It makes sense: if he controls his work environment, he can maximise his productivity. As a counterpoint, when I tell people I work from home, many respond with “I couldn’t possibly do that”. It seems these people need some external enforcement to get them to focus on work (which they get in an office). So in a way, they are also attempting to maximise their productivity.
He has some good points in a linked article as well: Introduce process only as a last resort. I’ve been taking a similar approach to processes at my company.
As a counterpoint, when I tell people I work from home, many respond with “I couldn’t possibly do that”. It seems these people need some external enforcement to get them to focus on work (which they get in an office).
Coming from this perspective, I don’t need any enforcement and do my work mostly unsupervised. However I would avoid working from home because I have a family. It’s one thing dealing with interruptions from your coworkers, and entirely another with your family members. Mixing the two environments feels toxic.
Anecdotally, the only times I have found working from home (I am 100% remote) to be frustrating, difficult or impossible is when family is around.
Or when the dishes need doing, or the laundry needs hanging, or the ceiling needs painting, or the vacuuming, or the shelves put up… ;-)
In summary, I pride myself on being a great employee. I want to do great, meaningful work. I want to make an impact. I want to be part of a team that does great things. I love writing great software and I want to do it with fantastic people. It seems that I’ve reached a turning point in my life where I’ve realized that in order to do these things, I need to open a new chapter and set new boundaries in the work arrangements I can accept.
Wow, does that resonate with me.
I have also resolved to only ever work remotely from now on, but for different reasons that I wanted to share. After 13 years of working on-site in open plan offices in big cities I moved to a small rural town 22 months ago and now work remotely from here. Getting out of the open plan office was definitely a factor the author and I have in common, but for me it was not about maximising productivity but for family considerations. I didn’t want to commute anymore, and I didn’t want to raise my son in the big city. Continuing to work in the industry I wanted to from where I wanted to live that necessitated a remote job. Our thirtyish people are in Europe, Brazil and North America, and we have flexibility in when we want to work. I would prefer to work in the morning, but I end up working from the late morning to early evening instead so but I get more time with my family in the morning. My wider family is spread across three countries, so in theory working remotely afford me the ability to travel to see them whilst continue working. I also recognise that it can be distracting working from home, which is why I work from a rented private office near my home—which works really well for me.
This is my situation as well. A home office does mean more productivity from me, but that’s not the reason I chose to work remotely. I now live in a part of the country that I like. I can walk outside and see snow on the mountains. And it is literally 1 minute from finishing work to playing with my children.
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David Graeber most certainly does not advocate a free market economy. He is an Anarchist and anarchists are socialists.
He does advocate everyone being self employed, but in anarchist circles that’s called socialism. Where if there is a shared effort, it’s democratically run.
In the USA people confuse socialism to mean big government. While among the libertarian socialists like anarchists, it means everyone is “their own boss”
This should settle it. I asked him
As he said, without state it would be something else.
I work in an office, with an open-office plan at that. The latter part is truly horrible indeed, but working in the same building as others has numerous benefits, too. For what its worth, the whole team could work from home, there’s nothing stopping us to do so - but we still don’t. Why? Because we do not work in isolation, neither within the team, nor within the company. It is a lot easier to talk to a few people together when they are in the same building. Trying to reach them when they are home, and follow their own schedule is a pain in the backside.
If it were only for me, myself and I, I’d agree, working from home is much more productive, and much more comfortable too. But when I have to work with others, who have a different daily rhythm than I do, then we will all come into the office, because despite all the flaws, that is still more productive for the team as a whole, than if we all stayed home.
You can make an all-remote team work, mind you, there are many examples of that. But that won’t work for all cases, and it certainly does not in the team I work with.
The author spins off into debunked culture-talk by the end, talking about workplaces people love and care about after starting out focused on simple productivity metrics. I don’t think this piece hangs together; it’s trying to simultaneously make the villain and the hero case for work teams without addressing strategic tradeoffs. I suspect the author is simply looking for a special dispensation to be able to work whenever/wherever and accept judgement based solely on code output. I don’t think this can last outside of situations where code output is trivially quantifiable, at least not for long. If the work product is quantifiable and the worker is remote in time and space, then the worker will be easier to automate out of existence.
Working remotely is just too comfortable. You can be wherever you want, go out for a walk in your neighborhood park for a break, stop for groceries, do small chores, makes it easier to cook at home, no commute, etc. I just feel like it gives you more time and life. I can’t imagine not working remotely if I ever have children either.
Most of all, working remotely is one of the best ways to avoid the horrible small open offices that litter my local programming market.
My salary and responsibilities will go up if I do a good job, so not too worried about those. My main career goal for the next few years is be able to work remotely forever.
I’ve worked from home for about seven or eight years now, and had another work-from-home period about five or six years before that.
The most important thing for me is a simple one: commuting. It’s one thing to say you only work in the office for eight hours a day, but when you tack on an hour on either side getting to and from work, and some more time on top of that getting ready, you really spend most of your day “working” – and that’s if you really only work eight hours.
(I realize that even working from home you have to “get ready”, but you can spread it out more. I might take a shower during my morning break or whatever, rather than having to rush to get it all in at once.)
I’ve always had trouble working only eight hours a day. Very often I find myself working after my wife and I have put the kids to bed. I do that whether I work in an office or not, it’s just how I’ve always been, so I’d prefer to not also have to spend two hours a day staring at the bumper of a car.
We seem to be moving towards a world wherein not everyone works remotely, but if you want to all work in the same building then there has to be a reason to do so. Gone are the days where it is just assumed that you start a business by renting office space.
This is resoundingly true for me as well. I spent a great deal of time pondering, which I’ve now learned was time squandered. Now I act, and I decided to leave my in-office QA position to branch out and freelance. I told myself I would work remotely no matter what, if it meant growing pains learning how to pick the right clients, etc.
Now my goal for 2017 is to get a Jr. Service Engineer position at Gitlab. I LOVE that software, I LOVE their team philosophies. Setting goals for “dream jobs” is step one, now working backwards to get there is the work needed to be done.
The work landscape is changing.
Agreed. Add to that the fact that the market around here for working with BSDs is non-existent.
However, remote jobs aren’t as easy to find as they once were. Most companies insist on on-site placements.