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posted by hubie on Tuesday May 10, @12:19PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the nobody's-business-but-my-own dept.

An interesting article over at PCMag that is worth the read as this brief summary cannot do the topics justice. It discusses the issues with getting employees back into the office after two years of working remotely.

[...] The 2022 Microsoft Work Trend Index reported that 50% of mid-level managers said their companies are making plans to return to in-person work five days a week in the year ahead, but 52% of employees are considering going hybrid or remote.

[...] While the pandemic has exposed the many challenges of working remotely, it has also made the benefits clear. People are unwilling to lose hours of their day to the things they find most frustrating about work, such as commuting and the drudgery of office life. [...]

[...] While offices are a collective place of work, they're experienced individually. And for some individuals, that experience is not as welcoming as it is for others. This is reflected in women, people of color, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and those with disabilities being less inclined to want to return to the office than others.

[...] In-office employees have found themselves spending time commuting only to sit in an office and spend the day not interacting with anyone there and having a Zoom meeting or two. Meanwhile, those still working remote can feel ignored when they're logged on to a Zoom meeting and see their colleagues in a conference room having side conversations that they're not a part of.

[...] There have been some unpleasant new realities faced by those returning to the office. Lots of workplace perks have disappeared in the pandemic. Fully stocked kitchens are a lot barer since they have to feed a much smaller fraction of a workforce. Free gym memberships didn't make much sense when gyms were closed and the benefit at some companies didn't return when their doors reopened.

[...] But there are some perks that have evolved into ones more suited to remote work. Companies, particularly at the beginning of the pandemic, set up stipends to outfit home offices. Childcare, which has always been a concern for working parents, became more of one. And benefits have expanded to include longer paid leave for parents, more flexible schedules, backup childcare services, and even tutoring stipends. [...]

[...] Companies would do well to set up an outreach system for employees of all levels to really check in on their individual needs and concerns. Forego formal surveys for a more human touch of a one-on-one chat by phone or Slack. Because no matter how remote we might be from one another in our workplaces at present, we've all lived through a trying time and could benefit from some connection.

Have your working environments changed, and if so, has it been for the better or worse (or neither)?


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Thexalon on Tuesday May 10, @12:31PM (4 children)

    by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday May 10, @12:31PM (#1243725)

    I'm no longer spending 1-2 hours a day trying to get to work without getting killed in traffic by morons who either are still trying to wake up or rushing home because every second counts in their heads.

    --
    Alcohol makes the world go round ... and round and round.
    • (Score: 2) by richtopia on Tuesday May 10, @03:46PM (3 children)

      by richtopia (3160) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday May 10, @03:46PM (#1243820) Homepage Journal

      Holy carp, you spent 1-2 hours commuting? Maybe not every second counts but I would argue every hour counts.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, @05:20PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, @05:20PM (#1243866)

        That's common, at least in America.
        Most people's ideal is around 20 minutes max each way, but most will do up to 45 minutes each way. In large cities, 45 minutes each way is no big deal.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by Thexalon on Tuesday May 10, @06:24PM (1 child)

        by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday May 10, @06:24PM (#1243881)

        30-60 minutes each way equals 1-2 hours commute each day.

        And that wasn't uncommon, at all, even with places relatively close to each other, in my metro area. A distance of about 20 miles (30-35 km) could easily take 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how unlucky somebody was about getting into a wreck somewhere on the route.

        --
        Alcohol makes the world go round ... and round and round.
        • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @12:23AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @12:23AM (#1243965)

          A 30 min commute is short for most people. Even living just a few miles from work it was a 30 min bike ride or subway, and still 10-15 by motorcycle. Or in a major city it was 45 mins to go 15 miles, and that was splitting lanes, 1.5 hours in a car. We need more mass transit, I wouldn't mind commutes as much if I don't have to be piloting the vehicle.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Opportunist on Tuesday May 10, @12:35PM (31 children)

    by Opportunist (5545) on Tuesday May 10, @12:35PM (#1243726)

    So far nobody has been able to offer me any reasonable explanation why I should return to an overcrouwded, loud and outright productivity killing office.

    Quite seriously, when you take a look at the development of office spaces in the past 20 years, it seems that management was hellbent on making the lives of their workers as miserable as possible. At first, the individual offices with 2-3 people in them went to make room for cubicle farms. And when we finally got used to that insult, the walls went away and we went to the open-plan office, to make sure that we not only feel like hens in a coop but also couldn't even understand what we were thinking while everyone around us was yakking away in some phone call. And since that was apparently not enough to make the workplace experience insufferable, add the shared-desk system where you don't even get to know just where you can work today, and it's gonna be like on the plane ride, where you get stuck between loud Herbert and the guy whose secret for a long life is to roll in garlic bread.

    Management is now facing the problem that their workers have found a way to escape that hell, and they obviously don't like that one bit. "I torture, therefore I exist" is the creed, it seems.

    Quite frankly, do you really NOT understand why people do NOT want to work in such conditions? Especially when there are perfectly operating solutions that even increase their productivity?

