In 2011-2012 I had one guy actually consistently take credit for what I was doing because I would work at my place and show up once a week with deliverables (there was a hardware part to the job, and I'd rather use my small workshop built next to my home if I can).
Essentially he told everyone that he was the team leader for the project, and people started to believe him. All he did was walk around the offices and make powerpoints.
He kept telling people that he needed more men and resources to complete the project... all the while, me and another guy were doing good on the project (about on budget, a little ahead of schedule).
Eventually this guy's whining, intended to give him a little empire, is heard by one of the actual bosses. We get called in to explain why we're behind and need more people.
And that's where the crazy thing happens. We show up with the first batch of production devices -- not even prototypes -- and do a full demo, and say "this has actually been ready to field test for a couple weeks now". Great, right? Except... everyone was so used to talking with the douche guy that they didn't really pay attention to us. So we got a dressing down for being late (douche said "it'll take two months for this to be ready to go unless I get two more guys on it"), with the finished product happily beeping and logging data on the conference table!
I felt like Galileo before the Conclave. These were scientists and scientific administrators, believing some twerp's word over their own eyes.
And that's the story of why I quit NASA.
Visibility doesn't have anything to do with being in the office. It has everything to do with communication and you can do that with a VC pretty much as easily as you can face to face.
1. Overcommunicating, which also creates documentation
2. Leaving an audit record, like a time log
3. Going to as many office social functions as possible. You can up your visibility as much with one party as you can with ten days in a cube.
Especially the part about what normal people do when working from home. Very important to take that into account.
So being at home is completely irrelevant to this story, except that it may make it slightly easier.
Assuming the right toolset, having a strong voice and impaact in a company is not impossible from a remote position.
Yes, there is real value to face time, and I agree with you on some level - but only given the proper tools and a company that respects them. Given your example, it sounds like you didn't get the attention you deserved.
And at the risk of stating the obvious, watercooler chats can have non-negative outcomes in other situations too!
I would throw most project managers in that lot as well as non hands-on middle managers. I'm finding there's an additional skill that engineers/programmers/producers need to obtain in dealing with these types and their politicking and not letting them run you over during tech projects. I believe it falls out of the normal realm of what we call "people skills".
I feel your pain
This is also why many startups insist on people not working remotely. Startups frequently need to make decisions on very low information, such that the only conceivable reason you'd have for following through on the decision is trust.
The lesson for me there was to assume that not everyone has the mission's interest at heart.
My problem was that for me getting on base was a 2 hour commute, and I had 90% of the gear I needed to do my work rihgt at home -- it got more done to work from home and only show up to deliver prototypes for testing, or use the "big boy" machine tools.
People just sort of assumed that he had been appointed project manager after that.
This kind of behavior, to me, speaks to me of dysfunctional management and I think it's probably good in the long term to get out of that kind of situation.
Lesson to be learned: You can't ignore others on the team. You can't have clear separation of duties without strong management or a good working trust relationship. Both of these are weakened if you're remote most or all of the time and the culture doesn't reward/support remote workers.
Many many years ago I worked at a badly run startup. One dude was made a manager over us and started trying to shake things up. One thing he wanted was documentation (although mostly it was to prepare let go some people). So I wrote up one page document, really simple stuff (no formatting at all) and put up on fileserver.
Few days later I happened to see a printout of a documentation lying around. It had been printed to show higher up that IT was improving process. Content was what I had written. Word by word. It was in better formatting, with tables to separate creator, date etc. For the creator, the manager had put in his own name. There's no mention of my name AT ALL.
World is full of such douchebags.
Add this to the printout? :)
But yeah, had that happened to me a few times too. One time it was at a conference (Open Science Summit), the same douche guy decided to do a presentation on my tech as if it had been developed under him. So I pushed past security, turned off the projector with the powerpoint, went on stage, slammed the microphone down, and did my presentation by shouting. Got a fair amount of applause.
And yes, I was wearing a Flynn's t-shirt.
And yes, I know this is a bit of a tall tale, so here's the video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnRSu9LjV7E
That's a pretty good argument to assign as much work as possible to remote workers.
