I had very little work to do. Period. End of statement. I spent most of my time doing practically nothing except playing ping pong and foosball and getting paid for it. A lot of my coworkers and a lot of Yahoos were in the same boat. Needless to say, that once the Microsoft acquisition failed and the layoffs started happening, most of us were out of there.
On top of that, there was very much a prima donna attitude around Yahoo, with a great deal of self-entitlement. I remember a couple of threads on devel-random complaining about the lack of ping pong balls, and how that insulted us as Yahoos since it meant that management didn't trust us. Oh the humanity of not providing everyone with $2 worth of ping pong balls!
Yahoo was filled with lazy workers, and an extremely fat layer of lazy management. I vaguely remember Rasmus running a script that calculated around 70 employees per VP. As well, the internal politics at Yahoo was astounding. One of my friends worked on an iPhone app on his own free time, and when he tried to get approval, it was held up for months because people were arguing over things like color schemes, and which group should own the app. It was pathetic.
I like what Marisa Mayer is doing. I think by getting rid of some privileges like remote working, it is enforcing a discipline that hasn't been at Yahoo, at least during the years that I was there. Showing up to work is a small price to pay for being paid a great wage and having the opportunity to work for what will hopefully become a first class company again. People need to show up and work and interact with their peers, instead of hiding at home and people not knowing wtf is going on with them. Sure, some people will quit, but quite bluntly, anyone worth their salt would have already left Yahoo by now. Anyone who is happy working in the environment that was Yahoo over the past 5 years is not an A player by any stretch, so it's safe to assume that you can afford to lose them.
Contrary to the flame-baiting you might see, Marissa is making some progress in turning Yahoo back into a desirable place to work again. I'm hearing from good engineers I know at respectable companies that have either considered it after talking to recruiters or have actually accepted offers. I suspect there is some method to the madness around the remote working policy - we'll just have to see over the long run what shakes out of it.
Give people work, set goals, and hold them accountable. You can't get a completed app approved and on the street in months? Fire the managers involved. Somebody complains that they don't have ping pong balls? Take away the ping pong table.
Stopping remote work will not improve performance. Firing poor performers is the solution, not chaining them to their desk.
Firing is always messy business. It's a good idea to avoid it unless it is absolutely necessary.
If I have a few bad apples (the lazy, self-entitled employees of a previous post) and they're not responding to being held accountable, the whole staff needs to know I will use all tools available.
Frankly, if you manage properly, there's very little firing you have to do. Most bad employees, when they see you hold people accountable, will find another job. The only ones who stick around are the one's who are holding out for unemployment.
Ah but you're not just chopping off the right edge of the bell curve, you're shifting the entire curve to the left. A non-innovative company like yahoo can trivially survive shedding the innovators, but can't survive a system wide forklift downgrade.
Maybe "in this economy" they could have gotten a C- grade dude who needs to work at home on Fridays for whatever reason, well, now they'll be lucky to get a D+ grade dude.
He writes that Yahoo employees should be "angry" that the new policy was declared "without your consultation". How does he know there was no consultation? How does he know local employees didn't give feedback to management that the extra communication overhead with remote workers didn't create difficulties in collaboration?
He also writes that this policy change reveals that "Yahoo management doesn’t have a clue as to who’s actually productive and who’s not.". Why is this assumed? Why isn't it plausible that management studied the problem and found that having collaborators in disparate locations hampered progress?
The entire article seems needlessly reactionary and assumes things about the working culture at Yahoo that may not be true. Perhaps this vehement reaction is due to the fact that the author has a new book coming out advocating remote working?
I personally think your argument would be best served by saying something along the following lines:
The author asserts that the new policy is based on "flimsy foundations". He writes that Yahoo employees should be "angry" that the new policy was declared "without your consultation". He also writes that this policy change reveals that "Yahoo management doesn’t have a clue as to who’s actually productive and who’s not."
What evidence is there that any of these conjectures and speculations are true?
That would make the point about the lack of evidence in the post rather than about the author.
But to indulge you, consider whether you are confusing correlation with causation. It could be that he writes this post to promote his book (causation).
Nevertheless, it could also be that the post and the book are correlated, and that the root cause is his own personal success with remote working arrangements.
Conflict of Interest: Where a source seeks to convince by a claim of authority or by personal observation, identification of conflicts of interest are not ad hominem – it is generally well accepted that an "authority" needs to be objective and impartial, and that an audience can only evaluate information from a source if they know about conflicts of interest that may affect the objectivity of the source. Identification of a conflict of interest is appropriate, and concealment of a conflict of interest is a problem.
I've been a remote or semi-remote  for 8 years, mostly for smaller organizations under 50 people. As a developer, I LOVE working remotely, and it creates a huge increase in my personal productivity. It also enables a saner work/life balance.
That said, enabling productive _collaboration_ does take work. My guess is Yahoo is so far behind the eight ball, they want to take this out of the equation until they can right the ship.
Rather than "you're an idiot" sort of post, I'd like it see 37 signals write up how they enable remote collaboration. 
Trust is the foundation of great collaboration, but you need more than that to actually make it work. And, scaling that up to thousands of people would be even more difficult.
 Semi-remote being three days in the office, two days at home.
 My guess is they still use campefire, but it would still be an interesting write up in 2013.
Like many people above noted, global companies do this all the time.
I'm sure they consulted every remote worker before they effectively shitcanned most of them.
our forth quarter reviews just finished
Whether remote work is a good practice or not is besides the point. I'd say, when done intelligently, it's a great thing. But don't you think Mayer knows that already? The bottom line here is that Mayer has to take a floundering company and turn it around. There must be something going within Yahoo! that makes this decision the right one. Yeah, there's going to be some blowback from employees and the media but at the end of the day it wouldn't be surprising if Mayer is reading all these articles and saying "Oh if you only knew what remote work is doing to this company...".
Remote work as far as I'm concerned is a great thing - but it's probably hurting Yahoo! more than helping right now. I wouldn't be surprised to see Mayer turn this thing around and reinstate the remote work policy when the dust settles.
It's easy to play armchair CEO, especially if you're a CEO, but what DHH is saying is basically "remote work is working for us therefore it should work for others". Well, it's great that it works for 37Signals but Yahoo! is a different beast and Mayer is not an idiot. It seems like she's willing to take some damage now to avoid a catastrophe down the line.
Very different situations.
Working for home is not for everyone but for some of us its speeds us up not slows us down. The days I go into the office for meetings are the days I get nothing real done.
Here and in all the remote-working threads people come along to say it doesn't work and that you need to sit together to be a team. Well, I guess these are inexperienced people who haven't worked out how to do it effectively is all.
