prevent.

Your employer shouldn't care that you're out at noon but working at 7pm instead as long as the work is getting done.

Sounds like you also have boundary issues where you're working all the time and killing yourself, quite voluntarily, for your job. You should consider just stopping doing that. You probably won't fall behind.

If you have remote work and a rigid schedule like you're constantly oncall and dying because of the work, then find better and more human remote work.

I'm the exact opposite way - I want a remote job but I can't find one. I'd be happiest in an office of my own making with the hours of my own choosing, and I'm very good at creating boundaries between work and life at home. I loath having to sit in a cube, with people that might stop by and break my flow of concentration with small talk (What even is small talk? How's the weather? How about them dodgers? What?)

But I don't know anyone who would hire me to do remote work. Nor how to find one reliably. I'm getting depressed at the thought that I might have to go work in a physical box again.

I left the tech sector because of the same issue, although I have a family and friends. I'm poorer and my situation is quite unstable. But I no longer have to endure this depressing loneliness during work hours.

As someone that has worked in the office and now from home I wouldn't consider making "friends" at the office to be a substitute for making friends outside of work.

Check some of the event type apps such as meetup, they usually have quite a few fun things on there with cool people to meet doing all sorts of hobbies.

Then again, it is true that tech can be quite lonely and solitary work, so as you mentioned a career shift may be in order.

It isn't just you, but also consider that this kind of situation is somewhat common now and probably won't last

> And here I am, again, in the torture of solitary confinement.

If you spending time alone is torture, is it torture because of the loneliness or is it torture because you aren't at peace with yourself?

I get that connection is needed, but if you're in a situation where it's inconvenient or hard to find you shouldn't be attacking yourself because of this

I think this is a transitional phase. If remote work takes over, there will be a rise of co working spaces for mates to work in together. Young people will use them to find friends and partners, and young parents will use them to share babysitting shifts with other young parents.

That will actually be better for social life, because people won't need to lose touch when they change jobs.

People were stuck at home by the pandemic, not by remote work.

> Guess what? My team can't get enough remote work - they're not going to go into the office.

This may sounds crazy but I actually like to go to the office when I'm team isn't there! The place is lively and there are other people who aren't in my team, and I prefer to interact with them (perhaps it's less stressful as we're less likely to talk about ongoing team work, or they won't require my assistance).

As a lifetime introvert that doesn't really care for human interaction I have never really thought about this perspective before. I have worked remote for years and commuting all the way to another building just to do the same thing I was already doing at home would feel like a pointless hoop to jump through at this point. I wonder how many people demanding that everyone return to the office are just lonely?

Thanks for your very honest comment. At my office we’re hybrid and people oscillate between the home and in-office for the same reasons as you - sometimes it’s just nice to hang out with people, even if you’re working.

I would hope you wouldn’t have to abandon your career and maybe a little job hopping is in order. I don’t think the world will go full remote, even if that’s personally the way I enjoy it.

While my reaction isn't the same as yours, I'm in roughly the same position. You didn't mention it so I wanted to ask, have you tried going to coworking spaces? That seems like a solution for the "let the people who want to work at home work at home, let people who want company have company" issue... I haven't myself yet so I'm curious.

Maybe try switching to another field in engineering - software development is certainly the most remote friendly discipline. Mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, civil engineering, there are lots of great on-site careers and they are a much better use of your existing skills

I understand this completely, having worked remotely since February 2019. Can't wait to meet people more often.

From those of us with kids, many just want to do our jobs and get a paycheck. Work lets us live, we do not live to work. We are not looking for some third place or a dating situation.

Go to a climbing gym or get a dog or something if you want to meet people.

I'm self-employed in eCommerce but what you said was 100% true. Best thing for my mental health over the past year was getting a dedicated office space and a couple of staff members. Just no longer feel alone when doing my job.

> I tried to join clubs and a maker space, but no time - I was working all day.

This is the problem in my opinion. Not the fact that you were working all day, but generally that our work now bleeds into personal lives or leaves no time for it.

Your priorities are all wrong if you live to work. You need to make a life unconnected to work as you might be fired any day. People I work with are coworkers, nothing more.

My solution is to go to the pub once or twice (or thrice) a week

I recently moved into a share house and extremely recommend the experience. I think it would help with what you seem to be dealing with. Best of luck!

Why get paid while your socialising with people in a work environment when you can isolate yourself at home and talk to randoms on the street or join clubs at your own expense and time. Friends can be made anywhere BUT work now apparently.

Why do kids need to go back to school? They can sit at a desk at home. They can make friends elsewhere and they don't need to go to school for physical activity. They can do that in any club, group meet, sport, hobby whatever. Schools for learning after all, not making friends.

I have the same feeling of solitary confinement. I now dream of working at Costco or Whole Foods to have some social interaction.

Office friends aren’t necessarily great friends. Great people is found while doing great things

Work for the government, or finance with a strict "no remote" policy.

> I tried to join clubs and a maker space, but no time - I was working all day

That’s your decision. Very convenient for your employer. Perhaps not so convenient to you, given that you are getting depressed.

> My team can't get enough remote work - they're not going to go into the office.

That’s their decision.

Can't really type here but: I feels ya.

This should be a problem of your therapist, not your coworkers.

I tried office work and enjoyed meeting coworkers. Made some friends there. I'm working from home and like it so much though. I somehow live my best life alone during the day for work and see people several times in the week outside work, but I personally think that's a great way to both avoid commute time. I live in a city where I have a lot of friends, and it was always clear to me that remote work would work for me only if I could meet people regularly. I also practice piano, and I am in a choir with a hundred people that allows me to constantly meet people. I need to see people and would not like spending days without seeing anybody.

You can't bet only on work for meeting people. It can work by luck, but an ex coworker of mine recently left my ex-company and the city, because he was only seeing coworkers and didn't manage to meet people in the city, they ended up feeling lonely, aka work from the office didn't fix their loneliness. It's also a matter of social skills, and joining groups, and stuff like this if you don't have an established social group yet.

I also think remote work is not for everybody, and preferences might evolve during someone's life. I guess there will be office-first companies for people who prefer being at the office, remote-first companies for us preferring remote work, and hybrid ones if they manage to pull if off. That's very hard but somehow my current company is very successful in this, but you will need to have remote-first habits in such an hybrid setting, like using the chat / mail / whatever even between people at the office at the same time for many things.

So I have four pieces of advice for you, each one can suffice:

- move to a city where you already have friends - make sure it allows you to meet new people too.

- join clubs, do stuff outside work. Work is a mean to have a good life, don't spend all of your life at work, that's nonsense, unless it's absolutely what you love and you are happy, but that's not your case

- join an office-first or hybrid company. You don't need to stay at a remote company if you don't like it

- you can still be at a remote company, but go to a coworking space. Try it out! I have a coworker who does this. You can have a routine, meet the same people everyday and have breaks / eat lunch with them, etc exactly like coworkers, just that you don't work on the same things. Not the same thing as working at the same place with people who you work with but I guess that can be enriching / rewarding too in its own way.

Finding a coworking space was my plan B if I figured I didn't like working from home in the end. My company would be willing to pay for it. Hasn't happened yet but I personally think that's a great way to both avoid commute time, see people during the day, address the loneliness of remote work, and not be limited by the choice of whatever companies are near you.

Good luck, I hope you will find a solution that works out for you!

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