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Nearly 40% of software engineers will only work remotely (techtarget.com)
476 points by nithinj 18 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 396 comments

I could be convinced to commute to a satellite office that's not affected by rush hour traffic. There's a lot of real estate available in the burbs. These don't really exist though, and their expense far outweighs their benefits.

The problem is that companies expect employees to be mobile when they are not. It's called putting down roots for a reason. Pulling kids out of school, buying a new house is very disruptive.

... or I can hook up my cable modem and work anywhere in the country...

Corporate elites cannot have their cake and eat it too.

Choose one:

1) Make housing affordable, and schooling more effective. Streamline the moving process through law and process improvements. Make transportation systems work better. Improve 2nd and 3rd tier cities social and political life.

2) Let people work from home. Suffer a 10-15% degredation in communications.

3) Have the entire industry force people to come to the office - have miserable workers.

For me option 2 seems to be what will happen - you'll get a control loop where companies will hemorrhage their best workers if they force back to office.

My father was a chemical engineer. Back in the 60s & 70s, the company would pay to relocate our family to wherever they needed him (this included purchasing the house if we didn't sell it before the moving trucks showed up). That included several foreign countries. In my family's experience, that included England, Iran, Ireland & Saudi Arabia. During the 80s, his industry stopped relocating engineers. This corresponded to the end of "the Social Contract" where as long as you were loyal to your company, they had a job for you - for life. When you watch that "Greed is Good" speech from Gordon Gecko [0], notice that table of old farts at the front of the room: that's where they promote the loyal employees (into "executive vice presidencies") when there isn't enough room at the top of the pyramid (and also they're too incompetent to promote in actual line management [1]).

By the 90s, companies stopped paying for relocation of anyone below managerial levels. And instead depended on workers being able to afford to relocate on their own $.

This brings us to today's economy. Large companies, instead of laying older workers off, simply relocate their position to a new office. IBM (who used to be called "I've Been Moved") has a reputation for doing this to their US-based workforce especially when over age 40. If you can't afford to relocate? Great, that's now a "voluntary quit".

If companies want employees to "move where the jobs are", they need to step up to the plate and start paying for relocation. And that includes buying upside-down homes.

0 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PF_iorX_MAw

1 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_principle

>Great, that's now a "voluntary quit"

That's actually a constructive dismissal, which counts as an involuntary resignation.


reading that...

> An employer showing favoritism to another employee without reason or explanation

Sometimes "you just like people" or "you just don't like people"; and it turns out that liking the people you work with makes you more productive, so where's the room for that irrational dynamic, where there may not BE a "rational" reason to dismiss one over another?

If companies start buying upside-down homes, they're probably going to start holding them until they can at least wash out. I'd hate to see a trend of employers becoming landlords.

I wonder if the company actually took ownership of the house or just managed a purchase for the employee. I knew someone who worked for the federal government and relocated for a job and took advantage of this kind of benefit. But I don't believe the federal government actually took ownership of the house - I think it was more like, they found the best quick cash offer, and then paid out the amount between that and the appraised value. So the employee gets rid of their house for the appraised value, the employer gets the employee where they're needed and some house flipping company gets some inventory.

In our case, we put the house on the market through a realtor of our choosing. Once we had a finalized offer, the company (probably a third party of some sort) took ownership of the house and paid us the offer price. At that point, had the buyer pulled out it would have been the companies problem.

This was a like three housing market cycles ago and the market was in an upturn, so there really wasn't much risk to the company. Another buyer would have been along right behind the first.

In general, I think people need to think more critically about this "1 job for life" culture of the past. A lot of the supposed benefits of this former corporate culture (like a company-linked pension, or a system where your employer buys you home) just mean that companies exercise even more power over our lives and the economy.

This is a bit like saying that women in a patriarchy should prefer prostitution over marriage, because having many interchangeable abusive masters is better than having just one.

Realtor: "I see your interested in this area. Over here we have Amazon lane, if you buy one of those houses you'll get prime delivery for free. The next street over is Azure Fields if you buy a home there you'll get 50% off a 10 year office 365 subscription.

And down there is Ikea homes. You pay a premium but can customize it however you want. You'll also have to put it together yourself.

I'll take the nvidia glen 1-bedroom with the dedicated A100.

But you know that's where we're headed. Little fiefdoms. Starbucks will start buying apartment complexes. "If you don't join that union, we'll pay for your housing!" Then fill them up 4 to an apartment. Then you'll see deductions on your paycheck for electric and internet. Soon you'll barely be making enough to feed yourself, but at least you'll be dry.

Also where we came from. Company towns.

I'm not sure that would be worse than the capital driven land-lord situation. I mean, in terms of renting out a house from a former employee until real estate improves enough to sell. Odds are it would be done via the same rental mgt companies that everyone else uses anyway.

At least as long as the company isn't pushing to keep said properties longer than necessary.

It's "fine" as long as the employee isn't paying rent to the employer. There's just way to much risk of things going straight to hell.

Yeah, that is generally bad. While it may be legal, I think it's entirely unethical to have conflicting interests at play in a business. Part of why I hate that Sony, for example, controls both the tech (Bluray, hardware, etc) and media investments. Or insurance providers owning stakes in pharma.

Elon Musk reportedly wants to be his employees' landlord: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/elon-musk-reported...

We had someone buy our home for basically top dollar at the time about 20 years ago. They worked for Ford and Ford was relocating him to the area, and he bought the house. I was told there was some relocation expenses they paid, but I don't think Ford bought the house. Well, I know they didn't directly, because we sold to him - that's what the paperwork said. I think he got moving expense reimbursement, but that may have been it. But I know they sold it a couple years later as the market tanked, and must have taken a loss. I wonder if Ford covered some of the loss for him? (Bought at $295k, sold for $205k 2 years later).

FWIW, big tech companies do pay for relocation for rank and file engineers. Meta paid for packing/moving + roughly $20k incidentals when I joined last year.

I work for a non profit. After two years or letting everyone at home, this month they're forcing people to come to office at least twice a week. Not only that, anyone going to work has to book a desk in advance, otherwise they'll be sitting on the floor with their computer on their laps.

This makes no difference to me personally, as I am a thousand miles away in another state, so I lucked out. I am still working from home.

None of this makes any sense whatsoever. I am totally expecting people to leave, just because they are forced to commute.

This is one of the nicer places I have worked. I dread to image what it would be like, in some of the shittier jobs I have had.

In my opinion, anyone who can work from home should do so. It frees up the traffic, makes office space more affordable for those businesses who do need space (dentist, restaurant etc) and in general win-win for everyone. All this talk of making "human connections" at work is just bullshit. Offices are just noisy, leads to office politics and meaningless meetings, cubicles are shitty, open office plans are shittier...

Either that, or make sensible but much, much harder changes to housing, transporation etc. Since nobody seems ready to take on that work, the easier solution is to just let people work from home. It won't solve all problems, but it is a good start

> leads to office politics

That's exactly what they miss. Those people became powerful by playing that game of office politics and now have nowhere to do that anymore.

I think there's still plenty of room for it... but it's going to shift towards actual performance as a larger share of the process though.

> towards actual performance

which is the polar opposite of politics!

> otherwise they'll be sitting on the floor with their computer on their laps.

Why bother showing up at that point.

Because they have no power and need the income to eat, and their despotic bosses know this.

What is happening right now with remote work is that we are seeing very clearly who actually does any work and who doesn’t. The people who don’t do any work are the ones who demand you be in an office hybrid setting or full return to office.

Probably the same reason the people who still work at twitter show up, it's either some weird sense of loyalty or perhaps it helps them feel like part of the "those who grind" clique.

I dunno man, people are weird.

I sympathize the Twitter workers that are on work visas. Much harder for them to jump ship. They have to tolerate the nonsense or relocate back to their home country. Especially difficult if you own a home and/or have a family.

All that plus interviewing is broken as shit. Then just the thought of changing jobs is stressful enough, but looking for work while Elmo is breathing down your neck has to be some next level stress. I can see where they would be paralyzed into staying a while.

A one-sided sense of loyalty.

> The problem is that companies expect employees to be mobile when they are not

I would add, many software companies expect employees to work in such a way that working remotely has to be viable anyway. My direct coworkers were split across multiple Bay Area offices. I had projects going on with other companies, some of them in Seattle. I was encouraged to attend and present at conferences in other cities. I dealt with teams distributed across Europe.

Now, getting face to face time with all of these people is an important part of building relationships, but most of those meetings simply have to be online. I noticed that even though I had a home office, my boss virtually never saw me doing my most important work, because we were both in and out of meetings. I was willing to be dutiful employee who shows up to the office, and attends meetings in-person when I could, but invariably someone else in the meeting wouldn't or couldn't and we'd have to dial them in remotely anyway (ironically, this happen the most with a certain company who claims that they can't make remote work viable - their own employees would not attend meetings in person at their own employer's office).

If you're already in that situation, why can't I live where I want? You already can't assess my productivity by looking at me at a desk. I already have to have a significant remote component to all meetings. When I really need to travel, I can travel. But day to day, you've already had to have the technology and processes to allow people to be distributed for a long time. Let me take advantage of it too.

> I could be convinced to commute to a satellite office that's not affected by rush hour traffic. There's a lot of real estate available in the burbs.

Funny that you say this. I could only be convinced to come to an office if my employer satisfied the following conditions:

- accessible in <20 minutes from a place with affordable rent via bike, walk, or public transit

- no or minimal video meetings in the office; I'm not taking the time to come in to sit on the same video calls I could take at home.

- either a lunch subsidy or reasonable in-house lunch prep options (more than just a refrigerator and a dirty shared microwave)

It definitely feels like housing affordability is a huge wrench in these gears. Up until this year, I lived in major US cities, and rent prices still shock me when I look back in my old neighborhoods. Even the suburbs have spiked to the prices I used to pay for walkable neighborhoods. I'm pretty sure my first criteria can't be satisfied unless the US has some kind of massive market-wide housing price collapse.

I’m lucky to have bought a duplex starter home for like $135k, 8 years ago before prices skyrocketed. It has off street parking and a garage so we can park and charge our two electric cars. The overall level of safety is high on the immediate area I live in, I don’t worry about break-ins.

It’s in a walkable neighborhood a few blocks from a preschool and elementary school we send our kids to plus a park and little beach by the river/ocean. There are also nice neighborhood restaurants and cafe & ice cream parlor and library and community garden plus like consignment shops, etc. Tons of awesome neighborhood events around Halloween, Christmas, 4th of July, etc, plus a regular farmer’s market, etc… all this within east walking distance (even for kids).

My work is 15 minutes by car, low stress commute overall. It has a beautiful common space with a nice kitchen. It doesn’t have a stove or a dishwasher, but the fridge and microwave are super nice, beautiful stone counters with a nice dish washing sink, place for sitting and eating, making coffee via electric kettle, etc. It’s part of our communal “maker space” so we can have great conversations while eating lunch and watching our 3D prints complete. Plus very affordable snack bar, and a cafeteria within walking distance. I also have my own office and lab space which aren’t beautiful, but are nice to have.