I hope there is a new enlightenment in remote-working for us programmers. There's so many diverse companies and meaningful organizations I'd be happy to dedicate my thinking hours too if their management could just consider it possible...
It seems like you've drawn a particular conclusion from this, but I think you are missing an entirely different one. If you "don't get anything done" every time you come in to the office, that would suggest there is something more important than your individual "getting things done" that doesn't get addressed when you aren't in the office. When you are there, taking advantage of the opportunity to address this exceeds the value of what I'm sure most people would describe as your primary job function.
> Here and in all the remote-working threads people come along to say it doesn't work and that you need to sit together to be a team. Well, I guess these are inexperienced people who haven't worked out how to do it effectively is all.
I would agree with this. Obviously remote working can work. That isn't to say that there aren't trade offs. There absolutely are. Like all trade offs, the exchange is a bargain for some contexts and an unacceptable price for others.
I think it's more a side-effect of the typical meeting. They tend to be so low bandwidth, that most people view any way out of them as increasing their productivity.
I've not found remote meetings much better in this regard.
I think it is fair to say that the OP's measure of his net productivity doesn't match that of his coworkers/employer... else they'd leave him alone when he came in to the office. Now, you can argue whose perceptions are accurate, but in the end the employer's perceptions are kind of all that matters.
"Hey did you know there's this cool company that's planning to mine asteroids?"
"Check out the new strategy for expansion"
"Look at this cool new library"
The following is stuff I just don't care for:
"She got to where she is by sleeping around"
"Why haven't they promoted me yet? I've been here x years"
You can argue that the former is useful to know, but I don't have ambitions of going the managerial route. I just want to build cool stuff.
> You can argue that the former is useful to know, but I don't have ambitions of going the managerial route.
While there can be significant advantage in knowledge exchange, most of the big wins are from random moments of inspiration that come from interactions with people.
I think more importantly than that though, if you have a huge organization that has a dysfunctional culture you have a major problem of inertia that is only magnified if significant chunks of the organization disengaged from day-to-day interactions. Your odds of turning that ship around are tremendously improved if you have people interacting day to day.
By no means do I mean to let Yahoo's management off the hook: this decision is entirely the result of bad management, and I think upset employees would be perfectly justified in blaming poor management for the change. That doesn't make this decision a bad decision or one that reflects a lack of trust or respect for employees. If one has any respect or trust for employees, one ought to want to see them as part of the solution (something that I'd argue hasn't always been the case at Yahoo), and one ought to have the willingness to be take drastic measures to effect change, and be honest with them about what those measures are, in order to help the organization get out of its quagmire.
If that was actually a flippant remark, I'll be happy to focus the conversation on your intended point, once I grok what it is.
But when I worked for moto I spent years in teams I never, ever met.
I wouldn't want you to be under the impression that the social bit is necessary for a good effective team nor good effective work.
I think that has more to do with the meetings than the office.
These offices look like an Apple store. They are open floor plan. Instead of desks they have tables where devs sit across from each other working on 13" to 15" laptop screens.
The ergonomics of these set ups are awful, and so are the economics.
Real estate is expensive in this economy. Why double pay for space? Why have 9-5 work space and 6-8 home space?
I know there is a separation of concerns argument, but in a competitive global economy I find that takes a back seat.
I look at not double paying for space as one of the business advantages my consultancy has.
A nice home/office with floor to ceiling windows slightly tinted to reduce glare and UV in a high rise building with panoramic view, a proper standing desk, a Kinesis Advantage contoured keyboard, Evoluent vertical mouse and dual 27" monitors is an incredible mood and productivity booster.
The ratio of window area to wall area in non-luxury buildings in NYC is an abomination. In my far off utopian vision a glorious and massive urban renewal project demolishes all soul crushingly dark tiny windowed apartments and in their place stand gleaming solar powered monuments to the human race where our creative class toils happily producing works of the head and the heart for global consumption and a breath taking view is never more than a side-long glance away.
As far as working from home goes, it seems you each agree that being comfortable with ones workspace and environment impacts productivity. That said, one is more likely to have a comfortable and productive work environment when it is up to him/her to decide what equipment to use and where, which a home office lends itself to more than an office, especially on a corporate cube-farm level. Sure, some individuals may not be as productive at a comfortable workspace in the home, but that is the individual. Working from home is not for everyone, but those who find they are more focused and productive in the home environment ought to have that choice.
The startups I've seen don't particularly use whiteboards.
This change will no doubt cause some loss of talented people, but if they want to drastically change the culture at Yahoo I don't see any other way. They need to get everyone working together both physically and mentally.
Hopefully they'll move all development back home as well. Their dev teams in India were dreadful with turnaround times and bugs.
Surely you can imagine other ways to make people accountable, dedicated, empowered and effective than focusing on the place and hours they work?
But a lot of the anonymous internal feedback was that over the years, previous management had filled Yahoo up with B-players. If that's true, I can easily imagine that there's quite a large overlap between those who work from home and the B-players. It's such an easy way to slack off if you're not motivated or capable. And nowhere do I read people saying, "Hey, maybe this was what the situation was." I only read people saying, "Yahoo is boneheaded for not respecting their people." Let's consider all the possibilities.
Management paranoia is not the only reason why someone would want to decrease the amount of remote work. There are team spirit benefits to bringing people together physically, and depending on the type of work being undertaken, remote work may have more downsides than upside.
I don’t see this as an aggression against remote workers, or an attempt at controlling remote workers more closely based on some paranoid perception that “they’re slacking” – it seems more like a change meant to help strengthen the culture at Yahoo by making it easier for teams to bond.
Do you really think that people who have been forced to start working in the office under threat of termination are going to form a positive, collegial bond? If they form a bond at all, it will be one based on shared resentment of the Dilbert-esque reality they now inhabit.
I think that in hard times, you either do form a bond or you go form a bond somewhere else. I think that's the decision that was just taken at Yahoo.
They could just have fired all the remote workers - but that would have been truly stupid.
In this case, "saying no work from home" just means many of those people are not going to work for Yahoo anymore. That's pretty terrible for team spirit.
This "team spirit" argument makes no sense to me at all. What group on Earth has more "team spirit" than the contributors and maintainers on major open source projects?
For someone in Mayer's position, effective leadership means acting more like Linus Torvalds than Bill Lumbergh.
Developing that brand makes people more loyal to their products and ecosystem, which probably makes them a lot more money over the long run than book sales.
How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 8:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so?
Much like hiring practices this is and will continue to be a divisive issue. This one however seems to be largely driven by personal preference: if you want to work from home, you can't understand why anyone is against it. If you don't, then you do.