    Spill it, assholes, what's the real reason you want to torture us? We don't buy your crap, we've seen that it's bullshit, be for once in your life honest with us. We're trying to work here, for fuck's sake, if you need someone to stroke your ego, get a dog.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by looorg on Tuesday May 10, @12:56PM (10 children)

      by looorg (578) on Tuesday May 10, @12:56PM (#1243730)

      Spill it, assholes, what's the real reason you want to torture us?

      It's quite literally the job of middle management to manage people. If you are not their they can't do their job and they are basically obsolete. They have not figured out to how to do it or how to fill their role so instead of them changing you have to get back into your cubicle so they can lord over you. The only thing they figured out so far is that they apparently can't do it via various meeting apps etc, or it doesn't have their desired effect.

      I'm totally with you. The most awesome thing here is that it has totally saved me hours everyday in commute time. Then it's blindingly obvious that you don't need to sit in your "work office" to actually do your job. That said I still prefer to come in one day every now and then for face-2-face meeting instead of Zoom-meetings. I also have to come in every now and then, once per week or other week to check my mail (the non-e-kind) since that still does happen even tho it's rare.

      But Job-offers now that entail being at the office five days per week are rejected on principle. Even the once that only require me to be there three days per week are more or less rejected.

      • (Score: 2) by Opportunist on Tuesday May 10, @01:11PM (3 children)

        by Opportunist (5545) on Tuesday May 10, @01:11PM (#1243737)

        Did they finally catch on? That we go into their online meetings where these narcissistic space wasters drone on for hours and put the headphones down so we can actually do some work?

        That's by the way part of the productivity surge you saw during the work-from-home times, because we could appease the narcissists without having to waste time on it.

        But yeah, the snail-mail is still a problem. Here's an idea, that middle-manager could go fetch my mail, that way he'd finally do something useful.

        • (Score: 2) by looorg on Tuesday May 10, @01:32PM (2 children)

          by looorg (578) on Tuesday May 10, @01:32PM (#1243743)

          But yeah, the snail-mail is still a problem. Here's an idea, that middle-manager could go fetch my mail, that way he'd finally do something useful.

          I have been wondering why the postal dude at work can't just put all the mail that come to me in a bigger envelope and snail-mail it to me. Snail-mail-forward. If they did that it would actually save some time. Since all our mail comes to a central post office and is then delivered out to the various departments and then once again there sorted into numbered boxes (such as mine). One wonders if they couldn't just skip that delivery thing since nobody, or very few are actually in the office so they don't visit the local copy-mail-room to check their box on a daily anymore. They could optimize their work to.

          • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday May 10, @02:16PM

            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday May 10, @02:16PM (#1243764)

            I used to get paper mail in the 1990s - it was mostly trade magazines and junk. In the 2000s there was a trickle of inter-office paper and I shut off the trade rags because it was all available better online, on demand. By the 2010s I didn't have a work mailbox anymore, but I would get the occasional package with prototype supplies in it. Today anything I order for work just goes straight to my house, there are a few middle managers who still freak out about that, but mostly they get over themselves when they see that I have been in the job for 10 years and go years at a time without ordering anything at all (plus, the few things they did audit me on in the mid 2010s were slam-dunk in-your-face here-it-is-doing-company-work GTFO-my-cube-suckah!)

            --
            Україна не входить до складу Росії.
          • (Score: 2) by Opportunist on Tuesday May 10, @02:44PM

            by Opportunist (5545) on Tuesday May 10, @02:44PM (#1243781)

            Or just open it, scan it and mail it. We're talking about work mail and a person who already has signed NDAs and security agreements up the ass because he has to handle highly sensitive documents.

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday May 10, @02:09PM

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday May 10, @02:09PM (#1243760)

        It's quite literally the job of middle management to manage people. If you are not their they can't do their job and they are basically obsolete.

        It is the job of ALL management to enable their direct reports to do their jobs as efficiently as possible, and when their direct reports are middle managers it is upper management's job to enable those middle managers to enable their employees: removing obstacles, providing required resources, ensuring timely communication of necessary information, blocking irrelevant concerns from affecting their people.

        A tiny fraction of the management job is helping to nudge employees away from distractions onto the higher priority tasks - but that's better described as "micro management" and often will backfire in terms of overall productivity. Managers frequently can't tell the difference between irrelevant distractions and productivity.

        The most awesome thing here is that it has totally saved me hours everyday in commute time.

        I have been saying this since the 1990s, but until 2020 most people still insisted on drudging into the office 5 days a week for "core hours" to do most communication, and without effective communication an organization falls apart. The first job I interviewed for that said anything along the lines of "you don't need us to give you a desk to sit at, do you?" was an ultra-small startup in about 2012. Before that, investors couldn't conceive of getting return on their investment if they couldn't go to an office and see the bees buzzing.