The social environment of most workplaces is Meritocracy By Assertion. It has to conceive of itself as a meritocracy but the politically successful people are always most able to make themselves seem to have the most merit. No one ever said, "I'm promoting this guy because of his political success". And yet... over time, what we see is that non-WFHers rise up the ranks, because it's just such a political environment to be in the office during normal working hours, and, in general, when they get to the top, they're hostile to the whole concept. So then you have places like Yahoo where, even if you don't care about climbing the executive ladder, you have to adopt behaviors of those who do (namely, avoiding WFH).
The really depressing thing to learn about organizational politics is that, while they're a grind for hard-working, decent people, they're actually fun for psychopaths. About 95 percent of people will be utterly miserable if they have to spend 90 hours per week in a packed, open-plan environment. The other 5%, mostly psychopaths, thrive on that shit, like the creatures that live in deep-sea thermal vents (extremophiles). It energizes them.
You see this in The Wire. Stringer Bell doesn't love "The Game" (meaning criminal enterprise). He plays it because he's good at it and is trying to work his way out of it, but Marlo (and, to a lesser degree, Avon) is a natural gangster just as much as McNulty and Kima are natural cops. Natural office politicians are the 5% who don't start to fade and fail when subjected to 90-hour weeks in open-plan bullpens, for the same reason that polar bears don't mind ice. Eventually, though, an organization ends up full of natural politicians and has lost the whole "vision thing".
Most organizations think that it's valuable to "be tough" and schedule meetings during weird hours and cram developers together and set unrealistic deadlines. But the people who thrive in such environments aren't "the best" in terms of the ability to get work done. They're the natural politicians who thrive in that sort of environment.
Also, when you refer to how "most organizations" think it's valuable to be tough, you're going against the bulk of organizations I've worked with. I'm going on close to 50 organizations now that I've worked with in some capacity. I'd say less than 10 had that mentality.
Introverts are drained by open-plan offices, extroverts learn to adapt and tolerate them, people in between the two extremes are slightly drained but blend in. No one really likes working in one, except for the psychopath (or the clueless 23-year-old who believes the hogwash about it being "collaborative").
The thing is that most decent extroverts still hate office politics. They have a greater need for social interaction than introverts, but they don't thrive on meaningless noise, environmental chaos, or a complete lack of privacy.
So while an extreme introvert is drained after 2 hours in an open-plan office, the extreme extrovert can spend 8 hours in one, no problem. He might be less productive but he doesn't go home exhausted. The psychopath, however, is energized by a politically intense environment. Most extroverts dislike office politics; psychopaths love that shit.
I find most of these flawed in one way or another, but I'd like you to confirm that my reading is correct before I address each in detail.
I find your perspective judgemental, somewhat narrow and (ironically) un-empathetic and I think a debate about it could be enlightening.
That's actually a skill in the corporate environment because snooty clubs (like an executive suite) generally look for non-stickiness, i.e. "you get just me". People who communicate, "I'll leave my friends at the bottom unless you ask for them", tend to get promoted faster than those who are seen as a risk of bringing in less-wanted friends.
"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Gandhi
Each step, if you keep your integrity intact, is hard: probably a 90% cut. It's easy to be laughed-at or opposed by doing something wrong or stupid. It takes at least some charisma to get past "they ignore you" while doing what is right.
You can get to ridicule with a terrible Youtube video, and the next level (opposition) is easy if you're willing to do the wrong thing: just become a criminal. It takes work to get to the opposition level while remaining in the moral right.
That said, I think it's much more of a multi-level dynamic. You get one response from people in power and another from the rest.
I think the progress is more like this: Level 0, people just ignore you. Level 1, people in power ignore you but the hoi polloi/useful idiots (who support the people in power) ridicule you and a few intelligent people out of power realize that you might have something to say. Level 2: people in power recognize you as a threat, and try to magnify the ridicule among the hoipolloi (while appearing to "stay out of it") but this can also increase your support. Level 3: people in power try to mobilize the useful idiots to fight (rather than just ridicule) you. (They themselves don't fight.) Level 4: people in power recognize their deteriorating position as your popular support increases (i.e. their attempts to heap ridicule on you actually buy sympathy and publicity). They'll either try to buy you out, or fight bitterly in a last-ditch effort that may destroy them and may destroy you. Usually you get the former, and it's up to you whether you take a deal or keep fighting. Level 5: you win.
The adversity that I get from certain ex-Googlers and HN personalities is somewhere around Level 2.25, maybe 2.5. I've had people try to fuck with my employment in the past, but I've managed to succeed in spite of them.
