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I Miss Working from the Office (www.roguelazer.com)
579 points by sysoleg 12 days ago | hide | past | web | 471 comments | favorite

I think that what isn't discussed enough is the variance in quality of your office environment and of your home office and how that quality affects your preferences about working from home. It sounds quite obvious but in these arguments people often just state what they personally like and leave it at that.

Your office can be place where you still have the option to work uninterrupted but also get the benefits of face-to-face interaction, casual exposure to work ideas, better meetings, having all the equipment you need, separating work and personal life. Or it can be a hell where you hate every second and can't get anything done. Your commute can be a 15-minute walk or it can be a couple of hours of driving - vastly different experiences.

Your home office can mean working on a laptop at a tiny desk in a small bedroom in shared accommodation with loud housemates; or it can be a great setup in a separate room in your own flat/house. Again, those are completely different experiences.

I suspect that a lot of people talk about how much they like remote because they happened to be on the bad end of the office-quality scale and the good end of the home-quality scale. And when your work circle is made up people who also worked in the same bad office environment, it's easy to say something like "no one I know wants to go back to the office".

Personally, I've had a great office with a short commute in the past, and my home office situation is quite poor right now. So I'm looking forward to working from an office in the future.

That's a very good point, I'm really enjoying working from home and I attributed it mostly to not having to do the one hour commute each way, but there's so many more things that add up:

- At home I have the most comfortable chair I could find on the market that fits me perfectly. At work there are very basic adjustable chairs and they use some slippery fabric.

- At home I have an ergonomic mechanical keyboard vs. a cheap rubber dome keyboard that kept running out of batteries at work.

- An ergonomic mouse, vs. a tiny mouse that doesn't even have a back button.

- Two 27" 4k monitors, vs. a single 24" monitor.

- Always a nice room temperature, vs. often being too hot or too cold.

- Bathroom always available, vs. sometimes having to wait to use the bathroom.

- No interruptions, vs. occasional interruptions.

- Working in silence, vs. having to use noise cancelling headphone and listening to music when I don't want to.

To me the only drawbacks are that Zoom meetings are worse than in-person and not being able to have hallway discussions, but the many gains in quality of life easily make up for that. But the situation could easily reverse for someone who only has a tiny laptop and no room for a home office.

It’s the exact opposite for me. At work, we had 3 monitors, standing desks, great chairs, a gym, free breakfast and lunch, full private bathrooms with showers and towels and toiletries, amazing views, etc. Now I compete for space with some children, a spouse who also works from home, and I work on a 14 inch laptop screen from a couch. It’s a downgrade and I would work from the office if it were practical. We can go in, but some of these amenities are no longer available to us.

Since working from home, we’ve had many more meetings than we used to, which is a drain, mentally. Still, I am almost as productive as I was before, but no thanks to the environment at home.

From my experience, w/r/t meetings, I've worked from home going on 6 years now. A few years back we were acquired by a large company that had several divisions that worked entirely in office. When everyone started working from home, those divisions would initiate meetings significantly more often. I'm not sure if it's like a subconscious desire for more human interaction for those people that would usually get a bunch throughout the day, or a need to micromanage from some people, or just them thinking that they needed extra communication to make up for the remote working, but it was significantly jarring on our team for the first few months until everyone else sort of found their groove.

That's counter to our team, where we basically have the "policy" of less disruptions is better. Any discussion item is pushed into an e-mail or chat unless absolutely necessary. If there are items that are deemed to need a voice meeting that are remotely similar then we'll move them up or push them back to combine them to reduce the need to be on a call. 99% of our communication is done via e-mail or a group chat room, and the expectation is that an e-mail can go without a response for 24 hours, and a chat room message can go without a response for at least 1 hour. Anything urgent goes through a direct message, and the expectation is that you check the receivers status to make sure they're aren't in a "do-not-disturb" status before hand. Only time that is ignored is if something mission critical is occurring, like a systems outage. When you can limit 99% of your distractions to something you can check real quick once every hour or so, your productivity goes way up.

I can also say from experience that having your own space, and good equipment, is severely overlooked by people. I used to work entirely in my office, but we rescued a Belgian Malinois a few months before the lockdowns started so I had been working from a chair in my living room since the office is where our cats hang out for most of the day, and I wanted to give them time to adjust to the puppy as well. Even outside of the new puppy distraction, it's really easy to just sink into your "comfort" area and get distracted or stop working. Once she was housebroken, I started working out of our dining room instead so I could keep an eye on her but still not invade the office until she was better trained, and I noticed a significant productivity boost. GCP Grey has a great video on this ("Lockdown Productivity: Spaceship You"), and the idea is that even though the dining room isn't a dedicated office, it's still a place that you don't subconsciously associate with relaxing, so you still treat it like an office.

I don't have kids or a work from home spouse, so I don't have any advice there.

Checked out the video- really great! Thank you for the recommendation and here's the link for anyone else curious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snAhsXyO3Ck

Maybe the competiton is unavoidable, but working from a couch? Doesn't your employer have legal workplace safety obligations?

You had all of that plus amazing views..?! That sounds amazing.

Plus amazing views.

Your work just sounds very subpar. Crippling developers with that sort of equipment and environment is a poor move and also an awful trade-off, business-wise.

It seems pretty standard to me. Typical open-office setup, with one 24" screen and $5 keyboard and mouse that come with the PC, and a basic 10-years-old office chair. I've seen quite a few mid to large size industrial/engineering companies and it's a standard setup. Actually the ones having a 24" screen are lucky, most people get a 20".

That's why people commonly bring their personal headphones, keyboard and mouse. And sometimes their own larger screen even.

I don't buy it. Even when I was working in countryside Europe a decade ago we had better equipment than that and often double display (17" or 19" at the time). Some of the companies even had personal offices or small offices for 1-3 people.

I don't doubt that there are some shitty companies out there that can't get an office chair and a display from this decade, but it's far from the norm.

I work for a global 500 company, specialized in producing large technical equipment for aerospace. Our core activity is engineering and industrial production. For the area it's not a shitty company, the conditions are good and they have no trouble attracting employees.

In the engineering department those who don't do 3d CAD get a single 20" screen, and a laptop with 8Gb RAM. Those who use CAD get a single 24" screen and bigger laptop with a 3d card. Everyone gets the $5 keyboard and mouse that comes with the corporate HP laptops. Basically all offices (except for managers) are the noisy open-office type.

I've been to quite a few suppliers, all industrial/engineering companies of different sizes, and it's a pretty standard setup. It's not some shitty companies, it's just that all companies (at least not specialized in software) just take the basic material that they rent from their corporate suppliers. You can't show a positive ROI/business case for buying a $50 Logitech mouse to 50k office employees, so they all get the free included HP mouse. Same for the rest.

I'm not even getting into the locked-down version of Windows that everyone gets to use. Even launching portable executables is technically against the rules, not that it stops anyone. Until a few years ago most websites were blocked, so it's getting better at least.

In general I think it's pretty ok, it's not really a big issue. That's how the industry is. But very few companies give a very good environment and good computer devices to their knowledge workers. You just need to adapt. Bringing your own devices help. You can choose not to, many do, and accept to spend 8 hours/day using what they give you.

Maybe things have gotten better but I worked at a couple of large engineering companies in London 5-10 years ago and cramped, shitty, open plan offices with cheap ancient hardware was very much the norm at every place I worked at and visited. Coming from offices in Norway and Sweden I was shocked at how terrible their working conditions where.

I worked for a top-20 Fortune company (granted not software but we were still glued to our laptops the whole day) and the environment and equipment were exactly like OP described.

Almost every bank I've seen in 3 European county has something like this. Java middleware companies, same story. And these are big companies and they're not a few companies.

> countryside Europe [...] personal offices or small offices for 1-3 people

But of course there's more space in the countryside!

I’ve brought my own SSD and RAM to jobs that give you a bog-standard issue PC. Shhh.

This is the part that I don’t get, why must it be so hard to get proper tools for the job.

Having a fast NVMe disk, 16/32 GB of ram and a current generation (or previous generation) CPU should be the standard for a developer.

Apart from that there is the crappy office keyboard, mouse and all too small mousepad. Fortunately those things can be replaced without much issue.

I have to say employees are just as silly sometimes.

All my life I've always just bought the stuff I need and took it to work.

No matter where I've worked it was 1/100th the hassle to do that rather than figure out how to go through channels.

I've also tried stuff and ditched it a few weeks later and tried something else.

this applies to lots of things at work -- who cares if the office pens are free - they suck.

I have to agree with you. I mean, I won't buy a computer to use at work, but if I don't like the office mouse and keyboard, I'll just order on Amazon and be done with that.

Well. I don’t expect doctors to bring their own scalpel, construction workers their own hammers, firefighters their own hoses.

If you want to employ me, please provide me with the tools to do the job properly. An ergonomic keyboard, mouse, chair and desk are a given. A nice display is a bonus.

Especially when it comes to ergonomics I don’t understand employers, an engineer going on leave for a week because of RSI / back pains, is way more expensive.

> construction workers their own hammers

Aren't most construction workers expected to provide their own basic tools? The contractor usually provides specialty tools and power tools, but when I did demolition, I certainly brought my own hammer.

Ditto. Sometimes I'll expense things if they're not too expensive and it's clearly something I need rather than I want--and is directly connected to my job. But I'm paid well enough that I really don't care if I spend money over the course of a year that makes me more productive/comfortable. Frankly, that money probably comes back to me in various ways.

This is a pet peeve of mine. Engineers make 100k+ a year and wouldn't pay for 10$ a month for a productivity tool unless they could expense it.

Expense reports aren't that difficult. I will buy something using my own money if necessary, but I'll try expensing it first. Usually that goes through, and it's saved me thousands of dollars over the years.

Yet it feels very common to see employers buy subpar equipment, because they either don't understand how much of a difference it makes, or it "costs too much" to give every developer higher quality tools.

I'm also in the camp of preferring to work from home with my triple high-res monitor setup, good chair, height adjustable table, ergonomic keyboard/mouse, and so on.

I dread the day I'll have to go back to the office.

It does cost too much for everyone. Unless you are a starting startup (<$10M in revenue) I bet you could request better hardware for yourself rather than expect it for everyone.

Now that you say this, I wonder what the threshold is for size/revenue of a company that does prioritize computing equipment and accessories. Every public company I have worked for have cared about ergonomics. Below $50M in revenue/100 employees I’ve found it difficult to request certain equipment (sit-stand desk for example)

The startups I have worked at went out of their way to get top-end equipment for everyone, and especially developers or engineers. They knew they had to move fast.

Why is it so hard to explain to employers the value of using 2 displays ?

I’ve found that it’s because it’s all-but-impossible to quantify in numbers. Secondarily, it’s because the person doing the signoff doesn’t agree with you. You know that person, the one who prefers to work from his laptop on a conference table.

My company provides 2 displays. But I'm the only dev that doesn't use the second display. I tried it for a month and it was tiresome. I had to move my head to often, I also always maximize my windows so maybe it is useful to those that don't.

I would much more prefer a big screen (30 inch?) instead of two 24 inch. But unfortunately my Corp doesn't have such options. I would much more prefer

> I dread the day I'll have to go back to the office.

Unless you have a real vote in the decision, then the the best move, is to accept either result. Otherwise you saddle yourself with the mental and emotional baggage and clutter.

I suppose this is easier said than done, but worth the effort in converting the dread to acceptance.

This is just some random opinion on the internet of course.

Or perhaps simply change your place of employment for a place that has both remote work as the preferred way of getting things done (if that's what you prefer) and has actually established the culture around working remotely efficiently (like embracing asynchronous communications, for example).

While figuring out the latter would take some first-hand experience of reading the accounts of others, the former is easier to filter companies by, for example:

- https://github.com/yanirs/established-remote

- https://weworkremotely.com/top-remote-companies

- https://remotemasters.dev/fully-remote-companies

- https://remotemasters.dev/remote-first-companies

Of course, those are just the links that a quick Google search turned over, some job ad sites also have filters for remote/on-site positions etc.

There is no reason to settle for something you deem to be sub par, unless you feel more comfortable that way (since people have valid complaints about the hiring practices in ICT nowadays), which is also okay.

Agreed that good equipment is a worthwhile investment, but unfortunately most companies don't see it that way. I'm now in management and get issued a standard option 13" Macbook Pro or Dell XPS13 as my system at both my current and prior company, both of which I'm permanently remote. That honestly does the trick because other than how shitty Electron is for memory consumption, I don't do the things as a manager that require extra equipment and I'm at home anyway so have my entire array of personal equipment as well. Prior to that, I was an engineer, and it was a struggle to get a proper setup.

One company, several employers back, I brought my own equipment in and nobody said anything. I had my own desktop PC, monitors, mouse, keyboard, and chair in the office and other than the unplugged PC asset tag assigned to me sitting in the corner, I returned everything else to the supply closet. I eventually (after 3 years of using my own) was forced to use company issued equipment. Here was the contrast, the box I brought in to use was a quad-core proc with hyperthreading and had 32GB of RAM, and four SSDs in RAID10 w/ a decentish GPU driving 4 24" 1920x1200 IPS displays. The box I was assigned (3 years later) was a dual-core proc w/ HT, 8GB of RAM, and a 500GB 5200rpm HDD, with onboard video that only supported two displays. The two displays provided were 19" TN panels.

I invest in quality equipment at home, but many, if not most, employers do not. They may think they do, but they don't. It's 2020, I consider 64GB of RAM in a engineer's system a good target, 32GB a minimum. Most developer systems I see are lucky to have 16GB of RAM these days (often the maximum offered in laptops issued). Meanwhile, at home I have a max spec desktop PC less than 3 years old, multiple 4K displays, Herman Miller chair, an electric drive sit/stand desk, split ergonomic mechanical keyboard, an ergonomic mouse, a mini-split AC/heater in a separate room in a house with a door I can close, and in my closet a small rack of servers I can use w/ distcc to accelerate builds.

The great irony is that box I used at the office many years ago (8 or 9 years old), is still superior to what's issued as normal engineer equipment at most companies in the US, and I've since moved on to better systems at home, again. The poster you're replying to is largely correct. I love working from home partly because of no commute, but also because I can equip myself to my standards, which are much higher than the standards of a corporate IT department with accounting looking over their shoulder.

Most companies don't allow you to do work on non-corporate computers, for intellectual property/security reasons. They might not figure out anything is amiss if you merely add some parts to the computer they provide you, but that's about it. Our corporate network is locked down and you can't add random computers to it -- if something unexpected does get plugged in, someone in IT will be by eventually to see what the hell it is (and in the mean time, that computer is only getting guest network access).

>Most companies don't allow you to do work on non-corporate computers, for intellectual property/security reasons.

I'm genuinely curious how common that is these days. I certainly work on personal computers and a lot of people I know seem to do so as well.

It definitely depends on industry. In the healthcare and finance space, that's been the case. But in other parts of the industry, including at most tech startups, BYOD has been acceptable. Many places use NAC + policy scans to validate your personal equipment meets their policy bar (and you may need to run a specific piece of agent software to be allowed on the network), but other than that they seem to not care much.

My last job was like this, but they didn't care if people brought in their own equipment. I brought in an inexpensive mechanical keyboard, a nice mouse, some decent speakers and a headset, then requisitioned a second monitor from the surplus room. Granted, I had my own office so the noise bothering other people wasn't an issue. I would wager many places wouldn't allow bringing in your own equipment, but unless it's explicitly prohibited, I would happily spend a few hundred for a day to day quality of life improvement.

Software is another big thing overlooked by a lot of companies, in my experience. I've bought a Jetbrains account to use for my development because the effective $12.50/month I spend on it is nothing in comparison to the productivity benefit I get from it.

Common at businesses where devs work at a "cost center" and not everyone gets to work at a FAANG shop unfortunately.

Even at FAANGs you get to work on cramped desks in a noisy environment, trust me.

I think you mean that the workplace sounds subpar... or do you think it makes the commenter's work product of poor quality, too?

Yes of course, the workplace.

Why not take a keyboard and mouse into the office? That issue at least is easy to fix.

(I have a couple of colleagues who brought their own keyboards. We'd buy a decent keyboard for anyone who wants one, but they already had them from previous jobs with people who wouldn't do this.)

Indeed, bringing your own keyboard and mouse if necessary should be a nobrainer. Though having the employer pay for those things would be even better, but it’s not always the case.

I've been bringing my own keyboard and mouse for years. My current employer would buy at least an ergonomic keyboard for those that want it, but they aren't going to drop $200 on my mechanical keyboard for everyone, and I think that's pretty fair.

Given what they’re paying in salaries it seems like a silly thing to try and save on.

Like, everyone has their own preferences, so besides getting some that are not shitty, it's hard to choose something that everyone will like.

I, for example, absolutely hate mechanical keyboards with those tall keys, as I get hand/wrist/elbow pain from using them. And the mouse has to be as weightless as possible.

Considering companies usually have to decide on only 1 or 2 options to negotiate buying in bulk, it's hard to offer multiple options. Unless they give you like $100 when you start to buy whatever you want.

> - At home I have an ergonomic mechanical keyboard vs. a cheap rubber dome keyboard that kept running out of batteries at work.