        --
        Україна не входить до складу Росії.
      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Thexalon on Tuesday May 10, @09:22PM (2 children)

        by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday May 10, @09:22PM (#1243928)

        It's quite literally the job of middle management to manage people. If you are not their they can't do their job and they are basically obsolete.

        Having seen some great middle managers in action: They don't do that by looming over my desk or something like that. They pull me in for conversations where we talk about priorities, productivity, what's stopping me from getting things done, that sort of thing, and then we both get back to work. Because the most important thing that great middle managers do is hire people who are capable and motivated to get the job done and done right. And then they mostly get out of the way.

        And those managers can do so over Zoom or the phone or a chat channel just as easily as they could in person. Really.

        --
        Alcohol makes the world go round ... and round and round.
        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Kell on Tuesday May 10, @10:52PM (1 child)

          by Kell (292) on Tuesday May 10, @10:52PM (#1243950)

          This - a thousand times this. I have a small team and I manage them as best I can, not by standing over them (unless it's a thorny technical task that needs my engineering expertise) but by listening and asking "how can I help?" Most of our team came back to the lab as soon as it was possible to be on campus: we need to be hands-on with most of our work. As it is, I've got one employee who is still remote and whose productivity has dipped to problematic levels: our research contract is at risk. This was utterly surprising because the employee is one of my most professional and on-task. It turns out that his home life is absolute garbage: loud neighbors, loud kids, loud wife, no peace, and a million distractions. He's also turned into the kid-taxi for school runs. Unfortunately, his wife has immune issues so covid is a Big Deal for them and as such I've been as supportive as I can in facilitating his working remotely. But what do I do as a manager whose employee isn't getting his work done? I've asked him to come to the lab at least twice a week so that I can gate his work (with micro deadlines), but I'm seriously worried that our contract won't be extended because we won't have a deliverable. Sometimes home isn't the place to get shit down; if you don't get shit done there's a real risk people will stop paying you.

          --
          Scientists ask questions. Engineers solve problems.
          • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Wednesday May 11, @11:13AM

            by Thexalon (636) on Wednesday May 11, @11:13AM (#1244017)

            Is there somewhere else nearby he can go? Maybe Starbucks, or his local public library? And I'm assuming him getting his family together and giving them the "Look, daddy has to be able to concentrate on his job if he wants to keep that paycheck coming in" hasn't had any effect?

            --
            Alcohol makes the world go round ... and round and round.
      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by weeds on Wednesday May 11, @01:11PM (1 child)

        by weeds (611) on Wednesday May 11, @01:11PM (#1244028) Journal
        After most of a career as a manager, I am dismayed at the perception that managers have to somehow justify their role by make work. I am sorry if your manager has pointy hair. It's not true of all of us. I don't typically feel like I have to justify my role in the company where I am, but I will respond. My job is to make it easier for you to do your job. When a project manager is screwing up, all you have to do is give me the details and I'll put the foil on (Slapshot reference) and take care of it. Not getting what you need from another team, got it. I'll keep you out of pointless meetings and I'll make sure the product team doesn't ask us to build features that won't help our customers or are a huge problem given our architecture. I'll adjust your estimates so that we don't get hammered for being late. I'm also the guy that keeps track of the minor miracles you performed fixing customer screwups, etc. to make sure you get that raise. If your boss isn't doing these things (and more) move on or become that excellent boss.

        As far as the article goes... A representative proponent of working from home is quoted as saying;

        “Everything happened with us working from home all day, and now we have to go back to the office, sit in traffic for two hours, and hire people to take care of kids at home. Working from home has so many perks. Why would we want to go back?”

        A coupla' years ago, those two hours were just fine. You took the job with us that far away, but now it's my problem? We can bicker about that all day, but childcare? Hold the phone, am I paying you to write code or to watch your kids? "Oh, but I can work anytime." No, you can't. In my experience, software development is best practiced as a team sport. So we need times when pairing can work or just good old "two heads are better than one" problem solving. In addition, things go wrong and sometimes I need to interrupt you and need your undivided attention. This is the real world.

        Apparently,

        People are unwilling to lose hours of their day to the things they find most frustrating about work, such as commuting and the drudgery of office life.

        "Drudgery of office life"? What does that even mean? You have to sit at a desk and work? I think that's what you want, isn't it? Participate in pointless meetings? See the discussion above w/r/t managers and the other functions of a good manager.

        Now

        This is reflected in women, people of color, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and those with disabilities being less inclined to want to return to the office than others. These groups can face microaggressions, harassment, and discrimination in the workplace.

        Actually, these groups can face these problems everywhere in society and this is a much wider cultural problem. Hiding from it is not likely to have any real impact on changing it.

        And there's childcare again...

        hours being at odds with working hours have always posed a problem for parents

        So

        In-office employees have found themselves spending time commuting only to sit in an office and spend the day not interacting with anyone there and having a Zoom meeting or two.

        This doesn't even say "some". It implies that this is true across the board. It's not. And by the way, applies equally to those working from home. Who are they interacting with? Oh, yea, I forgot, the kids.