Our house and yard are small and not super nice cosmetically, the income isn’t high for 3 kids and a spouse that has to stay home to take care of them, but every time I think about moving or taking a higher paid job, I realize how lucky this situation is. And how I could easily spend twice as much for a house only marginally better or three times as much for a larger and cosmetically better house in a non-walkable area.

We also have to be more specific. What does "going to the office" mean? Does it mean I'm going to an actual office, where I have my equipment all set up how I like it and a tailored environment that helps me stay focused and productive? Or is a bullshit open floor with terrible lighting and everyone is sick all the time because you're sitting face to face for 10 hours with someone you don't even talk to?

"The office" is a tool. It's like we've forgotten the reason for doing things. Software development is really not all that social. It's not akin as a factory or an orchestra or any of these other analogies that get tossed around.

> I could be convinced to commute to a satellite office

I tried this approach. I worked from a satellite with affordable housing, good schools. I had a <10 minute commute between my garage to my desk during peak traffic. I did not like it. Now, I would only entertain the idea of working out of a HQ. The satellite office provided many of the disadvantages of working in an office (open office floorplan, being forced into close proximity with that one annoying coworker, shared kitchen space) while being isolated from other teams and upper management. Those that worked at HQ saw more promotions, had better opportunities for internal mobility, and were taken more seriously inside the company. Going to HQ is fantastic for those career oriented. For everyone else WFH is the way.

1 has nothing to do with "corporate elites," who do not control housing pricing or schooling by any reasonable measure. I don't accept the premise of 2 that there is any degradation in communications except from folks who are new to remote work. 3 will never happen because there are too many people who acknowledge the positives of remote work starting companies and in technical leadership of good companies. There will always be 100% remote and 100% remote+async companies from now on.

Leaving family, friends, community and the place you know is higher on my list of disruptive than selling a house.

"A lot of the lay-offs were senior technical staff like C++ senior engineers; seems more like a realignment to shift those jobs to cheaper subsidiaries like India, Pakistan, Mexico"

What's the source of that quote? The article says exactly the opposite and makes no mention of offshoring.

Maybe its a disinformation bot, trying to rile up older men (senior C++ engineers) with nativist sentiment (how dare they relocate my job to Pakistan?).

Seems reasonable to me, especially given the blatantly false statement.

Barring a change in city costs. Engineers expected to commute into the office will demand progressively higher rates. I’m not working for a billion+ profit firm for less than it costs to live in my area.

> I could be convinced to commute to a satellite office that's not affected by rush hour traffic.

This right here. If I could get to work and back in 5 minutes I wouldn't mind the commute, ever. Unfortunately everyone wants to have offices in some downtown area, instead of just near a major city in a quieter part of town, safe back-roads that wont bother anyone.

This only works if they put the office in the quieter back-road section near you. Otherwise you're driving all the way across town. The last company I was with I talked with the owner and he was clear why they chose downtown - yes, it sucked, but it sucked pretty equally for everyone.

Downtown is also the place with the most transit going to it - you're excluding anyone who doesn't/can't drive if you choose to build in a quiet section.

It depends on the downtown. Where I live there's almost no transit to downtown and because of traffic, a 20 minute commute turns into an hour.

If instead you have a few smaller offices in the burbs outside of downtown, you could save a lot of time for workers as they would be traveling counter-commute.

That's interesting - how large is the city you're in that has an hour commute but little transit?

I don't understand the value of having a few smaller burb offices - does your entire team have to go to the one you're at (even if they are on opposite sides of the city, thus negating the advantage of it being close), or do they each go their own and then do remote calls to discuss things (thus negating the advantage of it being in office)?

>If instead you have a few smaller offices in the burbs outside of downtown, you could save a lot of time for workers as they would be traveling counter-commute.

This only applies to some people living in some areas. If you locate in the east side suburbs, people who live in the westside suburbs are going to have a helacious commute.

We absolutely should make housing more affordable. The problem is we’ve built most middle class wealth on housing as a scarce and always-appreciating asset, and tons of peoples’ retirements are essentially counting on that continuing. We’re impoverishing the young to enrich the old, and there’s no easy way out.

Also, we don't build starter homes anymore. I monitor the city's development site and all of the home being built are 3+ BR. There are a few apartment complexes with 1,2,3 etc BR, but no starter homes. There was a 55+ retirement development that went in a couple years ago. About 150 homes. Every single one was 3+ BR. WTF!?

> Suffer a 10-15% degredation in communications.

If your team is split across 3 timezones and 5 cities already, you're going to damage your communications even further by making everyone go into the office again.

It can depend... there's a few colocation/shared offices in the Phoenix area. I know of a couple in Chandler, Mesa and Peoria in particular. Though I have a gigabit connection at home that's pretty stable and have my workspace setup how I like it.

Personally, I prefer an office space as I find the comradery is better. Being able to have lunch or general conversation is much more natural. Also, a commute that isn't too long (20-30m) is nice for ramping up on the way in and clearing the mind on the way home.

All of that said, since going remote, I don't plan to go back. I really want to move to a more rural location that better aligns with what I want in lifestyle/community. Of course, internet connectivity becomes crucial, and the current interest rates prohibit that.

I also don't think TFA is quite right on that being younger is the stronger reason for a higher chance of layoff. I think a lot of it comes down to experience and value provided from more experienced devs. It can definitely cut both ways and I have seen it in practice. I would suggest it's about perceived and actual value as well as a bit of office politics and agreeableness in the workplace that is more desired.

I do think that the nicest thing about more remote work, is it is more regionally competitive. At the higher end of the talent pool, one is able to compete for jobs that are much better paying that would be available locally, while still being less expense for businesses rooted in tech hub cities. This comes at the cost of communications, which you mention, though I think it's more than a 15% degredation in some cases. My prior position it seemed to hold things up for days on communications at times, with an international team.

>Make housing affordable

Make? Who is the subject doing the making here in this scenario?

I very much feel the opposite way. If my company had offices downtown (where I live, because I like being able to walk to get a beer), I would go every day.

But they don’t - they’re in a suburban sprawl, at minimum a 30 minute drive - more like an hour during rush hour. I would quit on the spot if there were ever an attempt to make me go to the office on a fixed schedule.

I chose a home with good transit to downtown. If I have to drive to an industrial sector across town each day to get to work I probably won't even consider the position.

> Let people work from home. Suffer a 10-15% degredation in communications.

In my estimation you're grossly underestimating the degradation in communications.

In my estimation he is not. I "remember" office for good and bad, for most of the time even when I communicated with folks next door/nearby i would still fallback to chat. Water cooler talks is what I miss actually, but if you meetup couple of times a year - you get the feel of those people. Also now that people got so used to streaming more, its often much easier to pair more effectively (if one person drives some stuff, the other person can do other checks etc.)

I do not think 10-15% degradation is underestimated.

> now that people got so used to streaming more, its often much easier to pair more effectively

People keep saying this, but the experience of quickly pairing on something is one of the things I feel has degraded the most. I can't point to a single cause, it's more death by a million cuts, but I absolutely dread pairing with a junior to help them over screen share where I would normally be happy to help someone in person. I'm not exactly inexperienced at it either, I worked fully remote for a couple years a decade before the pandemic.

While everyone has their preferences I find myself hating the office a lot less than I used to these days. (and I was very vocal about hating the office pre-covid[0])

However, some things of note:

1) My "Office" (not home) is not an "Open Office", it's a place where I can reasonably sit in peace and have control of my surroundings (this is something not afforded to most people in offices, and something that work from home provides)

2) I do not have children at home, which is a pro and a con of working remotely. Being able to look after your offspring is great! I have it on good authority though that kids are distraction machines.

3) My Commute is a 10 minute walk through a sparsely populated city in southern Sweden with no heavy trafficways (or even mild trafficways by North American standards)

So even though my home office setup is dedicated, clean, & spacious, I do quite enjoy going to the office at the moment.

My meandering point is that: everyone has different life situations, the office has to be a better place to be than home if you want people to come to it and it needs to be accessible too; it can't be the case that you force people to sit in traffic for 2 hours each day to get to a place where their senses are assaulted all day.

On the whole, gathering around a whiteboard is fantastic and casual conversations over coffee can really help smooth over accidental communication gaps that exist in every organisation. (and, also help create some more positive interactions with colleagues than the relatively normal situation of calling on people only when they need to do something). I can't imagine needing to be in the same place 5 days per week to get the same benefit though.

[0]: https://blog.dijit.sh/how-to-survive-an-open-office

You have an 'ideal' office (if there were such a thing) though, it's not really the comparison anyone means, or what's generally realistic.

Your sort of office is the sort of thing that for most people is more attainable if they do work remotely, and then rent a space near home, or build/convert a shed/garage/outbuilding.

Your happiness working from the office is also quite tied to your employer, I'd assume (I don't know Sweden or what's normal though), which is obviously either limiting or means you might find yourself back in the 'will only work remotely' camp when looking for a new job.

Everyone renting a place near them (or using a dedicated space in their home if they choose) misses out on “gathering around a whiteboard is fantastic and casual conversations over coffee can really help smooth over accidental communication gaps that exist in every organisation.”

They only miss out on this if the people they are working with are in the same office as them. This isn't always the case at large companies.

I suspect that people who work for companies where teams, organizations, or even the entire company are colocated will tend to favor in-office work to some degree, while people who work for companies where teams and offices are geographically distributed will tend to favor remote work.

I personally worked for Twitter in-office full time for 14 months pre-COVID, and almost every meeting or collaboration I had involved a teleconference with people in another timezone or was done over Slack. There was some opportunity for face-to-face collaboration with people from other teams from time to time, but in my opinion not enough to justify the daily commute. That said, I'm open to a hybrid arrangement for companies where the situation I had at Twitter would not be the case.

> My meandering point is that: everyone has different life situations

Yes, so it's not about preferences, it's not about the pros and cons, it's about not forcing people for needless suffering. Forcing people who want or need (professionally or personally) to work with other people at home is absurd, and forcing people who provide better work at home (for jobs were it makes no difference to be in office) to commute and work in an open space just to reassure bosses is as absurd.

The consistent response I have gotten from managers is that more or less - people fake work sitting in their homes or work multiple jobs, and we collaborate better when we are sitting in an office. They use this as a force function to pull employees back into the office.

I call BS on all of these. Employees faking work - your hiring problem. Employees working multiple jobs - again your problem, keep them occupied with meaningful work, if not bring in legality to protect your IP or whatever. AFAIK no one working multiple jobs are revealing IPs.

In person collaboration - There may be some truth to this. High profile decisions are best taken in person, that being said during covid almost all decisions were done on Zoom not just for a week or so but for 2 years. Isn't that proof enough that even government level decisions can be done on Zoom ?

Design discussions are best done on Miro/Google docs than on the whiteboard. Multiple people can collaborate efficiently on Miro, especially with an iPad. Not only this, every voice is heard instead of just 2-3 folks standing at a whiteboard and driving discussions.

So many tools that make even pair programming or production debugging a breeze.