> - An ergonomic mouse, vs. a tiny mouse that doesn't even have a back button.

This might be surprising, but you can bring your own keyboard and mouse to the office. Perhaps even get your employer to pay for them.

I've done this with every office I ever worked at. Dear employer I love you but my hands are my bread-and-butter and they trump your office standards. My hands, my peripherals. You're welcome to pitch in. If you have a problem with me using custom gear, bye.

I have no doubt this is true and has been for me at every place I worked since I got into this field in the 90s. Except when I did an on-site contract for a government department. They would not allow this. I had to make a spreadsheet to show the stakeholder that the computer they had provided was costing them $x a day for me to just sit there watching a build. They did replace the computer.

At one place I worked at years ago, I think ergonomics was the magic keyword to unlock a nice work environment.

I know this because one of my coworkers went from a shitty pc104 keyboard to a dedicated keyboard tray an expensive kinesis keyboard and a trackball mouse.

I suspect there must have been RSI problems they had to pay out on.

For me, I had 2 external monitors at the office vs 1 at home.

Snacks, fruits, beverages, espresso machine at work vs buy and prepare what I want at home (which has a cost, and demands time)

Ironically also, office was quieter. I can always hear (and feel) the upstairs neighbour walking around, even with noise cancelling headphones. The little noise at the office was way easier to ignore.

And using the bathroom at home, means I have to clean the bathroom more often.

> Working in silence

Nice if you have a detached house in a quiet neighbourhood. Try an apartment in a busy area, you'll be wearing noise cancelling headphones too!

With few exception, it's still not as noisy as having colleagues talking next to you.

my office had people taking calls at their desk... some landscapers here and there, or a crappy dog barking or a passing conversation are nothing compared to that nightmare. add in the constant clicking of everyone's mechanical keyboards

I'm in an apartment near a busy street and it's pretty quiet when the windows are closed.

Single pane life over here. It’s never quiet. And I don’t live on a busy street. I live in a relatively quiet suburb in the bay. However, there is a war being raged by crows and squirrels right now. It’s quite obnoxious. Cheap landlords...

I'll trade that for my upstairs neighbours that walk on their heels. I can feel them walking

When this whole COVID home-office thing started my apartment building started construction on building two more floors. It's been miserable 3 months of home office to tell the least

My company had the same next to the head office for over a year. New building going in next door. Jack hammers 24/7/365. Can happen anywhere urban.

I think big point is that, even if you have a very good office, this means that you employer just shifted the office costs from themselves to you. Depending on where you live, this might add up to several hundreds of dollars per month. This might be OK with some people, but it is definitely an additional cost for workers.

I always bring in my own KB and mouse. Life's too short to be dicking with supplied sub-par operating equipment.

Also, oftentimes your work-office experience and home-office experience are inversely correlated. Before the pandemic, the tradeoff was to live in the city in a cramped space to be close to the office (and other amenities), or to live further away with a lot more space, but have to deal with a commute.

The people who chose proximity are still paying high rent, but have lost the benefits, and are now trying to make do with laptops on their couches. The people who chose space have big desks, two monitors, comfortable chairs, and now don't have a soul crushing commute anymore.

The change in circumstances hits very differently based on what (perfectly valid) choices you made earlier.

That's a well reasoned comment.

I'm 'of that age' where I have a large-ish house, and hence a large, well equipped study. I don't much like my work office. It's on the top end of 'good': spacious, well equipped, light, modern, free snacks, etc. But... and it's a big but, it's open plan. And noisy. With people eating at their desks, talking, interrupting you and so on.

But I still miss it. The last nine months has taught me that whilst I work fine from home, I thought I'd be completely happy like that, but I'm not. And I'm surprised by that. I want to go back to the office, but not for 9-5, 5 days a week. Once a week will be fine.

Seems like you don't miss the office, but you miss the social aspect.

A good office would allow you to work in peace when you need to. For a programmer, this would be maybe 50-80% of the time. This is where the monitors and keyboards and chairs are. Personal tools and personal space.

But, there should be enough opportunity to socialize when you feel like it; ranging from sofas and coffee machines and team lunches to pool tables and movie clubs and parties and gardens and tennis courts and dinners and skiing trips or whatever.

Universities tend to be pretty good in this sort of thing, actually. You get a room. With total isolation. You also get a vibrant community of smart people with varying interests and a huge range of activities to pick from.

Most of us aren't hermits, after all. Many programmers living in cubicle hell may think they hate people, but maybe they just hate the interruptions and loosing control of their concentration.

I think this hard separation between work areas and social areas in an office would eliminate a lot of the social advantages of the office.

Who wants to be seen as the one always in the social area not working while on the clock? Plus, who would consciously choose to get their socialization from work instead of their personal friends? I think office socialization has to be coincidental or it just won't happen at all.

I think that model works better in university settings because the students have such disjoint schedules, they need those amenities to keep students occupied between classes.

I am not a proponent for hard separation either; I would prefer to have a sofa and a coffee machine and white board in my room and have colleagues stroll in when the door is open. It would not always be open, though.

That "appearing as not working while on the clock" is, to me, a foreign fear, and not something I've ever really experienced at the places I've worked in. I know that I (and the teams I've been part of) have been plenty productive without pressure to put in the hours. I think that a culture of putting in the hours would have been counterproductive, in fact. My work has not been flipping burgers, but designing and creating complex systems. It doesn't work out that well under time pressure.

> Seems like you don't miss the office, but you miss the social aspect.

Absolutely. Just being able to chat with colleagues when grabbing a coffee exposes so much more of 'what's going on' than you can ever find out looking at git logs, slack channels and wikis.

This comment really resonates with me. The difference for me is that we have an amazing office space, comfortable chairs, big desks and monitors and ample space. But, it's open plan and extremely noisy, with interruptions being frequent. It's not a space that allows deep work. I feel that 1 or 2 days in the office would make for a healthy harmony between work and life. We also really need to rethink working hours.

I completely share the sentiment. But I don’t see a world where companies keep on paying for their office spaces only to have their employees go there once or twice a week.

I was thinking about this, and I could see it working if they downgrade to a smaller office without permanent seating. Try to figure out roughly what percent of total employees would come in on average.

This is what my company is planning. They plan on having a website where we can schedule office time with an open desk if and when we want or need to go in.

I do. I think something like this could become a competitive differentiator (smoother collaboration when you need it) and recruiting tool.

I can agree with this.

Previously (at Google, Sunnyvale) I was paying $1,700 for my share of a 2x2 apartment with a one-way commute of 20 minutes during odd hours to over an hour during peak hours. This gave me a desk in an open floor plan with nominally disruptive neighbors while still fielding messages on chat and meetings I would have to walk to that could be in other buildings (or, albeit rarely, campuses). Free food and drink, a gym I was too weary to use, a pool that was often too cold to use, and the view of construction that was going up faster than my code thanks to constant changes from different levels of management.

Now, at a remote company, I'm paying $1,700 for a 2x2 to myself, a dedicated room for work, dedicated setup, no commute, the only distraction is occasionally my upstairs neighbor, a heated pool, a gym I'm able to use after one of my very few meetings, and non-free food but a full kitchen to work with during work hours.

I do miss my coworkers and some of the fun face-to-face interactions, don't get me wrong, but not enough to give up the relative paradise I've gotten in exchange. While it can get lonely at times I do also get to spend many (many, many) hours online with friends playing games; if not for covid I'd be going out or having friends over often as well.

All this to say that despite all this, I still respect that others don't share a similar set of options and/or circumstances. Those who have geographic ties, others living with them, space constraints, amenities that are hard to replicate, or just straight miss their peers, and many other variables I haven't considered. My personal paradise may be their hell and I respect that, and hopefully they can return to their normal while I can also keep what I have.

I just wanted to add an another perspective. I had a great private office with a door that closed, and a quiet work environment. My home office is also a nice dedicated room and well equipped.

Even in the quietest office noises would get to me. I would always have to fight to focus on work. At the end of the day I was spent.

Working from home full time, even with my family here 24/7 has been incredibly relaxing. I really, really don't want to ever go back.

You’re absolutely right, and the interesting thing is going to be how many people recognize their own personal preferences past their current circumstances, and make changes to optimize that.

In my case, I had a small apartment within walking distance of $WORK. The office at $WORK was ... ok. Not as bland as the finance office I used to work at in Chicago, but a bit cramped and poorly provisioned on things like coffee. On the immediate benefits front, working from the office would be an obvious choice for me, even if it’s not the best office I’ve ever worked from. But we decided that we loved WFH so much that we left the city and bought a good sized house in a less populated area. We each now have our own office that we can customize to our hearts desire. Oh, and our COL dropped, a lot.

The other bit that you didn’t mention, and that is intimately connect to my story is the factor of cities. As of last year (who knows how this will change) most software jobs were in large cities. If you happen to enjoy living in cities, this is really good news for you, but for everyone else this creates a tough series of trade offs between preferred living arrangements and career needs. In retrospect it’s fairly clear that we lived in Cities purely for the career advancement reasons; we didn’t enjoy the noise nor did we take advantage of the culture opportunities (food, drink, etc.) that cities offered. All we got in exchange was higher wages, smaller and more expensive housing, and longer commutes to the activities we preferred to do. This new arrangement suits us much better in retrospect, even if we didn’t come to that conclusion in say 2019.

>most software jobs were in large cities

I'm not true that is necessarily true. Most software jobs were in large metros. But, in the Boston area for example, I suspect most software jobs are still outside the city. (They were essentially 100% outside the city 20 years ago.) The same is almost certainly true of the Bay Area; most of the software jobs are not in SF proper.

That’s a fair point, although I’ll point out that the legal definition of a city and what is commonly considered the city tend to vary a lot. LA is legally much smaller than what most people would call LA.

That being said, this doesn’t change my argument much for two reasons. First, “you have to live within commuting distance of downtown” isn’t that much different from “you have to live within commuting distance of this suburb”. The nearby suburbs of some of these metro areas are still pretty darned expensive and congested compared to the rest of America. Second, the zone of reasonable commutes is much smaller still if you have a spouse who works in another area, or if you’re liable to change jobs in the next few years. And of course the housing centers with reasonable commutes to all possible job centers tend to be expensive.

I moved during the pandemic and went from an awful to pretty great home office setup.

It's much better, don't get me wrong, but I'm surprised at how much I still miss the office. It's all about the people for me. I had no idea how much energy I got from the team and being together in the same space, even as a fairly introverted technologist. Remote communication technology is nowhere close to being able to replicate that. It's one of those things you don't realize is missing until it's gone.

I'm hoping to be able to continue with some hybrid of WFH and in-office post pandemic. However, if I had to pick one, I'd choose in-office no doubt -- even with my fancy home office.

I'd propose adding another axis which is the amount of experience you have in a company or in your industry in general.

My+other new hires onboarding has been very difficult.

Outside of scheduling specific times to do deep dives on certain pieces of the stack it's very difficult to pickup new things because everyone is relatively bubbled. (This is compounded by the fact that everything is a microservice lol)

If you're a senior engineer and you already have a solid workstream I can definitely see the productivity increase from WFH, but for people just starting out it's a nightmare sometimes.

I built a proper home office with a built in desk and electric chroma key roller shade.

My drive for socialization has been pushed to friends and family. No more work talk off the clock.

To say my qualify of life has increased by a order of magnitude is an understatement

Full disclosure: I have misophonia and also detest office smells.

Very True. I've seen a huge spread in quality from my colleagues which definatley impacts opinions on WFH.

For me we built an office in our garden around 5 years ago. Good size, ethernet connected from the house. Kids came along around 3 years ago and I was hardly using it (wife wouldn't let me escape so easy!) now it's been a lifesaver since March, by far one of the best investments I have made.

Having said all this I do miss the office, I just don't need to be there 5 days a week.

For the two weeks before I had to WFH at my current job (I joined in February), I had my own office in an extremely beautiful tech HQ building.

That office was hella nice, but I'm still far happier at home. I don't think my home office is all that nice, but I simply value the freedom given to me from WFH far more than the "benefits" of the office.

Those dimensions are also far from fixed. We've optimised our lives with these tradeoffs in mind. If the office we work at is very good maybe we've selected a smaller appartment in a trendier area with more things to do at night. If there's now nothing to do at night because of lockdowns and the same appartment makes for a poor office during the day, misery ensues.

As companies make remote work a bigger possibility we'll optimize differently and a lot of people will be better off after adjusting. This situation has also disproportionately benefited those that already leaned towards that way and left the others hanging. But that's a shorter term issue.

I'm in a studio apartment with every distraction I could possibly imagine (most of my own design since before this I'd just come here just to rest and recharge) the first few months were rough and overall I really prefer the office. The only thing working from home has done for me in terms of work is give me some more flexibility and prepared me for how to block out the distractions for when I move on to my own thing full time next week but I can count on my hand the number of times I've been in flow since the pandemic and work from home started and that is significantly less frequent then in an environment where work is the primary objective.

It's really very jarring and I've resulted to some newer/crazier things to get it back. For instance I work in VR often now and that blocking out the distractions/tricking my brain in to "being in" a work place is really great. I also have a different seat for when I'm working on the day job versus my startup vs relaxing. Finally I stopped listening to music recently as I've read it actually can hurt focus and that's been working too.

The thing is at least with my current job the office space was really comfortable, I'd move around often between couches and private spaces as needed people wouldn't interrupt too often and I would go out for lunch to give myself a mental break. Still figuring out the mental break part again.

Curious about your "work in VR" comment - what is your setup?

I have been trying to do this with my Oculus Quest 1 but the resolution just seems to low / rendering quality too poor. I can see the potential for the future though and am very curious if a Quest 2 gets over a significant hump in terms of these problems.

I'm using the Quest2 with ImmersedVR -- I find that it's more than enough for me and I can work for a few hours before I feel like I need to take a VR break. The headset is light enough that I don't super notice the weight and I find the text quality is pretty good.

Working from home has been great for me but I still miss going to the office sometimes to get a little change in my day and get lunch with coworkers. And I definitely miss the workday being over when I walk out of there. I’ve been better about that lately but it was such a clear separation to walk and take transport back versus now I’ll move a few feet.

We were already half remote where we go in a couple of days a week and I liked that mix

> Your office can be place where you still have the option to work uninterrupted but also get the benefits of face-to-face interaction, casual exposure to work ideas, better meetings, having all the equipment you need, separating work and personal life.

It /can/ be, if your company isn't in the "Because Google Did It", cost savings masquerading and spun as "collaborative" open office plan cult.

I like being at an office for face to face things, but as a developer I need uninterrupted time and the "new fad" offices don't provide it.

But your point is well taken; I'm fortunate enough that my job can afford me a house that's too big for me to live in, (mind, I have also decided to live not "in the city", where things are actually affordable) so I have a complete room as a home-office, with a restroom, and whatever supplies I need.

But that's also by choice; I CHOSE to give up being near a lot of restaurants and offices and short commutes, so that I could have this.

There is and always will be variance in the quality of your work space, whether that is at an office or within your own home.

When people say "I enjoy working from home", most attribute to the being able to focus in your comfortable area, lack of noise, no need to commute during rush hour, and many other widely common cons that is associated with working at an office.

The consensus of wfh vs office should take place with the following question:

given ideal situation for both scenario which one would you choose?

Because, having a loud roommate in your house does not represent the general public and is actually what I would consider an "outlier" in this particular consensus.

Yup, exactly. And to make the waters even more muddy, some of it just boils down to personal preference. My office was open-plan, but my section of it was always relatively quiet, so it usually wasn't difficult to focus and get work done, even without headphones. It was nice to see my teammates and do 1-on-1 meetings actually face to face, in person, and to run into other colleagues and have an impromptu chat, either about work or non-work topics. I had a 30-minute walk to/from the office that helped me clear my head and get ready to start the day, or wind down and end my day.

Even then, pre-pandemic, I preferred to work from home most of the time, even though I didn't have a desk at home. Turns out I just like being home during the day, and like being able to take little short breaks here and there, without feeling weird about it at an office. And even though our office wasn't too bad with random interruptions, I liked having essentially zero interruptions at home.

Fortunately we (coincidentally) moved into a larger space a few days before SF's shelter-in-place order back in March, and now have a dedicated office room with an adjustable desk and monitor (a big thanks to my employer for providing reimbursement for some home-office expenses this year). Pre-pandemic, my partner did go into the office most of the time, and I don't think the two of us would have been comfortable in the old place (a loft with no doors and walls), working and taking Zoom meetings every workday. (But I easily recognize that if we had kids, neither space would have been great for permanent working from home.)

Sometimes it's hard to recognize that everyone's situation really is different (as you point out), and that even people with similar situations can just have different preferences and attitudes that can make them productive and happy with some setups, and unfocused and uneasy with others.

I think we also need to remember that this is not a standard shift to working from home. We're doing this as part of a global pandemic that has nerves frayed and has put a lot of other restrictions on our day-to-day lives. I expect that many people who are having issues working from home due to social/collaboration reasons would have fewer complaints if there was no pandemic and they could get their social interaction from hanging out with friends at their houses or in public places. And many who previously worked at an office 5 days a week, every week, and miss the office, might be happy in normal times working from home anywhere from 1-4 days a week, getting their "office fix" on the other day(s).