I fall in the camp of not necessarily being against remote working but it's not something I want to do, I understand why companies don't want it and I don't think working remotely scales.
The last is the most important point. Many take the view that they can be much more productive with flexible work schedules and when people don't bother them with trivial stuff and when they don't waste time on the commute.
Firstly, working from an office doesn't not exclude a flexible work schedule. I've gone through phases where I don't get into work until 3pm. A guy I know decided he would take Thursdays off and work on Saturday instead. My manager forgot I was going on vacation for a few days and I didn't get a call or email asking where I was until midday Tuesday (having not shown up on Monday).
As far as not being bothered, this can certainly be true. This is actually part of the reason why I often wear headphones. Noise-cancelling headphones do a pretty good job of filtering out a lot of noise but just the act of wearing headphones I tend to find acts as a psychological barrier from others bothering you.
As for commute, this much is true and is a particular problem in the Valley. For me, my commute is a 7 minute walk to work (in NYC). YMMV. :)
But a lot of people make the same mistake with this issue that they make with hiring practices: they tend to think that the individual case matters. It really doesn't. If a hiring process weeds out some qualified candidates, it doesn't mean it's broken. Whether or not it's broken is determined by whether the company finds a suitable candidate, how long it takes and how expensive it is. False negatives don't matter (to a company) as long as you get a positive result.
The same goes here. The individual thinks they can work from home and they may well be right but there are bigger issues. For teams--particularly large teams--to work together requires a certain camaraderie that is orders of magnitude easier to manage when physically colocated. This also applies to teams that are geographically split. All other things being equal, a team in N sites will perform better than a team in N+1 sites.
The other issue, and this particularly applies to large companies, is one of culture. Culture like team cohesion is orders of magnitude easier to spread when physically colocated. For a company the size of Google (my employer), IMHO this is far more important than any individual perceived benefits about permanent remote work.
Google has (IMHO) done a remarkably good job of maintaining cultural consistency such that transplanting an engineer from one team to another is relatively seamless. This isn't just about common tools either.
Chris Dizon wrote a great post called Twelve months notice . I like it because it articulates the primary difference (in my experience) between those who work remotely and those that don't. In my experience, those who work remotely tend to be far more in the transactional work category. While there's nothing wrong with this and I think it's particularly suited to freelance consulting, IMHO it is at odds with running and maintaining a large engineering organization.
But I know I'm not going to convince anyone. This another polarizing issue. Just be aware there are bigger issues than the individual not wanting to drive to work.
EDIT: Also, I disagree with the position that this "punishes" good employees. Yahoo wants to build (or rebuild) an engineering culture. They've decided this is easier to do with engineers physically colocated. This doesn't preclude workers from working from home on an occasional basis (eg waiting for the cable guy). It simply means the default is you come into the office.
Scales to what? I don't understand how this argument can be made when most companies have multiple, globally distributed offices, which turns their workforce effectively remote on the grand scale.
On all on-site jobs I've done so far, the remote offices were effectively other companies as far as communicating is concerned. People who're used to in-face communication have a huge barrier to overcome. This is a big difference from working remote, where it doesn't matter, because the communication channels are set up.
I simply don't see how this claim can stand even basic scrunty.
Firstly, working from an office doesn't not exclude a flexible work schedule. I've gone through phases where I don't get into work until 3pm.
This works fine until something urgent comes up and a meeting is called at 11am, and management wonders why you are "late". Maybe Google is better at avoiding this than your average company, but maybe at some point in your career you'll find they're not :)
The rest of your argument is either very questionable (false negatives are OK as long as the result is positive - a more positive result is better than a barely positive one), or very squishy (camaraderie, team cohesion, culture) with no hard data to back it up, so no point in arguing over it.
Trying to scale a company were everybody is remote and on their own, is a very tough task.
So when working remote (as in from home) and your project manager calls you for something urgent at 10am but you are still sleeping/doing stuff with the kids etc. How would that be different to not being in the office ? Meetings/communication dont go away just because you work remotely.
The question was about scaling up. It's obviously possible to manage entire teams that are offsite, as many companies now do it. Is there some other way to scale up than to have other teams? You aren't seriously suggesting to have bigger teams, are you?
If you accept you need teams in multiple teams & locations (due to labor-market limitations, physical limitations, cost of office space in some areas, etc), then companies that are organized for remote work have a massive advantage because they are much better at communicating between them.
What arguments are supporting this statement? Is there any? What does "on their own" even mean here?
So when working remote (as in from home) and your project manager calls you for something urgent at 10am but you are still sleeping/doing stuff with the kids etc
I put down the phone, turn on the PC and am available 2 minutes later, instead of 60 minutes later while I commute. Exactly the same thing as when an emergency happens outside office hours in an on-site job, except that I'm actually guaranteed to have all the stuff I need for work available at home.
Some of the arguments here make it sound as if these are fairytales, yet this is exactly how work is and has been done for years, at least at some of the more enlightened employers :)
Worth noting that working from home does not mean you work any different hours from anyone else. In fact, your point is more of an argument FOR telecommuting than against it. At any given time that you're not "at work", it's far faster to switch to being "at work" for a telecommuter than for someone that has to head to the office to do so.
Having multiple offices in different location isnt working remotely. The teams that work together still actually physically work together.
All i am saying is, having for example a team of 15 engineers, marketing guys, sales guys who all work from home creates more communication overhead per person. Add to that totally flexible schedules where the people i need to talk to often arent available and vice versa, i dont think it scales well. Its a total mess.
>> I put down the phone, turn on the PC and am available 2 minutes later
What if you have decided to go grocery shopping, take your kids to school, your dog for a walk when something urgent happens ? It basically the same as not being in the office at that point, you just are not available, no matter if on-site or remote.
I have been working remotely for several years, but i enjoyed working in a team with other engineers and the overlap of private and work life doesnt really leave me feel relaxed at home. So its not for everyone and remote-work certainly isnt the one-fits all future of work imo.
I'm not sure I agree with this. I was going to say that it could perhaps be true for sales/marketing (not my area), but I just realized that at my last on-site job the sales guys were actually the only ones remote. So my practical experience seems to point the exact opposite as your claim.
Add to that totally flexible schedules where the people i need to talk to often arent available
Don't confuse flexible schedules with working remotely, they really are entirely different things. I already pointed out how flexible schedules cause problems for on-site work in the parent posts.
Different time zones are even more of a pain for both local and remote, but I'd rather stay awake late at night for a meeting if I can do so at home.
