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Is your hypothesis that all types of work in "this field" (which, exactly?) spanning all levels of interactivity can be performed equally well by remote workers? I have personal experience that such a hypothesis is demonstrably false, even for pure software projects. I can only imagine how much more so the disconnect would be when the work involves hardware.

"The majority of people here are doing low-level systems programming, usually networking related, and a handful of people are doing data analysis (call it big data, if you like) to figure out how to optimize Google's next generation hardware and software platforms."

Those tasks can and are done by programmers from anywhere. There is absolutely no reason to make them come to an office.

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