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    Great list, I currently experience “Remote Friendly,” though I think a better term for it would be “Remote Hostile.” 🙂

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      Same for me. It’s really funny to me because we frequently work with teams across the US that are still within the company, yet people get annoyed that someone is working from home who is normally in the same building.

      I’ve spent the majority of my time here working strictly with teams in other cities, frequently teams who are in totally different time zones, and I’ve had no issues. But I came from a remote-first place and have worked remote many times throughout my career.

      They spend an awful lot of time bitching about how we can’t “attract talent” to our city (Richmond), but they don’t need to get them here.

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        I think “remote hostile” is an apt name for the experience of the remote person, but “remote ignorant” is probably the state of the company (or team). I currently work for a company where half or more of the engineers are remote, but management are on-site (they can afford to live nearby, no doubt). In their ideal world they’d have an all-local team, but the reality is that they don’t (I just moved overseas, meaning we now have engineers in 4 countries in probably 6 time zones). But I don’t think it’s ever really occurred to them that they have a distributed team, or how to make that work, and so a lot of what happens is ignorant of the people who aren’t in the building.

        And the extra-stupid thing is that they still only really try to hire locally.

        Edit: Having said that, remote has been awesome these last few months. I can live in a beautiful place, with no commute, and just get my work done. Right now I don’t ever want to go back. I can only imagine what a really good remote job must be like.

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          Yeah, depending on how people who don’t work remote treat people who do work remote, it can make your remote life a pain! “Why can’t I just go to the meeting room? Why do I have to connect online? We do have an office you know!” -> this is easily something that a colleague could say. Funny enough, I’m in a “Remote friendly” environment as well, and I feel like the team plays a huge part in it, so much I’d say we’re closer to remote first. The company however, is definitely remote friendly. Having your team on board is probably the most important thing.

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          I’m experimenting with something new for my new startup. I’m calling it “fractional” remote: Everybody is encouraged to work from home Wednesday through Friday. Open to better names for this too.

          So far, we’re all really enjoying the balance.

          • You get to connect with everybody Monday/Tuesday.
          • All meetings are scheduled for those two in office days, which is more than flexible enough to enable that kind of collaboration, which is often necessary.
          • You get a solid three days of productive time to do independent work.
          • Remote workers aren’t considered second-class, since everybody is a “remote” worker.
          • Fewer days commuting means that my hiring pool is a bit larger, as people can stomach a longer commute for two days rather than five.
          • You don’t miss out on important discussions because nobody is in the office when you aren’t.
          • All important communications are likely to recorded electronically, since remote communication days dominate the calendar.

          BTW, if you’re in (or near!) Seattle. I’m hiring :) Contact details in profile.

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            Oh the irony - a seemingly remote-friendly approach, looking for people in a single city in a single country.

            I do hope your experiment works out though, so good luck!

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              It should at least make the catchment a bit wider, though. There are some people who won’t commute to X every day, or most days, but who would do one or two days. I’ve worked with someone like that, who had a very long commute, and it was fine (though it for me it really underscored the question “so why do the rest of us have to be in here every day?”)

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                Yeah, the Seattle-area commutes are amongst the worst I’ve ever seen, so weirdly this actually sounds like a god thing.

                I love living in a city with proper transport though.

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                Right now, we’re pretty small. As the company grows, my intention is to also grow the geographical area we hire from.

                I still believe that face-to-face time is critically valuable. Having myself been a remote worker on distributed teams, I’ve seen first hand how it requires the right kind of people, culture, and experience to make it work effectively. There is a real human cost to not having regular face-to-face interactions. The baseline is remote-friendly practices, which I think we’re on track for. As the team grows, work becomes more clearly defined, and individuals become more specialized, the communication overhead of remote-work are reduced.

                If were didn’t do this, we could only really hire from Seattle proper. Maybe some folks who don’t mind a long commute too. But, with this policy, all of a sudden everybody on the east side of Lake Washington may be more willing to take a chance on such a job. An hour+ commute daily across the bridge is hellish, but doing it only twice per week, and probably only commuting around 10am and 3pm or so, and suddenly it’s not that bad. Same goes for cities neighboring to the north and south.

                The next step would be hiring from Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Canada. Commute a bunch for your first few weeks, we’ll put you up in a hotel, and then reduce your commute schedule to monthly, and then eventually only commute for a week each quarter, or something like that. Once we can afford it, this option can be opened up to people who need to commute by plane too. Eventually, the “100%” remote is likely, but even then, I’d want to make sure people interact face-to-face at least several times per year.