I've found that I really enjoy this arrangement. I still feel like we have team cohesion while at the same time I can get done my transactional work two days out of the week without being disturbed. We schedule meetings where we need to collaborate for M-W-F. If we do need to get together on T-Th then we fire up a Google Hangout.
For me it seems like the best of both worlds. I reduce my commute and transportation costs 40% without really losing a lot in return.
- Working in the office every day is a complete productivity drain for me.
- Working from home every day makes it more complicated to collaborate with coworkers (especially over highly visual whiteboarding situations.
- Splitting the difference has worked really well. Generally we picked one day where we were always in the office (as much for social interaction as meetings). In addition, each of us was perfectly willing to come in 1-2 other days a week if there was a need.
Splitting the difference is by far my favorite mode.
It worked so well that I am trying to get it implemented at my current place. If I ever become a manager, I will probably implement this among my team, too.
Then say that. Say it loud and proud.
Say we want to build an engineering culture of excellence. Talk about how programmers will rule the roost once more. Talk about the open sourcing of the Yahoo libraries, how Yahoo will never let a piece of code go without review and tests.
And then say "In my opinion as the CEO we can only do this by being in the office at the same time, no flexi-hours, no mucking about, everyone in."
One could respect that.
This, this is just "I'm in charge, everyone in because I say so"
I doubt it's like this. From all the articles I have read, everyone seems to just be vilifying Mayer in standard linkbait form. Mayer could have said that ("In my opinion as the CEO we can only do this by being in the office at the same time, no flexi-hours, no mucking about, everyone in.") but it wouldn't matter because everyone would twist her words.
Even the whole issue is sort of overblown. AFAIK, Mayer has only said you can't always work at home. There is nothing she said about cutting flexi-hours, or working from sometimes.
YAHOO! PROPRIETARY AND CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION — DO NOT
To become the absolute best place to work, communication
and collaboration will be important, so we need to be
working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we
are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions
and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions,
meeting new people,
1. If we take as read that working in physical proximity increases communication (often, not always certainly) then
why have multiple offices? Who exactly is supposed to work
together with whom? Why is the San Francisco office not the one and only office? Why have a Beijing office if people there cannot work with people in Bangalore
2. I hope I am not villifying Meyer - I think she has taken on a difficult high profile role. I have never run a 10,000's people company. Its probably quite difficult.
3. Scaling remote working. No organisation seems to effectgively scale past the dunbar number - communication and collaboration drops alarmingly. (Its not intra-group comms that drops, its the inter-group comms.)
It's a wide strategy with its real target a set of managers. I'll bet money on it.
The secondary benefits and even the primary touted reason are great things to have, but they aren't the main goal.
This is based on what I'm seeing from looking at CEO in a non tech firm doing.
The aim of a new report or designation being created so far has is always aimed at getting and succeeding to get, multiple targets achieved, with the real target being buried somewhere inside and discrete.
Do you have any data on this? What about organizations like Canonical who are almost all full remote workers? Surely Canonical cannot have less than 150 workers.
With that statement, you're really highlighting the trust your company has with you. Unfortunately, it seems Yahoo is communicating that it no longer trusts any of its employees working from home. And there may be valid reasons, such as significant lost of productivity, but punishing the "good" employees with the "bad" sends a negative signal.
Companies in yahoo's state don't necessarily care about current output (what good is more of what isn't working?)
A report I reviewed in the past indicated remote workers are more likely to walk away when a bad changes are occurring. For yahoo, that means now and/or soon.
I don't now that doesn't seem like the purpose behind this.
If the people overseeing the work teams have to resort to making sure that everyone is in their seats for roll call in order to manage them, Yahoo has some much deeper problems than remote workers that need to be addressed.
It may well be true that it's easier to enforce cultural homogeneity on colocated teams, which makes it easier to treat individuals as interchangeable cogs that can be transplanted between different parts of the wider machine.
Whose interest that's in is an interesting question. It's a obvious win for the employer. And employees who want to work for an "apex predator" employer are better off because in their case, utility for the employer is utility for the employee.
The point of the 37signals post is that only "apex predator" companies like Google can legitimately demand this sort of dedication. Given your statement that you actually work at Google, I think perhaps it makes sense that your opinion is what it is.
My point - to sum it up - is that productivity and cultural homogeneity aren't the only important metrics to optimise for.
I might be going way out on a limb here, but I think this kind of thing is a subtle driver of age/family discrimination.
What kind of workers are more likely to live by the office, and thus able to drop in on a moment's notice? Young, single workers.
What type of workers are less likely to do this? Older workers or workers with families who have to deal with commute/spouses/children/etc.
If I were living within 7 minutes walking-distance from work, I sure wouldn't mind coming in, especially if work is so flexible that I can come in at 3pm and nobody lifts an eyebrow.
My workplace is actually not that far away, around 25-30 minutes of public-transport commute. I still see lots of benefits for remote-working. Striking a balance is the key. I wouldn't want to exclusively work from home either.
However, if your job is "software engineer" or any other job which 100% of the work can be done over instant message, email, teleconference bridge, screen sharing, etc then No, I don't agree that you should be on-site the majority of the time.
The decision that a manager makes to allow one of their staff members to work remotely is done on a case-by-case basis and is done on the merits of their work and their previous ability to get the work done remotely or off-site.
Funny, I feel it's almost the opposite. Remote work can be very difficult for a small business or startup, especially for the early team. Generally speaking, you want everyone within earshot and available for ad hoc ideation sessions, discussions, debates, or projects.
The larger the company, the more likely it'll be organized into discrete functions, work scope, teams, deadlines, and so forth. And hence, each employee will have a clearer sense of what he or she is accountable for on each day, with less moment-to-moment variance. This situation makes remote working easier and more scalable.
Absolutely. But changing terms and conditions after a person has been employed is different, and, in the UK at least, may be illegal. I suspect it is the change for existing employees that surprised people.
It could be that Yahoo didn't set up their remote work procedures very well and so it lead to poor productivity from remote workers.
Obviously they're willing to risk losing employees so I would guess they put some thought into it.
I'm getting the picture that US has few employment rights! It will be interesting to see if any of those directly affected by this break cover and discuss it in public.
That's pretty condescending. If I don't share your view then I don't understand the situation?
I do prefer working from home but I perfectly understand the disadvantages, and I understand the advantages of working in an office. That doesn't mean that they weigh out to the same preference for me as they do for you.
> Firstly, working from an office doesn't not exclude a flexible work schedule.
You can have a flexible work schedule while working in an office, but that does undermine the major reason companies usually want people to work in an office; being accessible. If you're not there while other people are there you might as well not be there at all. In fact, if you are remote but working the same hours as your coworkers, you are more accessible than someone who is working in the same building but at different times.