I believe serious remote workers should optimize their home working environment. It is an investment. But the problem is most people was forced to working remotely without any preparation and motivation - people end up complaining remote working while working with laptop in the couch.

I have a chair which is suits me perfectly, a big standing desk which is not wobbling at all, and 3 monitors with premium stands which are tuned just for me. It's much easier for a remote worker to setup everything that suits you, and it's much harder to adjust workplaces to make everybody happy.

One interesting point that stood out for me was that within an office, almost all workers have access to similar resources. In that the work place acts as a level-playing field regardless of if you're a fresh graduate or someone who has family and kids.

Sure, I was once working at a job and had the perfect office. Awesome setup, one room for me, fun colleagues, good eating options. Unfortunately in the middle of nowhere and career progression counted in decades not years. It's all about tradeoffs. The likelihood to get it all is quite low though, also considering real estate prices.

You can't have uninterrupted but also get the benefits of face-to-face interaction.

Those face to face interactions or the hallway discussions are the thing that prevents the first.

I think you have the wrong understanding. There are plenty of reasons one can prefer to work at the office instead of remotely. It is not because you like it, that anyone is liking it. We are all humans we are different.

This article is an opinion piece, and judging by how many people are upvoting it, it seems like it resonate with a lot of people. The same way a remote post blog will also attract tons of upvote.

There are no best setup for everyone, there is a different best setup for each one of us.

> Your office can be place where you still have the option to work uninterrupted

That used to be the case many, many years ago, before the "open floor plan" debacle.

It's not the case anymore.

I'd like to think that after the nth discussion of this topic we could all generally agree:

- Some people prefer working in an office environment. There are valid reasons for this, and it's totally fine.

- Other people prefer working at home, and this is also completely fine and understandable.

- People other than yourself who experience challenges with either one of these arrangements are not idiots and the things they talk about are genuine issues that they experience, which are unlikely to be effectively solved by suggestions like "you are doing it wrong" or "get a new job".

- Not everybody out there is in the same situation as you with regards to living arrangements, family commitments and so on. Solutions that seem obvious and easy to you are unattainable for others.

My hope at least is that the experiences we've all had over the past year will help to make work more flexible and inclusive, so that we can take all of the above into account. In particular, is seems inevitable that companies should stop adopting an inflexible "no remote work" policy and instead make it easier for people to work from anywhere.

I'd love to see some new and creative approaches – like companies using their newfound remote-friendliness to make it feasible to spin up small branch offices in co-working spaces, so that workers' commutes can be reduced but they still get an office environment if it's helpful for them.

I agree with the sentiment of your creative approach. I think a good middle ground is having offices in neighbourhoods, within walking/cycling distance where people from different companies come to work. They get the benefit of social interaction, "getting out of the house", and avoid a car journey.

Living in the UK, I think that would also help restore the feeling of community, as a gathering point for people within a local area.

Personally I prefer working from home and have done so for 20 years, almost all my working life- but I understand why people have reasons for preferring an alternative.

Offices are in office districts in places like London for a reason: many people will join the job not living near the office, those people will be all over town, and of course the housing prices nearby might not be to their liking (or the neighborhood amenities, for that matter).

An office district allows people to get to the office expediently from homes all over town, or even in the next town over, because all the trains and buses are routes to take people there.

(Other cities in the UK may vary, but how many of them are tech hubs?)

> An office district allows people to get to the office expediently from homes all over town

You've clearly not commuted in and out of London at rush-hour/peak-time then. I REALLY don't miss that. Most days an advertised 30 minute train journey would take 50 minutes and unless you got on the train at it's starting point, that's 50 minutes of standing with your face in someones armpit.

> You've clearly not commuted in and out of London at rush-hour/peak-time then.

Not only have I done that, I've put up with the Southern strikes. Still far better to go into the center of town than to go to some random spot on a different edge of town.

Not sure if you misunderstood my point as I meant people would work from their own neighbourhood, not specific ones for specific companies.

Expedient really is relative. Some people go from 1.5h of commute to 30 and are happy, others go from 30 to 1h. I have friends in London with commutes across the spectrum.

It's easier to switch your job than find a suitable apartment with an "expedient" commute.

I personally feel that part of the benefit of the office is sometimes being able to unite against the common enemy that is your employer.

I very much agree. If you like working in the office, then work in the office, and if you prefer working at home, then work at home. We need to be inclusive of people, and let them work the way _they_ best feel productive.

It is unfortunate that people think that it has to be either one or the other.

> If you like working in the office, then work in the office

The thing many people like about the office is that other people are there. This is not just for socializing reasons - for example, junior employees might like more senior ones around to have casual conversations and learn from. So the ones among us that like the office do not just want to be there - they want others to be also there.

> So the ones among us that like the office do not just want to be there - they want others to be also there.

I mean... too bad? Speaking as someone who prefers to work from home, I hope those people realize that their desire to co-locate with their peers doesn't supersede our desire to work solo. As they say, "it takes two to tango."

I for one am glad that many companies that would normally never consider remote work are now doing so. While I don't have data to back this up, I'd wager that the average company implements co-location more out of reflex or habit than due to a careful comparison of all possible work arrangements.

It's not just about your desire or someone else's desire. It's also about what is best for the company, and in the case of junior engineers learning the tricks of the trade, best for the next generation of tech workers.

I know the directors of a game dev studio who unequivocally admit going remote has increased communication across teams and their studio productivity went up. Keep in mind game devs need close collaboration, yet it's working. There are techniques that have come up to make remote-work work well.

So the directors are looking to maximize work flexibility, by experimenting with just going to the office once or twice a week or something after the vaccine.

Like my dentist told me a few days ago, universal 9-5PM at an office is long gone (and this is a dentist saying that!)

I think part of the issue, atleast within companies, it does need to be either or. An empty office often isn't any better than WFH for many folk. So if in your company you're in the minority then you might need to get a new job.

There's also the effect of the industry. While flexible working is great (I could already role out of bed and decide to WFH whenever before covid) there's a chance companies might cut back on offices or force bullshit like hot desking.

In the long run I think this'll turn out for the best and the OP is right to be optimistic. But in the short run there may be a lot of turmoil.

> An empty office often isn't any better than WFH for many folk.

That is really their problem. You can't force people to come to the office because you want it "hustling and bustling".

We can debate separately if companies should force people back to office.

But in this case it is an either or. If the advantage of the office comes from being around your team and colleagues then it very much is an either or between home working or everyone being in the office.

It's not wholly binary--maybe 2 scheduled days a week will work for both many of the people who would just as soon mostly work from home and those who want to be in an office with their team. But, in general, yes. A "you can come into an office if you want" policy is probably not going to be very satisfactory for someone who wants a co-located team and much of their team chooses not to come in most days or even live in the same area.

As I've said before, as this shakes out over the next year or two, I suspect a fair number of people who can do so will end up choosing jobs based on remote policies and how companies operate in practice.

Ya, I used to hate working form home and HATED when my co-workers would (fortunately that wasn't very often). However, I'm LOVING it now that everyone is working from home. I find it crazy awkward when just one or two people are on a screen. It's hard to describe why but I know it's a common feeling. I've even heard of mixed office/remote teams will do all meeting over video chat, even the ones in the office, as it puts everyone on the same level.

Yes, at least one of the teams I worked with--where admittedly most people were remote--had a pre-COVID policy whereby if anyone was calling in remote, everyone had to use their own screen. No calling in from a conference room.

>there's a chance companies might cut back on offices or force bullshit like hot desking.

That seems inevitable at any company where a lot of people aren't using their space most of the time. A company isn't going to indefinitely maintain dedicated space at 25% utilization. Not to say they can't maintain some dedicated space for people who do want to come in 80% of the time. But I expect post-COVID, many offices will look very different although I don't expect many companies to go fully remote.

> inevitable that companies should stop adopting an inflexible "no remote work" policy

That's an optimistic take. I can totally see this or that manager having a horrible time at home, and as soon as he's back to the office, instituting a "next time we'll rather die here" policy where they stock up on masks and canned food and build a bunker-like environment that he'll never have to leave again.

In the end, execs already worked from wherever they liked. They set up certain policies because they thought they were more productive for the hoi polloi. I don't think the pandemic changed much in that regard, sadly.

I think office work should be an option companies provide, and it should be like an AirOffice, floating, in co-working or "business center" office space, or even ad-hoc such as at such and such a cool, wifi, remote work friendly cafe. I think this is the future of work and that's how I want to run my company when it employs people. I had this idea since around 2010/2011.

I know this won't work for everything. Factories obviously need to be staffed (so far). But for 'knowledge work' we should be able to work anywhere, including, if the need arises, to rent private digs and all get together in person.

Would that be similar to WeWork? I'd want to be in an office with my actual colleagues rather than remote working from a co-working space.

I don't know about them, but if you worked for me and the team you were on agreed, we'd rent you a dedicated office. At the same time, if team wanted to go full remote, or cowork we'd support that. Sort of like how Apple used to take over buildings for a project.

Another idea i had about this was we could also consider RE investment. If we had the cash and the investment made sense, we'd actually buy the floor or whatever, and once our project no longer needed it, we'd rent. I like the idea that overtime the business converts some of its cash into RE, that can act as a buffer for the rest of our income.

Yeah I think there is a pretty huge gap between most people's office/home differences, and what the OP misses:

> I miss occasional after-work drinks at the sky bar with the $18 well drinks that we always convinced management to pay for.

It just took me a dozen emails, 6 phone calls, and 2 tedious in face conversations to get accounting to buy me a single AAAA battery - not AA, not AAA, but AAAA, yes I'm sure, AAAA, yes I only need one. So yeah I don't miss my office.

So. I have to ask, why? A pair seems to be $6 on Amazon. Why wouldn't one simply order it and expense it? And even if expensing weren't possible for some reason, was it really worth your time?

Of course, but at a certain point you think "how many more times can I possibly have to re-confirm this?" and you just let it run its course. To top it off, they bought 2 2-packs. The last battery lasted me 4 years so I guess they're invested until 2036.

> I'd like to think that after the nth discussion of this topic we could all generally agree:

It's either this or the neverending "How do I become more creative", "How do I become more productive", "Tricks to stop using your smartphone", etc...

I think an important thing to keep in mind is that the past 8 months aren't really a good indicator of what working remotely is really like. I've worked remotely for the past 4 years, and this year has easily been the most difficult and most unlike typical remote work:

- Normally, I'd try to mix up my day and get some socialization in by going to a co-working space 1-2 times a week.

- I had a lot of freedom to catch up with friends after work, or over lunch, and while that's not impossible in 2020, it's very different (it's a much smaller group, always outside, and never over food or drinks - mostly just a walk or something like that).

- I had much more freedom to travel (YMMV depending on your work, but I would work remotely from a cottage, or a nearby city sometimes if I was meeting up with someone - even a couple of times from more exotic locales).

- For gigs where an office was close by, I still had the option to pop in once in a while, and for really remote jobs, I still tended to have some form of face to face interaction by doing a bigger visit every few months.

If you're not liking remote work during 2020, I don't entirely blame you. I still don't think it's for everyone, but I would recommend trying it outside the context of a global pandemic.

This! Can’t upvote enough.

People keep glossing over the structural differences of being in a crazy, hopefully once-in-a-lifetime, situation and comparing to the good’ol days of when office was amazing. I’d love to hear from those that have to go in and deal with no amenities and all the safety stuff that’s now so imperative.

The other thing to consider - a lot of posters talk about sub-par home setups. Much of that is driven by cost and living close to the office and preventing the city lifestyle. If you stop forcing people to the office, your costs will likely go down as now you won’t compete for space with families with kids or those who really want the space but hate commute. Seems like a win-win.

This is a truly understated point. My usual routine would be to go to the office once a month, and every now and then just talk to people, meet up with colleagues on the weekend etc.

This is really different from the regular WFH that I am used to.

This is a great point. For parents, kids wouldn't be home during a 'normal' wfh scenario.

I've done wfh for years and really miss going to my local coffee shop, and other various activities I used to do throughout the day because of the freedom offered with wfh.

I don't miss the office at all, and I never want to go back. If management asks us to go back full-time, I will start looking for another job. I'm happier and more productive than ever. I never want to go back to rotting in a cube farm pretending that 1-2 productive hours a day is enough.

1. Cubes, cube pods, and "open offices" are inhumane.

2. I don't have to wear headphones to "hear myself think" anymore.

3. Meetings no longer produce the positive feelings that result from the presence of another human, so there's incentive for everyone to eliminate the pointless meetings.

3a. I can multitask during the truly pointless meetings that haven't yet been eliminated. I can't tell you how much work I've gotten done during "town halls" during the last eight months.

4. No commute.

5. My house is way nicer than my office. I know this isn't the case for everyone. But if you're working as a software engineer, you can afford it. You have to ask yourself why it wasn't a priority before.

Absolutely. There is absolutely nothing I miss about the office. I get my own bathroom at home that is clean and doesn't smell like shit all day long. I don't have to time my bathroom breaks or wait in line. I don't have to search on different floors to find a free bathroom. Not to mention the shitty quality public bathrooms you have in the US with 1 inch gaps so people get a nice view of you taking a dump.

I can do laundry during the day, I can go exercise during the day. I can take a nap if I'm tired.

Meetings start on time more often because you don't have to wait for a meeting rooms to clear out.

I could go on and on. I will say this though, I hope everyone gets to work the way it works for them. I'm not going to tell people that want to work in an office that they shouldn't be able to. I hope we get the same respect and not have in-office advocates push their ideal environment on remote workers.

I've only visited the US briefly but those toilet gaps were truly, truly awful

Every point you mention is spot-on. Even simple routines like going to the bathroom and eating have so much time shaved off of them. I didn't even realize that 3a was true until you articulated it -- town halls, all-hands, brown-bags, et al., are now a great place to listen in casually but do email hygiene or even some light "real work" without getting judged.

Yeah, this mirrors my own feelings.

At my previous job, I worked from home 2-3 days a week and commuted (~50 minutes each way) the rest of the time, then I took a new job less than ten minutes from home. We got sent home due to COVID a few months after that. Management talks a lot about how they know remote isn't ideal and want to get us back in the office as soon as possible, despite most of the software teams finding they've been equally or more productive as before.

For me, this has been the first time I've been WFH on an equal footing with the whole team, I _love_ it, and I never want to go back to the office. I actually prefer meeting via Teams since I can't hear well and the built in captioning makes it easier, I have better monitors at home than I do at the office, there's never a wait for the bathroom, can pull some lunch out of the fridge or pantry and heat it up at my convenience.

I know some people lament the whole "not having hallway conversations leading to innovation" thing but I'm honestly curious how real that is. I've been in the industry for over 20 years now, the bulk of that in software-focused companies or teams, and while I do have casual conversations with coworkers I can't recall any of them ever segueing into "so here's the challenging thing I'm working on right now..." -- I'm not saying it never happens, just that I can't recall it's ever happened to me.

Some of my coworkers do miss whiteboarding, though I don't have strong feelings about that one way or the other. I'm more of a textual than a visual thinker personally so I've never found diagramming things out to be particularly helpful.

At any rate, while I really like my boss and my team, the day management sends out the "mandatory full-time return to the office in (x) months, including the development teams" email is almost certainly going to be the day I update my resume.

The ONLY thing I found tricky was getting enough physical activity and movement in days, especially lockdown. I picked up a treadmill laptop stand and every day I walk 3-5 miles while working. I will never go back to sitting in an open office again.

Thing I miss are:

* Having someone clean my works space. My house gets dirtier now and I’m forever cleaning it, doing dishes.

* The distinction between the beginning and end of my work day.

* Having free space in my house.

* Off the cuff dinner and drinks with colleagues.

* No lag meetings and whiteboard sessions.

* Having intervals apart from my family actually felt healthy, although we have adapted to being around each other 24/7 I guess.

* When someone of greater rank than me in an inconvenient time zone wants to have a meeting with me involved, I have to attend. I’ve practically lost all my mornings from 6am - 9am, 3-4 days a week.

Things I like about fully distributed:

* Everyone is remote now so it’s forced us to treat everyone more equally, not just favouring those in the office.

* Less interaction with middle management, this might make it harder to get bonuses etc.

Disclaimer: I just lived in a city 5 minute bike ride from my office so I had a convenient setup, could go home and make lunch etc.

When I had an office I had slack, I had work from home, cafes, sometimes.

>The distinction between the beginning and end of my work day.

Just log off at 5pm or 4pm or whenever you have done your contracted working hours.

I rarely end up in a meeting which goes over my usual working hours. But otherwise I just log off. I don't understand how someone can work longer hours unwillingly when it's entirely in your control.

I guess it depends on how your remote working is implemented. For me I remote in. For others it's a VPN. But either way, cut off all communication avenues until the next morning.

>When someone of greater rank than me in an inconvenient time zone wants to have a meeting with me involved, I have to attend. I’ve practically lost all my mornings from 6am - 9am, 3-4 days a week.

The mistake was attending this even once. Now you've shown a weakness in that you'll attend a terribly scheduled meeting. You need to bring this up, it's not fair to be in work at 6am if that was not the norm before COVID. If your days started at 9am in the office, your days start at 9am at home.