Getting from 2 to 3 is a big jump, and it's slow to happen because the people in power are afraid that you might be right and turn the masses (i.e. get to level 4-5). It's easy to ask the masses to ridicule someone; asking them to fight that person is demanding a commitment, and if the person being opposed is actually right, the more intelligent people within the masses will turn... and the useful idiots, though late to follow, will either be isolated (and disempowered) or themselves turned. So the preference of power is, strongly, to ridicule rather than oppose. Opposition is admission that ridicule didn't work.
Second quote, the authorship of which will probably never be uncovered:
"Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people."
I'll just leave that here.
HPMOR also addresses it, in a more accessible way:
> Professor Quirrell had remarked over their lunch that Harry really needed to conceal his state of mind better than putting on a blank face when someone discussed a dangerous topic, and had explained about one-level deceptions, two-level deceptions, and so on. So either Severus was in fact modeling Harry as a one-level player, which made Severus himself two-level, and Harry's three-level move had been successful; or Severus was a four-level player and wanted Harry to think the deception had been successful. Harry, smiling, had asked Professor Quirrell what level he played at, and Professor Quirrell, also smiling, had responded, One level higher than you.
If I need to I split up the day and in many cases this ends up working out for the company, as I'll have done more work than I needed to even sometimes working the weekends (which most people say to avoid for obvious reasons, but it doesnt bother me).
It also helps when you love what you do - software is passion and career for me. The ability to work remotely allows me to explore things like programming in creative capacity , wfh provides distraction free environment which in the end leads to more creative well rounded employees.
But that's arguably your fault, not the company's.
> and expected me to be around from the time the work day started in their location, until the end of the work day in MY location
As you said, that wasn't a stated expectation.
> None of these things were outright stated, but certainly little comments or behaviors reinforced them.
Sounds like your own insecurities/paranoia made WFH a problem for you, not the company itself.
The fact that you're not even willing to admit it could have possibly been on your end and not theirs is evidence to your inability to introspect...
The body of scientific work called human psychology.
I genuinely hope it's not news to you that people are terrible at accurately assessing their own mental state.
But it is apparently news to you, which is why a) you act as if you're some sort of mega-genius, able to accurately assess people's lives based on a handful of words, and b) you haven't get gotten started on assessing the portions of your own mental state that drive you to act like this.
To be clear, I meant no harm, anger, or ill will.
What part(s) of the things I wrote here lead you to write "you act as if you're some sort of mega-genius"? Why do you think my own mental state is relevant to this discussion?
Paranoia is a clinical judgment, one you aren't remotely qualified to make. And if you were qualified to make it, you would know that you can't do it from a 182 words of written prose.
Self-indulgent lack of consideration is a much bigger problem in the world than ill will. If you keep practicing that, you'll keep getting negative reactions.
I have no idea what I said that caused you or anyone else to think I "completely understand" anything at all. I never claimed as such, to be sure.
If I'm being honest, I think you're reacting negatively because of some emotional trigger I've pulled of yours. I think this because of how contradictory what you wrote is when compared to how you're delivering it.
Specifically, you seem to be "diagnosing" me with self-indulgence and lack of consideration using the exact same behavior you claim to decry in what I've "done". With that in mind, I don't believe you're being all that objective or reasoned in your response.
I'm taking a stab in the dark here, but I'm guessing you agree with him? Are you then aware of how deceptive one's own mind can be to itself?
Oliver Sachs is a great author (one who is not long for this world, I'm afraid) who also happens to be a neurologist, and he's written extensively about stories involving patients of his exhibiting the most extreme forms of ailments illustrating this fundamental point. What he also talks about is the fact that everyone's minds are addled -- just not to the extent of his patients.
Knowing all this, might it then be possible that a man's "years of work experience" could possibly be, at least partially, and in this non-consequential way, invalid and/or fabricated? Why is this such an unacceptable idea to you, that you not only reject it, but do so with vitriol and anger?
I'm not interesting in being your free therapist, interlocutor, or internet chew-toy. If you would like someone to help you understand why you keep offending people, I suggest you find and pay a therapist.
its also worth considering that wfh also provides low pressure environment - slow and steady wins the race.
I work more hours and am less tired (I my mind, that's the key - I'm less fatigued at home) because I'm not constantly dealing with interruptions, context switches, and noise.
I have worked, in order, in a no WFH open office, yes WFH with private cubicles in the office, and yes WFH open office.
