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      As they say, “either everyone is remote or no-one is”. I don’t read the statement literally, but rather as an instruction to make sure your processes work with arbitrary numbers of remote people, or accept the trade-off and only hire locally.

      drs correctly points out that you can get remote-work effects even within an office, with attendant Conway’s Law effects.

      Note also that this should be a conscious decision about where to set a company’s culture. You can choose to build a culture that relies on face-to-face interactions, and that culture will attract and support certain kinds of people. You can also choose to build a culture that leans hard into electronic interactions, and that culture will attract and support other kinds of people. It’s not clear to me that one is better than the other.

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      This is especially true when the entire team is sitting next to each other and where conversations between teammates can occur with everyone sitting at their desk.

      We recently acquired 4 new developers but there was no space for them to sit close to us, and so even though they are part of our team those 4 actually sit on the other side of the open office space. This means a greater reliance on Slack when communicating with that team which has the side effect of making our specific team more remote friendly.

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      This is a research paper that studied the effects of companies moving to a open office floor plan and what happened to social interaction. It actually decreased significantly, in their cases, and promoted digital communication:


      I do work in a similar setting as you’ve described. I don’t think many people have in person conversations. However, there are a lot more barriers to include remote people in the meetings. The teleconferencing needs to be on the calendar, you need to book a room, or sometimes screen sharing/video doesn’t work properly. These definitely make it challenging to include remote teammates.

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      This is quite the frustrating topic for many people, hence all the posts over the years.

      I agree that most kinds of open offices inhibit remote work. I also agree that joking is a pretty cool ad-hoc metric for how well a team is performing. I also love remote work and seek to do it whenever I can.

      I continue to be concerned that we are not situating the discussion in the appropriate context. Since I made a video just a week ago on this topic, I won’t repeat it here. I think that open offices definitely do inhibit remote work and there’s a really good reason for that. (Obligatory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exM7dm_XSnU)

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      I have worked in a place with an open plan office and a good remote culture, but I got to agree it’s a very rare counter example.

      I can attest it was a good remote culture, because I’ve first worked years remote there before moving to the HQ office, and haven’t felt any change. Well, to be fair, it used to be hard to be remote when I’ve joined, but they made a conscious effort to accommodate remote workers and it paid off. I only moved to the HQ for personal reasons, there was no pressure to do so, I just wanted to live somewhere else.

      There, while it was an open office, going to the office was entirely optional, and most people didn’t even had assigned seats. So it was more of an optional co-working space, and significant part of the leadership team was remote most of the time.

      But that’s only an anecdotal counter example, all other places where I’ve worked before match the article. Also, important to note that on that job, a funny thing happened. Since most people hate open offices, if you really let people work from home 100% of the time, and give them an open plan office… they will just work from home… So it was slowly having less and less people in the office, because it was not worth it going there.

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      On my previous team we had one team member who was remote. Doing standup in the open office was difficult because they would be on a screen and we’d need to connect one of those disk shaped conference microphones so that they could hear us and we could hear them. It wasn’t the most comfortable because of ambient noise in the office so we resorted to reserving a conference room with a TV screen, camera, microphones. Always having a room for standup was a challenge though, and if we didn’t get it, the ambient noise and awkward huddle around a desk made standup difficult. So we started doing “Slack standup” here and there. Other than that I haven’t had a bad experience collaborating informally through Slack and Zoom with this teammate or working remotely myself. Zoom always works except it uses a ton of CPU. I miss ScreenHero.

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        Doing standup in the open office was difficult because they would be on a screen and we’d need to connect one of those disk shaped conference microphones so that they could hear us and we could hear them.

        That’s not remote work. That’s local work, done remotely. If you’re videoconferencing with someone and trying to include them in inherently local activities like a standup then it’s not remote work.

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      Yup, I’m working fully remote and my team is in the office 2 days a week at most. We don’t have any issues within our team, but sometimes we feel very isolated from the other teams, who work mostly all in open offices in the same building, where if you want to ask something to somebody you can just drop by their desk. It’s kinda awkward to explain that I can’t just do that…