> I don't understand how someone can work longer hours unwillingly when it's entirely in your control.

I have that situation, but without the 'unwilling' part. In the office, I have often the situation "Gosh, I'd love to finish this, but if I don't catch the next train I have to wait another half hour for the next one", which automatically makes me stop work at fixed times.

Sure, I could also just stop at the same time at home, but ultimately I always end up working longer hours. Same in the morning; having to catch a train is really something that forces me to hit certain timings; when working from home, staying in bed just a little longer doesn't make me miss any trains.

It's a silly problem and could easily be overcome with enough willpower, but it requires the willpower where otherwise there are already external factors in place that soft-force me to start/stop work.

Unfortunately, will power means nothing.

What you need, as I learned, is discipline, which is really hard to train. you basically have Work hard on small things one at a time until you build the habits you want.

On that topic, this is pretty interesting:


Relying on something like train timings to enforce your work life balance isn’t a reliable strategy.

What if the trains started running every 5 minutes? Or what if you moved a little closer and you could walk?

If you don’t want to use willpower to stop working you could add some structured activity (after COVID) like a workout class after work. Or you could generally just make more deliberate plans for you after work time.

Or my personal favorite. Start a hobby you like more than work.

If trains are infrequent enough (every 20-30 minutes or more) that it's worth planning around the schedule, it's generally unlikely that the frequency will be changed significantly in any 10-year period.

Maybe not every train, but an individual train route could easily significantly change in frequency for a few hours a day, or more likely the train schedule could get worse to the point where you can’t leave until later.

Or the office could move, you could move, your office could change the time of the last meeting of the day etc...

Relying on the granularity of the train schedule to enforce work life balance is brittle at best, and it’s a terrible argument against WFH.

It doesn't require willpower. Write a script that warns you 10-5 minutes before 5pm that your computer will be shutting down. Then again a minute before shutdown.

Then it shuts down.

Or write one that sends a message to your partner, friends or flatmates that you'll be done in a few and to put on a kettle. Plan to have tea or what have you with your SO or flatmate at 5pm sharp. Set an alarm to take your dog out. I'm sure you can come up with other things.

Add things to your schedule that force you to leave, just like your train. Even if you're in a meeting drop a "Sorry folks, we'll have to pick this up tomorrow, I have personal obligations waiting on me" and you're out.

I also work longer hours on average when working from home, but I don't really mind it.

The main reason is that I save easily 90 minutes of commute per day, so it's not bothersome to be available some of that time extra. And the second reason is that I take personal breaks randomly during the day, I'm not always 100% focused on my work, so I don't feel like being available a bit later is a stretch. Flexibility goes both ways.

This isn't really what i meant, it's not necessarily that I'm working longer hours now (although I am).

I meant I miss the routine I used to have, go to the gym, come back home, make breakfast, shower, put on my "work clothes" then psychically go to my office, have coffee with colleagues and then sit at my desk, open my day planner and get started.

That was the queue to begin focusing. Of course I can try do this in my living room, but it just doesn't have the same effect for me personally.

I have meetings at awkward hours which kind of makes me feel like I'm kind of permanently attached to my work. Before hand, there was work time, and home time, work stayed at work, often including my work laptop.

Also this statement kind of bugged me: "I don't understand how someone can work longer hours unwillingly when it's entirely in your control.", if you have a job that allows you to 100% dictate your hours, never having to deal with unexpected problems, outages, personnel issues, then congratulations. It's not a reality for everyone.

> When someone of greater rank than me in an inconvenient time zone wants to have a meeting with me involved, I have to attend. I’ve practically lost all my mornings from 6am - 9am, 3-4 days a week.

I don’t understand this situation. If this happens I reject the meeting invite, and later see it rescheduled (if my attendance was mandatory).

Is there a different way this happens?

Early morning and late night meetings sometimes happen because of timezones. And you deal with it. But you can be sure that, if I were regularly having to attend meetings from 6am-9am for good reasons, I'm also generally knocking off at 3pm.

Exactly, this is farcical. How did you handle the 6am meetings before COVID?

The difference is that now everyone is distributed, if someone "important" is in a different timezone, you can be singled out to attend a meeting because you're no longer "out of the office at 6am", you have no excuse not to be able to attend early meetings.

Also I just feel that it's becoming culturally more acceptable to attend/schedule meetings at weird times because everyone else accepts it.

If you're the nail that sticks out (by rejecting meetings), you get hammered.

I'm guessing the superior may not have been in a different time zone before COVID.

It's not that simple, my section managers answer to this (I tried it was), "I go to meetings at awkward hours, so what's you excuse?".

To be fair, this particular meeting I'm supposed to be at is once a fortnight, so I feel that I can't complain too much. Some people I know still commute an hour a day.

It does really inconvenience me in a way that I can't describe, I basically lose an hour of sleep on that day and it really screws me over for the rest of the day, compounding my stress.

I don't understand this either. This existed at our company before remote work because we have global offices. People who had early or late meetings may take them from home AND then still had to commute to the office. Otherwise they'd had to get up even earlier to commute first.

It seems like a pretty common scenario, at least to me. There’s a 1 hour meeting to present Project X Status to Executive Y. You are presenting for 20 minutes so are required. Exec Y’s schedule for the next month rules everything out besides next Tuesday at 6am. You can’t just decline and not show up. You just have to suck it up and wake up earlier that day.

This scenario is actually much easier in COVID-WFH because I can just roll out of the bed at 5:45am, run a comb through my hair and fire up the videoconference. When I worked from office it meant waking up at 3:30am, leaving my house at 4am, and getting into the office by 5:30am.

> Exec Y’s schedule for the next month rules everything out besides next Tuesday at 6am.

Eh? My schedule for the month rules out anything before 9am.

I guess we’re not going to have that meeting then unless Mr exec thinks it’s more important than something else on his schedule (which is healthy anyway, he shouldn’t have to wake up at 6 any more than you do.)

You're obviously, like most people on here, talking from a position of privilege. I don't blame you because I've been there.

You also might not be working for a properly distributed global team. Execs I work for are on the other side of the world.

I've said this before by the exec's at my company tell me they have to attend meetings at weird times, so I should have to as well.

Not everyone at the moment has the luxury to just put their job on the line by telling their manager to go stick it. I for example am not in my native country an I rely on my job to support my visa. If I lose my job right now, my visa is potentially lost at a time where finding another job might not be very straight forwards and where my home country isn't allowing citizens to return home yet.

It isn't all bad, I think distributed work culture is evolving and adapting, it's just right now there are certainly inconveniences for those pioneering it.

Yup, it doesn’t get rescheduled and you slowly lose influence and find yourself working on things you hate, getting bad reviews and eventually getting fired/leaving because you hate your job

I would rather that outcome than having to wake up at 6am multiple times a week for a meeting.

There is no way I wouldn't hate my job anyway if it was forcing me into ridiculous schedules like that...

Many people have to adapt to working across different timezones in their jobs. Obviously to the degree that something like that becomes a continuous pattern you need to decide if it's worth it to you to adapt to that schedule or not. There's nothing inherently "ridiculous" about it. For example I have a friend in Hawaii who has an agency with West Coast clients and she just adapts her waking schedule accordingly.

I had friends in Hawaii who were stock traders, they really had to wake up early

Kind of want to leave anyway if the only way to retain influence is to go to 6am meetings.

>> * The distinction between the beginning and end of my work day.

>> * When someone of greater rank than me in an inconvenient time zone wants to have a meeting with me involved, I have to attend. I’ve practically lost all my mornings from 6am - 9am, 3-4 days a week.

You know your situation best obviously but to a random outsider this sounds like the (reeeeeeally) common issue of not being well practiced at saying no.

> No lag meetings and whiteboard sessions.

I really miss whiteboard sessions. I've gotten used to zoom meetings, I'm not overloaded with them, and with a proper structured agenda I've found they can be tolerable.

But nothing beats scribbling on a whiteboard with colleagues. We've tried Miro and other tools, but nothing quite has the same feel as those scribbled boxes and arrows on a whiteboard.

The whiteboard experience can be replicated with realtime visualization/collaboration tools. Just saying..

What setup do you use that replicates it? The ones that I’ve tried are a far cry from markers on a board.

Likewise zoom meetings aren’t the same thing but replicate the original experience. Im not using any? but am using a wacom tablet for similar handwriting purposes but have to admit that it’s not realtime. If you can’t find something that you like at least you found a business idea

* random stuffs happening in my life that I can enjoy on my own and tell my wife when I am back from work VS spend 24 hours a day with my wife

I’m confused about your dishes claim. You mention you go home for lunch anyway so dishes don’t seem terrible, otherwise it’s a plate and a knife to pop in the dishwasher.

When you were in an office and someone scheduled a 6am meeting what would you do?

For me in the office I have a cup that I put in the dishwasher at the end of the day. At home I have a better cup that I put in the office at the end of the day.

If you’re only 5 minutes from your colleagues why can’t you go for spontaneous pub etc (assuming it’s open in your locality) Or pop out for lunch?

OP mentioned kids, which is a big complicating factor. We gave two and oof, the dishes thing is real. We are cooking more, and for more people every meal.

As to popping out to the pub with colleagues, again it's tough with the kids home. If I go out anywhere between 4-8 I'm basically sticking my wife with the toughest time of day. Also patio season is done here and you wouldn't catch me drinking indoors during the pandemic.

All of those are 100% true, but they are very specific to the pandemic (for most people for most of the year), not something relevant in the more generalized discussion of WFH.

This is very true! Either you take turns, who can go out and meet and have fun, or you spend the whole day with your family. I think a mix is most sustainable. Try to do ONE thing on your own per week and then cover your partners day out.

I don't have a dishwasher. No space for it.

Some dishwashers are tiny. For camping or singles. E.g. https://daan.tech/

Not sure about the OP, but people are now scheduling meetings earlier and later in the day in my company. Previously, I would never have 8am meetings as I would only get to the office by 930. People just knew not to schedule before then. But now, the big boss starts working and slacking at 730 and often schedules stuff for 8am. And we do video calls all the time, so have to be presentable for those meeting.

On the other hand, research schedules are all over the place and people invariably end up scheduling syncups at 6 or 6:30. Pre-pandemic, I would be at a local pub with coworkers at that time!

In your specific case the problem was exacerbated by WFH. But if your boss doesn’t have a problem with making people work from 7am to 6pm, the problem is the boss.

They could have at any time decided to do the same thing in the office, and many offices do work that way.

If you wouldn’t stay at your company if they required you to be in office 12 hours a day, why would you stay around if they require 12 hour WFH?

> I miss productivity!

I don't understand the productivity unless you just have bad employees playing games or browsing reddit.

My productivity has never been higher. I get more done and have more free time to work on unplanned projects/spikes exploring new tech or rethinking old problems that could be solved better.

> I miss having my employer pay for electricity and heat and fast symmetric multi-gigabit Internet access instead of shifting those costs to me.

If your employer doesn't pay for these things (I'm assuming no one has gotten elec/heat, but I do get my internet bill paid for) you can deduct these on your taxes as a portion of your home if you have a side business like a saas or app or some consulting and reduce your taxible profits. Take a the wasted commute time and put it towards a LLC for yourself :)

> Hell, I miss BART in all its loud and smelly glory.

Who misses the single most time sink in our lives?? If yuo need "alone time" why not go for a walk, jog, or bike ride? Mental and physical health all in one go vs a sedentary ride to a sedentary job

The rest of the stuff is either personal preference or where you chose to live

> Productivity

Some people have issues separating work and home, especially when the lines blur too much due to working from home. an Office makes you know you're at work, and thus it's easier to focus. For many, working from home means more distractions and thus a harder time focusing.

> Personal preference

Everything here is a personal preference, which is not a bad thing. The title starts with "I miss..." so it's not like the author claimed it's a thesis on working from home. It's the author's personal experience which resonated with quite a lot of people, of whom you aren't.

Maybe they also enjoyed the human companionship, which isn't the same over video. Maybe they don't live in a place where they can easily switch to a bigger house for a spacious work space.

> you can deduct these on your taxes as a portion of your home

You can (and I have), but there are some caveats:

(1) It needs to be "regular and exclusive use" (see https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employe...). Put your desk and computer in a separate room, and it's pretty clear that qualifies. If you live in a small apartment and have your desk in your bedroom, then I'm not sure.

(2) It's only a deduction. Having someone else pay all the costs is much better than paying them yourself but getting back your marginal tax rate times the cost.

(3) As you mentioned, it's only for self-employed people.

Another caveat depending on your jurisdiction: where I live, claiming part of your home as a work place excludes it from qualifying as you "residence" for tax purposes and can mean you get hit with a raft of other complications.

For my case, I claimed 1 room of my house as a home office for 10 years, and then when we sold the house my accountant told me we had to pay a huge sum of money in tax because there is a capital gains tax exemption for your primary residence but 25% of the house now did not qualify for that. I paid something like 5 times as much in capital gains tax as I saved from those minor tax writeoffs over the years.

Also - make sure to check insurance. Costs could be higher or you might even not be covered at all.

> why not go for a walk, jog, or bike ride?

I do miss the long walks to and from work.

Of course, it's not because of WFH that I'm not doing them, it's because exercising with a mask sucks, so I prefer to do something inside. The OP may be misattributing his feelings.

> Who misses the single most time sink in our lives?

Right? I'm having a hard time believing someone loves being forced to waste time twice a day, by increasing the likelihood of being in automotive accidents. Go hop on a bus or ride the train if you miss it that badly.

Missing BART? I can't take anything this person writes seriously.

> I miss productivity! Our engineering productivity has fallen through the floor since COVID despite everyone working longer and harder; I fundamentally do not think remote teams can ever be as productive as in-person teams.

So far I haven't found this to be the case. Somewhat the opposite in fact, although here I'd credit our move from scrum/scrumban to Shape Up as much as working from home.

It's not perfect though. We see evidence of low-lying morale and mental health issues. Nobody's losing their minds, exactly, but plenty of people aren't really happy. Of course, there are many wider reasons why that might be the case. E.g., lockdown in particular seems to turn every day into a sort of mundane Groundhog Day, especially for people who live alone.

The balance point will be different for different people but, certainly, for me, 100% WFH is not the perfect balance (but then neither is 100% office). At least I know I can adapt to 100% WFH well enough when I have to though (unlike 100% office).

> Nobody's losing their minds, exactly, but plenty of people aren't really happy.

There seems to be a lot of newfound concern for the wellbeing of the employees. Interesting how this wasn't an issue before Covid hit, and nobody was asked "would you prefer to work from home rather than having to deal with constant distractions in the office? Would you like to not waste your life away on a useless commute? Are you happy?". Nah, it's only an issue now.

Could you reign in the cynicism a bit, please?

I'm talking about my entire team, including me. These are people I know and work with on a daily basis. Part of knowing people is that you can tell when they're not quite themselves.

I've also polled my team on a semi-regular basis throughout the last 8 months on their preferences going forward, which is how I know I have a range of preferences across the spectrum of WFH versus working from the office. We've always had a flexible approach in this area because of team has always been distributed, but one of the silver linings of the COVID cloud will, I hope, be a more general acceptance of increased flexibility in working conditions for jobs where that's feasible.

Don't you dare put words into my mouth. Take it elsewhere.

I noticed a very strong current towards employee wellbeing emerge in companies where upper management wants everyone back in the office (for various reasons), and then used to justify why permanent remote work isn't an option. Cynicism is well-deserved.

Your mileage may vary, of course. Your perception on the team might be true, or it might be that people are afraid of saying how they feel for fear of being singled out. We're just sharing anecdotes.

Apologies: I was feeling a bit tired when I wrote the above so, again, sorry for the unjustifiably harsh tone.

Companies are a mixed bag. Some of them behave in ways that are deeply cynical. Plenty also don't, or at least most of the time try to avoid doing so.

I will say one of the reasons for more concern over employee welfare is that more employees, at all grades, are displaying signs that all is not well. It's simply a very unusual situation so, in some sense, the greater noise around welfare is to be expected.

With that being said, and despite my general disdain for cynicism (I live in Cambridge: there's a lot of people who want to play the "world weary cynic" role and it gets old), it does have to be acknowledged that despite the best intentions of employees and leaders at all levels, when push comes to shove a lot of "core values" and "culture" go out the window.

Especially when the choice is that or the company goes under, or that and a shareholder revolt, or you can see the writing on the wall and it's this terrible course of action now or a much worse course of action later. People will also of course choose to use wider market conditions as cover for action they've been planning or perhaps should have taken anyway.

All in all it's grim and, as such, it's one of the reasons that if I ever run a company we will have as few "values" as we can get away with, and we certainly won't be trumpeting our "culture" with any self-serving presentations.

In talking with CIOs and others, as well as just personal interactions with financial institutions and the like, there are a lot of traditional practices and processes that were just "the way things were done." And even if some in authority wondered if they should experiment with this or that change, it probably seemed like a low priority and at least a little bit risky if it didn't work out. What's happened is a bunch of change has been forced. And some of those changes have indeed proven sub-optimal. But a lot have worked out, surprisingly to many, well.

> Nah, it's only an issue now.

It's similar to how the people who would say, "suck it up, buttercup" to people with mental illnesses, are now hand-wringing about mental illnesses exacerbated by measures against COVID. They don't really care, they just found an excuse that sounds good enough to them to rail against something they don't like.