#1 was terrible. In the case of #2 while I could WFH, I would deliberately make it to the office at least 4 days a week because I was so much more productive. And #3 has me staying at home when I want to work, and showing up in the office when I want others to know that I am working.
Take away the nonsensical open office system (which may work great for jobs which are almost completely collaborative at all times, but are terrible for most jobs) and an office which provides some privacy is actually pretty awesome.
You get to control your interactions with coworkers, and are far more efficient interacting when you really need to.
If it was a bad commute I probably wouldn't have gone in either, I'll admit. But for the me the commute was actually one of the reasons I went in; it was about a ~40 minute walk, which "forced" me to get some regular exercise and fresh air.
Once you're comfortable with your setup, you can pretty much work from anywhere. I've been travelling regularly lately. As long as I have my laptop and a decent internet connection, I'm good to go. Huge benefits for the business and for me.
What about a chair? I've found a good chair is also essential
I'd much rather have someone who is communicating well with the rest of the team than someone I see a few commits from per day but isn't actively engaged with others. I don't mean to suggest this is you based on your brief comment - I just firmly believe that having a group that works well together is ultimately much more productive than isolated individual contributors.
I think one of the biggest improvements is that when I need to take a break, my breaks feel productive. 20 minutes of cleaning the house, as an example, feels completely mind-clearing and, in some cases, actually helps me solve an issue I may have. I really enjoy my daily runs or bike rides, which help me feel like I'm more than just a developer, that I get to take advantage of the day.
That being said, I believe the biggest drawback is the monotony of the at-home routine. Some days and some weeks just feel like one large workday, and sometimes I can go for a day or two without saying a word to anyone other than my wife, or my cats. That's the greatest challenge for me. Working in a busy coffee shop probably appears like it would help the improve the feelings of isolation, but it oddly does the opposite. I see the same folks coming and going, day after day, and rarely do I get in conversations. And I'm actually quite social.
I don't think I'd go back to an office if given the choice, but I'm still working on the best way to feel less alone. I've been road bike racing on a team for the last few years and I believe having that constant outside-of-work social activity has helped quite a bit. For me, the cats are also huge! Plus, I just love cats. But there's certainly room for improvement and that's something I think about often.
I should note that I was hired to work remotely. My whole team is remote and spread out around the country.
Breaking up my day whether it's with a walk to the park, a nap, a shower, or folding my laundry is usually when the real moments of inspiration come. These are the moments that I've solved some of the more challenging problems I've been faced with recently.
I can't go back to the office. I've been spoiled. :)
It doesn't. But as you get older there are fewer and fewer other avenues to meet people, unless you proactively join social clubs and the like.
I hate to think of it, but it could be that so many people are simply working so long, that the office is really the only social interaction they have the energy for.
Not having a social life eventually killed it for me. I loved the freedom of choosing my own hours and working in an office I built Just For Me. I loved being there for my family. But at the end of the day I just wanted human contact with the people I was working with. I needed those subtle levels of communication that you simply can not get on a video call with 1-3 second lag.
I finally called time on it and started working among people again. I still like to work from home every now and then but mostly I like knowing, immediately, how I am perceived amongst my co-workers and being able to gripe and moan about <insert office bug bear of the week> over a beer or ten after a hard weeks work with people who know me and can relate to my experience.
Who says it's the same? What you seem to be implying is that it's somehow worse. But that assertion needs to be justified.
> If there's one thing that working from home does, especially if you have a job you really enjoy, it's that it makes it exceptionally easy and fun to just sit write code (or whatever you do) for 14 hours straight without actually talking to anyone face to face.
What's wrong with that?
> That will absolutely destroy your social life.
I think you're projecting. Not everyone wants the same type of social life that you seem to enjoy. People can and do have social lives while working long hours.
I worked as a technology analyst for many years and when my kids were born opted to go part time, working from home. While the routine work came through, those 'interesting little projects' that makes work so interesting dried up, partly because I lost sight of the interesting little problems that cropped up that would make interesting little projects.
After about 4 years, I was in the situation where I was being paid really quite a lot of money for not doing an awful lot. The CEO was was very nice and we would meet up sometimes and he would say "I promise there will be something very engaging to work on soon, we value your experience"
But in the end, I ended up resigning, despite the fact that they wanted me to stay on and pay me lots - I just couldn't keep taking their money in good conscience. Shame - it was a great firm.