I can pretty much negate every argument that mandates in person office presence.

What I really vouch for is in person collaboration events once or twice a month where everyone comes together for a couple of days and hash out key issues and have a totally unstructured time for collaboration.

And of course, have an office for those who want to come in to collaborate. Not everyone has a spacious home, people like to hang out with co-workers during lunch etc. However make it mandatory that all group meetings will be done on zoom, in order to provide equal participation opportunity to remote workers. These hybrid meetings with a few people in a room and a few on zoom are a total disaster.

> people fake work sitting in their homes

People fake work sitting in offices. If someone is going to fake work in the office, why not let them fake work from home and safe everyone a hassle. Or maybe incentivize real work over fake work.

I worked with someone in the office next to mine for a few years and he was running a side business the whole time. It was bizarre how brazen he was, but people are interesting and varied.

Remote work isn’t perfect, but it’s not like office work was perfect either. It’s like showing an example of a welfare cheat and saying “we can’t give welfare to help parents because people claim imaginary kids.”

I keep saying - if they aren't doing the job you'd fire them even if they were in office. If you think they are working two jobs but they are getting their job done you have to ask yourself - are you paying for someone to get the job done (which in this scenario they are) or someone you force to sit in a seat for x amount of time each week?

Exactly! As a manager if you hire someone to do X, Y, and Z, and he does X, Y, and Z with high quality and up to your expectations in 20 hours, why do you care if he spends his other 20 hours working for Facebook? Assuming performance is good and no confidential information is being shared, the guys second job doesn't hurt you.

I think they just don't want to admit the reason: That if they knew the worker was getting their job done in 20 hours, they'd simply raise their expectations to squeeze more out of the worker for the same pay.

When a service worker or retail clerk does multiple jobs, it's seen as hard-working and hustling, but when an office worker has multiple jobs it's somehow taboo.

Sure, but "hiring someone to do X, Y, Z" is generally consulting, freelancing, or outsourcing.

Employment contracts are typically tied to number of hours (much like service and retail). If you dedicate the 20-40 agreed hours per week to the employer and don't tread on noncompetes or NDA, reasonable managers will have no issues with side-hustles.

At any moment in time, your attention can only be working for one employer. That's what you're paid for as an employee. Much like you typically can't wait tables for several restaurants simultaneously. If you want delivery-based contracts you're looking for a different kind of relationship.

> Employees working multiple jobs

I got at least 2 colleagues that were working multiple jobs from the office, of course it wasn't 4 hours straight, but committing fixes to their 2nd job/ mini-startup they started was extremely common.

In terms of not working or splitting to multiple jobs. Then that's a performance issue. If you're getting expected work done, it's not a problem... If you aren't, then you're a problem either way. This is not me condoning the practice, only pointing out that it shouldn't be the crux of the problem.

Depending on the job, you won't be on all the time. I have about 2-3 days a week where I'm on and pretty hyper productive and 1-2 where I'm kind of coasting or spending more thinking/learning/reading time.

I do find, I prefer office culture to working remotely... it's much more productive and team cohesion is often much, much better. International work is much harder still to coordinate. Right now I'm working on an East coast team, living in AZ... I'm about to have to start getting up yet another hour earlier next week, and so not a morning person. That said, given the market shifts really remind me of around 2001, and I'm holding on where I am for as long as I can and generally like the people I work with.

Mandatory office presence cuts both ways, you're less likely to gain top talent and even then, you're going to pay above relative market rates for it if you do. I've seen companies try to pay relative to cost of living for developers in different locations, and to me that just doesn't work either. Splitting the difference between top locations and local relative cost of living seems to be the trend, and I'm frankly happy to see it.

Sure. So some people will work for remote-first companies and some people will for for office-first companies.

There's no one-size-fits all and different companies will work with different models. You're not forced to work at any particular company and no company should be expected to be the right place for all profiles.

(Within that the employer of course does have responsibilities to accommodate employee differentiating needs, some of which is in scope of regulation and contracts)

> There's no one-size-fits all and different companies will work with different models. You're not forced to work at any particular company and no company should be expected to be the right place for all profiles.

I think that certain things being "normalized" industry wide has better outcomes, such as someone with a bad commute being able to speak up about working remotely could get rid of that, because remote work is considered commonplace now. Or maybe someone who has a busy home life could be able to spend more time in the office with reserved seating or get a coworking space funded.

Remote work wasn't always "normal" and many didn't even see it as viable if not for the pandemic. Some are mandating returns to the office and a part of that extends to the shaping of the public perception of remote work, along exaggerated statements like "remote workers are worse at collaboration and don't even have the discipline to get dressed properly". While I don't follow Joshua Fluke, I think he had a few videos about similar statements on his YouTube channel a year or two back - sometimes outright misrepresentations of remote work, made to fit a particular perspective.

But as long as people don't attempt to misrepresent what remote/in-office work is like, I think it's perfectly fine for organizations to structure themselves around whatever works for them. I just figured I'd mention the public perception aspect of it all, because sometimes stigma is harmful, e.g. how discussing one's compensation being "taboo" in some places can make one's perception of how much a certain kind of work is valued at inaccurate.

> You're not forced to work at any particular company

This is just false. People can be stuck at a company for a variety of reasons.

I’ve never met a good programmer who didn’t always have a trail of unsolicited job offers following them.

Obviously there are many situations, but I think many people can be selective about where they work.

And what does that mean for the largest group in the bell curve: the medium skilled programmer, who does ok but nonmagical work? Not everyone has the ability to be one or two standard deviations above the median.

I’m not convinced software engineering “skill” actually follows a normal distribution. People tend to have a huge impact, either positive or negative.

Skill does not necessarily manifest as impact. Someone having positive impact in one org will have negative impact in the same role on another.

Trust me they are being pursued by recruiters too

Because recruiters can't tell the difference.

I've been pursued 10X more by recruiters ever since I've had Google on my resume. That they can tell, and I'll say that Google did a pretty good job of interviewing back in 2014.

You don't meet those good programmers because they are bad at networking. You are much more likely to meet the ones that are good at networking.

I’d like to think I’m a good programmer and it takes me months to find a job. You’ll likely never meet me because I don’t go to conferences, I don’t network, and I don’t hang out with other programmers. (HN is one of two exceptions to that.)

Most people know me from furry events or furry writer Telegram groups. :)

"I don’t go to conferences, I don’t network"

I think this highlights a distinction between "the career engineer" and "the expert engineer". The former treats their career as a profession (invests in progression) while the latter masters their craft.

Skill alone does not dictate trajectory; the career engineer intentionally charts their course forward.

Stuck != Force

Functionally what's the difference?

The former represents self-limitation.

Edit: Unless one finds themself forcefully bound and therefore literally stuck.

I hate this idea that anyone is “forcing” anyone to do anything. And I see the word used so often in the remote work conversations.

It’s like saying that Tesla “forces” people to work on electric cars. It’s what their business is!

You’re not being forced to commute if your job is in-office anymore than you’re forced to eat canned asparagus if it’s the only vegetable in your cupboard. You can choose to not eat it or you can go to the store and buy something else.

It doesn’t matter if you work better at home if your company is in office. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a job where being in office makes no difference. You either go to the office or look for a new job.

I hate this idea that you either have to be happy with 100% of your job, or you have to find a new one.

Yes. There are many reasons why someone would work at a job that doesn't make them happy, chief amongst those is supporting their family as best they can. Along those lines, I've had a coworker tell me: "Don't get good at doing something you hate."

I’m not sure if you’re saying that I believe you have to be happy with 100% of your job or you have to find a new one?

Because I definitely don’t:

> You either go to the office or look for a new job.

In case it’s not clear from that, I agree with you. There’s parts of every job that suck. You just have to choose whether the benefits outweighs those sucky parts.

Honestly, I feel very similarly, but I have an external factor as well.

Last year I moved to The Netherlands from Dallas, TX, USA. My entire world has totally changed. Part of that move was a new job for a company local to my area.

Before I moved, I worked remotely in the US for about 6 years. Well before the pandemic, etc etc. My favorite part of my job being a remote worker was getting together with people once or twice a year for in person retreats or company outings visiting clients.

My commute these days is longer; 30km or about 18 miles and takes about 30 minutes. I own a car, which is ironic considering I moved to a country with the worlds best bicycle infrastructure. For better or worse, work requires our team to come to the office 2 days a week.

But because of that commute, I gain so much. I have structured time to listen to the radio and practice my foreign language listening skills. I am surrounded by people who speak a different language than me unless we're specifically collaborating on work topics (then we speak English). I can observe the habits and idiosyncrasies of this new culture, and for the moment, I really am enjoying it.

Would I have a different opinion if I was commuting 5 days a week? Almost certainly. But once or twice a week is totally manageable for me and my life now.

The takeaway I think is, do what works for you. If you like the office, that's great! If your company doesn't have dedicated offices, ask your boss for a dedicated coworking space. If you like laying on your couch, laptop on your chest, typing away all day, more power to you too.

The key is to not put down others for their preferences, and support your colleagues in being the happiest version of themselves at work, wherever that happens to be.

TBH we'd all like offices a lot more if they had one person offices in them. That's my big chip-on-the-shoulder: we went from personal offices -> open workspaces -> remote -> back to the office in the name of productivity but they won't get rid of open spaces for productivity?

How do you like your living situation and the tax advantages?

> Tax advantages

Hah! I do qualify for a tax break as a highly skilled migrant for 5 years, but the salary in general is nowhere near the US. I was making well into 6 figures before and now I make about $50k~ equivalent. Maybe a little less. As a percentage, I probably pay about the same tax rate, with my discount, as I did in the US.

Except for the insane cost of energy (I could rant about that all day), most of my daily living expenses are much more predictable. My family health insurance was cut in half, for superior coverage. Car insurance is about the same, but I have a much smaller car so for me it's cheaper, even with no driving record in this country. If I had the 12 years of history, it would be half the cost again. Luckily, energy prices are coming down and my bill is being cut in half next month.

Overall, I'm very happy! The quality of life I would say is much better. I walk a lot more. I eat better (because eating out in general is $$$) and cook at home 90% of the time. I have 4 weeks of paid vacation and the government requires employers to provide vacation pay equivalent to 1 months salary for salary workers. My company encourages people to take advantage of their vacation time. At 5pm the office is empty despite most people not arriving until 9am or later.

If you're looking to move, I would say now is a decent time to look into it. Decide on a couple of countries you would be interested in and then start contacting companies with open positions. Mine specifically was not advertising for migrants, but they had permission from the government already because of some remote employees in the Philippines. Many European tech companies are hurting for workers and there is a large shortage for most midsize companies. Sure, the pay is a lot less, but if you're open to staying long term, you will receive a pension and becoming a citizen entitles you to retirement benefits as well.

Happy to answer more questions. I think I have contact info in my HN profile if anyone else is intersted!

Looking for children under a certain age is more or less a full time job. Trying to mix it with work is, well, simply a bad decision.

Over that age, and if the kids themselves can manage it... sure, it's great. You're there for breaks and emergencies - much better than being absent for the whole day.