Wife and I been working from home for months now. What a work-life balance game changer it is! We don't want to be back at the office. Even better, none of our working-from-home friends does.

Of course everyone has a different perspective but the majority of my circles enjoys the new arrangement.

Yes. This seems to be a very divisive issue, others prefer working from home, others prefer the office. Some are downright miserable in their home offices. I'm guessing some were also miserable at their work offices but didn't have a choice.

If this involuntary experiment has taught us anything, it's that people are very different in their preference. Hopefully people will be allowed a choice when the situation is over.

It's worth noting that a lot of people don't miss the office as much as they miss the social interaction with their co-workers. If a part of the people will return to the office and others prefer to stay home, the social interaction won't be there as it used to and there is a risk of splitting into two camps.

My company has said that WFH will be available to everyone once offices open again. I am very grateful for that.

I miss my coworkers too, but mostly the lunches and after work beers and coffee breaks. What I do not miss is the daily commute and actually trying to get work done in a distracting office environment.

I only live about 10-15 minutes from campus and campus is beautiful. I get along great with my coworkers and boss. My current working arrangement is sitting in a chair in the corner of the living room with my computer on my lap and all the kids are there also doing there school work. All of this might make it sound like I can’t wait to get back to campus. To be honest just the thought makes me nauseous. I’ve loved working from home and would be thrilled to be able to continue working remotely from here on out.

I love rolling out of bed and immediately starting to work. I love not having to waste time getting dressed and driving to work, but using that time to work. I love not being interrupted constantly by coworkers. I love using my own bathroom. I love having immediate access to my own kitchen. I love being able to see my family more frequently. I love getting more work done.

Unfortunately, my work has made it very plain that we will be going back to working in the office at some point (probably has something to do with them completing an additional 5 million square feet of new office space this year).

I have been working fully from home more than 5 years now. And before that almost as much half time from home. I think I can safely say that I would be devastated if I had to go full time office worker again. I have been working in office more than 10 years in the past. I find myself lot less distracted and interrupted even when the kids are at home. Digging in some code with other people over screen sharing is much better experience than over-the-shoulder way. Lot less fingerprints on screen is an added bonus. Sometimes I like to work late in the evening and I absolutely hated commuting home after long days in the office. YMMV obviously.

I have a different opinion. I absolutely fucking hate working from the office. Any office.

I have worked for companies big and small, so, I sometimes don't get most of the perks the author talks about.

I absolutely value my privacy and don't want to feel like a criminal for browsing social media during office hours for brief periods of time while people stare into my screen.

I absolutely fucking hate sitting across a transparent windowed room from where my boss can see how long I'm out for lunch and not and bring it up casually during chit chat.

I absolutely hate that wall hanging TV (55") connected to Spotify at all times, playing stupid music I don't like.

I absolutely hate namesake team lunches which again force me to give up my already short lunch break to discuss about work which stresses me out.

I absolutely hate people in open desks sitting across me, talking so loudly that I simply cannot get through my day without an expensive noise cancellation headphone. (Recommendation: Sony 1000XM3 or XM4 works wonders).

I hate forced "team outings" from office for "team bonding" activities which I cannot opt out of.

I hate being dragged into whiteboard "brainstorming sessions" I cannot opt out of, while I could be working on something else important.

Right now:

I'm at home, doing my own thing, with 100% privacy to do whatever I like whenever I like.

Nobody can walk upto me and yell "Hey, got 2 mins?" and expect me to attend to them or take offense if I don't.

Nobody can drag me anywhere. People need to now send me calendar invitations which I can accept or reject along with a reason/description in the invite itself.

I have full control over my time and I how I want to spend it.

Team meetings are now shorter, more efficient.

I can finally have some family time, save much more on transit costs and don't need to be tired by the time I reach home.

Perhaps, the most important thing about NOT being in the office is that I'm not judged by the number of hours I'm glued to my desk, but rather the tasks that I complete on time and the quality of output I produce...which is how work should be judged.

THIS is the value of remote work for me. I simply cannot see myself going back to office.

I value my productivity and so should every company hiring me.

I agree on all points. On this one...

> Nobody can walk upto me and yell "Hey, got 2 mins?" and expect me to attend to them or take offense if I don't.

Learn to say "No" to this one. You have to do it politely, of course, but it works. Wedge in an apology, an explanation, and a counter-offer. Make the other person feel bad for assuming they were entitled to interrupt you and then steal your time. Something like, "No, sorry, I really don't right now. I am SLAMMED and have to finish XYZ before noon. Could you come back at 1:30?" If they push, just repeat it.

>I fundamentally do not think remote teams can ever be as productive as in-person teams.

Trade an anecdote for an anecdote.

We have found our dev team to be exactly as productive if not more since moving to work from home. A single instance of productive remote work invalidates this statement that it is literally impossible for remote work to be productive.

The OP's claim is slightly vague, but would most charitably be read as saying that if you compare all teams (as in the total of all teams around the world), they will perform better in-person than remote, and that this is unlikely to change.

You seem to be interpreting the OP as having said that each and every team is always better in-person. Your read is plausible, but HN guidelines say we should interpret charitably.

Anyway, taking conclusions over what happens to all teams, or the average, or any distribution is a pretty useless task¹. Your work environment won't influence all teams, just yours, so it shouldn't be fit to all.

1 - Unless you are talking about how to tell those teams apart and discover what environment each one fits better. That would be valuable.

OP offers no evidence though, just an anecdote

How many companies have a set up where people hotdesk nowhere near their team (sometimes in different buildings) and encourage all meetings online because there is not enough meeting space? I don’t know, but I know it’s not zero.

Interestingly, I don't know anybody who misses the office. We're all techies and designers and nobody complained. We do miss having a beer after work every now and then, but we don't miss the office itself at all.

I don't miss "the office" as a singular entity, but I miss properties of the office:

- air conditioning

- coffee corner chats

- lunch with colleagues

- strong separation between work time and free time

I don’t miss the office when everybody is there, but going in now, when there’s only 10 people in the 200 person floor is glorious.

All amenities and none of the negatives.

Yeah that's my experience. We miss certain aspects of it like beer after work etc, but no way does that outweigh how bad the office was in other ways. The pointless commute, the constant distraction, the shared facilities etc. A win-win is rare in life; most things come with tradeoffs. This is no different.

I miss getting out of the house and having a 'clean' space where I can focus on work without any not-work people or not-work distractions around me.

I miss the separation between having a work desk with a work computer and a hobby desk with a hobby computer and being physically unable to interact with one while at the other due to them literally being several miles apart.

I miss the clear demarcation between Working and Not Working that the daily commute signified.

This is why I now work from my own coworking space, while the rest of my company work from home. It's a nice middle ground.

Pardon my ignorance but I had presumed they had all shut down with indoor dining being shut down. What’s coworking like in a pandemic?

Offices are still open in the UK. It's fine, the only difference is increased frequency of cleaning.

Actually, I like working from home better. I have a lot more interaction with my family and feel overall more comfortable. Productivity depends on the task. I think for most things it is higher, but causal communication suffers a lot. Yes, the equipment isn't as good as in the office, but I am working on that as I had to renew most my equipment anyway. My biggest concern is that the food I consume for lunch is a lot worse while working from home, but that is 100% my fault and something I could change.

From my current perspective, I think my favorite model would be something like 2 days per week in the office and 3 days working from home. That way one could balance and appreciate the different advantages.

It seems that what he misses most is socialisation. This seems to me the root of the great divide in these discussions, some people love socialising, others not so much.

I have read anti-office posts claiming the opposite of what he says: they feel more productive because they can focus on their job without people bothering them.

Age seems to be a factor too. Married couples don't need so much socialisation (although the post seems to be an exception) and remote work helps to take care of children.

Probably a lot of people don't have a partner or kids to socialize with, other socializing venus are often cut off right now as well so they are slowly going insane in their non existant home office.

Still getting used to being with the missus 24/7. Blissful at first, now getting work done can be difficult. Sometimes it's interpreted as neglect or being aloof, IDK.

I miss missing her and making our time together that much more special.

I also miss missing the missus, but that hasn't been for a decade or so now, so I guess I can't blame COVID.

Not really relating to this. While I'm working from home I just put my headphones on and ignore everyone else at home. Are you not able to do this?

People often consider it impolite, regardless of what you’re doing (I had to find more and more ways to work around it with my parents during lockdown because getting pulled out of flow when trying to do schoolwork was aggravating). explaining didn’t seem to help, they didn’t understand why I couldn’t just quickly do X.

> impolite

While that is true if it's just some singular instance, when living with people (parents, spouses, kids, roommates) it is better to explain it once or twice and after that, just be impolite. Even for the simple reason that they are actually the impolite ones for not respecting your process.

That's great for people living/working with people who have a healthy respect for boundaries, but not everyone has that luxury. Boundary issues are rampant, especially in families.

Boundaries need to be enforced. That's hard to do if you shy too much from being perceived as impolite.

Everyone has a different level of conflict tolerance, of course. But letting someone know that they are being rude and disrespectful should be on the table.

I can relate to this. In hindsight the time apart was actually a net-positive for our relationship, even though we didn’t see it like that at the time.

Most people when they say they miss the office they mean missing dragging everyone with them to the office. You were in the office weren't you? Stay there then and have all the space you want :D I for one will never go back to the office.

Engineer here too. Absolutely agreeing with you.

The people that want to go back to the office are also the same people that were wasting everyone's time in the office. Middle managers, office365 consultants, project managers etc. Etc. Generally the people that had the bullshit jobs in the office, and had little contributions except the "social contribution".

I don't not want to go back to the office mainly because of those same people...

I think it's offensive to call project management a "bullshit job". Maybe you've never had a good PM, but I have, and it's really invaluable. (I've also had bad PMs, but that's no different from bad dev colleagues...)

I think also underperformers fit in there. Before they could hide their laziness via "social contributions".

>The people that want to go back to the office

And my counter-anecdote is that I'm not seeing that at all. The people I see going back to the office are those who just didn't have good WFH situations (lack of space, family distractions, etc.)

I do agree with your sentiment I think unfortunately the people who want to work from the office require everyone else to be there too - to make it the office.

I don't begrudge their attitude but hopefully there is just a split in companies between remote companies and on prem companies.

Yes. I strongly suspect that most people who want to go "back to the office" are not really saying that they just want their office workstation back so they don't need to work in their bedroom or kitchen table (though some are). Rather, they want to be back with their colleagues and if their colleagues mostly aren't there, they're not really going to be satisfied.

That's my impression too. People talking about the benefits of the office are actually complaining of not having everyone around (either to have social aspect or to what they call "casual collaboration" which reduces to being able to interrupt at any time.

Am I the only person who wants to be in the office AND also prefers to be alone there?

I doubt it. There are certainly people who would be perfectly happy with a private office in a Regus or WeWork co-working location so they're not stuck working on a kitchen table or their bed--especially if there are other people in a small apartment all day. (Or they just want home-work separation.)

But there's also a sizable contingent who wants to go back to pre-COVID office life.

No offices, everyone work at home - everyone so busy...

And then you look around, what is all this work achieving?

What were we achieving when we worked in the office? Were we doing anything real at all?

We were sustaining the system that sustained us, so that we could sustain it.

We’re all pixers. Making pixels appear.

I can relate to that, I feel like most computer stuff is a hamster wheel for smart peeps.

I've come to the conclusion that maybe us computer people are not truly smart. And we just like the comfort of thinking that we are.

Yes, we're good at logical thinking, implementing systems, reasoning about problems etc This just makes us useful in the end or good at a certain way of thinking.

"Men of science may be simple tools of others, with no more idea what they are about than a hammer has of a house"

I believe this is true of software developers too - if we were truly smart we wouldn't be on the hamster wheel in a cage belonging to someone else

In the Gervais Principle, developers are all [economic] losers


I’m doing computer stuff while listening to music in a comfortable office/home so I don’t have to till the fields or hunt deer to eat.

This is why I like automation. Not test harnesses; actual machines that make things. It’s real in a way websites and apps just aren’t.


Most people that were not already WFH before the virus hit are confusing WFH with the effects of (semi-)lockdowns.

No commute actually gives you under normal conditions the time to build out a real social life instead of a substitute work social life.

As for the ambient displays, I built those out in my own lab (in my house) this year. 40-50” 4k displays are ~$250 now. I converted both of my main computers to 3x displays (using computer monitors) and put up 3 of these super cheap 4k TVs with chromecast ultras on them.

I love having a few displays playing ambient information or live 24/7 video streams (eg of the Starships they’re building down in Boca Chica) in my lab.

Having a dedicated (large) room in your house to work is critical, IMO. I set mine up pre-pandemic because I always work from the places I am living, unless I’m directly (and temporarily) onsite with a client.

I recently switched jobs and the new company onboarded me remotely. It's difficult for someone who's new to get acquainted with the new job remotely.

Simple things like a small question regarding the codebase turns into a video call with a colleague where you first ping them on chat and ask them if they are free and then schedule the call. Even if the whole thing takes 10 minutes, it's too much compared to just turning sideways, asking them something if I was in office.

OTOH, I was much more comfortable working remotely in my previous job where I was already familiar with the code and the job on the whole.

It seems like a communication issue. Why would you need a video call to ask a question? Problem is that people are used to verbal communication and lack skills to convey a message in writing. When worked in remote first company it was a non issue, rarely had to go on a video call. We had social calls often, but work stuff easily worked out over text. It is also about culture - we had a codebase very well documented and if a starter had questions their task was to improve the documentation together with the dev assigned to onboarding.

It's not quite entirely about culture - I do think that a synchronous call with someone provides better opportunities to detect their unknown unknowns, because you get to see their thought process as they formulate the question. Obviously one can get by without it, but I think this is one of the places where the lack of serendipity actually does hit a little.

Once someone has fewer unknown unknowns, though, the act of asking a question by text can often be enough of a rubber duck that they don't need to hit "send" at all.

Now that you mention it, most of the video calls could have been replaced by a rubber duck. We would do calls for junior devs so they could watch a senior working on a problem and ask questions then to learn their thought process. They found it helpful.

My team currently does half hour coffee mornings and has an open office hour once every two weeks; often we're all just working silently through them, but everyone's on the same call throughout.

Is that something you can do - just sit on a call with your assigned mentor for most of the day?

Before my current job I worked from home for 8 of 9 years. Right in the middle I worked in an office in a small start up. We were about 10 people squeezed into a space the size of my living room. I spent more time chatting with them over some form of messenger than I did in my remote jobs! And no, I feel like I get more done, because I don't have someone just turning sideways and interupting me. While it may be quicker for you it may not be for the person got are interupting.

That may be the case for you, but for many people, their job requires them to communicate with a lot of people. For these kinds of jobs, being in the office is a lot more efficient.

If I was a regular developer, working on a single part of a larger application, I would have zero problems working from home. Once you're in a position where you have to coordinate work with several other people, things are very different.

I can imaging that people who manages large teams have a lot of problems dealing with that remotely.

I’ve been the principal engineer for my company, remotely for the past 4 years. I’ve never had a problem with it.

There are tradeoffs, but just the fact that nearly every single one of our conversations are documented and searchable is worth it alone.

You can’t just walk over to talk to someone anytime the notion strikes you, but you shouldn’t have been doing that anyway. I love to talk, and I love to think out loud. But every time I do that, I’m asking someone else to divert there attention to me.

Being remote allows people to turn off the majority of the interruptions and get work done when they need to.

And it forces me to spend more time thinking about my communications. Instead of just constantly walking over to people the moment an idea pops into my head.

I hope remote teams will start to invest more heavily in keeping up to date knowledge bases to help with exactly these kinds of issues. Tools like Confluence/Notion/whatever should really be solving this problem.

Video calls really grind productivity down to a halt. It's a strange phenomenon - when I have a call scheduled, it's really hard to get work done in a half hour neighborhood of the call.

We have a permanent open chat in slack, so you just make a quick comment.

Work in office was a thing because we didn't have great tools to communicate. Now that changed and I think office work is an unnecessary luxury. If people need face to face meeting, then maybe it is a sign they need to work on their communication skills? I find text communication more meaningful and productive that f2f where things easily get lost. If you need to escape family life, consider working from a cafe or rent a desk somewhere or maybe consider relationship therapy.

No, work in office was a thing because it's always been like that and change is difficult. It's not like remote work is a new idea, it's just that the idea of not visually seeing asses in seats was perceived as very radical.

My argument is that we didn't have Zoom or Slack 50 years ago, so gathering people in one place was a necessity. Now it's not and it indeed may feel radical, but the same could be told about people who used to walk everywhere and then faced the transportation revolution.

I have too much pressure from my significant other. She can't look at me doing nothing (when I'm thinking or having my 15 minute rest between productive hours). Every single time I need to clean something up.

I started going to the store and cooking lunch during work hours.

Then I also get complaints about not doing the dishes while I'm working.

It was nice when the work and home were separated and I just did all my household chores on my non-work time. Now I'm constantly interrupted.

Not to assume anything, but you might need to discuss this with your SO rather than HN. I’m not saying that to be snarky but really, without communication you’ll end up not understanding each other. She may be dealing with stresses of her own, triggering overly controlling behaviour.