        Companies are now charged with creating a working environment that provides

        a unified office culture no matter how far apart employees are from each other or the office.

        which means reducing to the lowest common denominator. "Since 20, 40 or 60% of the participants are remote, everyone will join on zoom even if you are here in the office." So everyone can share that lousy experience.

        As far as the lost perks mentioned in the article, I can only say that has not happened here. We still have beer taps, wine, fruit, snacks, a gym, our patio, etc. Nothing has changed there.

        Companies would do well to set up an outreach system for employees of all levels to really check in on their individual needs and concerns. Forego formal surveys for a more human touch of a one-on-one chat by phone or Slack. Because no matter how remote we might be from one another in our workplaces at present, we’ve all lived through a trying time and could benefit from some connection.

        Sound advice (aren't you doing a weekly one on one?) albeit ironic to refer to Slack as "human touch".

        If you just want to work "cards" or "pitches" and grind out lines of code without really contributing to solutions, you have really diminished your value. In fact, if your job can be done from anywhere at any time of day, what is your value proposition? When I need another developer, why wouldn't I hire three from across the world somewhere and still save money? Tell me they aren't as good as you, well, that's a claim I can already refute having done this successfully. You used to compete for a job against only "local" developers. Now you are competing against "all" developers. It's very likely that I will find someone with exactly the stack I want somewhere. This is working now, but in the long run, it will only depress developer salaries. WIPRO's new slogan, "Your own developers have told you software development can be done from anywhere and from here it costs a fraction!"

        • (Score: 2) by Mykl on Wednesday May 11, @10:53PM

          by Mykl (1112) on Wednesday May 11, @10:53PM (#1244193)

          This times one thousand.

          I am a strong believer that face-to-face teams deliver greater value than fully remote teams. The incidental conversations, ability to quickly check things by swiveling the chair (rather than setting up a call) etc are all really beneficial.

          However, if you believe that you are just as effective being 100% isolated and working entirely from home, then I can give your job to someone much cheaper living elsewhere in the world. Who knows? Unlike you, that person may actually like interacting with people! if your job is 100% home-based, your days of a decent salary are numbered - enjoy it while it lasts.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, @01:03PM (14 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, @01:03PM (#1243732)

      One reason some want their employees back (besides the benefits to face-to-face interactions) is the empty buildings. There's no reason to have big empty buildings if most people are working remote, and it is not a trivial decision to decide to downsize your office arrangement.

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Opportunist on Tuesday May 10, @01:06PM (13 children)

        by Opportunist (5545) on Tuesday May 10, @01:06PM (#1243734)

        I have no benefits in face-to-face interaction. If anything, it's to my disadvantage. I have to waste energy on emulating the correct emotional expression to transport the nonverbal communiation I wish to express. This is not necessary in an online communication.

        And I'm in no means responsible for their failed real estate investments. If you need to give your office building meaning, you can sit in it.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by IndigoFreak on Tuesday May 10, @02:11PM (12 children)

          by IndigoFreak (3415) on Tuesday May 10, @02:11PM (#1243762)

          You might not benefit from face to face interactions, but work culture, is not built around you.

          • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Barenflimski on Tuesday May 10, @02:21PM (8 children)

            by Barenflimski (6836) on Tuesday May 10, @02:21PM (#1243767)

            I always hear this. "Work Culture." What on earth is that?

            Every single place, and I've worked at a lot of them as an employee and a consultant, is the same, boring, generic, vanilla culture, striving to 'do better.' Ugh. Typically what that means is you get some ass clown who thinks they're god who calls themself the C-level something, SVP something, or even director something and then dictates to everyone else how to act so it makes them happy. To fix that, you get agile, which just eats up valuable time with ridiculous checkins.

            Every office I go to strives to be the same; Don't bug me and I don't bug you. Don't stink and I'll try not to stink for you. Don't talk politics or religion and we won't fire you. Here is another list of things you shan't do, and then we'll review the way you acted and find umpteen reasons why you'll either be put on the list to leave immediately or won't get another raise.

            Work culture? Total bullshit once you've aged out of thinking that work is an extension of your college days.

            • (Score: 2) by IndigoFreak on Tuesday May 10, @02:32PM (4 children)

              by IndigoFreak (3415) on Tuesday May 10, @02:32PM (#1243774)

              Work culture: "Work culture is a collection of attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that make up the regular atmosphere in a work environment." I googled it for you. Companies do differ in work culture. If you look at Wells Fargo a few years ago, their sales work culture said it was ok to sign people up for programs that customers never ask for or wanted, or were even informed that they were now getting. It was(may still be) a culture of hit your metrics by any means necessary.

              • (Score: 2) by Opportunist on Tuesday May 10, @02:42PM (2 children)

                by Opportunist (5545) on Tuesday May 10, @02:42PM (#1243779)

                So if the attitudes, believes and behaviours, and hence the atmosphere, suck and are actually toxic to the people having to endure it, maybe it should be aired out for something more suitable?

