To which the appropriate response is: "bullshit". Requiring someone to take physically harmful and addictive drugs is not even remotely in the same galaxy as requiring them to come into the office. Maybe instead of working today, I'd be happier staying home and reading novels and playing with the cat. You don't get paid to be happy though, you get paid to be productive.
Not sure. The things some companies demand of their employees do have a health toll, and it's higher than Adderall. Working 14+ hours for days (EA style) is not better than taking Adderall. And a "death march" type of project is even worse.
Even for a 8-hour, 5 days/week job, the daily commute + wasted office time + coworker disruptions add up to 3-4 hours per day for most.
Thats years off of your life.
Adderal might be better after all.
It's not like software developers are poor. Maybe if we were we wouldn't develop these prima donna attitudes.
Not really. Even if I had double-counted them, that would live both ONE of them AND commuting.
Working at home you have far fewer interruptions (mostly through IM and email) not BS meetings, people breaking your concentration and such.
>It's not like software developers are poor.
Sure, but it's also not like they all work in the US, or have a > $30.000 annual salary.
These are part of the 8 hours of work and many might argue that interaction with coworkers is both healthy for the individual and a useful, productive part of your job.
Those are unhealthy things that can cause cancer, depression, anxiety, obesity, etc. They ultimately lower your potential and functional ability. If working from home can ease and circumvent a lot of those things, why wouldn't you do it? If nothing more than just for your own personal health, which is more important than work anyway..
Yes, because coal mining is the absolute criterion of unhealthiness in the workplace.
And given that people do coal mining, "working 10+ hours, 5 days a week in an office" can never be viewed as bad, right?
Guess where unhappy, highly productive employees go to work? At your competitors.
Obviously, "less productive" is an implicit comparison with some base level of productivity, and we don't know what that level of productivity is. I think that the author implies that he thinks his base level of productivity is "high enough." On the other hand, reading between the lines, his coworkers may think that his base level of productivity is "not actually all that high." And we don't know how much less "less" is.
If an employer has a choice between "happy, unproductive employee" and "unhappy, productive employee," I'll suggest that the rational approach is to get "unhappy, productive employee." In that scenario, you'll get useful work out of the person until they quit, and then you'll have another chance to hire someone who's happy and productive. In the happy, unproductive scenario, that person is a drain on your resources until you fire them, which is inherently more expensive than someone quitting, and often more of a morale hit than an unhappy person quitting is.
(Any real scenario will be more complex than the previous paragraph).
If, however, you are in a situation where you have an employer, I'm sorry; you're just wrong. Working from home is not a fundamental human right. You are, or are not, allowed to.
If you view your employer as a master who gets to tell you how and where and when to work, for the pittance he affords you so you can live to work another day, and so he can take all your extra productivity and initiative and IP and profit from it as he wishes, then I guess you are right.
If you view your contract with your employer as a mutual agreement where you provide a set amount of work for a set amount of money, then your productivity is your own. You can use it for a better life or more money.
I guess this is why I contract. I happen to think my pay should be directly linked to the value I create, rather than an arbitrary amount based on how much it costs me to live, and how long it takes me to find work.
(Not that I am saying this is bad, happiness is very important to me and why I've gone contractor)
Bonus: you will find out which of your staff would rather stay home and do drugs than come to work.
As to your last point, you don't get paid to be productive (necessarily). You're paid to provide work, and different jobs have different metrics for that. There are for instance substantial differences between salary, hourly wage, and commission work - someone being paid a flat fee for a project has no obligation to be efficient or productive, only to fulfill their stated terms. Diminishing efficiency in favor of happiness is a perfectly reasonable aim, particularly in certain jobs.
It's also naive to expect companies to be concerned with anything other that making a profit. At any moment, another company can come in and implement changes that the first company was unwilling to make and undercut it's business.
Why doesn't HN have a downvote...
There are numerous examples of this. I'm sure plenty of people here have gone drinking on a school night and been useless at work next day due to the resulting hangover. If this happens occasionally you may just get light ridicule, however do it too much and you're probably going to get into trouble.
Perhaps you enjoy playing contact sports of some description. Well you might injure your hand and that is going to hurt to your typing speed. At what point is it reasonable for your employer to request you reduce or cease these activities?
These things are probably going to be dictated by supply and demand ultimately, a popular device in fiction is a "maverick" character who breaks every rule but people still keep around because he has some particular skill that is of high demand and short supply.
It's also dictated by how much an employer can force an externality to an employee. For example if it were legal for a company to mandate adderal use and there was evidence to suggest it improved productivity then you would expect rational companies to mandate it unless the very best programmers uniformly refused to use it.
Though adderal may be illegal for this purposes that may not stop it becoming defacto mandated. For example if everyone at work is using and it is known but denied in a nudge wink sort of way. If you are a non using bottom performer who is worried about your upcoming review then there is going to be very strong pressure to use. In other words the company has externalised the legal risk.
The way it applies to working from home is that there is historically and currently an expectation that you "go to work" and therefor working from home is a bonus.
If it was the other way around and there was an expectation of home working, would that change the equation?
Try examining the other part of the equation: Are you happier? If the answer is no, then WFH probably isn't for you. But, if the answer is yes, perhaps productivity isn't so important?
Part of that is that I am a human, and part of that is practical -- namely, productivity is a long game (at least for knowledge-workers). It's not something you measure in work-units-per-hour within the confines of a single day. Same reason you can't have a death-march release cycle and ignore the plummeting "productivity" in the days/weeks/months after... or the lost productivity from employees who seek more manageable work elsewhere and need to be replaced, etc.