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                that kind of collaboration, which is often necessary

                Can you write more about why in-person collaboration is often necessary? I’m a fan of the remote-only option, but I’d like to understand other perspectives.

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                  Two reasons:

                  1. Face-to-face communication has higher information bandwidth than any other form of communication.

                  My new business involves the marriage of legal and engineering expertise. On more than one occasion in the short lifespan of this organization, a week-long engineering confusion was resolved by physically looking over the shoulder of the paralegal assembling a binder of paperwork. In past remote work, I’ve experienced escalation from email, to IM, to phone call, to video conference, and at least once to “fuck it, I’m getting on a plane and coming over there”. In my opinion, an escalation process like that should be more common rather than less. If you want to be competitive, you shouldn’t completely eliminate your highest-bandwidth communication channel. Besides, there’s still no better collaboration tool than shared physical writing surfaces.

                  1. Face-to-face communication enables bonding that soothes tensions and smooths work.

                  I’ve worked on several split-office, but non-remote teams. The narrative at each was “everybody in $other_city is an idiot”, but at the end of a week long visit, “oh they’re not so bad”. I have lots of regular internet acquaintances. The only ones who have become “friends” are those I’ve run in to physically at conferences over and over again. I’ve contracted work remotely to people with or without having worked with them locally before. A month of working together locally builds the same trust as a year’s worth of remote work. As far as I can tell, these are not unique experiences.

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                    Thanks for sharing your perspective. Now, here’s more on mine.

                    For me, the advantages of remote-only work all come down to maximizing inclusion.

                    1. Face-to-face communication, video conferencing, and (to a lesser extent) audio convey a lot of irrelevant information that could be a distraction and even trigger unconscious biases: the person’s appearance, clothing, accent, etc. In text, a person is just their name (or possibly a pseudonym) and their words.

                    2. A remote-only team, particularly using primarily text, is more inclusive of people with disabilities – blind, deaf, mobility impaired, speech impediments, etc.

                    I’ll grant, though, that the ideal remote-only, text-only environment that I’m advocating here would probably feel very constrained for most people.

                    Also, I’ve only experienced the remote-only option in the context of a company where most of the staff were blind (or at least visually impaired like me). So maybe it only worked for us because we were used to doing without the high-bandwidth channel of vision in the first place. And even we relied heavily on voice communication. Sometime I want to try doing a team project from start to finish with nothing more than text.

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                      I ran a remote team for a couple of years and I have to agree with @brandonbloom. As much as I prefer text communication, it just didn’t work all that well. We used Slack, email and video calls. We regularly failed to resolve things via Slack and email, whether regarding requirements or development problems. It is very hard to explain things clearly without writing a wall of text, and nobody wants to write a wall of text (or has the time to do it). Video calls and screen sharing allowed us to have a much more productive dialog.

                      Contrariwise, I didn’t feel a particular need to escalate further and meet in person. For me, it was enough to spend a bit of time in person to get acquainted in the beginning, and after that video calls were enough both to carry the relationship forward and to resolve any issues.

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                  I’ve thought about giving this a try, it’s cool to know someone is already doing it! A couple of questions: does this happen only to your team or is it for the whole company? What happens when someone can’t come on a be-in-office-day?

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                    We’re a small startup still, so it’s the whole company.

                    If you can’t come in the office for whatever reason, it’s no different than other flexible schedule companies where you’d either take time off, or just WFH that day to get your big delivery, or rearrange hours to deal with a personal matter, or whatever. The key difference is that a large portion of the non-productivity reasons to WFH are schedule-able, so you can just plan to have your couch or whatever delivered on a Thursday. But “life happens”, so if something unplanned comes up, that’s perfectly OK. Since electronic communication is the norm W-F, you hopefully won’t have missed too much.

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                    i’ve wished i was in this situation for a while now after experiencing both “remote only” and “no remote”.

                    Remote is great when working alone. When hunkering down and actually coding, working remote is great. Brain not currently working? No problem, I’ll just take a break for 2 hours and work tonight. Or, wake up and “in the zone”, let me hack for 12 hours today with no interruptions.

                    At the same time, when I was remote, not being able to have the occasional sync up in person definitely made work more difficult.

                    So I think your idea is great and as long as your team is honest/responsible I think it should work out well. Would be interested in knowing how it works out.