                • (Score: 2) by IndigoFreak on Tuesday May 10, @02:50PM (1 child)

                  by IndigoFreak (3415) on Tuesday May 10, @02:50PM (#1243788)

                  If that is the case, then yes. It would be appropriate to change the work culture.

                  • (Score: 2) by Opportunist on Tuesday May 10, @03:52PM

                    by Opportunist (5545) on Tuesday May 10, @03:52PM (#1243823)

                    You actually know a company where that isn't the case?

                    And, are they hiring?

              • (Score: 3, Touché) by Barenflimski on Tuesday May 10, @03:05PM

                by Barenflimski (6836) on Tuesday May 10, @03:05PM (#1243792)

                Makes me feel better that you had to look that up too. I was starting to feel like maybe I missed something in my 400 years on planet earth.

            • (Score: 3, Informative) by Mykl on Tuesday May 10, @11:52PM (2 children)

              by Mykl (1112) on Tuesday May 10, @11:52PM (#1243963)

              I'm a people manager, and work culture is a big thing for me.

              According to research and my own personal experience, people don't want to just work for the highest paycheck (though that is of course an important factor). They want to be a part of something, to feel that their work matters AND IS APPRECIATED, and that their workplace cares for them and supports them. These are not things that just happen automatically - you have to work at this to make them happen. Perhaps the companies you've worked for have all been the same, but there is definitely a big difference in work culture between employers. Micro-management vs autonomy. After-work drinks vs pay-your-own. Guided training and career paths vs hiring and firing based on the supply and demand of the day. Work a balanced day vs more hours are better! There are many other aspects like that that combine to create a culture.

              Most of my team work for our clients either remotely or at the clients' site, so it's super-important for us to keep our people connected in a positive way. This is much harder to do when everyone is working remotely. At the moment I'm walking the tightrope of encouraging people back in without forcing them.

              • (Score: 2) by Barenflimski on Wednesday May 11, @03:28AM

                by Barenflimski (6836) on Wednesday May 11, @03:28AM (#1243990)

                I appreciate your view from a managers perspective. I think you might be a manager I'd hire.

                We run our shops in such a way that either you're self sufficient which means that for the most part you follow the project plan you and your PM work out. If we attain this, we are perfect. Our motto might as well be, "You do you. Just make sure you're smart at the meetings."

                Cheers! Good luck.

              • (Score: 2) by Opportunist on Wednesday May 11, @10:53AM

                by Opportunist (5545) on Wednesday May 11, @10:53AM (#1244015)

                I guess I'm easy to please in this regard. To make me feel appreciated, give me a task that I'm good at (since that overlaps mostly with my job description, that's fairly easy to do), make sure the red tape that I hate to deal with is out of the way (you know, that whole "human interaction" thing managers like so much), make sure I have the resources I need to do my job, and fend off all the distractors that try to get in between me and my work.

                If you do that, it shows me you appreciate my time and energy enough to ensure I can put it to the best effect and I can produce the best product possible.

                I have such a manager at my disposal and he is the reason I work here. It certainly ain't the paycheck.

          • (Score: 2) by Opportunist on Tuesday May 10, @02:40PM

            by Opportunist (5545) on Tuesday May 10, @02:40PM (#1243778)

            You might want to explain "work culture" to me. Because it obviously is neither built around me, nor any of my coworkers, so who the fuck is it built around?

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, @03:17PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, @03:17PM (#1243799)

            How many other people disagree though? My job involves a lot of redoing what the other incompetent morons leave me to deal with. Working from home, leaving work for me would be a challenge.

          • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Thexalon on Wednesday May 11, @11:28AM

            by Thexalon (636) on Wednesday May 11, @11:28AM (#1244018)

            My experience of "work culture" is that first and foremost it is about enabling office politicians who create nothing to stomp on and distract the people who do the work to keep the company running. Some examples of this:
            1. Pulling lots of productive employees into pointless meetings.
            2. Convincing higher-ups to make stupid process changes without justification.
            3. Demanding hours of reporting and other extra work for the sole purpose of providing a 10-second argument in a meeting somewhere that they should do things their way.
            4. When a productive employee or team does something cool, office politicians rush to send out an email thanking them for it to a very large number of people so it looks like they had something to do with it. If they're really good at this, the productive employee / team gets no credit at all for what they just did, affecting who gets raises or promotions out of it.

            But first and foremost, "work culture" is about putting on a front that is both bland and cheery: Nobody has opinions on anything more consequential than professional sports, and everyone pretends that their life is good even if they're screaming on the inside.

            --
            Alcohol makes the world go round ... and round and round.
    • (Score: 2) by Barenflimski on Tuesday May 10, @02:27PM (2 children)

      by Barenflimski (6836) on Tuesday May 10, @02:27PM (#1243770)

      Preach! The only thing I ever found the office useful for was finding enough people who wanted to delay getting in traffic so that you could get a softball team out on the pitch at the same time every Thursday evening. That and organizing keg runs.