It is more for the commuting in and out of school that it helps.

My kids could walk back from school but primary school do not allows them to get out without me. This is kind of stupid as I would sign a waiver if they wanted it but they won't. So until they both reach what you call high school in the USA I have to go to the primary school and back every day. The most funny thing is sometimes I go there by bicycle, let them out of school give them a kiss then ride bike at full speed home to make it before the call while my daughters are walking on their own. I could pay someone to do that but that just sounds so stupid.

Wow, the world has changed! I remember walking home from school by myself when I was in kindergarten.

Yeah, as kids we just roamed.

My parents put me on a cross-country train (4 hour trip) to see my grandparents every summer since I was 8. When I was 9 I had to figure out how to switch trains halfway because the direct route discontinued.

This was before mobile phones.

I’m only 37.

I’ve often asked myself, what has changed that this is now a thing of the past?

> primary school do not allows them to get out without me

Please tell me you’re joking.

The inevitable result of three things:

1. an absurdly car-friendly society that prioritizes cars well above everyone else - basically, parents have to pick up their children in cars because there is no reasonable pedestrian infrastructure to allow them a safe walking home.

2. a truckload of busybodies ("Karens") that call CPS on children wandering alone - Utah had to pass a law in 2018 [1] to cut down on that crap and other US states are following suit. Unfortunately, in states without that explicit carve-out, schools can be cited for neglect as well.

3. US healthcare being absolutely rotten to the core, which means that should a child get injured on the way from the school home, their health insurance will try to pass the bucket down to somewhere else, and the first obvious thing is to attempt to sue the school because they were the last ones in custody of the child. As a result, schools introduce such policies because the second the child is in custody of the parent, the school is no longer liable for anything and the insurance can go and stuff its claims.

[1] https://www.npr.org/2018/04/01/598630200/utah-passes-free-ra...

I blame Otis Toole[1], who confessed (and later recanted) to the kidnapping and murder of Adam Walsh. The hysteria Adam's father was able to create in the United States is astounding. I grew up before that happened, and I was still freaked out the first time my child wanted to walk home from a friends house, 2 blocks away about 10 years ago.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottis_Toole

In my case this is in europe and most people don't even bring their kids by cars because there is almost nowhere to park and because kids are zoned and are expected to go to the nearest public school which is usually in the same neighborhood.

I guess it is just liability. Child abduction is not a problem we are talking a lot in my area, maybe it has been in the past, I don't know I am an expat.

> I guess it is just liability. Child abduction is not a problem we are talking a lot in my area, maybe it has been in the past, I don't know I am an expat.

Here in Europe we do have the advantage that we don't share the same language, meaning that a child being abducted in Portugal or an immigrant raping a woman in Germany doesn't make headlines in Eastern Poland.

In contrast, in the US even small scale regional everyday crimes (not belittling rape here, just noting the fact that sexual crime is a regular occurrence!) can make national outrage.

I doubt it, because I have a similar issue at my kids' school. Kids must either enter a parent's vehicle (which must have a paper or other sign with the names of the kids being picked up on display) at the drive-through pick up, be picked up in person, or get onto a school bus or other approved after-school service. They cannot leave, basically, without an adult who takes them. I was shocked when I found out about it.

For real? I started doing the 1 mile/2.2 km walk home from school at the age of 8. This wasn't in the idyllic 1950's America either - we're talking the mid 90's with plenty of headlines stating "it could happen to YOUR CHILDREN".

How do the logistics work here? Does each teacher stay with their class until all students have been picked up?

I started school in the early 80s, and was walking or riding my bike to school by myself/with friends in the first grade. This went on through the kidnapping hysteria of the time, so it's just weird to me.

The way it works is they dismiss class in groups of a few teachers at a time, and there are supervising adults at the pick-up places who watch the kids.

Personally I think it's terrible for the development of their independence. Maybe Gen-X and some millennials had too much independence, but it seems like the pendulum has swung far too much to the opposite side.

Our local primary school (UK) allows year 5+ (aged 9/10). Annoying that means I have to meet them off the school bus, despite the bus stop literally being on my land at the bottom of the garden, 20 yards from the house, which means having to wait around for upto 15 minutes depending how early/late it's running.

I'm not aware of any high school in the country that forces parental pickup from year 7 (aged 11/12)

>My kids could walk back from school but primary school do not allows them to get out without me.

Where is this? Our kids flood the park and walk home, that's how it has been in a few places we've lived. Maybe y'all are near major roads or no walkable paths?

I disagree. I work from home as a new dad of a nearly 8 month old girl now. The first 3 months I took off work to be a full time dad, but since then I've returned back to a 4 day work week and when I work Monday to Thursday I am not distracted by my baby girl at all. I have a separate room as an office, if the door is closed then it means no interruptions. My wife is still on maternity leave so she is free to do the majority of the child care during the working week. She respects the door is closed rule and knows that I cannot be interrupted then. However, WFH with a young baby has some MASSIVE advantages which I wouldn't be able to get if I was going to an office:

- I get to spend time with my baby girl in the morning before I start work. I wake up at 6:30, it's by choice, I love getting up early and get half an hour of quiet and peace, drinking a coffee and watching breakfast news before the rest of the house wakes up. Then I get to cuddle my daughter for a while whilst my wife gets up and gets ready herself. By 7:30 or 8am I am in my office, often an hour or even two hours online before any of my peers and I'm already working away completely uninterrupted and get more shit done than so many others.

- When I come downstairs to top up a cup of coffee, have a snack, eat lunch, etc. I get to see my daughter again. I get a chance to quickly give my wife a hand with something, or often I just have the opportunity to cook for us rather than her, which is a huge help if nothing else.

- Because I start earlier than everyone else I can also finish on time and when I finish work then I'm immediately available to start winding down and spend time with my family and my daughter again.

Overall I get more work down, I get more sleep, I am more refreshed, I even get extra time to have an outlet after work, playing tennis, going to the gym, etc. and I get to be a much much better husband and a very involved dad even though I have to work 4 days a week.

This is priceless and if I had to go into an office I'd be less productive, more tired, more angry and irritated (less balanced life) and a worse husband/father.

I'm not sure how you disagree. It's still a full time job, done by your wife :)

I never said there's a hundred feet range around every child which makes work impossible. Only that you can't say that you can "just watch" the child, and expect to do work in the meantime. People do try this, on occasion.

Sorry to say but sweet docile 8 month old girl is EZ mode and very different from a 3 year old boy running around banging on your office door demanding your attention every 20 minutes.

Source: have 3 yo boy and 7 mo girl, even with stay at home mom to help. The girl’s presence is almost unnoticeable during work hours unless I want to see her, it’s fully under my control. The boy is a totally different story. Wouldn’t get anything done if I didn’t go to the office.

Absolutely. Father of 5 kids, oldest are teenagers now. 6 to 12 months is the golden age, and is as good as it gets (cherish this!). between 3 and 5 years old, it doesn't matter if you're meeting with the president of the US, that kid is gonna bang on the door and make all hell kinds of noise outside unless there's another parent/person physically present to distract them. And if it does get quiet all the sudden, you better go out and check on them because they're doing something really bad. Hopefully they're just dumping a whole bottle of shampoo into the toilet, rather than scribbling all over the furniture and walls with a permanent marker that they somehow materialized out of ether. Bear it well though, eventually that little baby won't need you at all anymore and nostalgia will erase the pain of the early days from your memory, leaving only the good times.

I work from home and strongly support working from home, but interruptions from kids are a serious challenge with no easy solution if you're the only parent/person/adult physically in the house at the moment.

IMHO the best thing for both parents and employers to do is allow flexible hours. if you want to work from 6 am to 10am, then be off for 6 hours and resum then from 4pm to 8pm, that should be easy (barring important meetings, etc).

Will second this. I typically work later in to the day/night because our son is loud during the day and it can be hard to focus so I shift my hours.

So instead of setting boundaries and ensuring appropriate behavior and social skills for your child , you surrender to him and shift your work hours ?


That’s not healthy for either party.

Do you have children? Children ages from 3-5 are still within dog category of intelligence. They are still learning volume, time, routine, self-control and attachment, and they are hardwired to explore their environment within the safety of adult supervision. They are not designed for the autonomous two-parent household left alone for most of the day every day.

Please stop parent-judging. It's just a terrible, terrible idea in general. It's so very tempting (speaking as a parent) but it's never worth it.

Just Say No.

This is a very easy thing to say. However, I suspect it often does not pass the 'when the rubber meets the road' test.

If you have your own office at home and a dedicated adult even kids are not too much of a bother. Sure some occasional screaming and crying.

Two boys and one girl squad.

I have a one and a half year old baby boy who comes to visit me every few hours even if I’m in the middle of a meeting, with a big smile on his face and usually calling for me in our own goofy language. I wouldn’t trade that for the world. (Maybe I’ll be singing a different tune next year though; haha)

The key point is that someone else is watching the baby while you work.

WFH is indeed wonderful for parents and families, but if you try to do it without childcare, you're not going to be working much.

It's kind of absurd to conflate lockdown WFH of the COVID era with regular WFH. Folks who think they can do childcare and WFH are quickly disabused of the notion, unless they happen to have the most independent of children.

If you don't have childcare, you can't go to the office at all though.

If you do not have childcare you can not work... from home or otherwise

and trust me your co-workers will notice and be annoyed by having to pick up the slack

Parent was indeed slightly incorrect. Up until maybe 2-3yrs they are little angels. Then everything changes. I would take 8 hours at the office over 8 hours with a high energy 4 year old. It would be way less exhausting.

My experience would say up until they are walking/crawling (assuming they sleep). After that, it was 24/7 duty to watch for falls, climbing, and by 15months or so, they are stacking things to get to get to higher places.

My daughter slept like an angel, my son has not slept through a single night since he was 5 months old.

When people lived in tribes (or even villages), I doubt one or two adults were responsible 24/7 for a toddler. There are a chain of younger to older children playing and looking after each other, as well as elders.

Completely agree, especially on the last point. We've raised our kid with zero help due to geopolitics and economics, and it's clear this is not how nature intended things.

The honeymoon phase will end man. When they are about one and half or two they will try to find ways to injure themselves nearly every 5 minutes the entire time they are awake.

If you are the person responsible for keeping them safe while working it’s an absolute nightmare.

Not sure if you noticed, there is someone else doing the caregiving. However, the big benefit OP gets is more frequent contact with the kid during the day. Both that setup and benefits of it are perfectly possible at one and half years old.

No offense mate but if your only experience so far is having an 8 month old, you don't get to have an opinion on this topic yet.

My experience is pretty similar to his and our daughter is now 6yr old.

And yet if we don't want a massive population decline we need to figure out how to raise kids and have a decent standard of living. Even if there's only one parent in the picture.

In Scandinavia there is free daycare. It works great, gender inequality in the workplace is amongst the lowest in the world. There is no stigma on bringing your kids to the daycare, like in some traditional Western countries; it is actually the opposite, people feel it's good for kids to be with others of their same age.