> As far as not being bothered, this can certainly be true. This is actually part of the reason why I often wear headphones. Noise-cancelling headphones do a pretty good job of filtering out a lot of noise but just the act of wearing headphones I tend to find acts as a psychological barrier from others bothering you.
Again, if you're going to make yourself more isolated and inaccessible, why work in an office to begin with? You're citing reasons you should be working from home rather than reasons why working at an office is advantageous.
> The other issue, and this particularly applies to large companies, is one of culture. Culture like team cohesion is orders of magnitude easier to spread when physically colocated. For a company the size of Google (my employer), IMHO this is far more important than any individual perceived benefits about permanent remote work.
There are plenty of companies who work in person that either have toxic or no real culture. OTOH, there are plenty of companies that work remotely that have a great culture. You can do plenty while working remotely to spread culture; it's either there in everything the company does or it's missing.
There's nothing special about working from an office w/regards to culture, especially when personnel are working random hours and wearing headphones to isolate themselves.
> Also, I disagree with the position that this "punishes" good employees.
Well, you're wrong, and this goes far beyond working remotely or not. If you hire somebody with a given benefit -- whether that's the opportunity to work remotely, free cafeteria, health care, paid overtime, etc. -- and then you take that benefit away, that's punishing your employees. There's no two bits about it. Whether you personally would take advantage of that benefit or not does not matter. It is punishing the people who did take advantage of it, and that's simple fact.
"Again, if you're going to make yourself more isolated and inaccessible, why work in an office to begin with?"
Working with headphones signals "don't bother me unless important" and does provides protection against a degree of interruptions and noise but still provides accessibility and potential closeness that you can't get when working remotely.
Microsoft has an in-person team whose Win32 user land APIs are confusing, some of which came from Win16 bolted to the side of Win32. Which is made bigger with the WinRT APIs, which also keep all the Win32 APIs thereby making Surface unwieldy. And I imagine Ballmer likes to keep his team on site for chair throwing...
And yet Linux is eclipsing many kernel projects not just in share but performance. Hell, Torvalds is fully capable of flaming people to tears via email! They're half a world apart and he can still rip a new one :)
It tallies with my experience that remote workers, integrated into a mostly office based environment does largely end up being transactional. Another problem is that there can be transactional workers in the office, and I would characterize those folks as usually the least likely to participate with remote workers too. So you can get a double hit.
However, the best remote setups I've seen have been where someone who largely works remotely is heavily social usually using their occasional time in the office effectively.
In my experience, having someone there in person is a lot more productive, I get immediate responses to my queries and they get immediate responses to their work, no waiting around for emails to be responded to.
We are seeing a company taking away something we - as employees - like, in addition to our $120,000 per year wages, our paid healthcare, our free office snacks and clothes washing and our free donated dairy cow.
I wonder if, in a few years if the bubble pops, we will look back fondly on the days of decadence and wish things where still the same?
Also, totally unrelated, just realized I've been a member of HN for 6 months, cool landmark :)
No, really, it is the opposite. You're fine as long you as you sit on your computer from 9 to 5.
Working from home, there's a constant pressure to produce actual results, because that's what you are judged by. I find it more stressful and there's more tendency to do overtime (you're already home anyway, right?).
I get immediate responses to my queries and they get immediate responses to their work, no waiting around for emails to be responded to.
There are many ways around this, chat clients being the most obvious. Also, continuously interrupting people can be very counterproductive, specifically if you do intellectual work.
We are seeing a company taking away something we - as employees - like
There's many people for which working remotely isn't actually a choice, barring a change of employer.
I've done consulting jobs both locally and remotely, and if you ask me, in a few years time we'll consider non-remote working (when it isn't necessary for the job) a thing of foolishness.
When you work remotely you don't have 'time in chair' as a proxy for productivity so you have no choice but to prove yourself through your output.
When in an office you can stare at the wall all day and have it considered "work".
Working remotely isn't for everyone. Some people do not have the self-discipline. Don't allow those people to work remotely or don't hire them at all.
There are other benefits to working in the same meat-space: culture, easy collaboration, etc. I don't believe pressure to produce results is one of them. I also think that most of those advantages are disappearing or gone with chat, email, skype, google hangouts, and other collaboration solutions.
More productive for who? You? Better hope that person wasn't in the middle of something important when you broke his/her train of thought that will take a good half hour for them to recover.
I should probably post-face this with the fact that I am one of only 2 devs at my company, the rest are content production / design / marketing.
You must have some incredible judgment then. Do you trust all of your coworkers with having that same level of judgment?
That's basically my #1 problem where I work: we're in big open-spaces and you get interrupted all the time. Sometimes just having someone talk next to you can be enough to break your train of thought.
That being said, I agree it's very helpful to be able to talk in person sometimes. I think the solution is just something hybrid, you work remotely a certain portion of the time and get to the office for the other days.
I would be interested to hear yahoo's reason for giving up on remote work though. This article is a bit unsubstantial.
That's great that this is the case for you in the situation you were in; but the assertion that "people who work in an office together share instant communication, and people who work remotely have slow communication" is obviously false.
I've worked plenty of real world offices where communication was done only via email and took ages.
On the other hand, the job I work at now, I work remotely 4 days a week and communication is instantaneous. We have a company IRC server and if you're working it's expected you'll be on there. There's always phones but IRC + email work 99% of the time.
Remote work is the future; the reasons to work in an office together are evaporating. As remote video conferencing improves (and as someone who uses it every week, let me tell you, it still sucks) the benefits of being together in person disappear.
This is an idiotic move by Yahoo!, and shows that they have no clue what the are doing.
It really depends on people/culture, but I find a shared IRC channel where people idle and are reasonably responsive to be the #1 way to have relatively friction-free quick coordination, even with people in the same building. Physical colocation is 2nd-best, email/Skype 3rd-best.
In fact, I think local is superior to remote mainly in the opposite case: where you need lengthy meetings, especially with more than two people. In that case, videoconferencing and email get unwieldy. But for routine quick queries I find IRC a lot better than walking over to someone's office, to the extent that someone local who doesn't use IRC (or isn't responsive on it) feels more distant to me than someone remote who does.
Sure the limping fellas can spot land. Maybe hes even good at it. Better than others. However the ship is going down, its time to try whatever possible in hopes of saving it.
I was a remote employee for the last almost two years at Cheezburger with many others. We had a culture of emails not taking forever and a day to respond to and if you needed a response now you could Skype, google talk, jabbr, phone call whoever you needed.
The whole organization was committed to it.
On top of that, everyone I knew worked like mad. There were definitely pros and cons and I'm sure the pros outweighed the cons.