If you're one of a couple people working remote and the rest of the team is at the office, you'll likely have a more difficult time being promoted and feeling included. If your company culture depends on remote workers it's not as big of a deal.
We have group chats, and video conferences that make it feel much more social and connected and being part of the team. Some roles require being in the office, but most developers and engineers can be successful remote with all of the modern tools we have for communication.
I can see a rigid top down company not being much fun to remote at, if all ideas must come from above, therefore onsite, and you're not onsite. At a bottom up company it wouldn't be an issue because it would be your idea you're working on.
I've worked both kinds of jobs onsite, but only significant amounts of at home at a bottom up company, and I don't think it would have been as much fun at a top down company. Top down companies generally are not pleasant working environments nor very successful anyway, so its hard to discern if remote is unpleasant due to generalized failure, or if specifically even at a top down that somehow "works" remote would remain unpleasant.
If the departure was amicable on the employers side you still might be able to do this.
There really needs to be a culture shift in SV to support remote workers.
I can't stress enough that remote work is not an organizational tactic. It's a cultural one. You must design and grow your remote working culture just as you would your product. Half-assing remote work and having 10 people in house with 2 people remote just doesn't work. It's in that scenario where I think remote work gets a bad rap.
Most businesses are about turning the crank on the machine that makes them money. There you have relatively stable org charts, markets, products, cultures, and production processes. Need for information flow is modest.
Startups, on the other hand, are trying to discover or invent all of those things. The information flow is much higher. The very best communication medium we have is being in a room together, and a good startup makes great use of its high bandwidth and low latency.
At my last startup I looked for opportunities to hire remote workers for things, but rarely found them. The two I got to work were throw-away, low-priority code (e.g., non-critical-path prototypes) and Amazon Turk tasks. For the core work, though, it went best when we were all in one place.
As in, there are people who don't work well at work and management knows they likely won't work well if not worse if from home. However because personnel issues are hard these people linger on and stifle benefits that others could enjoy because no one wants to put up with the idiocy when they are told, so and so can work from home but you cannot.
To raise productivity first act on those who are not productive so that the rest of the team doesn't have to tip toe around a problem that has been to obvious.
Yes, it does make you want to be more careful at hiring, but I think that's a good thing.
Anyway its the same problem whether or not they work from home - some people will underperform and have to be let go.
Finally, use some collaboration software and folks 'working from home' or from other sites will seem as connected as people working in the office. Even more so - a meeting of remote workers works better in fact, because each one has a headset and can be clearly heard and distinguished. Instead of for instance a crowd of people 'in the office' sharing a desktop microphone and heard as a babble by everyone remote.
We use Sococo (I work there). Its got the best presence information in the industry. Its clear who's working and who isn't. You can see everybody in the area, who's active and who's idle, whom they are talking to and what meetings are going on. Managers love it!
Working 'remotely' for 5 years now, in a company where everyone does it. Its superior in almost every way.
Even though we make Sococo, we had to train our management to ONLY do Sococo conferences for exactly the reasons you mention. Everything went much faster after that.
In fact we have to train them to stop calling it a 'conference call'. Its just a meeting, like any other meeting you ever held before. Except everyone can hear everyone perfectly; more than one person can share docs (at the same time!) and everyone can keep in sync effortlessly.
Whenever possible we prefer everyone be connected individually as opposed to sitting together in a conference room. The conference room becomes a distraction, impedes proper communication between all members and the attention spans increased when everyone connects from their workstation. The conference room creates two areas with two distinct conversations so if we're really aiming for an integrated environment we enforce people connecting from their workstations as opposed to using a conference room.
Culturally it also spreads that idea that those sitting together are better than the remote workers, which given our line of work is an unproductive idea to keep propagating. And while there might be differences, they pale in comparison to the negative impact that ignoring or discriminating remote workers has in our projects.
Personally I usually get more work done at home (especially since there is no commute time) but I also usually work more hours because I get constantly interrupted at home and context switching is hard (at least for me) (wife and kids = interruptions). Even though I love being able to see my family more, saving money on gas, etc I still prefer to work the majority of my time at an office mostly because it's far easier for me to avoid context switches at an office than at home (switching too much is exhausting).
The context switching is all about setting expectations. Everyone in the house needs to know that when you are in your office or have headphones on then you're not to be bothered.