However birth rates are dropping there as much as in all the other rich countries. So the problem with population decline and dropping birthrates seems to be somewhere else.

(I often try and struggle to explain my thoughts on this, but I'll try again.)

I keep hearing here in the UK that the reason people aren't having kids is because it's so expensive, and I do what you do -- point people at the stats in Scandinavia where a huge chunk of childcare costs is borne by the state, and yet the birth rates are dropping.

My theory on this, and one that I personally felt as well, is that there's just no compelling reason to have kids outside of some biological imperative.

Having kids is seen as a big life-changing decision that rocks a relatively comfortable boat of material comforts and some light hedonism. Why bother with this when you can coast comfortably through life?

As Peter Zeihan puts it:

  When you have kids on the farm, they are free labor, and you have as many as you can.
  If you move into the city, they become noisy, expensive hobbies, and people aren't stupid, they have fewer of them.

Hmm. Well I have an awesome open source app / side project that I have very little time to work on, and my plan for it has always been to create enough kids to code on it for free

Women in the west are guilt tripped into having careers now and looked down on for being stay at home parents full time. Men have always been in this boat. Why would they have more kids when neither parent has time for the ones they already have? So we see them end up with 1-2 kids instead of many

It's not just guilt but social status. and material gains.

I think that another part of the explanation is, that most couples who do have kids, only have one or two. That sort of ticks the box for life fulfillment goal 'kids', you don't need to have three or more for that.

The reason most Westerners have only two kids is because they don't have a social support group which can take turns raising the extra children. The practical limit for a two-parent household is two kids if they are of a similar age and one partner is taking care of the kids full time. Beyond two kids you're pretty much going to start having to neglect someone some of the time simply because each kid demands so much attention and there is a limit to how much time you have preparing things for them and mitigating disasters. For three or more kids to work generally you need a stronger family support network which is able and willing to devote time to taking care of your children.

As someone with four children who lived most of their early lives a thousand miles away from any established support network, I didn't find this to be true.

On the contrary, the marginal cost of each child decreased with increased help from their siblings.

Perhaps the given scenario is true in "helicopter parenting" modes, but we don't generally employ those.

Right, but now the older children are being parentized and have to do some of the child-rearing instead of just being care-free kids themselves. Not everyone wants that for their children.

I have some friends whose parents made them take care of their siblings too much and they are worse off mentally than their peers. I won't subject my kids to that treatment.

I don't think that applies to my case, but I've certainly seen it over-done. I believe there is a good middle-ground.

How many years apart are the kids?

4, 2, and 4.

> My theory on this, and one that I personally felt as well, is that there's just no compelling reason to have kids outside of some biological imperative.

> Having kids is seen as a big life-changing decision that rocks a relatively comfortable boat of material comforts and some light hedonism. Why bother with this when you can coast comfortably through life?

I strongly disagree with this. It's a fair question, but humans are social creatures and find pleasure in more than just base things. We describe things as rewarding. Why play sports when you could sit down comfortably? If you play sports, why not play against the easiest opponent? Play all games on easy mode, why make it harder? Why go and find a romantic partner in life, wouldn't it be easier to sit at home and masturbate all day? Why study and learn new topics, why not just do the bare minimum to earn enough money to sit and watch tv.

People even volunteer. That's working for free.

This doesn't mean everyone has to find them rewarding, but there's far more to it than "I just feel I need to have kids".

Poor people are still having a lot of kids, it's the developed world that has a problem. I think the decline is birthrate is much better explained by material wealth and the corresponding education of women that goes along with it as causes of the drop.

If you are having a substantial amount of kids at least one partner's income is entirely eaten up by childcare expenses so it is cheaper to simply not work and take care of the kids full time.

The other thing is ability to control the amount of children. Knowledge of contraception and its availabity. Because even if you are stay at home and committed to be, things are much simpler with 4 kids then with 9.

> point people at the stats in Scandinavia where a huge chunk of childcare costs is borne by the state, and yet the birth rates are dropping.

What, the state that raises its funds by draining resources from families? The state paying for childcare can't make it cheaper to raise children; it just means everyone is living with the costs that they were already going to have to pay. On average, if the cost of raising kids is high people still won't be able to afford them.

If you walk through the logic more deeply; it is unlikely that the state paying for childcare can make it cheaper to raise children. Who is supposed to pay for the costs? People who were already willing and available to help before the state got involved!

And if the state mucks up any part of its policy, it will make it even more expensive by spending the money in sub-optimal ways.

It's cheaper to raise kids since you would already have paid the cost in taxes if you didn't get kids. The important metric is the difference in cost of having kids vs not having kids, and since daycare is heavily subsidized, the difference is small.

Same things go for schools, food in schools, universities, et.c., they are all "free", as in paid for by everyone in proportion to their wealth, instead of individually by the parent.

If we start with the assumption that the cost of childcare is costly enough that it would lead to an unacceptable drop in living standards for the average couple, and then force them to pay that cost anyway (regardless of whether they actually have children) it is unlikely that the follow up is going to be the couple having kids. They'll probably be busy desperately working to get their living standard up to a state that is bearable.

It isn't cheaper to raise kids. They're actually losing more under the socialised system because they still have to give up enough resources to raise the kids and now also to cover inefficiencies in the government program. On average everyone would be worse off. Or you're going to be taxing grandma so instead of her providing helpful childcare services she has to go and work at McDonalds to make up the difference or something. Society is geared towards supporting children already - routing the resources through the state or through the family can't make it easier. Men work to support families, women work to support families, grandparents have nothing better to do than support families. The resources were already tagged to support families. The government can't magic more resources into existence if raising kids is expensive. They'd be taxing families so instead of using the resources to support their families, the resources are being ... handed out to support families. There are no gains, so it isn't going to help.

State spending can reallocate; I can see some potential success in using childcare to free up high performing parents. But if the problem is median experience, reallocation can't do much.

Postscript The taxes in these countries are no joke. Young families are losing a lot more to the tax system than the "free" childcare makes up for. If you traded the free childcare for paid childcare and low taxes, they'd likely be in a much better position to have kids. [Taxes] approx. = [Cost of Services] + [Admin Costs] + [Cost of Rorts]. That isn't making it easier to fund a family.

Main problem with your logic is that it assumes a situation where most people are having kids. Given the situation in Scandinavia is that many people aren’t having children, you end up in a situation where everyone is being taxed to fund childcare, while most people aren’t actually taking advantage of that taxation, so those who are can actually gain more resources than they put in.

The average woman in a Scandinavian country has 1.6 kids. That suggests it is quite common. Going by averages, literally every woman has a child, and half the men.

In actual practice there will be particularly fertile women that have more children and their childcare needs will be draining resources from others, making it harder for them to form families.

I should stress that I don't think childcare costs are the big driver of low fertility. But to say that resource reallocation is going to help is a bit ... I mean, where are these resources going to come from? Everyone was already putting their resources towards their families, diverting money away from those families is the engine that powers the state. That is where the soldiers come from, the welfare comes from, all the labour, where the goods get produced, etc. We'd be asking them to stop caring for their families and instead spend all day caring for their families but according to how the government wants instead of what they actually think they need. You can't take from them, give it back to them and expect them to have more. They aren't even going to have the same.

1 billionaire can pay for a lot of kids.

A billionaire can't wave their arms in the air and make nannies sprout from the ground like mushrooms. The nannies have to come from somewhere else where they were doing something else.

If families are feeling the pinch, that "something else" is probably work that was important to setting up families and maintaining a standard of living. Forcing billionaires to put money into childcare is just making it more difficult to have children because those resource aren't going to be going towards whatever the more pressing problems are.

Billionaires make all that money by making things happen that people need done. Disrupting that and sending the resources to childcare is not likely to work either. If the problem is that childcare is too expensive, what is important is bringing down the cost, not trying to find someone else to pay the cost. There is no-one else, having children is too common an activity.

I think it comes down to incentives.

Traditionally the economic benefit of children was that they would basically work for you, including supporting you into old age. This made the enormous investment a lot more worthwhile.

Also the childcare obligations were much less (a 12 year old could be pretty much self sufficient by working).

With pensions, no child labour, etc, the trade-off is not like that any more in economic terms. Having children is basically a total economic loss and a rational person would tend to avoid it. It's seen as a luxury nowadays, something most can't afford.

Who’s getting pensions these days? I doubt anyone under 50 right now will have much of a retirement to look forward to.

I’m under 50 and have one. Just about every government job does.

Military, police, postal service, and some state jobs too (US).

throw the nuclear family back into the dumpster where it belongs. The most straightforward answer how two working parents raise a kids is, they don't. At least alone. It takes a village as the proverb goes. If you have your grandparents and your uncles, aunts and other folks around as I was lucky enough to have growing up you're never bored, and they're never bored.

I agree it takes a village, and like you I was lucky to grow up with lots of aunts, uncles, and grandparents around all the time. But I don’t like the idea that it we need a village so both parents of the child can work full time.

The first couple years of a kid’s life are formative, and fleeting. Why only spend a small portion of each day together? It takes more than that to form a good bond.

Plus, grandparents might have all the free time, but aren’t as able to do everything as someone in the next younger generation. But why don’t any of the aunts and uncles have jobs, while the kid’s parents do, in your hypothetical?

The sooner we get away from 5 8s the better IMO, so we can start living richer, balanced lives. At least the commute is going, which really makes it more like 5 10s on average.

> But why don’t any of the aunts and uncles have jobs, while the kid’s parents do, in your hypothetical?

They do. In functional families everyone still works but because you have a dozen+ people to split the "chores" of life with, someone is typically available or can make themselves available at any given time.

It's also a family, so it's not just "aunts and uncles" but everyone from grandparents down to nieces and nephews. Lots of people at different stages of life able to contribute different things. The working-age folks tend to bring in money, and those who aged out or are too young contribute in other ways offloading tasks from those working a standard job.

The American nuclear family unit along with suburbanization in my opinion will destroy the country at a societal level. Thought this for a very long time. Humans are not meant to be isolated efficiency machines.

There is no adequate alternative to loving parents. "The village" can only help or hinder, not replace.

The primary factor to success and happiness in life is your family structure and having their loving guidance and support.

Today, the village mostly hinders. Few people have experience with children anymore and most are self centered. Their "help" mostly consists of direct criticism, or indirect criticism in calling the authorities.

Related expectation is that in that setup, you are expected to help grandparents, uncles and aunts too. It also means the other family members have a say into how you run your own house, what you do, what your kids do and so on. As in, a lot of independence people cherish goes out of window.

In particular, it could mean that you cant move to SV for better job, because some relative depends on you.

I don't particularly live near any of my relatives though (the closest ones I could rely on are four hours away). Many people are in my situation of having moved for a better job, which necessarily leaves those other people behind.

I actually like the office and don’t like working from home. It’s the commute that makes me work remotely.

I start my shower 15 minutes before work and am online and productive. Going into the office adds on at least an hour and all the intangibles with it (gas, drycleaning, food, etc).

And childcare is so possible with remote work and much more difficult with commuting.

If I could teleport instantaneously to my office I would choose it in a heartbeat.