Your post is too one-sided and uses Adderall as a straw-man (or similarly fallacious argument). Your personal happiness as others have said isn't the only factor in an employer-employee relationship -- but that said, viewing productivity as a many-factored, nuanced thing that includes overall worker happiness (or, better put: satisfaction) is probably pretty appropriate.
It might be cheaper to just let people be at home!
Things like working from home are great, but not something you are entitled to. You have to provide the value to justify it.
What if it's the reverse? Say I'd like to drink, or do heroin, in the office. Yes, sure, I'll be less productive, but I'll also be happier. Does that mean that an office "no getting drunk or high" policy is unreasonable? If not, what is the line that you're drawing between that scenario of "not productive, but happiness enhancing" and the author's scenario of "not productive, but happiness enhancing"?
Also, productivity is nearly impossible to measure yet I'd argue that some of the "feel-good" benefits of work-at-home actually do result in higher productivity. Let's take a few:
1) Commute time: 2 hours that I can be more productive and/or take care of personal business that would have cut into work time
2) Focus: Everybody (not just execs) can have a door, can screen their interruptions, etc. This is vitally important for think-work and creative-work.
3) Other high-end perks that come for more or less free to the employer: healthy meals, exercise options nearby, potential 24x7 support when needed
Frankly, the only two arguments people are making against work-at-home boil down slacking and lack of face-to-face collaboration. Both are fixed by some technology and a measure of feedback and discipline.
I really don't expect companies to start forcing Adderall on people, but if productivity is all that matters then it's a viable strategy. Therefore, if you agree that giving Adderall to your employees is absurd, then you're forced to agree that productivity is not all that matters. (Or at least, that's the hope.)
Pivoting from there to, "But actually maybe he is more productive at home" isn't defending his point.
Frankly, I don’t really care if I am less productive working from home than in the office. Productivity is only one variable in a complex equation.
It seems like a bad idea to argue with a person (the colleague) who makes claims without any evidence. Are they measuring productivity with some metric, or just guessing?
I guess what I'm saying is if you want to work from home, do it! Making the leap to enabling/convincing everybody else to do it may be a bit of a stretch for me, though. It might not make sense in the general case.
Maybe if I worked at home more often I'd have a more stable set-up here with better (multiple + larger) monitors and a workspace I can think in, but as it is, any days I work from home I feel like I'm running about 60%.
On the other hand, 2.5hours less commute means longer working for less stress.
The guy that is saying that he is more productive in the office is probably just as happy with his choice as you are with yours.
Actually going to work and working in group and interacting with eachother makes me happy, I get a lot of satisfaction out of my work and I rather work in a team than by myself. My previous project we were at the office all day every day and even then the level of communication was too low. That was probably the type of people that were in the group.
But still, standing up, talking with people about the business, being able to point at a screen without the hassle of setting up a conference call is pretty easy.
Another thing I like about going to work, when you go home and you had a productive day it's a closed chapter for me. I get in my car, don't think about the project (most of the time) until the next day. It's a good separation between working life and personal life for me.
When, inevetably the overtime requests come pouring in, or the new boss hates people leaving 'early' then people start looking around for new oppertunities.
Taking an hour out of each day usually shortens the commute by 50% - if your day is 9:30 - 4:30 == happy times.
This is great advice if you're self employed or can pick and choose employers.
The other point of the article, that forcing people to come to the office is somehow morally wrong, is nonsense.
However, I would argue that one can be as productive working at home as working at the office, sometimes even be more productive.
Little things that I can do at home that I can't do at the office (ie. Nap) help to focus better. It just a personal experience but it might be true for other people as well.
YMMV depending on your parking location. I park in underground parking that makes for a comfortable nap. Just make sure not to park in front of the elevator, haha.
You may profess to not care, but your employer certainly cares how productive you are. That's why they're paying to employ you, after all. And, in the long run, people's salaries depend on their productivity.
If working from home is so important to your happiness, then find an employer who will let you, but be prepared to settle for a smaller paycheck. But beware of saying things like "frankly, I don't really care if I am less productive" -- that's not exactly a professional attitude.
You may choose to be less productive, but to not even care about the effects of your choices on others, sounds like someone who is not exactly cut out for working together with others. In a healthy company, the company cares about the well-being of its employees, and the employees care about the well-being of the company, which is dependent on their productivity.
If you're employing someone putting together sprockets on an assembly line, then yes, productivity may be the most important thing to you. If you are employing managers, designers, programmers, advertising folks... then maybe productivity is not your primary goal. Maybe getting the smartest work from them is more important than getting the greatest amount of output.
Personally, I'd rather have one brilliant, game-changing program/algorithm/policy/advertisement than one hundred mediocre pieces of output.
If it doesn't bother them, then I would also assume that they're accustomed to such smells and quite a few other messy things.
I wonder if that's as uncommon as the OP thinks. I once worked for a rather large media/advertising company and they actually did that. We called it "Focus Fridays"
Find a new office and stop comparing personal preferences to actually addictive drugs.
You may find that you have other personal preferences in addition to maximizing shareholder value.
I can get all of my work done and have time left over to work on my startup. Since I'm not using my company's network, it's less of a risk for me.
It also feels like I'm working for myself. I'm not stuck in a stuffy office all day.