I work in sales and our entire team is field-based, with no concept of an office except for in the home state. It makes sense, but it does get lonely. However, there are ways to get around this. As suggested in the article and these comments, there's technology to bridge just about any problem for WFH, which is why it is on the whole a positive thing for many industries.
Now that we have a year old daughter and my spouse is currently at home with her, working remotely requires more thought as to the working conditions. Picking the days when my family goes out during the day work out as the best remoting days.
Hah, that looks like a line people would use while arguing against an Open Office model.
I suspect there is some incentive for corporations and companies in general to spend money on real estate and offices, even though they would not really be necessary. It would explain things like Yahoo requiring all their remote employees to move to SF even though the city becomes ever less livable. Sure there are reasons to live there, but something seems off, why make people move there? Austin (and Dallas and Houston to a lesser extent) is another good example of there possibly being some kind of corporate tax and accounting incentive really driving this matter. Austin's tech boom is really an artificial concoction that was initiated while Bush was governor to incentivize and attract, and even poach tech firms to Texas and Austin.
I have my suspicions that the tax and accounting regulations are far greater of a force of nature than is recognized regarding WFH and remote work, especially once companies grow to a certain size.
If you think about it. it's absolutely insane that the tech industry is so obsessed with co-locating when, if you get off the fence, you can develop proper management and technology solutions that could make your workforce far more effective and productive. I mean what can you do to enable effective remote working with around $100,000+ in office space costs over a year? It makes no damn sense.
However, I work for a large enterprise now. The problem is most of the team doesn't really have much to do most of the time. To show off, people either
1) spend minimum 8 hours or more in office or
2) Blabber all the time about how challenging and demanding their work is. I am looking at you, the sysadmin, who takes 3 weeks to create a server.
The only criteria for them to show their work is the hours, and they never lose a chance to make sure that they remind me and the manager about that- like how they had to do something on weekends or how they have a meeting after 6 p.m.
I tried to ignore all this. but it's hard. Those kind of people are the majority. So here is what I did:
Since I don't get to utilize my time properly, I decided to make sure that I at least piss them off more:
I have always been an early morning person. I now come to work before anyone else. At least I enjoy the look on their faces. They have nothing to bitch about now :)
When I had my own office it was easy to concentrate at work, however I couldn't remote at that job. My commute distance was okay in summer (20 min cycling), but in winter it was too much (45min in bus or cycling).
Previously when I worked in an open office I remoted a lot, going couple of weeks without visiting the office at times. Then the commute was hour in bus or by bike so remoting was convenient. Also the open plan office was pretty bad for my productivity. We also didn't have a daughter then so there were no daytime distractions at home.
So I think its all about the balance. Any way you slice it, I need low-distraction environment to get coding done and much prefer short commute. In my current job I can remote couple of days a week which is okay and gives nice bit of flexibility for life. However I think I could handle more, but only after our daughter starts to go to daycare.
> Answer: It’s not so simple. There are lots of factors that could lead to such a ban, including a culture where remote workers tend to be slacking because of low morale. Also, we were studying call center work, which is easily measured and easily performed remotely.
I let most of my team work from home when they want to and I think the above answer has a fair bit of truth to it. You need to start with some way of measuring productivity to know if an activity works for your team or not.
The nature of work my team does is very exploratory and by definition, alot of it won't pan out in the real world so we spend a lot of time thinking about how to track progress to figure out what types of activities pay off for us and what don't.
Not to suck up to Hacker News here, but the best predictor of success we've had is does a person have demonstrated startup success.
Management has torn down the cubicles in favor of open workspaces. Several of my coworkers carry on loud conversations or use their speakerphones. There are frequent interruptions. I can't concentrate.
The preponderance of micromanagement (in the form of Agile + Scrum) also encourages working from home. Instead of sitting in useless meetings in person, I can dial in and get work done while the meeting drones on and on...
My company is 100% virtual, and we've been WFH for about 4 years. I remember taking an official day off with my family, where we met up with another family for a fun outing. The other dad (who worked for a non-WFH company) was "working from home" while we were out enjoying ourselves.
There are probably a few reasons behind this phenomenon, not least of which is richer countries outsourcing to cheaper countries. But even in wealthier countries, remote devs get paid more.
No surprise then that more developers are working remote than ever before. This year 29% of devs told us they work at least part-time remote vs. 21% last year.