I had a similar setup: private office (not a great view, though) and 5-10 minute commute.

I would still only work from home.

I enjoyed riding my bike to work when the weather was nice, but I’d rather ride to other places instead (better routes). Same goes with walking, I’d rather walk around my neighborhood and nearby parks and lakes than the central business district.

I suppose my point is that even if you’re in an ideal situation, the office still doesn’t make sense. Most people are not in that position so it makes even less sense.

The occasional face-to-face get together is nice, but you don’t need an office for that.

My last job in a physical office was similar. 10 minute bike ride with a locker room and showers at the office, nice solo cube. It was a great office environment, but the Kabuki hustle to appear busy in an office is extremely stressful.

I think before the pandemic a lot of people were judging performance based on appearances (does this person seem busy, do they have a high profile in meetings). The wider cultural shift toward remote has led to increased emphasis on delivery.

It's not that "office" is inherently bad. Commute time and staggering living cost in some cities are inherently bad.

The real revelation for me is just how mentally taxing driving is. I _hated_ going to the office and felt like shit every weekday. Then I moved to an inner city apartment and walked to work and I loved the office and the walk in. I’ve been remote working for 2 years now as it let met access better jobs in another city but it’s really starting to get to me so I’m moving to that city so I can get back to the office.

This. I hated driving to the office as well, and I have done it for years. At some point I got a job closer to home so I started biking to work instead. And since then I don't mind coming to the office anymore. I even like it.

Decent public transportation is the solution here, we are fortune to have that in London.

It takes a lot of time - often with multiple changes and also costs a great deal.

The only solution is to live quite close in and pay the exorbitant rent.

Then during the day you're working with people in India anyhow so what's the point?

But as per usual people don't want to make the necessary sacrifices.

If you want to live in a big expensive city you have to pay more. If you work a job that pays the maximum their office is probably in a big expensive city which means you either have to live in said city or commute there.

I could have higher paying job, but that would require 1-2 hour commute.

I could also move closer to the office, but that would mean taking on debt or paying high rent.

My compromise is to live ~15 minute drive away from the office. I live in cheaper city (I'd have to pay at least twice if not thrice as much for same size apartment), but I have to commute to the office, I could use public transportation, but then I'd be chained to schedules and it would take ~45 minutes in total, so I choose to own a car and drive.

Sure, but living in cities has its benefits besides being closer to work and depending on what you want that’s worth the pain. I tend to go into the office two or three days a week and I’ll generally have an evening activity in town on one or two days, like drinks or theatre or a meet up or something. If you’re doing it for fun as well as work the commute isn’t so bad and the trains are quiet later in the evening.

> 2) I do not have children at home, which is a pro and a con of working remotely. Being able to look after your offspring is great! I have it on good authority though that kids are distraction machines.

From my experience, no one wants to get back to the office more than fathers that want to escape their wifes and children.

The problem with point 2 is that kids is category that includes everything from 0 years old babies to 17 years old teenagers.

So, homeoffice while caring about 1 years old, yup the kid is distraction machine. Home office that allows you to interact with your 10 years old as he comes from school, fill the kids needs and then return to work is awesome.

> 1) My "Office" (not home) is not an "Open Office", it's a place where I can reasonably sit in peace and have control of my surroundings (this is something not afforded to most people in offices, and something that work from home provides)

This x1000, it's not just getting rid of distractions by people walking by or talking... but especially how you sit. My back is shot, I prefer lying on a sofa or in one of these bean bags. No way to do that in the office.

Just fwiw, some offices like mine do have beanbags and couches, and I’ve had lots of great discussions and working sessions in them. Unless it’d be totally out of place (e.g. Telemarketing cube farm or something) try talking to bosses / facilities about making some space for that? A lot of more modern offices have a decent amount of lounge space and different types of working environments like lunch rooms, individual tables, tables and chairs off to the side, benches, lounge chairs, chaise lounges, outdoor cabanas (my personal fav), grassy spots under trees, etc etc.

My office is in an old (1900ish) former city administration building. No space there, sadly.

I would be happy to work at the office if it was a ~15 min walk or bike ride from my house.

> 1) My "Office" (not home) is not an "Open Office", it's a place where I can reasonably sit in peace and have control of my surroundings (this is something not afforded to most people in offices, and something that work from home provides)

I think Open Office approach only works when its your team in a secluded area, and then any other teams have a wall to block out your teams shenanigans. I prefer remote, but I miss the one open office place I worked in where we were just isolated by teams mostly, it was also maybe 8 of us? So its different from having a much larger team set.

It's a different perspective when you can do something instead of must do something.

When I'm visiting my parents, I like to clean leaves and get rid of the snow from the driveway. But if I had to do it every day, because I wouldn't be able to use the car if I didn't? That's a completely different perspective.

You clearly/ obviously gained a better office.

It's super close and it's less populated now.

Of course I would like your setup.

Well, given that situation, sure office is fine.

It's like "I'm fine with going to the office, though mine has a top class chef, free booze, an infinity pool, and cheerleaders, oh and all my personal friends work there, and it's right next door to me".

But liking vs not liking it is not the point (as it varies, as you said, between people, and also over time: e.g. someone might not have kids now, but they might get. Or they might need to rent elsewhere and have a much longer commute). The real point is whether people are given the option to go or not: then they have the power to make the decision.

>I have it on good authority though that kids are distraction machines.

More of a nuance here, they are mainly only distraction machines for 5-7 years, after that it is more about scheduling conflicts and being able to be "present" when they are. Especially for children attending traditional school programs (public or private), they are gone most of the day and then have their own distractions (homework, hobbies, trainings, friends, etc).

I doubt anyone with an office setup like yours would hate going to the office :-)

what happens if your company asks you to go to stockholm?

>Being able to look after your offspring is great!

This is a big no and main reason why I am against WFH. Here in Finland we have ample maternity leave and pretty good paternity leave as well, so why in the fuck are we allowing these new fathers to "work" from home while looking after the kid? The mother has maternity leave precisely so she can take care of the kid(s), she should be doing it for the 8 hours you are working, but every single new father takes huge part of work day off to take care of kids.

Yeah they claim they will work overtime during the evening or on weekends, but

A) I doubt they actually make up the time since they don't take into account all the time the kid is just in the room with them distracting them and

B) it doesn't matter if we need to collaborate and you aren't on the clock when rest of us are on the clock

>My meandering point is that: everyone has different life situations

I just wish WFH advocates would remember this when someone is not for WFH. Whenever I bring up my reasons for liking the office here I get replies that just dismiss my reasons or are otherwise just mean spirited simply for disagreeing with their point of view.

For those curious of my own reasons to go to office:

- cheap & healthy food prepared by someone else

- good coffee prepared by someone else / machine

- easy to go to the gym on my way to the office

- nice separation of work and "civilian" life, I can just leave work at the office when I leave

- a reason to put on trousers and a clean shirt in the morning

The reason why I don't go to office more often currently is lack of lunch service. I don't want to go to eat at restaurant or pack a lunch every day. This then cascades to rest of my life - I haven't been to the gym whole winter since I can't be arsed to clear the snow and ice off of my car just do drive to the gym and back and I'm wasting time brewing coffee and making food.

> cheap & healthy food prepared by someone else

For me it's the opposite. Food outside of home means it's low quality food in comparison to the fresh organic produce which we buy locally and my wife and myself have had freshly cooked food all our lives so we really value fresh home made delicious food rather than having a burger or some other rubbish outside.

- good coffee prepared by someone else / machine

Again, the complete opposite for me. The first kitchen appliance which we bought when we moved into our house was a Sage Oracle coffee machine, one of the best bean to cup machines and we buy an organic blend of well sourced beans from a local shop in South West London. Everyone who visits us and drinks our coffee says that they never had such a good cup of coffee before.

- easy to go to the gym on my way to the office

In the city the gyms are crammed, overcrowded and small and they have limited facilities. Here where I live we have a massive David Lloyd just a 6 minute drive away, it's a massive complex with indoor/outdoor tennis courts, gym floor, 20+ studios for classes, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a creche for children, a bar and restaurant and the most amazing spa. Going to my local gym after work is a million times better than those shitty crammed basement bullshit gyms in the city where all the offies are.

- nice separation of work and "civilian" life, I can just leave work at the office when I leave

I love my work. We have an office room in our house. If I'm inside this room with closed doors I'm in deep work mode. If outside I'm in home mood. Clean separation enough, also the best separation is to finish work, put on my sports gear and go hit the tennis courts or go with my family for a walk outside or something. I don't need to sit on an overcrowded stuffy tube full of sick overly tired miserable looking people in order for my brain to switch into home mode.

- a reason to put on trousers and a clean shirt in the morning

Never wore shirt to work, even when I went into the office. I'm thankful for that.

My office used to have fresh food made locally. I also don't want to frequent restaurants. As I said in my comment, but I guess we aren't reading comments fully anymore.

I am not a coffee snob and this is by intention. I like the caffeine - it is a wonderful drug and I can enjoy a well made cup of coffee, but I want to be able to have coffee anywhere I feel the need without having to look for something specific or being disappointed in the taste. Filter is fine. Instant is fine. I do have couple coffee bean grinders and couple fancier brewers, but it is a rare day I care to use them.

Again depends where you live. Where I live when I go to the gym between 5 and 6 there are usually no one there. I can lift in peace. I would love to have room for my own gym, but I would have to move. And if it wasn't for the snow I probably would go to the gym and I probably will start when the snow melts.

I bought my apartment before Covid, so I didn't prioritize having home office since back then only reason to have remote day was if I had a package coming in that was too large to bring home from office. So I'm working from my living room which is not ideal. Yes, I could make the sacrifice and take a loan, put my current apartment up for sale and move to something that has dedicated office, but I don't see the point. My office is being renovated and by the end of the year (assuming the schedule holds) I can start going to the office again every day.

I think this is where we have a language break down. By shirt I mean just like a t-shirt or hoodie. The confusion was mine since I did change "pants" to "trousers", but didn't think far enough.

A hoodie/jumper?

Nope. You realize that kids need and beg for endless amount of attention from parents long after maternity/paternity leave ends, even in Finland. Its clear from your post you don't have much experience with being around small kids for longer time. Unless you plan to subsidize everybody's maternity leave till kids are teens, then leave is just bare minimum, even at 1 year, heck even at 3 as its back home.

In fact, first half year/year are by far the easiest months in incoming years when you look back, just tons of sleeping, no teething. If parents complain during this phase its usually due to this being first child so they are still learning, or child is non-standard.

Its great if you like being in the office, a lot of lonely or career-oriented people I talked to feel the same, and there are some nice perks to be had. Most of what you describe is just matter of a bit of discipline, which is a skill most people these days are rather lacking, not bad to train that a bit. Ie if you like that somebody cooks for you and does your coffee, for sure work is not the only place to get it, not even in Finland, heck get it delivered home if you are so lazy that you don't want to clear snow to go to gym (which is TBH ridiculous if you think about it).

>Its clear from your post you don't have much experience with being around small kids for longer time.