I agree mostly with your point, but the problem is this - the gargantuan size of the company leads to problems, there are always going to be a couple of ass holes who sneak under the radar, the people who do the minimum amount of work possible, working from wherever they want and being paid for it. It's a shame that the actions of these people can make employers naturally suspicious of hiring people to work remotely when I'm sure most are decent and hard working.
Employees can be unproductive in the office just as much as remote employees can be super-productive at home. Yahoo just seems to be taking the easiest to see metric for "productive".
Corporate IM is one solution to this.
As someone who has worked independently and for others in offices and remotely, the above statement is the exact opposite of reality.
When people are in the office non-production is perversely seen as production. Where warming a seat and having lots of busy work meetings and filling white boards full of inanity is "the gears of work".
When working remotely, the sole indicator of accomplishment is actual production. All of the bullshit is pushed aside.
As humorous as that is, your "heed the man" advice is quaintly archaic. A business like Yahoo is nothing but the combined work of a bunch of smart people. We've seen -- time and time again -- that many such companies are driven and succeed because of a subset of those people, so it is dangerous, dangerous ground to offend them. Because they become the upstarts that grind places like Yahoo into dust.
The world has changed. We all have the tools, the technology, the capacity to scale, the communications mediums, and the audience. It is nothing like it was.
EDIT: Places like Reddit, Digg, Slashdot are by far busiest during the North American work day. These are by and large people working in offices.
What I find boring is being told about how drunk some lad got at the week end, or some one's latest recipe, or how a hubby is a git, or how the immigrants are taking all the jobs or how benefits claimants are scroungers or how blah, blah, blah............ all of with puts me off working in an office, well, working at all. And even if I politely make it clear I'm not interested, the drone of social BS continues in the back ground.
Others thrive on that, but in my experience, spend a lot of time gossiping and not working. Meanwhile, I'm at home working twice as hard because I'm worried other will think I'm being lazy and watching TV or some such. But that is just my experience.
Truth is it all depends on culture, personality, role and circumstance.
If you're not coordinating your remote workers on an IRC-like system, you're likely doing it wrong. (That's my experience, if someone else has successfully used other systems I'd like to hear about it)
Also, if most of the team is on site and the remote people are a small minority, things are going to suck, unless management is also off-site.
Personally I like working from home as the default and meeting in person when needed/appropriate.
This is about 2x a week. I consciously batch these days up with as much of this as possible. I work at home the other 3 days (on average again, some weeks I'm in the whole week, some week I am at home the whole week).
I find this incredibly productive. I crush the people that work in the office full time. I have time to be healthy with the regained hours from commuting (40min in my case). I can afford a house.
Sorry, but the butts in seats mentality is crazy and I'm not going back. Even for Google (where I've worked), which was nice, but failed on this score.
The general "vibe" I get from this is that that new management has arrived and is concerned about productivity. I assume that if new management has arrived, they would or should know what productivity levels should be and that yahoo remote staff are lacking. If so, then from a management POV, it does seem quickest and simplest to notionally get everyone back to base and kind of hit a reset switch.
If yahoo is now a low ranked place to work, then I can well imagine that in general its employees are a bit low ranked too, and perhaps some of the more lazy ones looking for a lax easy life. Presumably the quality people will have left. In which case, remote working cant work well at all.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming the employees, this can only happen or go wrong if management lets it. But, I think one should support a new regime that is presumably trying to sort it out. Presumably, and if it were me, they will assess the situation and bit by bit allow people out of the office again, but with new procedures, guidelines or what ever.
So, to be honest, I think I can see what yahoo is doing. Yes it is painful for the good remote employees that are left there, but if thing are going wrong, they need to support the attempts to fix it.
Or...... I've missed the point somewhere.
That certainly sounds like what most new management thinks they know.
Yahoo's problem is (and always has been for quite a while) bad middle-management. (See my earlier posts; like Punxsatawney Phil, I come out only on occasion). These middle MF'ers have been running the company into the ground with their lack of vision, petty infighting and sheer idiocy. This has led to MM and her cohorts to basically not trust the lower half of the company.
So the rank-and-file are paying the price for MM's inability to weed out the rotten layer of middle managers.
Instead of cracking down on the WFH crowd, she should crack down on middle managers.
1. Get rid of any manager who has less than 8 direct reports
2. Anyone of the level 'director' or above must justify their positions (there has been severe rank inflation in Yahoo in the past)
3. Anyone who has been at Yahoo for more than 2 years and in a position of authority must be forced to analyze why their property declined over that period, and what they could have done to avoid it. There is too much of 'shoot and scoot' at Yahoo: managers jump on any hot item, botch it up and then move on
"'For what it's worth, I support the no working form home rule. There's a ton of abuse of that at Yahoo. Something specific to the company.' This source said Yahoo's large remote workforce led to 'people slacking off like crazy, not being available, spending a lot of time on non-Yahoo! projects.'"
"Mayer saw another side-benefit to making this move. She knows that some remote workers won't want to start coming into the office and so they will quit. That helps Yahoo, which needs to cut costs. It's a layoff that's not a layoff."
I can understand if Yahoo is making a shift to shore up some things in house. Hopefully if that is the case, they return to a policy that allows more work from home.
This is a battle that Gen Y'ers are going to have with aging management who can only manage people they can see/touch/watch. I thought we as an IT culture were doing better moving away from those old tenants but news like this doesn't make it look good.
These are the companies that straddle the past - vision-less, fearful, and clinging to hierarchy and control instead of embracing risk and riding and harnessing waves of change. These are the types of companies that see their employees as cost lines in a P&L spreadsheet, instead of as untapped resources with limitless potential for creation.
I disagree with this post. From everything that I understand from what I've read it seems like one of the major issues at Yahoo is a culture thing. This doesn't seem so much like a trust thing to me. It comes across to me as a way to rebuild an identity by changing the environment and you can't control the environment when people don't come in to the office.
It does seem to me like there is potential to lose some good employees up front, for sure. I don't assume this decision is a short term move. Whenever management makes a decision that is more restrictive, or against popular opinion, there is always out lash. Then it dies down. New people start and it's the only thing they know so it's not a big deal.
The people are going to be the ones who change the company, and to change their mindsets, and reinvigorate them it seems like a culture change would be a good thing in the long run. The current policy clearly isn't working, how bad could this really be?
I love the idea of working from home, being independent and working autonomously, but it has its place. It's situational at best and this might be the perfect example of a place where it's not currently working. This by no means is saying that it doesn't work for 37 Signals. It seems to work fantastically for them and for many of the customers who use their software. I loved Rework, and I'm definitely looking forward to Remote.