You may have a boundary and respect problem there. Working from home just uncovered it and it may be a good idea to solve it.

Have you communicated that?

“Hey, I’m busy earning money. Because I’m sitting and thinking doesn’t mean I’m slacking off, and I’m also quite surprised to hear that from my significant other. You don’t know what I’m doing right now and you’re not my manager, so stop controlling and managing my work time. You’re distracting me from my work so please leave me alone. If you can’t look at me thinking and doing my work then please look the other way or go to the other room. Thanks, bye.”

I’m dramatizing, but set boundaries. There’s personal time and work time. When it’s work, it’s work.

Unsolicited advice warning

That's a long road.

I think it's fair to ask you to pull your weight with the housework but maybe try setting some standard boundaries e.g. between 8-5 or something, so there's no need for an interaction ('are you done working?'). If you're conveniently 'working' every time she asks that's not going to help.

Or you could ask her to do your work while you do the dishes/cook/etc.

My suggestion would be that no matter what you decide, propose the idea proactively. Don't wait until there's an ask on the table.

>It was nice when the work and home were separated

Ehm... how should I put it... I think your issue is not the separation of work and home per se, rather the separation of you and your SO.

I largely echo sibling posts saying you should address this with her, but if available to you I might suggest speaking with a therapist first. Potentially starting a fight with someone you’re locked at home with is risky.

I don’t. If I work from home for 15 years then I gain 1 entire year back of my life from not having to commute.

Also no one can tap me on the shoulder :)

I worked in an office at Amazon for 2 years to start my career and haven't sniffed one since. And won't step foot in one ever again.

> I miss productivity! Our engineering productivity has fallen through the floor since COVID despite everyone working longer and harder; I fundamentally do not think remote teams can ever be as productive as in-person teams.

You miss productivity? Your paycheck-writer should but you have a world of personal opportunity by not being forced to spend half your waking hours on company property.

Working from home made me realize that I could drive my hours of effort way lower than an office allows. All for the same salary (effective hourly rate skyrockets.)

The biggest factor for me is really simple the benefit of investing in my office.

I can now spend my money on my home office and build it as i like it for me and as long as i can work remote, im getting those benefits directly and i'm no longer bound by a company because of those benefits.

I got myself a standing desk at home with a nice real wood top, which is awesome.

I haave to have a work space at home anyway for taxes, learning/writing, playing games, doing something with pictures etc. Now i have a great home office and a great private 'home office'?

And yes holy shit finally a clean nice bathroom i like going to.

I've been WFH for three years and hope to never ever ever go back. I do more in 20 hours than I did in a whole work week. And I don't have to drive. I only need one car. The savings and improved convenience is just ludicrous.

My one and only must-repeat tip: spend money on a proper office space. If you can, have a dedicated room. And prepare to spent a few thousand on a proper desk and chair.

Okay I lied, two pieces of advice: the point of a dedicated space is that you can walk away from it and not go back in until the next day or Monday. That's absolutely critical to success.

100% with you on the dedicated room. Locking the door at the end of the working day is vital to me.

I just realized that I earn more than working inside the office. I don't know, but it seems that I am spending too much when I'm at the office. Also, productivity-wise, I can perform well at home and not worried if my boss is checking me out or what.

I don't miss the office mainly for the following reasons:

- Too many distractions, between the noise, other conversations and shoulder taps

- Waste time commuting.

- No place to close your eyes without being "looked at funny".

- Can't really go home and eat with my family, no time.

- Eating is a struggle, since all the options to eat around my office are expensive and not too healthy.

- I can't listen to my music without headphones.

- mindless hallway chit chats (they're not for me).

So I guess I'm not an office person in general.

I agree with almost everything but one: I think people get much more work done at home than in the office. Having worked a mixture of office / remote in the past 15 years and having witnessed multiple teams going remote pre covid and another team going remote during covid, I think the office is a productivity killer.

Managers think people are working because are in the office, people think they're working because they're in the office. But tasks proceed at abysmal pace between impromptu meetings and coffee breaks.

Being alone at home and being judged just for the work you're completing, actually force people to do something, which is why they end up working more at home: having something to show for the next meeting takes time.

There are tons of cons to remote working for the workers: - Likely worse workspace - Costs are shifted to the workers - Lack of social life - Lower loyalty to employers and teammates who are just a window on your laptop - Managers will have less of a relationship with you, making you more expendable and more easily replaced with someone in a cheaper country

I don't plan on ever going back to the office. HOWEVER, it is possible that a company could entice me to come in to the office, and here's how:

- Stop with the ridiculous open office plans

- If you have free snacks or a machine with Monster energy drinks, don't get rid of those things a year after instating them

- Give my team a budget for tools, like if we need Parallels or Sketch, and make that budget transparent

- Compensate me for transportation expenses that I wouldn't incur if I had a remote position

- Don't get weird when I leave the office for a few hours to do whatever I want when there are no meetings or high priority tasks

- Don't force me to change desks every 6 months because you failed the to properly organize the workspace the first time

- Give me actual raises and not the poppycock you call a "merit increase" which only keeps up with inflation

- Make it easy to use meeting space to host tech meetups (it's amazing how many businesses don't see the tremendous value in this)

- Get rid of Agile. It doesn't work. All you need is sprints with planning and retrospective, a ticketing system, and a daily status sync through Slack.

You're lucky your merit increase even keeps up with inflation.

I work for a fortune 500 tech company whose stock is up 600% in the past 3 years, and they got rid of the merit increase unless you get promoted or were nearly promo'ed.

Even before that it was generally 1-2%, well below even the meager increases social security provides year over year.

> Get rid of Agile. It doesn't work. All you need is sprints with planning and retrospective, a ticketing system, and a daily status sync through Slack.

What do you think "agile" is?

> Stop with the ridiculous open office plans

They are the worst.

> Get rid of Agile. It doesn't work. All you need is sprints with planning and retrospective, a ticketing system, and a daily status sync through Slack.

Watch some Dave Thomas videos on YouTube. Real Agile software development is nothing like the ridiculous faux-Agile frameworks sold into today's corporate prisons.

I don't miss the open plan office, the constant interruptions by coworkers who rather have small talk than actually work, the useless meetings, the uncomfortable chairs, the shared washrooms, the kitchen that is never cleaned, the morning commute in traffic, the hour long commute back home, the forced socializing after 5PM.. really? we're a family..?

No thanks.

He is a software engineer in the Bay Area, I presume? I think he can afford to buy a big monitor (I use a 55” LG OLED TV which I have bought at discount for less than $1400. Compared to a shitty Dell at my workspace, it’s a bliss).

I, personally, hope to never return to the office. I was working mostly from home even before the pandemic, but now it’s official.

If i have a shitty monitor at the office i buy myself one and a keyboard and a mouse. A Kitchen Chef has his own personal tools (Knifes) too. I refuse to work with stuff that makes my workday a pain (just talking about the physical stuff, software stuff is something completely different as we know)

You're missing all of the other points from the post that are not easily solvable with a material purchase

Excuse me for going off topic but what you think of possible burn-in possibilities with an OLED panel and static elements on the screen.

I am also eyeing the same TV but I am worried about the issues popping up.

Well, it can happen. Mine has a slight (barely noticeable) burn-in from the time when Windows desktop was by some mistake left without turning the display off for two days in a row. Still works fine, everything is impressive. If you avoid such mistakes, I think it can work flawlessly for many years.

Over time it will happen but not noticeable as you think, search on YouTube for test results.

Even if we focus on the monitor/desk combination, the fact that they might have money for those does not mean that they have room for them (he mentions how he's lucky to have a desk).

I've worked from home for the last 14 years. I've only used Slack for the last 12 months and it sucks (well, how it is used sucks).

While I love the benefits of working from home, I do miss the things that working from an office gives you in the social aspect.

I'd be curious to know how common this is. I absolutely do not miss any part of the commute, or being constantly distracted by coworkers noise and needs.

Not sure I’m following his gripes with slack. Been remote for a couple years now with slack as my only tool for communications (with the exception of a handful of times I’ve used email or called my manager on the phone) and it’s been just fine for me.

You probably just haven't used anything better. Even email is better than Slack for work-related stuff. I greatly prefer Zulip, I've written up why here:


Your view is that email is better than slack. OP has experience with email and judges slack to be better. Neither are “right” or “wrong”

I find Slack is better than Skype For IM. I find zoom the best for face to face meetings and screen sharing (slack doesn’t seem to have a “share this window” option), but slack for starting a quick call and for asynchronous comms, and things like changes and alerts. Email for comms outside the company.

Use whatever tool makes you work well.

The fact that OP has used email doesn't mean that he's done work collaboration exclusively over email. Obviously some of the people who have done both might prefer Slack, but the difference is so large that I find it unlikely.

I fundamentally believe anyone that wants to return to the office are shills/managers that believe people in seats where they can observe them is the only way they can justify their jobs. I personally would quit my job if I had to return to the office and the reasons have all been repeated by others already. Mainly, the office environment is just worse than what you can setup at home. I personally don't like sitting in an open space around others. I can communicate to whoever I wish by slack or video chat from home. Anyway I'm hopeful this goes on for another year and until I have to find another job if managers get their ill way.

I had an office built in my backyard earlier this year and I was lucky enough that it was completed just before the pandemic hit. I would highly recommend something like this for remote employees. There is a strong enough delineation between home and work with the added benefit that I can turn the office into sort of a man cave. I can “decorate” it in ways that I don’t really want in my home. I guess its sort of a compartmentalized place that I can be an adult for work but also a kid during off hours.

I do miss the interactions with coworkers and the water cooler conversations but there are always trade offs.

I simply can't afford enough space at home for a comfortable working environment in addition to enough space for the kids.

I'd have to move MUCH farther away from the city (think 1 hour of driving), to get a space where this would work, I've been looking into it for the last 3 months, but so is everyone else, meaning the price where there is broadband available is skyrocketing in my area.

In general the pandemic has decimated the quality of life I used to enjoy in my downtown office, and to get that back I have to rebuild my life from scratch, 2020 and the move to WFH has been terrible in that regard for our family.

The broadband problem could be soon solved by Starlink.

"soon" in Germany might mean 2022

Not great, not terrible. This means a year and a half. If it saves you 300 000 eur on purchase of your home, it paid for itself.

I am a Czech; property prices around Prague are hopping mad, but top German cities like Munich are just beyond belief. Buying a house in an expensive region means debt slavery till the end of your days.

Waiting to 2022 does not sound as bad in comparison. You can probably have a big, even though unkempt villa somewhere in Sachsen-Anhalt for the price of a garage in Munich.

For this reason I don't plan on buying in Germany unless I hit the proverbial lottery.

But rent slavery is not much better, having my entire extended family living in this High CoL environment makes moving hard on the kids aswell... Atm I have a hard time being happy with any of the combinations of tradeoffs we could make.

Could consider moving to a cheaper country for a few years if you're in the EU, 200k could buy you a very big house in eastern europe

So the company was subsidising your lifestyle by paying for expensive real estate. They should be able to offer a pay rise if the same work is being done but they don’t need the office space.

The company still has to pay for the office space for three years, I know because I was part of negotiating that at end of 2019.

We're a small company with healthy finances, but the salary increase necessary to offset the higher rent requirements in this housing market, due to the heavy tax burden would amount to an increase in absolute numbers nearly a third of what we pay for in rent for the whole business, and that's just for me.

Seeing it from both sides is mind-boggling to say the least.

What I don't miss about working from the office:

- the commute

- paying for parking

- paying for lunch

- wearing "business appropriate" clothes

- inability to multi-task while sitting through meetings I'm forced to attend

- inability to listen to music via a speaker instead of headphones

My employer, a Fortune 200 company, allowed us to take our machines, monitors, chairs and whatnot home. I have a great setup. My team is more productive than we've ever been and in a way we've been closer as well. This is preferable to sitting on top of each other while wearing headphones so we can maintain some personal space.

One of the biggest problems I've found with working from home is that your work life and your professional life start to blend together in unfortunate ways. Working without office space is common in pre-startups and it's dreadful. I've been told that blending your work and professional life is simply foolishness on an individual level. Usually this isn't the case. The circumstances tend to be different and there's a lot of pressure to compress your life like this. It's dreadful. Everything feels like work after awhile. Other people I've spoken to in the startup/entrepreneur scene who work from home have conferred this sentiment. It's often the case that the lifestyle work from home produces is unsustainable in the long run. In this way it is a degenerate lifestyle. It's challenging to turn a home into a proper workspace.

A rebuttal to those who dislike the office. I would argue that the many of the downsides of the office tend to be blessings in disguise. You aren't meant to be totally comfortable at work. Going to the office is like a performance. You aren't meant to be totally comfortable while performing a duty. It's like doing a presentation. You shouldn't go up on stage and let it all hang loose. The office space tends to cultivate the right things for working which are not the right things for relaxed living.

The biggest one for is, as mentioned in the article: casuasl collaboration. I mis being able to just walk over to a coworker. I’m just home every other week, which strikes a reasonable balance for me.

If you think about it, what you miss is the possibility to interrupt others at any time, which is not very considerate once you realise it.

Calling it "casual collaboration" is not honest, as that's not collaboration. The other person is not collaborating, just being interrupted to help you with something. the only thing I agree is that you lost the casual talks in the coffee break or kitchen, but that is not always about being more productive.

I’m normally the one who gets interupted. The part I miss is helping a co-worker, I always thought that was very considerate of me.

I always found the fact that I can be interrupted at any time in the office very annoying. When I was in the flow and then someone comes up with a question that makes me switch context, then that affected productivity badly. Other colleagues raised this too and in the end we adopted a rule that you either ask a question on Slack or schedule an appointment. After that we found we could get much more done. Some people didn't like this though and left, but with the remaining devs we had an awesome team.

That's a very real problem, sometimes you just need long periods of uninterrupted time to get a task done.

We solve this by having a special office, placed in a "remote" corner of the building. It's equipped with proper desks, monitors, chair and so on. You can go there if you need a few hours, or days, of dedicated time. If you're working on a specific project, we'll often move the team working on that project to a dedicate office. For your daily job, you just just stay at your normal desk in a semi-open office space, with plenty of meeting room and smaller rooms for calls or online meetings.

Do your coworkers also miss you just walking over to them?

Something that doesn't get brought up is this + onboarding jr devs/new grads.

The mentorship programs don't really work in my experience without actually being able to talk to them.

You must be a manager.

I feel really miserable working from home. Cannot get anything done.

1. Main problem is lack of social interaction. I now realize most of my work projects started in casual coffee conversations with people from other groups. Now there's nothing like that, and planned meetings never work that way.

2. Also, I really miss my commute. I had 15km of bike lanes in the forest every day, that were essential to reset my mind and start thinking about the new day. In the evening, the way back home was a useful disconnect.

Over here (Singapore), we were out of the office for several months, and while it was annoying, I didn't feel too bad about it. At least I could sleep in in the morning.

My biggest problem was because I work a lot with people in Europe which meant that I ended up working very late every night, since there was no natural way to stop in the evening.

Now that we're back in the office 50% of the time, I realise just how much nicer that is. You really get isolated when working from home, and one doesn't really notice it until you actually come back.

Re: commute: would going for a walk or ride before and after work help? I’ve found myself biking far more during the pandemic because I can hop into a Zoom call just minutes after finishing my ride.

Yes, that's what I try to do. Unfortunately in France we are limited to a disc of 1km radius around our homes, which is a purely urban area in my case.

So is your main problem with WFH or the pandemic?

Good question. Since I never worked from home before, in my mind it is exactly the same thing. When the lockout ends I'll be the first to go back to the campus. Also, most of our students are yearning to resume the in-person classes. For me, doing math has always been a matter of several people scribbling together on a blackboard.

Considering the remorseless singular dedication to efficiency in my country that takes no prisoners I think offices are on the way out.

Why would you as a company want to pay for an expensive building?

In Europe apartments are small. The energy, equipment and labor costs are also high. It can be difficult to work from home.

I am more productive with separation of my professional and personal lives.

I have the complete opposite experience. I miss very little from the office because my desk at home is bigger and cleaner, my monitors are better, it's quiet and private, and my productivity is through the roof.

If productivity is truly down then it just sounds like some work is different and has different needs. As for having a lower quality of life because you now live in a city for no reason, you have to adapt. Things have changed. Deal with it.

And never forget the grass is always greener on the other side.

I miss it too. I've been a remote worker for most of my career (2005-2020) with a 4 year stop in silicon valley where I worked in an office.

Those 4 years truly showed what I was missing and in 2019 I decided I was going start my own office and 5 of us started working out of it.

Since we were fully remote already we were already buying everyone nice desks, monitors, keyboards, chairs, etc. at their home but not every home was great for home work even though we did our best.

I have a dedicated office space with 4 monitors, a standing desk, nice chair, ergonomic keyboard, etc. but I still miss working out of the physical office.