Yep, that is literally what day care is for. This is how things have been done for decades. How are things all of a sudden any different - other than now the father is working from home and the mother can offload onto him and eat into his work time.

As with everything having kids requires sacrifices, meaning you lose your free time since you have to build and take care of your family, but then trying to now shift that on the employer is unreasonable.

>a lot of lonely

Again (not-so) subtle attack on my person. Of course I must be lonely (and probably a loser) since I prefer to have the perks of working in an office.

>Most of what you describe is just matter of a bit of discipline

Aaand there comes the dismissing.

>heck get it delivered home if you are so lazy

I would if I could. No place delivers before 10 or 11. However this is due to the city I live in. I am sure in bigger expensive city I could get coffee delivered at 6, but not here. Also since again I've made the sacrifice with pay I don't want to be paying 10€+ every morning to get coffee delivered, I could afford it, but I am not so well off that I wouldn't notice it in my finances.

>you don't want to clear snow to go to gym (which is TBH ridiculous if you think about it).

More dismissal. Yeah, you can think it is ridiculous, but I think having kids is ridiculous so that argument doesn't hold much weight.

You don’t need to explain yourself. This person just felt the need to nit on you.

Having kids is a choice. For me, the right one, and a core part of who I am. But you don’t need to justify or explain why you made your choice.

Your comment also points towards the solution for low natality. In rich countries people want a lot more for their kids. They want to raise the kids themselves and spent a lot more time with them in the unique moments when they are still small. So just pay one parent 12 years to take care of their kid. My guess is natality will jump right back.

Back in the day, on a farm kids used to be a form of free labor - of course they took effort up front, but after the oldest are capable for watching after the youngest it breaks even and then after few years the oldest can start to help with actual work.

Now days in cities kids are more like very expensive pets.

> cheap

> healthy food

> prepared by someone else

Pick two at best.

I didn't have to for years before the Covid stuff.

We had lunch catering for 6€ and had every day couple different "home style" choices.

Of course you can argue about the "cheap" part, but to me 6€ a day is cheap. Every restaurant charges at least double usually triple.

I do 100% remote work and will never go back. I'm lucky that the company I work at is remote first, so all processes are optimized for it. I get 90 days a year to work from other countries too, this year I stayed in Barbados for 4 weeks (it was an amazing experience) while I championed a project with a public release date (work still gets done). I have a routine with walks at lunch, exercise after work etc. I can shift my working day by 1-2 hours if I decide. If I get bored of working at home I grab my WeWork card and meet with a friend at one of the locations in town. Or I go to a cafe. I don't have a ton of recurring Zoom meetings like in the "remote" companies. I can see people on the team at the offsites (more free travel to other cities/countries) and have fun with them too.

No more office for me. kthxbai

This sounds great. Would you mind sharing the company name? Perhaps in a DM if not here?


I refuse to ever go back into an office again with my current job. A new job may convince me, but to be honest, I work better when I'm working from home. I'll just say that when you pay for a mortgage, and then you go somewhere for 8 or 9 hours a day, you're wasting your money. When you work from home, you're getting to experience the mortgage you're paying for and every dollar you spend matters. It changes your perspective.

With my current job, despite being moved across the country in 2014 to work in an office and then being told to stay at home indefinitely once COVID-19 hit, I had experienced 4 bosses trying to fire me once I got into an office. I had to attend unnecessary meetings in person that made no sense. I had to kiss asses and say hi to people that I really didn't want to see or know in person. It'd take a lot to convince me that I should go to an office to do a job I can perfectly do at home.

I remember when I was first moved across the country.. and I asked, "Am I safe for at least 6 months to a year?" And the boss who required the move said, "We cannot guarantee that." Not more than 3 months in and I had four different bosses scrutinizing me for everything from the way I wrote code, to the way I dressed to the way I was sitting... and it just sucked. I even had a boss that almost fired me for putting Lorem Ipsum in the content before it was sent to the client. #truestory read all about it: https://confessionsoftheprofessions.com/lorem-ipsum-almost-g...

So I'm done with that life.. hopefully indefinitely.

> https://confessionsoftheprofessions.com/lorem-ipsum-almost-g...

Wow, it sounds like your bosses were really stupid.

This is what happens when MBAs become managers.

I had to kiss asses and say hi to people that I really didn't want to see or know in person.

If our environment is filled with people like that - maybe we should just move on, you know? Even if WFH masks this pain somewhat by requiring us to not plant our lips physically on on their asses on a daily basis, but merely astrally, via Slack and what not.

Being as the underlying rot is still there on some level, and ultimately, just as toxic.

(I know, I know, I know - eventually it pretty always ends up being "like that". No matter how rosy everything smells at the onset).

Re: Lorem

Your project manager sounds dumb, but Lorem Ipsum is a bad idea for development in general. It just confuses people, including clients, as you saw and wrote. Apps in staging should be seeded with real-looking information and text, and there are plenty of seeding libraries out there that do this. If you need to generate paragraphs of text, there is non-lorem text seeders that create real English paragraphs.

I tried putting "English gibberish" in there, from cupcake ipsum (https://cupcakeipsum.com/) to bacon ipsum (https://baconipsum.com/) and was told to stop. We can't put regular English text in the content because they send us the actual content they want in English and there can be up to 5 to 10 sets eyes of project managers on the same project, who might get confused as to whether this is the actual text or not. I suppose we could've put "THIS TEXT IS PLACEHOLDER" but unless required, Lorem Ipsum is standard procedure text.

>Lorem Ipsum is a piece of text, used by designers to fill a space where the content will eventually sit. It helps show how text will look once a piece of content is finished, during the planning phase. Filler text has been widely used for centuries, so most people are familiar with seeing Lorem Ipsum on a mock design.


> I even had a boss that almost fired me for putting Lorem Ipsum in the content before it was sent to the client

Next time use ChatGPT.

Why would I commute (and in doing so lose 2 hours of my time per day)? Focusing in the office is next to impossible, the equipment is sub-par (I have a 3-monitor setup at home)? What is it about software engineering that requires physical presence? Currently we meet once a week in the office and I get almost no work done that day, and I’m not the only one.

I never understood why anyone would spend hours traveling each day just so they can sit in front of a computer in another place for a while and go back home. Glad the world has caught up with this being complete nonsense!

In a previous work, we had salespeople on the same floor.

I'd look some of them sit in tiny booths to be on phone calls the entire day.

No idea why they wouldn't just work from home. But maybe the option wasn't available to them.

Because it doesn’t take me hours, I live a reasonable distance from the office. I find the office a much more pleasant space to work from.

It does add up. I went from a place where I had about 20-30 min commute to 2 mins. That is 1 hour per day extra. 5 hours extra per week. ~260 hours per year. That is nearly 32 days extra per year to do stuff.

I have gone back to the 30 min commute. I do not care for the commute part. The office bit is 'nice'/whatever as it is as I tell the people I work with 'toy distraction free'. As all of my cool things I like to mess with are at home.

But honestly they are paying me a decent salary and part of the deal is I do what they pay me for, for a few hours of the day. I am selling my time for money. If they want to pay for that I am fine with it. They want to pay me to 'work from home' I am fine with that too. It is is 'their dime'.

Some people don't have a home office, or even a basic desk + chair setup that's suitable for long hours of computer work.

A colleague of mine prefers going to the office because at home he's constantly distracted by kids.

Another has literally injured himself due working from his kitchen in a bad position for a year. It's worse than RSI. He had to rehabilitate for half a year just to get back to 95% health, and even now whenever he concentrates for too long the pain comes back.

One might say, "well they should arrange a suitable setup then". Not everyone has a home that's large enough. Besides, my experience is that most people don't have the discipline or will to do this properly, and as an employer you have to more or less force this upon employees (not even "recommend" is good enough).

In the Netherlands, if employees — even office employees — injure themselves, then the employer is obliged to take care of them for max 2 years, even if the injury was not directly caused by the employer.

> my experience is that most people don't have the discipline or will to do this

This widely believed anecdotally driven piece of opinion-data was what COVID invalidated. Studies demonstrated no significant loss in productivity and in many cases increased productivity during WFH during covid - putting aside contexts where it was clearly unsuitable / suboptimal (people trapped in their houses with small kids, no appropriate equipment etc).

Perhaps the real lesson is that most people at most companies were vastly unproductive at the office to begin with, so working from home didn't risk losing very much.

It is my personal experience at my own workplace. I literally saw with my own eyes that if I don't force employees to have a proper work environment, then they won't set one up by themselves, only to get back pain a few days later.

Your sample size of one doesn't prove or disprove anything.

Your sample size of X also doesn't delegitimize my personal experience.

Your personal experience doesn't permit you to make sweeping generalizations about "most people"

Depending on circumstances, what you save on commuting could allow you to upgrade your living with an extra room.

Commuting costs are easily underestimated but a honest look might reveal that they are substantial:


Where I live, the people with long commutes are more likely to live outside the city in a house with an extra room. It's the urban apartment dwellers that don't have the extra space.

An extra bedroom in most parts of metro Boston is like an extra $1000-1500, even in the close suburbs. An unlimited pass for public transit is $90/month. A blue bike annual membership is that much per year. It doesn't even come close.

The home office equipment can be bought from the higher salaries the companies are able to provide now that they don't need to waste as much money on office rent. Of course, getting a good chair is just as important as it used to be!

> Another has literally injured himself due working from his kitchen in a bad position for a year. It's worse than RSI. He had to rehabilitate for half a year just to get back to 95% health, and even now whenever he concentrates for too long the pain comes back.

I have literally injured myself due to working in offices: got back and chest pain because every piece of furniture from desk to chair was absolute garbage, each day hands, wrists, and forearms were in pain within minutes because of lousy keyboard and mouse, eyes crying so much I wanted to gouge them out because the screen was spectacularly bad (low contrast, low resolution, high minimum brightness, high latency) and lighting was the worst (single window giving into an artificially long room, overhead neon ceiling lighting flickering at mains frequency, no other lights). Of course it was open space, so to not be constantly distracted one isolates themselves with headphones and music for hours on end and whatnot.

Most employees had at least two items each they bought on their own dime or brought from home (whether it was lights, screens, chairs, headphones, laptops...) to make it bearable.

A coworker suffered from back pain and was put of commission for 6 months, came back feeling better, stayed two months... and was out again for 6. Another started to have ear ringing because of the constant music. At some point I felt terrible chest pain, like being hit by a truck, a piercing sensation from front to back, like being impaled by a javelin, couldn't raise arms, went out to try and catch my breath and legs gave in as I stepped outside. I thought I was having some heart attack of sorts but it was "merely" my chest and back muscles getting so tense over the years that they cramped and would not let go, even if it meant choking to death.

Took months to realise, years to undo the damage.

This experience was a tad extreme but the principles are generally consistent across many many workplaces: employers buy the cheapest hardware, rent the cheapest place, and throw the coding masses in there, where employees try to make the best with what they are given and what they can bring from home. The tech startup bubble where employees get the best hardware and working conditions is the exception, not the rule.