Not everything is black and white.
There are, however, a couple things that one should keep in mind.
1) Your competition is global and intense. (How many of you have worked with some of the better Russian or German developers? How do they get so good?)
2) Your pay must be set and comparable to a global standard so forget about silicon valley pay.
3) You are usually a contractor and have no safety nets. So save large chunks of your pay.
Ok, that said, maybe I can relate this to the original article by saying that I've literally seen projects completed about 3x faster and at least 3x cheaper than any other corporation I've worked for that required the workforce to be in-office.
Why? Well, I don't really have the answer. I can speak to my own experience in that I'm judged solely on deliverables. I don't really have a face and as far as the company is concerned I exist as my deliverables... so they better be up to par. The other reason is that working this way requires projects to be organized ON PAPER. Those who have worked at any corporation will understand why that is important. So many managers bullshit their way around doing things like clearly documenting requirements or tracking deliverables. This simply won't work in a telecommute environment.
I really do believe that if I were to hire a team to complete a project I'd do so on a telecommute basis. It's simply cheaper and faster if done correctly and thus gives any company that does so an advantage.
One last point: I don't believe any manager who is not him/herself an engineer is suited to manage such a team.
Here is my interpretation: this is a way to flush people who are not productive enough. Yahoo expects them to have left the company by June.
Once this is done, Yahoo will announce that it is restoring work-from-home policy and will offer some very attractive packages to attract talent.
Its more like everyone cooking their own meal, communication is hardly ever as good as it should be in remote teams and you are just more disconnected from the core.
Personally i like my time alone and i get alot of stuff done in less time, but i enjoyed sitting in an office with 4 other engineers alot more. It was alot more fun and not alot less productive, if at all... Working remotely from home makes me feel alone after a few weeks now, i might even call it depressed.
While i think working remotely for some time (1-2 days a week) is awesome, i dont see the future of work as being remote only... I dont want to mix private with work life too much, which happens alot when working from home and i want to feel relaxed at home and not always think about getting back to my desk to get some more work done. And i know alot of people that think the same.
This can be true, but for those whom it is ideal, why shouldn't there be uproar about it? Can we move your office to the basement, next to the drilling machine, while we take your stapler and forbid anyone to talk to you? This works for me so why are you upset about it?
Working remotely from home makes me feel alone after a few weeks now, i might even call it depressed....I dont want to mix private with work life too much...not always think about getting back to my desk to get some more work done.
These are valid points, and something important to take care of if you're working remote. I'd go batshit insane without friends on IRC, and it takes discipline to maintain a regular working schedule that doesn't venture into the night (too often). Nobody said working remotely is great for everyone. As long as you accept that on-site working is very suboptimal for others too.
it is about the interactions and experiences that are only possible in our offices
Seems to be a statement that good collaboration is only possible when employees occupy the same physical space.
Yahoo has offices across the glove, don't they? Are they going to also ban teams/employees in different offices from working together?
When I was a kid, I learned most of my programming through IRC channels. I worked on projects on Campfire, Skype, Hangout. It's not only possible, but provides a written log and account of decisions made. As well as giving people time to reflect.
The bottom line is that if you don't trust the people you hire, you've already hired wrong. Remote works if you trust your team. I had people working in person playing video games in the office. You can't coerce someone to work; you can only control this at hire time, not runtime.
Yes, it's impossible to tell who will work well remotely. But it's usually pretty obvious. People who will look for new things to do will do so, and people that will steal time can probably only keep up the con for only so long.
Hire right, and remote working works. That also includes in-person hires; they might be sitting there in seat...
For me, there are 2 ways to look at Yahoo's decision.
One is they are flat out wrong, but thats OK, because they are making decisions (Steve Jobs spoke of this)! Decisions are what moves companies in directions, good or bad, its better than being frozen and stagnant.
Two, I can attest to the cross pollination of ideas when you're together as a team, sharing lunch, sharing experiences, seeing each other in person, reading each other's body language, etc that just doesn't seem to happen at the same level when you're remote. If I were building a team from the ground up I'd want my team to be hanging out everyday ...the other meta of working together doesn't happen over Skype :). I can't tell you how many solutions were dreamed up on the walk to Starbucks. There is just something there that is hard to replicate with software.
Yahoo will likely be better off with a an all local workforce. Having spent time working both locally and remotely myself, being local and present with the rest of the team has significant benefits.
That said, the personal costs for the employees in question are likely to be very high, particularly for those that telecommute from places that aren't in driving range of the Yahoo office. My hope is that Yahoo is treating these people as gently as they can.
> Companies like Google and Apple can get away with more restrictive employment policies because they’re at the top of their game and highly desirable places to work. -DHH
The causality my be wrong here... it may not be the goodness of the employer that enables the restrictive employment policy, it may be the restrictive employment policy that enables the goodness of the employer.
Yahoo's cut a lot of staff and (acqui-)hired a lot of new people over the past few months, and so for the sake of team re-building, I can see why they might want to have all staff in one place for a while.
Even if staff are working remotely, it's always better for them to have met and bonded in person at some point - more trust, camaraderie, and goodwill. Maybe this is Marissa Mayer's way of getting everyone on the same page for a few months, and then afterwards people will be able to work remotely again as usual.
If this is a temporary measure to team-build more effectively, then it makes sense. If it's permanent, then I agree with the author DHH that it's a foolish and shortsighted move.
Sure, invite all teams to meet at an office for 2-3 weeks of networking, team-building etc. That's a great idea, but not what is happening here.
I have several friends who have worked at large floundering companies cough Best Buy cough. As soon as a new CEO comes in, this is usually the first thing to go in terms of perks to the worker bees. They try and frame it up in many ways, but overall, it's an attempt to try and focus your work, and rally the troops in order to help stagnate morale.
The ironic part was the lower managers immediately convened a meeting of developers after the CEO's announcement, and told everybody, "Yeah, this isn't going to affect our group - carry on and continue to do what you need to do. Even if it means working remotely a good part of the time."
But we have to keep in mind that 37signals is a very differend kind of company. I'm not sure remote work is that suited to big companies. So they may be right in principle but they're handling it poorly.
tldr of the article: http://tldr.io/tldrs/512b80b57ad42f2e2500000a/no-more-remote...
- There might be some trial and error runs of different managers (ergo, a period of quick reorganization)
- Leadership might want to simply make their mark on the organization
- It might be about establishing a culture of secrecy a la Apple (this is a stretch)
I do sense it's a symptom of a serious cultural problem. Layoffs might be coming. However, I'd expect more people to just to be straight up fired, without the big "we're reducing headcount" sort of announcement.