      • (Score: 2) by Opportunist on Tuesday May 10, @02:46PM (1 child)

        by Opportunist (5545) on Tuesday May 10, @02:46PM (#1243782)

        Then you, unlike me, have actually found something that made the severe hit to efficiency and workload throughput worthwhile.

        Congratulations.

    • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Tuesday May 10, @03:19PM (1 child)

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Tuesday May 10, @03:19PM (#1243801) Journal

      I just want a stove I can make a real lunch on!

      Forcing us to eat out at expensive and sodium drenched restaurants or eat something cold or microwaved was the straw that broke my camel's back.

      I am a return to office conscientious objector!

      • (Score: 2) by Opportunist on Tuesday May 10, @03:32PM

        by Opportunist (5545) on Tuesday May 10, @03:32PM (#1243810)

        To be fair, my company has a kick-ass dining room.

        Yes, with a Michelin chef and all, our C-Levels like to dine in style and they can only write that off from tax if everyone gets to eat like a boss. Gotta admit, that's a job perk I kinda miss... but then again, good grub ain't everything.

  • (Score: 2) by HammeredGlass on Tuesday May 10, @01:29PM (1 child)

    by HammeredGlass (12241) on Tuesday May 10, @01:29PM (#1243741)

    Do we not all bleed? Do we not all pick our noses and wipe our butts?

    Why is this shit always turned into who/what suffer "more" from the boohoos of the day??

    • (Score: 5, Funny) by krishnoid on Tuesday May 10, @09:16PM

      by krishnoid (1156) on Tuesday May 10, @09:16PM (#1243927)

      Maybe, but if you're bleeding when you do the other two, you might want to schedule your annual physical sooner rather than later.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Barenflimski on Tuesday May 10, @02:16PM

    by Barenflimski (6836) on Tuesday May 10, @02:16PM (#1243765)

    I have been working remote for most of my career. I tend to find places where that isn't an issue. I'm on the phone, zoom and emailing people non stop, so boredom is not a thing. If any company made me go in to fill a seat, I'd leave for one of the other 100 places that need me and will allow remote work. I despise traffic. I despise long commutes. I'd rather move to the rain forest and live off of pineapples and monkey doo than drive back and forth daily.

    With that being said, not everyone feels that way. If folks want to drive to work to sit and breath in each others farts, then let them do it. There are some people that otherwise would not see a human if they didn't go to work. There are some folks that have no idea how to make 'friends' if they aren't forced to be near people. There are some jobs that require a live human on prem, and I hope those folks lives get easier once they are allowed to be in person again.

    I feel trolled whenever this choice is presented as binary. Pineapple anyone?

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, @02:25PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, @02:25PM (#1243769)

    The variants continue to get more transmissible. BA.1 to BA.2 then to BA.2.12.1 and to BA.4 & BA.5.

    NO indoor gatherings. You MUST wear a mask. NOT N95, they can't block omicron because it is too small. HALF-FACE respirator is required to enter the pharmacy if others are unmasked.

    DO NOT learn the hard way that each infection risks GRAVE long-term damage to the organs and immune systems. And that is just the TIP of the iceberg!

    • (Score: 0, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, @04:49PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, @04:49PM (#1243851)

      It must be terrible to be such a coward. Are you also afraid of your own shadow?

      Fortunately, I don't need your permission to actually live my life.

      • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, @07:40PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, @07:40PM (#1243904)

        And you don't need his permission to do your testicle tanning like those manliest of manly men: tucker carlson and josh hawley, the saviors of manliness.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday May 10, @02:40PM (12 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday May 10, @02:40PM (#1243777)

    In 2014 I transitioned from 98% WFH to 70% WFO - because: acquisition and new management culture. I did my best to instigate remote work. I purchased and installed dedicated computers with webcams in several conference rooms. I initiated video links to our periodic "group catchup" sessions - and had moderate support from my direct and one-over managers in doing all this. The worker bees resisted. They still hate being on camera, which I understand, but they also refused to bother with audio conferencing. You couldn't get a quorum without scheduling a face-to-face meeting, too many of them simply disrespected the tele-conferences and either didn't attend, came late(er than usual), got frustrated with the tech and dropped it.

    We went 100% WFH in March of 2022, and by May of 2022 98% of our workforce was 90% proficient with teleconferencing. All of a sudden, whether you're in Florida, Colorado, California, Israel or India, it doesn't matter - we can all meet on equal footing, and there's no more air travel budgeting and hassle. The money saved on long distance travel has been staggering, almost enough to make up for lost sales due to COVID restrictions. Maybe 80% of the company is trying to get 60% back in-office now, but our department (the one that resisted WFH for 8 years of me pushing it at them) is now 100% committed to 99%+ WFH. We all literally are in-office less than 16 hours per year now.

    It's all about the critical mass - once you have enough people committed to doing the teleconferencing correctly, the rest will join the herd. It took a pandemic to get us over that hump, but now that we're here we've gone from 20% teleconferencing competency to 95%+ competent, and all the hold-outs have assistants who "do that stuff for them" one way or another.