So to sum up: employees suffer commuting and terrible work conditions that they accomodate for with their own gear from home, only to end up isolating themselves once on site, for the benefit of having two times 10min face to face watercooler talk + 45min lunch per day. No wonder so many want to skip the nonsense, work from home, and do the occasional social thing outside of the office.

Ultimately I guess offices are part about control over employees and part status symbols for companies (as in, "we rented that big place", not as in "you'll have the best working conditions")

> A colleague of mine prefers going to the office because at home he's constantly distracted by kids.

Why aren't they at school?

School is until 14.30. And they have many holidays.

I mean I go out in the evenings more now as I go mad stuck in my house

I never understood why people think time spent travelling is "lost".

Commutes are often filled to the brink with people, there usually isn't enough space for everyone to move freely, and depending on one's location, you might have nothing but a black tunnel wall outside the windows. Public transport often requires one to switch trains or buses, and traffic jams are a constant worry for drivers.

Travelling, as in actually going somewhere, is often a nice and relaxing experience. Taking a delayed filled-to-the-brink bus to the train-station, switching to a delayed train without a single free seat, switching to a hermetically sealed metro car an hour later and finally arriving at the office 30 minutes late is _not_ a relaxing experience.

I'd love to see my coworkers now and then, but commuting really neutralises any benefits from going to the office.

Maybe travel at a different time, then.

That's the thing, though; when you're bound by working hours and need to commute (which most people are), you don't really have much choice and will need to commute during rush hours.

Personally, I'd rather find a non-tech sector job close to my home than commuting to a tech job. I am very happy to be fortunate enough to have the option to work from home all of the time -- most people don't

I just had to say this: I admire and applaud your patience which you demonstrated when responding to the person above. Kudos for being insightful and kind at the same time.

Tech jobs haven't been 9-5 for about twenty years. If your employer wants you punching a clock and sitting at a desk, you need to change your job, or Change Your Job.

If you can walk to a train station in 5 minutes, then socialized with your train friends for half an hour to 45 minutes or read a book. Or if you commute by walking, cycling and running and it is considered your daily physical activity, it is fine.

If you spend your time running to a bus stop, not being able to do anything in the bus because it is crowded and bouncy, then have to catch a train, that is also full then another one, to run to another bouncy crowded bus and reach your office 1h30 to 2h00 without having been able to spend a decent amout of time reading, chatting or something else, this is totally lost. If you are driving chance is it is also lost for the most part.

Who the hell has train friends?

I made friends when I was commuting by train in Switzerland.

The first weeks you ignore people. Sometimes you start talking because of a special event, an unexpected halt, whatever. First friend I did was a cyclist like me so we were bumping into each other when hanging our bicycles to the hook when entering the train and one day he complimented me on my bicycle and then we started talking. Second one is a girl I was seeing most of the time because we were kind of looking for the less busy cars at the end of the lane every morning where most people are too lazy to walk to. She was sitting so straight and elegant one day I simply asked her if she was dancing ballet as most people who sit so well are dancers. It happened she wasn't but we started chatting and now we are friends. Another one I really started talking to because of another girl who was sitting at my side and who had intellectual developmental disability. That girl kept talking and talking, she was very funny, aware of her disability yet made fun of it saying it made her more entertaining and it was true and she was constantly making jokes about life, her and ourselves. I never met that person again but she made me and the woman sitting in front of me chatting about how good time we had talking to her afterwards that we ended up chatting for an hour and also became friends. These are the three I kept as friends and met outside of the commute context even years after we all stopped taking those trains and am still in touch with while living in another country. But I met other people I would bump into once in a while, whom I exchanged numbers and we would chat a bit every time we met.

It takes a bit of time usually and you don't get to be friend with a complete car but if you take the very same commute daily for months you eventually find out that you can bound with one or two people that share part of the journey.

Lots of people I know who live in the north of England and Scotland get to know the people they end up commuting with, but this seems much less common in the south of England. I think conversation with strangers on the train is also much more common up north.

People in the north of England and in Scotland are a lot friendlier, or at least a lot more likely to start up a conversation.

The south of England is fucking *weird*. If you start talking to someone they look at you like you just pissed all over their legs.

I get it. When I lived in a metro area on a regular commute I would often see the same people at the same time every day for years.

Might be a new startup idea! Time to sell train friend subscriptions :p

> If you are driving chance is it is also lost for the most part.

I will never understand why people think time spent driving is "lost".

Because it is? It's time you can't spend on your hobbies. Of course, if repeatedly driving the same route every day is one of those, then go ahead.

To be fair the grandparent post did not elaborate, but not everyone is locked into doing nothing during their commute.

People using public transport might be able to do all sorts of things like reading or creative work.

That’s of course hard if you need to drive yourself.

But if you are able to make good use of that time one could consider it not lost.

Maybe commute should be clocked in for jobs that don’t rely on physical presence?

You often cannot do anything on the commute because you have walk, train, walk, bus, walk and no period is long enough to get anything useful done.

I average about 20-25 audiobooks a year. Commute time was some prime listening.

I've got the John le Carré George Smiley Collection on at the moment. Blasting through snowy countryside on a beautiful sunny day listening to tales of Cold War spies? Cannot be beat.

The key word is might. I was commuting in a big city, 1+ hour one way, regardless car or public transit. So you'd think that in the latter case I had 40-50 minutes to do stuff? Wrong. First you need to wait for the transport, technically you can read something quickly while waiting, but you always need to watch for car numbers, not to miss yours, and holding a phone out in winder is fucking cold. In summer sun blinding a screen and causing it to overheat due to max brightness. Then you are riding in the overcrowded tram or bus, one hand holding the rail not to fall, so no typing, and reading is rather limited when you are packed like sardines. Then you repeat all that for the second leg of the trip (not many are lucky to have a direct line to work). So all in all out of 1 wasted hour you maybe read for like 10 minutes total in shitty conditions. Oh, and reading standing really hurts your neck (because you are reading face down), spine (because you are always in the asymmetrical stance), and hand (carpal syndrome from holding too wide phone and doing swiping gestures with the same hand).

Commuting in the car obviously makes impossible to do anything else.

Total efficiency of commute is about zero.

> Commuting in the car obviously makes impossible to do anything else.

I don't understand why you'd think that.

Do you just sit motionless, thoughtless, and in perfect silence in the car?

Commute does not allow for flow-like experiences.

When I was a younger human, riding my motorcycle into the office every day was an amazing hobby. I loved it and would absolutely go back to that daily habit if it works for me.

I generally travel at least 40 miles and sometimes a few hundred miles a day to get to work.

When else do I get to sit on my arse for a couple of hours and listen to the radio?

Literally ANYTIME else. Nothing prevents you from passively consuming radio content a few hours a day at home.

2am, when everyone else including a ridiculously energetic toddler is in bed?



Irony aside, I'd rather drive to meet friends or family living in the countryside than to work. And all things being equal, I'd rather bike, I'm still sightly overweight and it helps.

1. Turn off pc

2. Turn off phone

3. Turn on radio

4. Enjoy

I don't have a "smart" phone.

I rarely use my computer at home, unless I'm working on some music or video in which case I can't really listen to the radio.

so what do you call 3 hours a day when you're forced to sit/stand in a carriage? sure, I can find activities to occupy myself, read a book, listen to podcast, etc, but this is not by choice. I'd rather go for a run. So if I cannot do what I want during the time, then the time for me is lost. And don't even get started on "learning new skills" while on a train. Studying requires concentration, at least for me, so no, I cannot learn new language while standing under someones armpit.

If you need to travel three hours by train every day and you don't like it, you need to get a job that's not three hours away.

That's the entire point of this argument

Brilliant mate but 3 hours a day is 1.5h away

Once a week is a lot, that’s hybrid and not remote. The thing is if someone “forces” you into an office once a week then it’s not for team collaboration but for control. They want to control that you are never going to travel too far from the office away. Organisations who care about collaboration and team bonding would say you should meet when the team decides it’s right for them. Throw in some budget so the teams can go for a nice lunch together when it happens, maybe have some for drinks after or let them plan an activity. But let the team decide when that time is, after all they will know best when a natural moment takes place where getting together will be good. It could be once a month, once every 6 weeks or sometimes once every two weeks.

"Why would I commute (and in doing so lose 2 hours of my time per day)?"

Working remotely has really made me think hard about the enormous part of my life that I've wasted commuting.

Never again!

When you hire a plumber to come and fix your sink, they charge a call out fee to cover the time to drive to you place and look at the job.

I think in future people will clock on as soon as they walk out the door at 9, and not clock off till they get home again at 5.

I'm working as a freelance developer in Denmark, this is my reality. I live about 30-40 minutes away from my current customer, and every time I go there I will charge the time spent. My company can also pay me a tax free "bonus" for every kilometre driven, because I use my own private car.

It's always been a part of the cost - maybe implicitly.

I like the work/home divide. I like the in person interactions. I like being able to walk and meet with other departments and dig into what really needs doing. Pairing is easier and the work I do feels more effective. I do appreciate flexibility in my role and being able to work wherever I want whenever I want. But for 70-80% of the time, I prefer the office and considering the full office, Im not alone.

I feel that software engineering isn’t a one size fits all and its up to you to chase the work environment you enjoy the most.

>the equipment is sub-par (I have a 3-monitor setup at home)?

This is a funny reality. Even the profligate employers of software developers are reluctant to spend money on a monitor setup as nice as what I had at home at the entry level.

...except, of course, I paid for it - plus sales tax - with the money they gave me - net of income tax.

I do mostly remote work, but there’s advantages to physical presence. First, offline is a more rich channel for communication. Blunt analogy is an audio vs video meeting. It’s easier to explain and understand people. If you have a lot of uncertainty and things changing fast, you want this.

Secondly, it brings people together. I myself found this argument BS, but I found out it really depends on the team. I am looking forward to the interactions I am having in the office now.

So, to each their own. Most importantly IMO is that teams can have freedom to decide what works best for them.

It depends not only on the own team but also the other teams you collaborate with or provide service for.

We're a small "DevOps" team that provides all kind of services but we figured out that people in our company (it's a small startup) just don't come to us virtually if they need something or want a second opinion.

So we said we'll come into office once a week on a specific day and that day they can approach us with everything. Of course it hasn't changed behavior of everyone but that day we have more interactions with all kind of colleagues than the rest of the remote days combined.

Doing a mental/empathy exercise to think about all the reasons why people would want to do that is an important practice for your career growth and building great software products for people that aren't like you.

I personally would prefer to working remotely (at least 4 days a week) unless my commute is less than 15-20 minutes but executives put significant value in seeing people working from the office. If they'll decide to save (offices are not cheap) and hire a remote developer what would stop from hiring around the world? Developer salaries in developed countries (and especially the US) are much higher than world average.

Working from office you compete with candidates in the same city or in the same country if willing to relocate. Working remotely one have to compete with the whole world.

Well maybe it can help the world be a better place by levelling income and costs of living accross all borders.

Same culture makes communication way easier, and the main problem in most teams is actually communication.

If my high salary depends on artificial barriers to workers in poorer countries, it's not sustainable anyway.

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