    - Morning chatter and basic social stuff is nice in a neutral area.  We do socialize over video calls too but its in your home where your dogs might be barking, your kids might be crying, your neighbor might be mowing his lawn, etc.   The mute button has become an extremely important part of work and that ruins the experience

    - Separation of work and home. Doesn't matter if its the holidays and in-laws are in town or your friend from high school is visiting for the week. Or you're watching your friends dog for a week.  You still have a nice work environment to go to.
Its nice not having a commute and being able to work from home but in general its only nice if you dedicate a large portion of your home to work and that isn't always do-able. How many people have a spare bedroom in their home that is quiet enough that children, dogs, and neighbor lawn work don't disturb it?

I think everyone of our team misses the office even though we only had one for 1 year of the 4 for we've been in operation.

I think the comments in this thread are testament enough to how divided this is. What I've found interesting is that there seem to be three sides to this, one with an overwhelming majority and two that are too extreme to really be appealing to everyone.

On one end you have the, I want to be back in an office full time and I don't care about working from home. On the other end you have, working from home is the future and everyone should do it full time.

Where, at least from what I've seen data wise, the majority is something flexible. Where WFH is an option, or something you can do when you feel like it.

What's interesting, and this is purely qualitative, is that to me it seems that folks on the WFH full-time end of the spectrum seem to have zeal for this idea. Whereas those on the other side seem more indifferent.

I personally believe that a hybrid solution is the best. I miss seeing the people I work with. I miss having company culture. I miss having a clear separation of work and home. However, I respect that others may have different goals and methods of working that WFH suits better. We should allow both.

> Where, at least from what I've seen data wise, the majority is something flexible. Where WFH is an option, or something you can do when you feel like it.

Funny, the way I see it the majority is indeed flexible. Where office work is an option, or something you can do when you feel like it.

I think that's a fair interpretation as well.

Never want back from Home office to office again (45 minutes one way)!ONE!

I don't, but a lot of it has to do with the job I did, and the culture of the office.

I was a manager at a fairly "stolid," classic corporation.

Since leaving that job (pre-covid), I started to "retool" myself back into engineering, and have been working at home, writing software.

My personal productivity is absolutely jaw-dropping. I never thought I would ever be this productive.

Don't believe me? see for yourself: https://github.com/ChrisMarshallNY#github-stuff

But it's an unfair comparison. Apples to oranges. There's drastic differences between what I did in the office, and what I do at home.

I also have a fairly massive monitor (an LG Ultrawide 49"). It makes a really big difference in productivity. I used to do all my programming on my laptop, during downtime from work (nights, weekends, travel, and vacation).

> I miss casual collaboration. Video chat is a poor substitute

I think the opposite - online collaboration is always more productive, we can share documents easily, there is more focus, i can ignore parts of it, multitask etc. And the fact that you can have international people at will makes them superior.

For me the biggest struggle with working from home has been psychological. I find it much harder to focus for some reason, even with a dedicated room to work in. When I was working in an office my mind would automatically switch to work mode, and I could be productive for 6+ hours. At home for some reason my mind never quite switches into work mode. I've been trying many things and it has gotten better but still not there. It's almost like I've developed mild ADHD. I wonder if anyone has some tips for this, as I'm running out of ideas.

The only thing that has worked for me in the past is to go to coffee shops and despite the noise and general discomfort, my brain instantly goes into work mode and I can focus. But this isn't really viable w/ lockdowns.

Have you tried a morning ritual?

I mean something to prime your brain to "it's work" mode.

I've never had problems with working from home, but reading your post made me think of things which I'm perhaps doing differently. A morning ritual is something I've always done, not intentionally though, it developed organically.

So, I always start work in the same way: make coffee, connect VPN, hook up the tmuxes, start the web browser and start the mail program. (Those processes get purposefully killed every night)

It's just some silly busy work which takes very little time. It is also something I would not do outside of workdays. However, it mimics the things I'd do (and did) at the office.

Also, maybe your dedicated room is too quiet? If you were a cubicle/open landscape worker prior to the pandemic, you surely now lack all kinds of uninteresting and annoying ambient noises, so could it be this silence makes things feel "wrong"? Perhaps a radio on an uninteresting channel might work?

I don’t know if you tried it, but I know who during lockdown and working from home would still wake up at the same time, do the same morning routine, dress, go outside and walk for 10-20 minutes like they’re going to work and get back home like you’re walking into the office.

I was fine over the summer, but at 55.6° north in Copenhagen, sunset is now 15:53. That makes it more difficult to find daylight-time outside on a working day, and the city is in winter mood (fewer people wandering outside in the evening) so it feels more lonely.

I changed the light in my office from a normal (for home), "warm" bulb to a 1500lm 6300K "daylight" one, which helps. It no longer feels like I ought to be relaxing at 15:45.

I'm also going to make more effort to just cycle or walk around outside over lunchtime. Both things were easier when working at the office -- it felt like a "work" place with bright lights and big windows, and I couldn't avoid the outside-time to get there.

I highly recommend a smart bulb that can change color, for example Philips Hue White Ambiance. You can even set it to automatically fade from daylight to warm at a time you specify.

Ugly office not gonna lie!

I gave up trying to work from home and commute to the office as an essential worker, because the distractions were so frequent I was not getting much work done. I'm the only person in the office and it is night and day for my productivity.

At the end it is about finding a place without distractions. Not every home is prepared for that (and sometimes even impossible, due to kids, for example). But it is not the office per se which I claim that tend to be really disruptive in general.

I miss working at the office, yet I hope to stay remote forever.

The fact is, I had a 45 minutes commute (so 1h30 every day!) before the pandemic. That quickly adds up to almost 8 hours per week in the bus/metro.

Why not move closer to the city? Well for one I don't like living in high density urban areas. The noise level, construction work and high price makes it uninteresting to me.

So I would love the hybrid 2 days in the office, 3 days remote to have real meetings without having to go back wasting ~10% of my waking time in public transports, but I absolutely understand that some (especially with children!) might want a clean separation between home and work.

I definitely miss having the option to work from the office.

I miss the commute time ( never more than an hour and a half on the busiest of commutes ) and the transition from home to work and work to home again.

I don't think I cared for doing either full time; office or working from home. So I liked being able to mix it up. The variation of it was refreshing.

I liked experiencing the increased likelihood of encountering unexpected events and people. The greater randomness of experience.

There are parts I miss about the office and parts I don't.

Do miss: Face-to-face meetings, bumping into people you know from other teams randomly, dropping by someone's desk to ask a question.

Don't miss: High density open office environment (honestly don't mind open office that much as long as density is reasonable), commute (40 mins each way), free food / snacks (easier to eat healthy at home).

After weighing up the pros and cons though, I think I would probably choose to go back to the office after the pandemic is over, although I might optimize for a job where I get my own office or a low density open office.

I think we need to keep in mind the distinction between "working remote" and "working remote during a crisis".

I recently wrote about that at some length, in fact: https://taoofmac.com/space/blog/2020/10/29/2200

I've been remote for years now and this has been an "eternal September" (or, rather, March) kind of thing where all of a sudden hundreds of people in my immediate professional circle were forced to have new work habits while the couple of dozen of us who were used to "regular" remote work watched a variety of small scale train wrecks as people realized they had to do meetings differently, be more flexible about scheduling, etc.

Good points:

* It's more inclusive, for sure. Everyone has to use Slack/Teams/whatever to interact, so you don't feel like everyone in the room is ignoring the remote guy inside the little box on the table.

* If you have a home office, it is _way_ more comfortable than anything else you might usually have at a "regular" office. For instance, you get a door you can close instead of open space insanity.

* If your kids are still in school (and not sent home because of COVID) you get to pick them up (that's my daily outdoor exercise).

* You are no longer taking hours (sometimes days) travelling to the office, customers and whatnot.

Bad points:

* More, shorter meetings that completely destroy focus time. I've taken to block out 2h a day at least where I will simply not take calls or even reply to chats in order to get stuff done.

* Longer working hours (which I also completely blame on the pandemic--it's become much worse this year).

* Your life feels more "crammed in". Part of it is due to the insane work schedules, but confinement means shopping and chores (like doing the dishes, cooking or laundry) have to be done _somewhen_, often into the night time.

* You may be physically around your kids, but most often so busy or exhausted that it takes extra effort to devote the required level of focus and attention you absolutely _have_ to give them in these trying times.

On the whole, though, I still don't want to go back to an office.

Yes, it's harder to create new relationships, to learn a new org, etc. But even when things get back to "normal" (if ever), I don't think I'd be able to deal with going to an office more than once a week, because the benefits will then far outweigh the downsides (at least for me).

We're finally coming to this stage where WFH doesn't seem fancy anymore. As a person whose worked remotely for a larger part of his life, I'd always missed the water cooler conversations and camaraderie people shared in office.

With the pandemic bringing lockdowns, a lot of my colleagues thought work from home is great as they could stay in pyjamas all day long.

Finally, as we see ourselves away from office in the near future, people are realising WFH isn't as fancy as it seemed. After a while it takes a toll on anyone and feels like living in a cage/prison.

I miss you guys working from the office. I transitioned to a laptop-at-the-cafe world years ago and now everywhere I work at is chock full of displaced workers looking for something better than the kitchen table, and has a lot fewer places to sit. At least I'm in the tropics so there's been a a growth in outdoors seating, I can't imagine how crazy I'd be going if I was still in the north.

I've got a decent home studio but getting the heck away from home regularly is really important for staying sane.

After working remote for 6 years now, I miss office a bit.

I don't want to be forced to be there, not even one day a year.

But I want to have the option to be with my co-workers for a couple of days every few months.

I used to like working from home. I had a better computer and plenty of different places I could work in my house.

But now I have kids at home all day and working from home is hell.

It’s all about context.

And you are correct: A lot of people don’t have good setups to work from home. And then on the other end, some offices are amazing and some are terrible. People who want people to come into an office should really try to make a better experience. Forcing people to come into a crappy office is insane.

I mainly miss being able to work from multiple places. I find that if I get too comfortable in a space I will be completely unproductive. It has happened at work when I had a desk and it is now happening at my home office. I miss being able to go to a coffee shop. I miss going to the library. I miss being able to go to the chair on the third floor of the office. I miss choice.

Staying home is obviously the right thing, but I miss choice.

Personally, working from home, I have the feeling, that I now get the most worth out of my flat.

Sure, I need to work from either the living room or the office space downstairs.

My office was fucking WeWork. Or, as I call it, WePlayPingPong because the environment is not conducive to actual work. I was so glad to WFH, so much more productive, and I'm praying $COMPANY doesn't make us go back to the office when all this shit is over. Although they didn't renew their WePlayPingPong lease, so it might be an improvement, but still.

Have you considered if your teams’ productivity has tanked that it might be a systemic/process issue? Not just temporary stress or disruption but an underlying issue, now exposed, that before was casually worked around by lots of in person informal communication? Many business processes “work” because people adapt without noticing the swerves.

The only thing I miss about working in an office is having a workstation and other gear readily available. The startup I work for was on the brink of bankruptcy when I was hired, so I have worked with my desktop computer ever since. The current job market can be really dark unless you live in a handful of places.

I live in the Netherlands and I have secured an office on "temporary" basis 10 minutes by bike from home. I have 3 huge rooms, internet, water and electricity for a total sum of 250 Euros a month. I'm really enjoying this and I'm not looking forward to commuting 3 hours a day past Vivid.

I confess I miss working in my nondescript government contract warehouse. There is something to be said about the spontaneity in being in close contact with other humans. Spontaneous laughter, joy, anger, whatever the emotion, makes like move more fluidly. Working from home is like molasses.

I have a great home setup with decent equipment and separation of work space, etc, etc. I’m very grateful for that.

But, I really miss my coworkers and all of the ways that collaborating is easier in person. It’s nice to be able to work from home some of the time, but all of the time sucks.

I do miss the free food, ping pong and banter. But, I’m a developer working with marketers and it’s hell being remotely next to them. Can be very draining and for that reason I prefer WFH. That way I can respond to them the next day, close Slack or just not reply at all.

Through my career I've traveled to new countries and cities for work, each time the office helped me connect with people and make new friends, some of my best friends in fact. What does the future hold for me in this respect? It seems like a lonely place.

It can help to build a group of friends in the area and not depending on the coworkers. For that I would recommend groups for activities, gyms, workshops and local activities. It is difficult if you never did it before, but it is worth the effort. Besides, your social life will not depend on your particular job.

Obviously, with quarantines in place that almost impossible, so hang in there, it will become better.

Coworking offices can fill this space: Meeting new, interesting people, coffee chats and after work beers.

and yet in this context, you'd still miss the co-working office. They're gone too.

Wow I saw your photos and wondered if you work in the same company as me. My office is nearly identical. Turns out its kinda sad that its the other side of the country, in a completly different industry. I'd rather work from office too though.

The writer forgot the following:

- People to clean your workspace; - People to replace equipment when necessary; - People to design your workstation; - Free electricity; - Free phone; - Free security;

And the list goes on... all these costs have been shifted to workers.

Huh. I never thought about this. Some companies will ship you monitors and such, but you're right, a huge amount of cost has shifted to the worker. You now have to heat and cool your home for the entire day.

Sums up my thoughts entirely OP. Missing the office, particularly the social aspect.

I can’t think of anything that has disappeared this year that I miss less than the office. What I miss is being able to be in close proximity to strangers without freaking out. I wonder when and if that will ever go away. :(

I miss it to but I don't miss the commute or the South Bay.

If the valley weren't so awful this WFH would really be getting to me. But that's not the case and I'm really enjoying my time.

> I fundamentally do not think remote teams can ever be as > productive as in-person teams

Remote teams are much more productive[1] as "in-person teams". What maybe is missing for you is that remote teams are polishing their process, documentations and tools and searching people that "fit" in this working style for years while the "in-person teams" are trying to learn it just now.

[1] https://www.timedoctor.com/blog/remote-teams-future-of-work/

I enjoy working from home. I never liked office small talk. We mostly just talked about our bosses' incompetence anyway... Was getting tiring and leading nowhere.

Fair points but is as profound as not all of us like to wfh, but now is an option a lot more of us can have than ever. Is a good thing

Being forced to work from anywhere is unpleasant, whether it's from home or an office.

YMMV; I prefer to work from home;

I’m having such a good life right now I doubt I could ever return to the office.

I don't, personally!

I don't.

I miss being able to leave office-work at the office at 5PM. No calls no BS after 5 is what I miss the most.

I've been working remotely for years and no one calls me after 5pm. Maybe you should change jobs because it has nothing to do with remote work.

In fact, absent maybe a "we're waiting for you in a meeting, where are you?" call, I generally don`t expect calls period and no one I work with would expect a chat message after 5 to be responded to until the next morning. (I frequently do glance at my email in the evening and may take care of something quick, but it's not an expectation.)

Same here, most of the people who miss the office is because they cant organize themselves or set decent limits.

Dont miss it at All we cut ties with the office 6months before corona its the best with small children :)

That is because:

- You have too much company at home, or you have none.

- You cant prioritize well

- You hate your job and you get distracted

- You need supervision

you stopped scrobbling on last.fm what happened?

I was having the exact same thoughts this week. Now that the vaccines are almost here, and there seems to be an end in sight to this pandemic, I feel like my mind started get antsy for life to go back to normal.

I miss community

Your productivity has falling is only your problem.

I don't.

We have a subset of the workforce who misses the office. Before you shed tears for them, consider when the roles were reversed, office work was mandatory and it was you who wanted (but could not get) remote work. Did your office-loving coworkers put pressure on upper management to support a hybrid model? Now that the tables turned, I don't think having too much empathy is justified.

TL/DR: you think half a year of WFH is hard? It's nothing compared to decades working from the office.

Author causally mentions having a family.

I think that's the big difference here. Someone single like me absolutely loves WFH. I make a very good salary, don't have to worry about even showering if I don't want to. I have my own dual monitor setup.

I can order whatever food I'd like. I wouldn't mind doing this forever , and the vaccine rolling out so we can all do concerts and stuff.

i don't.

tl;dr brogrammer misses flouting his wealth and privilege in public with $15 fusion burritos and $18 well drinks so he did it in a blog instead.

Yes. Some people on the internet were also advocating for a return to the office because people could not stand the loneliness anymore and need to interact socially. I had to point out that this was symptomatic of a poor social/family life [outside of work].

If someone is lonely working remotely and they miss humans, it is a sign the only humans they interacted with were colleagues. It's also a sign of what the person could try and improve.

This situation exposed a lot of crutches.

I don’t follow. Why should where I spend the majority of my waking hours, the majority of my life in practical terms, not also be my primary source of socialization?

I genuinely feel the opposite. Relying on your few off hours to satisfy your innate human need for socialization places an unhealthy demand on your off hours, not to mention an unfair demand on your friends and family.

I am now forced to spend 8 hours a day in my home office not speaking to anyone other than Slack and the occasional Zoom and the loneliness is somehow my fault for not having an active enough social life to counteract this? What about rest and reflection?

This is an infuriating argument. Humans were never intended to spend so much time alone, we’re social animals.

It's fine and healthy to be social at work. But I'm not sure if it's healthy to hang all of your life's needs on work. The bonds you form from work are usually temporary and conditional upon continuing to perform well at work. This can add a lot of pressure: you can lose your coworkers and your "friends" in one fell swoop.

The bonds I form outside of work are simply because we enjoy eachother's company. Or a shared hobby. Something that doesn't require me to be at the top of my performance. As long as I don't do something ridiculously inappropriate, they will still be my friends.