    --
    Україна не входить до складу Росії.
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Opportunist on Tuesday May 10, @02:50PM (11 children)

      by Opportunist (5545) on Tuesday May 10, @02:50PM (#1243787)

      Why exactly do you need to see my mug? If it means so much to you, I'll send you an autographed photo of me that you can stick to your monitor.

      Or are you afraid that we could actually be caught working while the narcissist drones on about his pet project that nobody gives half a fuck about but himself?

      I could record a video where it looks like I pay attention to the narcissist, would that suffice?

      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday May 10, @03:14PM (2 children)

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday May 10, @03:14PM (#1243797)

        Why exactly do you need to see my mug?

        I, personally, don't. And given the culture, I don't show my face in 95%+ of meetings.

        However, generally speaking, seeing the mug creates an additional communication pathway, more information bandwidth, more communication in the same time, higher efficiency, and a bit of neurochemical bonding between the mug-to-mug interfacers. Generally speaking, if an "underling" is showing their mug, I'll show mine, but for the most part if there's a superior officer on camera and most of my level people are off, I'll stand with the off-camera crowd.

        --
        Україна не входить до складу Росії.
        • (Score: 2) by Opportunist on Tuesday May 10, @03:30PM (1 child)

          by Opportunist (5545) on Tuesday May 10, @03:30PM (#1243808)

          I don't show my face in 95%+ of meetings.

          "Sorry, can't turn on the cam, the VPN connection is too crappy and it breaks down with video".

          Works like a charm.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @01:00AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @01:00AM (#1243972)

            "Sorry, something's wrong with the cam on this laptop."
            (I put a piece of tape over the lens.)

      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday May 10, @03:18PM (6 children)

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday May 10, @03:18PM (#1243800)

        are you afraid that we could actually be caught working while the narcissist drones on about his pet project that nobody gives half a fuck about but himself?

        That's not a productive meeting, that's a pro-forma attendance ritual. If you participate in those, you're "doing it wrong." Fully acknowledged: much corporate culture "does it wrong" most of the time, but if you're willingly complying you're actually part of the problem. I have two meetings a week that I attend about once a quarter, otherwise I skim the e-mailed summary reports to confirm that I didn't miss anything important (to me) and get a bit of satisfaction from seeing my personal attendance box unchecked. For me to have that box checked when the entire 30 minutes had nothing to do with me is a failure on my part.

        --
        Україна не входить до складу Росії.
        • (Score: 2) by Opportunist on Tuesday May 10, @03:39PM (5 children)

          by Opportunist (5545) on Tuesday May 10, @03:39PM (#1243814)

          Unfortunately, the narcissist that love to hear himself talk is the CEO, so you can't exactly just flip him off and tell him to go play with something poisonous.

          It's a typical "Austrian solution [wikipedia.org]" (it's a thing, look it up. Sadly only in German, but you can Google translate it). Essentially, what it means is that it's a foul compromise that should not please anyone but appeases everyone and everyone can accept it as a "solution" despite not being one. Welcome to our Realpolitik. And the way we work here.

          Also, nothing is as permanent here as temporary solusions. Like our national broadcasting system, that was from 1945 to the 1990s a "trial" or "practice" broadcasting system.

          And, like a typical Austrian Solution, what we get is that he gets to drone on and feel important and we get to get some work done and ignore him, and everyone is ... kinda ... happy with it, without upsetting the apple cart and without causing the other side to lose face.

          • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday May 10, @03:53PM (4 children)

            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday May 10, @03:53PM (#1243824)

            My sympathies, but please do try to resist the next Anschluss.

            Also, I am presently 51 minutes into a 90 minute presentation from a vendor. They have spent the last 20 minutes presenting a capability of theirs that has nothing to do with our needs. I put an explanation of that in the chat 5 minutes in to the irrelevant part, they acknowledged that a few minutes later - we discussed for two minutes - and then they resumed presenting the useless capability. Our managers are politely encouraging them. You see what I'm doing. It is soooo much better than having to endure these presentations in person.

            --
            Україна не входить до складу Росії.
            • (Score: 2) by Opportunist on Tuesday May 10, @04:04PM

              by Opportunist (5545) on Tuesday May 10, @04:04PM (#1243829)

              Indeed.

              We're currently about 30 minutes into a presentation of our quarter expectations, by the way. As you can tell, it is very informative, engaging and riveting. I think I might need a valium to survive the rest of the presentation.

            • (Score: 2) by Barenflimski on Tuesday May 10, @04:30PM (2 children)

              by Barenflimski (6836) on Tuesday May 10, @04:30PM (#1243841)

              Ahhh, vendor meetings. Have they told you what is on the roadmap yet?

              • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday May 10, @04:47PM

                by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday May 10, @04:47PM (#1243850)

                New vendor, no roadmap - yet. Did present several slides of "architecture" though.