That taught me that I actually prefer working in an office, as long as I don't have to drive to work.
Yahoo! needs to be in high-contact mode for a time while it gets its company culture sorted out. There is no room for people who aren't willing to commit to full participation in the company and its day-to-day functioning in the highest bandwidth form there is; being present.
This is not a strike at working remotely in general, its Yahoo! dealing with Yahoo!'s issues.
From the link you shared (which I strongly agree with):
There’s no halfsies in a distributed team. If even one person on the team is remote, every single person has to start communicating online... no more dropping in to someone’s office to chat, no more rounding people up to make a decision
So the in-office members are forced into contortions to accommodate the remotes. That may be OK if the team is committed to the practice, like stack exchange is. But if Yahoo! is run like a traditional company, designed around in-office work with occasional exceptions made for remotes, then those remotes burden the in-office team members, and absolutely hinder communication.
(A) Remote working is a good thing, and the best companies will embrace it, now and increasingly in the future.
(B) Ending remote working arrangements is the right thing for Yahoo right now.
There is a path-dependence in corporate structures and cultures. Yahoo needs big changes. Even somewhat arbitrary changes with collateral damage could help re-form habits of interaction.
How's this for an idea? Let's see if Yahoo is a company worth looking at for leadership. They aren't? Oh. Then let their policies die with them.
I do not like this new decision. Yahoo looked on a nice path after Merrisa coming back but this is a bad decision for workers. No matter they will leave soon!
Yahoo ranked #8 on this list. http://www.businessinsider.com/best-employers-in-america-201...
At Yahoo it was nor working - being abused, bad habits and policy engrained over years.
Doesn't mean it won't be back down the road. I think they're just cleaning house.
Now everyone who wasn't abusing the policy but was only still working at Yahoo because of it will leave. This is called throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
"Of course not, you’re going to be angry at such a callous edict, declared without your consultation" seems a bit out of place when the pull quote from Yahoo! reads: "If this impacts you, your management has already been in touch with next steps"
dhh: @senthilnayagam No miracle forthcoming will be due to killing remote working programs.
me: this one is a boomerang, it is targeted at yahoo management team and managers who are comfortable in their old ways
me: those who wanted to abandon the yahoo ship have already done it, yahoo has to float first before it can sail again
My personal hunch is that this is a move to reduce headcount. Yahoo's top management doesn't want to put the company through a layoff, and they're not organized enough to know which projects to cut, so this is their hail-mary complexity reduction step. It's a way to shave off a few percent without having to terminate people. Unfortunately, the cultural side effects are going to be massive. It's bad for the executive image as well. "We're out of ideas."
WFH exists for sociological reasons in addition to the obvious benefits (geographic reach, lower stress levels). Engineers are smart. They know they're not all going to climb the ladder and become top dogs. Not everyone wants that, either. The right to WFH gives people the tacit ability to "grow away" to a 10-hour work week, taking pressure off the competition for visibility and rank and allowing the organization to actually function. It gives people a path whereby, instead of climbing the organizational ladder, their efficiency gains are paid back to them in the ability to retain employment with a reduced work footprint. If you're twice as efficient as a typical office drone (which is not hard) then you can work a 20-hour week.
When you go back to the ass-in-chair regime, management has more control and the social stakes are higher. People aren't going to be happy putting in 40-50 dedicated hours and not having control. To a myopic executive who thinks everyone should be like him or her, that seems like a good thing because it makes people "hungry", but it's actually dysfunctional because the competition for rank is extremely counterproductive.
Next up is the Micromanagement Death Spiral. Macroscopic underperformance leads to individual overperformance by managers, the problem being that managerial overperformance (heightened control, micromanagement) is toxicity. That will exacerbate the company's macroscopic issues and lead to more micromanagement... the vicious cycle.
If Y and MM indeed did have those discussions ahead of time then I like this - shake things up with change and maybe even some chaos - it is needed - even if there are some negative consequences mixed in.
x weeks from now, post weed out, we will see Y go right back to standard WFH.
This decision shows me that Meyer doesn't respect or understand engineering culture. She's bought into the management BS "accidental collaboration" rationalization for industrial age butts-in-seats ideology.
Engineering culture comes, to a great degree, from the way you treat engineers and the process of engineering.
Treating engineers like cubicle bunnies who just can't wait to get interrupted by their Pointy Haired Boss is not conducive to building a good engineering culture.
In fact, requiring people to be in the office shows an anti-engineering mentality, because engineering, an effort of the mind, requires situations that are best for the mind.
Two key things enable good engineering: Collaboration (which requires communication) and coherent thought (which requires silence or peace or the isolation from interruption necessary to do it.)
This means that even if every engineer is in the same room, they're going to start "working remotely" by isolating each other via the use of headphones, and a preference for non-interruptive working (Eg: send email, or an IM rather than walk over and tap the engineer on the shoulder.)
It's true that in an office getting together in a conference room to has something out is easier and more convenient, but the tradeoff is that even with all the isolation people try to put into effect interruption creep is a real thing- eg: meetings, etc.
Working remotely prevents these interruptions at the slight cost of a higher level of effort needed to have a "meeting" (using a virtual whiteboard or just a phone call or whatever.)
So, if you spend most of your time in meetings, then you need everyone together.
If you value engineering and spend most of your time engineering, then whether people are together or apart physically, they are all isolating each other and effectively "Working remotely".
IM, Email and other collaboration tools that allow engineer isolation work as well whether the engineer is in the office or across the country.
Plus, lets not forget the minimum 2 hours of lost productivity that comes form requiring people to go to an office- either the commute (and the resulting need to get into work)-or the long lunches at those free cafeterias, and the endless cycle of distractions that are accepted non-work in offices. A "15 minute coffee break" at the office really has a 20-40 minute work interruption, because it often involves other people, while that same break working remotely can easily be exactly 15 minutes, and likely will be shorter because 10 minutes is enough to get the same level of relaxation from the day.
Almost everything in an office is designed to distract you from engineering, and the cost of this overhead is significant.
Two additional notes:
1. Working remotely demands the ability that you can assess each-other's work. Most managers are not capable to measure how SW developers work, so they fall back to measure the hours you spend in the office.
2. Moving information is much cheaper today than it was even 5 years ago. It is certainly cheaper to have a regular daily videoconf / whiteboard meeting, than move everyone in the same location. And we haven't even mentioned that moving families across the country or across countries is not cheap either. I'd really love a honest analysis on how these aspects compare to the perceived loss in office communication. My guess is that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
I think somebody doesn't understand where Mayer came from.
If you disagree with my argument, please make a counter argument. Snide comments are useless.