Anecdotally, I would suggest the demographic of employees who work remotely plays a part in this. In my experience, employers are more willing to let senior or "better" developers work remotely than less ambitious, less productive ones who need more day-to-day managing. Since quality developers (senior or otherwise) are generally paid more, I would presume this contributes to a higher average salary for remote workers.
Does that prove that WFH pays off in compensation, or does it prove that only the most valuable devs (who could get the highest compensation whether they were on-premises or remote) can get full-time remote gigs?
It really just blows my mind that every company doesn't have WFH days or let their employees pick a day or two to work from home with regularity.
To be honest I feel that most people are like me and that the success stories this thread are not representative.
Do you lack the motivation to do the work, or do you just not like working at all? Would you work on side projects in your spare time if you could, or do your creative juices only flow at the office?
I worked for 10+ years as an engineer in a traditional office environment. Working from home in my current gig has been eye-opening for me. My productivity is through the roof compared to how I used to be. You'd have to pay me a lot of money to make me want to go back to working in an office again.
Another point that happens to me, is that my standard setup is at the office. I don't work enough hours from home to justify replicating my cube at home (and on my own dime), so whenever I end up working from home, there's friction: the monitor is smaller (and wrong aspect ratio), the keyboard layout is slightly different, the chair's not ergonomic, etc). I understand this is not an issue for remote workers, but that may help explain the perceived gap between two camps.
 I do need to wear headphones most of the time since it can be loud sometimes :)
Oh wow, I wish I could enforce that ;)
If it's kids who are the problem, just lock the door.
It takes discipline though to ignore issues at home and keep delivering.
Another key is to find an organization that is `Results Driven` vs politics `I see you in your chair` driven and that everyone there embraces a remote work culture.
As a simple example, working on the wrong thing for a few hours can easily have a negative effect on real productivity over the long term. "Amount of stuff produced" is therefore a terrible measure for that type of work, where collaborating continuously can help to cut off unproductive paths at their root.
I don't think there's anything here to suggest that similar results would transfer to more creative work such as software development.
As other people have mentioned, I can't imagine going back. I've actually looked at going back, gone to interviews and such (I get pinged by recruiters constantly and sometimes I cave and listen to what they have to say). And every time, I'm just struck by how alien everyone's behavior is in the office. It's creepy, and then I remember I used to be like that, too. And then I'm good for another year or two.
I actually like being in an office where I can talk with other developers about projects. That is something I missed working remotely as it was harder to tell if I could call someone up and would be interrupting them if we just talked about programming or ideas.
At any rate, I'll be returning to working from home in the near future I think. Even good algorithm talks don't beat time with family.
The company executives may not see the benefits, but my prediction is that as soon as the pendulum has swung and more companies allow working from home than don't (and are successful at it because they've been thinking about it since they have a long-term vision of their company's future), the companies who paid no attention and weren't planning for this inevitable future will quickly become extinct.
To keep costs down it seems most companies now design for maximum bodies per square foot rather than productivity. I really wish companies, especially those with the ability to absorb some extra costs, would actually try to design for productivity and not solely cost savings.
I've been looking through the comments to see if anyone else noticed the fact that the experiment was not a randomized control setup. They've let self-selection bias creep into the results, so I'm wondering how much we can infer from them?
It's an RCT of people who wanted to work remotely.
Many coding jobs, but a lot of other stuff too.
There are several job boards dedicated to remote-only work listed on that page.
>The more robotic the work, the greater the benefits, we think.
Certainly don't agree with this. I work from home, and find the lack of distractions most beneficial for creative work. Certainly there are challenges for collaborative work, but those can be overcome, or at least mitigated.
(Then again, on the handful of occasions I have actually worked in the office, I've really noticed the office banter - it's probably on par with whatever distractions I have at home.)
My first task: send email to someone, preferably a team.
There might be a little web surfing first, but I did that in the office, too.
My work doesn't require set hours. I do it this way simply for the discipline.
I went and got an office job, and it was so nice to get up and go be with other people. Even the office politics was amusing rather than annoying. Even the annoying people were interesting. Now, after nearly a year of that the novelty is wearing off and I'm wanting to be really productive and remove myself from foolish social games again.
My ideal situation would be 2 days a week in the office, 3 at home.
However I have seen what happens at a company that is all-remote and it can be a disaster. My girlfriend worked remote for Cisco for 2 years and almost nothing got done. The latency on all-email communication was too high and you never knew what was going on because nobody had a full picture of the state of the project. It was a total mess.