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                    I think it’s worth splitting hairs on another dimension of remote:

                    Some companies allow remote, but you have to “remote desktop in”. I often work for one of those, since apparently it makes some kind of banking contracts easier/simpler. I hate that part, since it’s hard to be effective on a plane or on a train, but since my “office” is in Ireland and I live in London, at least the online latency isn’t that bad.

                    Other companies are “remote” but allow you/expect you to work in your own environment (or in a cloud/container environment). This latter is much easier to be “remote”, but leaves you more at the mercy of the worst IT person in the world (yourself).

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                      … leaves you more at the mercy of the worst IT person in the world (yourself).

                      If you’re the worst IT person you’ve had to deal with, you are very lucky!

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                        A malapropism perhaps. Probably just drink. I meant a jab at companies that require Developers to do IT and Operations tasks.

                        I’d prefer IT set things up so that I’m not blocked. I hate playing whack-a-mole with technical services to get ports unblocked.

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                          Oh, I know what you mean. I’m just suffering with IT at my current job. I’m not allowed to set anything up myself but it takes them months - literally months - to spin a up single VM. And that’s after weeks of form filling and discussion to kick off the process. As a result, everyone does their best to avoid IT, so we all have incompatible systems running on machines we bought on the company credit card and hid under our desks.

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                            We’re slightly better than that: Cloud Change is on Wednesdays, and Network Requests get done over the weekend. And (thankfully) not all projects need to go through this process; For the most part, if you write the ticket “correctly” you’re fine, but “correctness” still feels like a moving target at times. I’d much rather them just know enough to sort me out so I can start doing the things I know how to do…

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                        What do you mean by “remote desktop in”? Like, you need a stable connection, or need to work in the same place every time (like your own home office)? Regarding your last topic, ideally, if your company really wants to allow remote, the IT part of it shouldn’t be a pain to setup (VPN would be a standard), if it is, I’d question the motivations to allow it in the first place. There are some businesses though (like banks) where IT setup is very strict.

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                          What do you mean by “remote desktop in”?

                          I mean RDP or PCoIP. (The company I’m with now: it’s RDP)

                          if your company really wants to allow remote, the IT part of it shouldn’t be a pain to setup (VPN would be a standard), if it is, I’d question the motivations to allow it in the first place.

                          The company lets me live where I live because I want to live there. It’s a “remote friendly” situation, but the client still has their requirements on the company and we can’t do anything about that.

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                          I have never heard of this. I assume you mean something different to “I need access to the VPN to connect to a staging database?”. What difference does supposedly it make whether you’re “remote desktop in” or working on your laptop? The same code gets written either way. Is it a compliance thing?

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                            This is often done for compliance reasons, or at least for client reassurance where financial data is handled.

                            Staff are given very locked-down desktop computers and work is performed from those workstations. If you work from home you must use SSH, RDP or equivalent to connect to and work on your PC.

                            In many cases private data should be airgapped from developer workstations anyway, but it’s another layer of protection against accidental leakage. It also means you never have to have the “somebody left their laptop on the train” conversation with an auditor.

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                              Yes, it’s a compliance thing. There needs to be a complete and documented chain of custody from the contents of my brain to the customer. No stack overflow or third-party code. All access needs to be secure and documented.

                              I have a remote terminal I can access using one of these. From there, I’m allowed to write code and interact with either the dev or preqa environments.

                              The alternative is that I go into an office with a PC set up exactly like may terminal.

                              In either case, I can use a VPN and a different token to reach the UAT (but I cannot reach its database, etc., since it often contains customer data). Any screens I look at there are logged.

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                            A good list. I put together a list in 2012 with three types of software teams: vertically scaled, horizontally scaled, and fully distributed. I prefer fully distributed for a number of reasons, though vertically scaled can also work (with the right group). I think horizontally scaled is the anti-pattern, despite it being common.


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                              There is also a sub-category for “remote friendly”, which applies to me and a few collegues: You are remote all the time since you live on another continent or at least a few 1000km away from work, but you travel there occasionally. The company is mostly not remote though.

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                                What I’d really love is is WFH say, two or three days a week. The office days would be for meetings and planning. In the rest, I am working or having quick video chats if something comes up.

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                                  Funny enough, that’s exactly what I’m doing. I still have meetings on remote days, but they’re a no brainer. It works pretty great for me because everyone on my team is on par with it, some of them do the same even though they live closer to the office than I do. There are a couple of things that are still remote friendly, but slowly we’re moving them to remote first. Have you tried talking with your team on why you want to work remotely?