Seems a little dangerous to completely rely on work for socialization. In my opinion most work relationship are pretty shallow and not meaningful long-term. When you leave a company, your entire social circle is going to be up-ended.

> Why should where I spend the majority of my waking hours, the majority of my life in practical terms, not also be my primary source of socialization?

I think because the primary goal is to work. Socialization is a plus, but it will never be your main focus, as mentioned above you will not build meaningful relationships (I mean, not entire impossible, just not as likely).

> Relying on your few off hours to satisfy your innate human need for socialization places an unhealthy demand on your off hours, not to mention an unfair demand on your friends and family.

I don't think it's an unfair demand to want to spend time with friends and family (that is the point of them). Anyone that is thinking that is probably not someone you want to be spending time with...

> Humans were never intended to spend so much time alone, we’re social animals.

I think this is what wife/kids are for. I can't speak for others, but it works for me! 99.9% of my time out of work is with them, and have never felt lonely. Not everyone is in that position I suppose, but then friends would have to fill that gap.

I only need superficial socialization most of the time though. It's kind of silly to think everyone needs deeply engaging social time for 99% of their life. My close friends are all busy and successful we talk and see each other every couple of weeks and months but I rather like the superficial socialization to fill the gap and liked being able to go home to escape all of it if I wanted.

> Humans were never intended to spend so much time alone, we’re social animals.

I am not a social animal, I think you'll find the 'non social humans' to be a larger group than you imagine. Just because we have 'do' doesn't mean we all are.

I also enjoy time alone a little too much. I don't care to make much of an effort to socialize. Sometimes I wish I cared more, but meh. Still, I am a social animal. I live in a city, with other animals. I make sounds that other animals understand, and I can understand them too. I wear my emotional state on my face and I can perceive the emotional state of others by looking at them. I rely on my community to meet my basic needs, trading my services for food, shelter, and other things that please me. I am a human, a social animal.

I guess this all depends on what we call 'social' in this sense. If we take such a broad definition that interaction is the basis of defining a 'social animal' there is nothing on the planet that isnt a social thing. Which is why I simplified the definition down to "requiring socialization to thrive" which clearly is not the case for us as a species.

No x is an island.

Because you're there to work.

Because you'll change employer, maybe frequently, and most of your relationships with colleagues will fall away when you do, where relationships with friends are lifelong.

WFH allows me to see more of my partner and my real friends in my local area, removing wasted commuting time into the bargain.

> Because you're there to work.

That’s such a weird accusation. No I’m not. I get paid to work, and I do good work, but I am not there to work. My goal in life is not “to work”.

That sounds absolutely miserable.

Don't take it as a personal accusation - it's great, and lucky for you, that you get that kind of energy from your work and from your relationship with your colleagues. I've had jobs and colleagues like that too.

But fundamentally, your employer - the other party in your most basic work relationship (between you and the company that employs you) - does see you as being "there to work".

And the moment you switch jobs, or get moved into another business unit, or get laid off, those social relationships with your (now-former) coworkers aren't automatically there during the work day. If you want to preserve them, guess what? You're looking at using those off hours.

I understand your argument a bit better if you're treating socialization like caffeine or something - a purely functional hit of dopamine that gets you through the day. But I think that's maybe a fundamental disagreement on the premise of social life.

But it is somewhat true. The point of being in the office is to get work done. You're being paid to do work, and in the past, part of that was a requirement you be in the office some portion of the time. You were in the office _to work_. It's not to say you may not have other things you like about the office, but the reason the company bought an office and requires you to be there is to work.

Which leads to the other side of this. I want my time in the office to be about work. I don't mind socializing some, and I like my coworkers well enough, but we hired them because they were good at their jobs and didn't seem like bad people to be around. Not because I thought they'd be good friends, or have similar hobbies to me. Because of that, given the choice, I'd rather spend social time with the group of friends I have cultivated myself, instead of having my coworkers try to force a connection just because we sit near each other at the office.

I don't go to work to support someone's else's lack of a social life outside of work, and just because I was required by my job to be in the same room as you doesn't mean you can/should expect me to like you as more than someone I work with. There's plenty of coworkers I like and some I'm actually friends with, but also plenty of people who try to use the conditions of our mutual employment to fill in for friendships they didn't develop outside of work.

>There's plenty of coworkers I like and some I'm actually friends with, but also plenty of people who try to use the conditions of our mutual employment to fill in for friendships they didn't develop outside of work.

That seems an uncharitable way to put it. People only make friends in general by putting themselves out there and making an effort. Is the difference between those two groups merely that the 'actual friends' are the ones who you ended up liking rather than having to pretend to like?

> My goal in life is not “to work”.

I'm not sure how to respond to this.

Of course it's not, and neither mine. My goal in life is also not "to be in an office" either. But when I am in one, I'm there for work. The office is a workspace, that's literally the point of it...

If you weren’t paid and wouldn’t work, would you still go to the same office, and would they allow you there?

If not, you are probably there to work.


If you were paid and work there, but every time you did something that looked like socialising someone would come over and tell you to stop, reminding you that you are there to solely to work, would you stay there?

If you'd leave, you are probably not there solely to work.

It's not an either or. You can have a great social life outside of work and still want and enjoy great relationships with colleagues. Yeah maybe they don't last once you leave, that doesn't mean they're not valuable!

I agree, and it's not wrong to find social value in your workplace.

But I think it's probably not healthy if it's all you have, or even relied upon as "primary" when it can change out from under you in a matter of hours.

I have changed “local area” much more often than workplace in my career so far. I feel like in an average inner city office where many people are likely to have moved around for work, especially amongst younger people, it's probably not the case that they have a healthy group of lifelong friends already in their local area.

> Why should where I spend the majority of my waking hours, the majority of my life in practical terms, not also be my primary source of socialization?

Work socialization is fine, but I'd cautious making it your primary source. What happens when you change jobs? It can also make it hard to remain professional at work.

> Humans were never intended to spend so much time alone, we’re social animals.

Maybe, but I and many others seem perfectly fine with less and/or different social interaction. Personally, I'm more of a few, but deeper friendship person than many shallow relationships person. I'm perfectly happy being home with my wife and dogs.

Office socialisation is hell for me. I'm probably autistic, but I would prefer socialising with people with whom I share a common interest. My coworkers are not those people. We collaborate, not comingle.

Agreed. I like to get work done and not procrastinate. Pre-Covid I would go to meet ups or play basketball to socialize.

Besides I don't necessary trust people at work, so I don't see a much need to be socializing.

> Humans were never intended to spend so much time alone

Humans were also never intended to be forced to somehow "produce money" with other humans.

"Being a social animal" for millennia meant finding your role in a relatively small group of people who shared your basic values about survival and mores, and that you could observe and befriend (or fight) over a literal lifetime, while carrying out tasks that were directly linked to your survival. That differs significantly from industrialized societies. People you work with don't necessary share anything with you. Socialization has become rote and fake. Your tasks are often meaningless to you.

This creates a feeling of alienation and powerlessness in a lot of people. For them, staying at home meant reconnecting with tasks that carry actual meaning (improving their home, looking after their loved ones, etc). Their socialization might have actually increased.

Obviously, if you found the pre-covid arrangement meaningful and life-fulfilling, now you're unhappy that it was taken away from you.

Then and now it all comes down to just “people near you”. You didn’t choose your village mates, you were born into it. You have more flexibility now, but you’re still just working with people you didn’t choose.

Finding your role in a relatively small group of people describes most of my experience working in offices. You share the time and experiences doing some thing you have to do, not something you want to do. Locating sustenance or making copies, it’s same same. It’s an activity you do because you have to, not because you chose to.

Additionally, you have things in common by socializing, not the reverse.

But "back then" you would likely get to know them much more than you do your work colleagues. Note I'm not saying it was better, but it was definitely closer than the average work relationship today. You'd likely know their children and their relatives, share festivities etc. You can do that with workmates now but it's entirely optional, whereas before it effectively wasn't. And you would do it over decades.

> Locating sustenance or making copies, it’s same same

Your belly going hungry is a direct incentive in ways that "maybe in three months I'll get a salary increase if I do this well" simply is not, imho.

> you have things in common by socializing, not the reverse.

See, that's the difference between tribe life and modern life: now you don't even know if you have anything in common unless you actively socialize. In a tribe, commonality was immediate and from birth, socialization was a given, and you had to take active steps to be alone. Now it's effectively the opposite: you are alone unless you take steps not to be. Which has its pros and cons.

> Your belly going hungry is a direct incentive

I assure you a fair number of office workers have come close enough to "your belly going hungry", and its modern extension "struggling to pay the rent and bills", that they are quite motivated to keep the job they have.

Probably not HN tech workers so much. But even some of those will have struggled for basics at some time or other.

> Humans were never intended

Humans were never "intended" to catch deadly respiratory viruses either, but here we are. For that matter, neither were humans "intended" to work on computers. The situation is what it is and it seems naive to expect no changes to our lifestyle when the external circumstances have changed so drastically.

I’m not arguing that we should go back into the office.

I’m arguing it’s ok to lament the loss of socialization while working, how you spend most of your time.

There’s a pandemic, and I am lonely. I think the comment I was replying to blaming that on me not having good enough friends and family is both pointed and hurtful.

I have a wonderful support system, and I am still lonely, particularly during the work day.

> Humans were never "intended" to catch deadly respiratory viruses

Strictly semantically speaking, I think billions of years of history disagree. I understand the point you’re trying to make, but respiratory diseases were here long before us, they’re a fact of the environment we were born into. There is no intent in that one way or the other.

My thoughts as well regarding "no intent", if we assume an atheistic world view.

Sometimes when people use language like that, I can't tell if they really mean intent, or just use it as shorthand for evolutionary fit.

Yes they were and our bodies developed immune responses over time to combat this.

> Humans were never "intended" to catch deadly respiratory viruses

Important point on the wording: Humans were never intended to spread deadly viruses to the vulnerable population. Almost all of the people complaining about measures to prevent the spread are in low-risk groups and do not have anyone close to them in a high-risk group/relying on having a working medical system.

Why do you assume that GP thinks people should spend the majority of their waking hours in the office?

This is a bit unfair. Many people socialized with the bowling team, through their church, at school, as part of a volunteer organization, etc, that may have also all shut down because of COVID.

Exactly. Before covid my life revolved around a cycling group, hiking groups, two running clubs.

Now it's all be taken away.

You can’t go hiking where you live? Hiking is a very low risk activity.

This is a discussion about socializing. A hike and a hiking group are different things. BTW, need to find a hiking group post COVID, that sounds like fun.

But a hiking group primarily socializes while hiking. A small group, social distancing outside is a very low risk activity that should allowed in most of the world outside periods of strict lockdowns.

Maybe in the OP’s case it’s the kind of thing where you take a group bus to a trail, and that’s the problem.

Hiking trails near me are STILL closed due to the virus. For a while it was only open during weekdays and by appointment only. Now they've been flat out closed for a few months. Sure, I could drive half an hour to a completely open trail, but if I'm going to burn that much gas all the time I might as well start working in an office again.

It’s completely insane that your location decided to close all the trails. We took a 4,000 mile hiking road trip (up the east coast of the US and back down more inland) a few months ago and we never ran into a closed hiking trail.

Surely you can still be involved in outdoor groups without issue? I participate in an advanced dog training/sport group, and we still meet and just take the necessary precautions (work outdoors, social distance, wear masks).

A vaccine will hopefully bring some much needed sanity back into the world.

In my country Corona related deaths are about 1% of all deaths, but it’s treated as if it is extremely deadly.

However many people also are incapable of going this route and work is their own socialization. Never underestimate the number of introverts who only have "friends" through work.

Thirty years later I still have friends from school who I swear have no other friends other than those from school days or their current job. Some don't even know their neighbors!

The difficult part is they look just like the rest of us and the cues are different for determining who is who though usually avoidance of after work get together and even lunch are clear sign. The key is to know when to back off as some are very comfortable in their personal world

There is no judgement in my comment for it to be fair or unfair. I guess the word you're looking for is "incomplete", in which case, it absolutely is incomplete for brevity.

My point was on this particular shortcut in many articles including large publications:

A: I work at the office

B: I'm not lonely

Not A => Not B (I don't work at the office therefore I'm lonely), and then coming up with a solution that it's time to get back to the office, failing to respect the contraposition, and implying that there's equivalence with a hidden B ==> A implication that is not necessary true.

Your point does not contradict my comment, actually, because all these are outside of "work/office". Again, my point was about the equivalence between remote work and loneliness not being automatic. One way to go through that is having a social life outside of the office. Granted, many things have closed, but that's why I said it was a sign of what the person could try and improve (finding things that haven't closed, finding joy somewhere else). Not saying it's easy.

But you did say that if you're lonely it's because you've not got enough of a social life outside of work. You can have an active social life outside of work and still feel lonely at work due to WFH. That's what you said that was unfair.

I don’t understand this comment, do you suggest all forms of social contacts are created equal and people should just replace the social interactions they used to have with co-workers by visiting their family more often, organizing more poker nights with friends or taking salsa classes or whatever?

That makes absolutely no sense, these interactions are completely different from those you would have with your co-workers, and it’s perfectly normal even for people with an otherwise active social life to miss those. My friends and family are almost universally incomparable to my coworkers in almost every way.

But the truth is, for many people colleagues are the only people they regularly interact with. Especially people who work a lot have basically non existent or purely formal other relationships. They don't even know how to relate to people outside of job setting.

And that is horrible. But there are a lot of folk who feel lonely from WFH who are not like that. The comment was insulting because it implied that if you're lonely from working from home it must be because you lack a social life. You can have a thriving social life and still miss the social aspect of an office.

If you have a robust social / family life outside of work, and you are lonely now, it’s probably because of COVID stay-at-home and not because of WFH.

I disagree, based on some of the other comments here and elsewhere.

There are people for whom being stuck in their WFH area for 8 hours a day 5 days a week with no social interactions is very unpleasant, even if after work they have a robust social / family life. Some of them were reporting this doing WFH prior to Covid.

The most amazing social life outside work won't compensate for that daily gap which occupies about half of their waking hours.

Some people need more regular personal interactions throughout the day than that.

On top of that, some people's work creativity or mental stimulation thrives on social interactions with colleagues in the same or related work domain. A social life with friends and family does not substitute for "work-oriented social interactions" with people who are grinding on the same kinds of problems, for example drinking buddies with whom you can discuss code. It doesn't really matter if these people are long term friends, as it's a different kind of stimulation.

That's a sad thing for them.

I wonder if the US long-hours culture contributes to this.

In my part of the world offices were the last places to shut down due to COVID and are still partially open. Losing social interactions at your workplace happened after heavy restrictions were placed on meeting friends, family and going anywhere except supermarkets.

Maybe you are just lucky that the office is the only place where you lost regular social interactions.

It's not so black and white. Regardless of my social life outside of work, I loved the job I have precisely because there are so many nice people I get to share fourty hours per week with. And I miss them.

It's far from being black and white, hence the effort to improve. What I said does in no way mean one does not love their job or miss their coworkers, it simply means there is a situation with problems that could give us pointers on what we can improve.

One also has to wonder what "office life" will be like at the many companies where, even if things don't stay fully remote, a lot of people default to coming in a day or two a week. I fully expect a lot of workplaces will shift to being a place you come into in order to have meetings now and then for many.

In addition, as many have noted, part of the loneliness problem that many are facing is only partly about offices. It's the fact that many other activities are foreclosed right now as well.

This is a good point, a lot of people are nostalgic for office life, but if those coworkers are never there what socializing are you going to be doing?

Never thought of it that way and, while I strongly agree in general, 8h/day is a large chunk of our life. I can see how working alone at home vs with more people, even if you meet people after work, can be lonely for some!

I normally cowork with friends around once-twice a week (I did the same before the pandemic!) but I'm lucky to live in a big city with lots of friends. Or maybe that is exactly your point? That now that people are freed from the office they can meet and work with friends?

Awesome reasoning mate. I wish I could have any kind of life outside of work, but it is all shutdown now!

I had a great social life outside of work but due to covid that's also disappeared.

And even then I still miss specifically office socialising. I like knowing my colleagues and having a feeling of we're in this together. I like the random break chats throughout the day and meeting folk from other teams organically. I hate that the majority of my day now is just sitting at a desk alone talking to no one. It's perfectly valid to want socialisation from work, it's not necessarily caused by a poor social life outside of work.

Well, you can only meet your support bubble so many times. I have met my friend plenty of times but none of my other friends this year. But I am a high risk person

> I had to point out that this was symptomatic of a poor social/family life [outside of work].

This is a symptom of being in a pandemic, where in many places you are forbidden or heavily discouraged to socialize.

I've been working from home since March. This is not what normal working from home looks like, this is what working from home _during a pandemic_ looks like.

All I've read in this long rant was "me, me, me, me".

There was something more energetic and exciting about working together in the office.

Maybe it depends on the project or who you're working with but I'm not seeing it anymore with from home.

In fact it's gotten pretty boring. I'm almost over it.

I worked because it was fun. Now the fun has basically gone away it's not as appealing.

Thinking of taking a year off and just doing my own thing.

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