I been doing the work from home for 2 years now. It's getting a little meh. Love the freedom, but it would be nice to have actual physical co-workers, or something like it.
I could work at home but the social monotony would get to me. I need to be around other people shooting the breeze, catching up, networking, or getting help on a programming problem. I'd become too depressed being home alone all the time.
I'd recommend it. It can be pricey though (I pay $400 for a reserved desk in Brooklyn).
There is zero value added to a call center employee from working in proximity to other workers. Actually, that probably has a negative value, since the insane chatter just makes it harder to hear whoever is on the phone. The same isn't necessarily valid for other jobs.
Making a generic conclusion (such as the clickbaity title) from such a limited category of workers is just shitty journalism. Apparently, not even HBR is beyond that...
1) You never get late to work, you are already there.
2) You can work just in your underware.
Kids, if you have them, will also demand your attention.
But I would love to be back at home again.
Anyone who wants a remote-working developer for C++, let me know! I write under OSX/Windows/Linux and also do Android, SQL in various guises and some web stuff, but I prefer native to web - web is in constant flux. I did Qt a long time ago, now it's wxWidgets. I can do C# too if you want it.
(Be sure to ponder the full meaning of "economically viable". As you say, teleoperated robots to fill gas tanks are already possible today, but clearly they are not economically viable in any but the most expensive of situations because humans are still cheaper.)
You hire a remote guy to fuel the airplane watching the cameras and gauges and signing off personally on delivering certain amounts to certain planes following certain safety procedures and documentation procedures including everything being automatically recorded. And if there is a screw up then you can initiate legal proceedings (well, not if you outsource, but if you teleoperate in the USA it would at least be possible).
With a fully autonomous robot then the first time there's any problem, the deep pockets robot mfgr will be sued out of existence regardless of having anything to do with the problem other than having deep pockets. Only in business until the first airliner crash, and not a day longer, even if it has nothing to do with fuel.
In a way I'm talking myself out of the idea, because non-teleoperated can't be documented for all eternity like remote work can be documented. So the remote fueler is on camera fueling up a jet without commenting on the obvious metal fatigue crack far in the background that a monday morning quarterback knowing what to look for can see if he ignores the fuel dude's job and zooms in on finding the wing crack... this is a legal problem that non-teleoperated doesn't have.
Bottom line, the world needs a finite number of plane refuelers and they are cheap. No need to replace them anytime soon.
But yes, technically possible at this point, I would agree.
This is definitely different for each individual. For me, I'm more likely to be distracted at home.
> An other good thing is that I have more options if I want to take a break. I can pick up the guitar for 10 minutes, enjoy the sun outside, relax on the bed and so on... better than browsing the web where you don't even leave your desk.
See above, re: distractions.
Unfortunately, no one lets me bring a frisbee into the office.
You can live somewhere less urban, and have a happier wife and kids.
If all you need is a computer and a connection, there is no reason to waste time and efficiency in an office environment.
If you can't find the time and money for a real vacation, consider having a working vacation. Spend afternoons on vacation, work in the morning and evening. Its really works!
As a self employed work at home developer with a distraction free environment, having businesses adopt this sort of thing can only decrease my competitive advantage. ;-)
I'd LOVE to work at a place which allowed me to work from home most days or which didn't have set office hours, where remote working was part of the culture. It seems hard to find such places.
the title is a bit of a bold claim in the face of the content...
However, I'd definitely vote for and favor a more balanced approach that combines both remote work from a dedicated office that has been set up specifically to handle this type of activity that is independent and detached from the home environment, and the formal workplace to maintain the bond and harmony between team members.
Even if you return to the same place, the context switches break your concentration and make you forget things. I guess sometimes that's exactly what you want.
But in my case it didn't work out even though I had a separate room in the house set up for this specific task. I had to abandon this arrangement as my productivity and social life suffered and went out looking for a small office to rent and set up accordingly.
I have also tried some coworking spaces but I felt there was something missing and I was not getting the full deal of this approach.
I guess also I'm very conditioned to the usual morning rituals to prepare for the day from washing up, having breakfast, dressing and leaving the house to work. I could not really escape this routine and it took a toll on me till I moved to my cozy office and started to see a markedly increase in my productivity and social life well being.
So, at the end of the day it boils down to personal preferences and what suits and suits not an individual.