                --
                Україна не входить до складу Росії.
              • (Score: 2) by Opportunist on Tuesday May 10, @06:59PM

                by Opportunist (5545) on Tuesday May 10, @06:59PM (#1243889)

                Well, everything you actually need and would buy the item for. As usual.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, @11:19PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, @11:19PM (#1243958)

        It depends on the meeting. I work in academia, primarily on research. I mostly have two types of meetings:

        1) Management sometimes wants meetings to go over whatever buzzword bingo is making its way through the administration at that time. I'm a scientist, not a bureaucrat. Most of what goes on in those meetings could be explained succinctly over email. Of course I'm muted and my camera is off. I've got better things to do, but attendance is mandatory. I've learned there's usually a long mandatory meeting sometime during the week prior to each semester. I, of course, just happen to schedule vacation during those weeks on the grounds that I need it to do my best work during the semester.

        2) I lead a small team of researchers, and we're working on various projects. We have meetings to discuss technical stuff like looking at new results and talking about ideas for how to solve challenges we run into during our research. I've never told everyone they have to turn their cameras on, but everyone does it. But we're either looking at data and actively discussing it, or we're trying to think up ideas to solve problems and share our thoughts. It's definitely productive to get a few people in a meeting to brainstorm ideas to solve our problems. They're not status updates, but actually trying to solve problems that arise during the research. I'd hope that even if someone doesn't necessarily have ideas about a particular topic, they learn something, because we're actually talking about technical stuff. I'd bet that nonverbal communication is a useful way to give people positive feedback when they're sharing ideas.

        Bottom line? I think the size and subject of the meeting matter. A meeting of four or five people to discuss technical stuff is totally different from the administration wanting 100 people in a meeting to discuss bureaucratic stuff.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by DannyB on Tuesday May 10, @04:30PM (11 children)

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday May 10, @04:30PM (#1243840) Journal

    I prefer to work at office.

    I have a nice big office with a door that closes. An outside window and an inside window. Like what a manager would have except I don't manage anyone.

    I have a grueling ten minute commute to the office with five traffic lights. Then I have to face that same horror when returning home.

    Myself and another coworker in a cubicle (tech support) are the only ones in this office. Everyone else works from home.

    The company is not requiring anyone to return to the office yet. It was recently announced that they don't have any plans to in the near future.

    Apart from the commute, and the necessity of wearing clothing, I like the office because it is quiet, well lit and has fantastic equipment. I have a big desk an nice large workspace. I can't match that at home. It is a very focused place to work.

    I have online meetings every day with my team members who are scattered across the US in various offices or at home. Just like before covid-19. One interesting note is that one of my coworkers who had long worked in this office, moved to Oregon a few years ago. We continued to have meetings every day on line and do the same work until she eventually retired. Nothing really changed. This really drove home the point that our jobs never required any physical interaction, only exchange of information, emails, documents, setting up test servers for QA, documentation, etc.

    To address a different point: my company has a few small interesting perks. But they also have substantial real benefits as well. Excellent health insurance and other benefits. The company pays well over half of health insurance, and that is huge. Free life insurance for the employee worth the most recent W2 year income. I could say that they really do buy my loyalty.

    --
    Calmly vote. Fill out your ballet and drop it in the ballet box. Don't dance around bothering the pole watchers.
    • (Score: 2, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, @04:56PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, @04:56PM (#1243854)

      Sound very nice. Totally unlike what the vast majority of us have to deal with in an office environment.

      However, it does sound very much like my setup at home: Big private office looking out over a green space, complete privacy, and a 2-second commute. The only reason I have anything even remotely this nice is because I work from home.

    • (Score: 2) by Barenflimski on Tuesday May 10, @05:19PM

      by Barenflimski (6836) on Tuesday May 10, @05:19PM (#1243865)

      If that was what my office experience was like, I'd go daily. I'd even water the plants.

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday May 10, @05:43PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday May 10, @05:43PM (#1243878)

      I have a grueling ten minute commute to the office with five traffic lights. Then I have to face that same horror when returning home.

      I've had those. Actually had a six minute drive with one traffic light for a couple of years. Even still, there's getting dressed, walking about the place, going out to lunch, etc. Lunch was the only way to get actual communication from around the company, I did that three days a week and it made my ankles swell up from the salt.

      I have the manager's office now, with no direct (or indirect) reports - they keep threatening to take it away since I haven't set foot in it more than 2 hours in the past 2 years, but so far it's still mine. When I get annoyed with distractions at home, I work from the sailboat at the marina: 10 minute drive with one traffic light and one stop sign - really quiet there especially during weekdays, the office has nothing to offer compared to the boat.

      --
      Україна не входить до складу Росії.
    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, @08:24PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, @08:24PM (#1243918)

      I like having a private bathroom for taking a shit.

      • (Score: 2) by Opportunist on Tuesday May 10, @10:10PM

        by Opportunist (5545) on Tuesday May 10, @10:10PM (#1243941)

        Sir, this is an office.

      • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday May 11, @02:33PM

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday May 11, @02:33PM (#1244052) Journal

        I've never had a problem with using the restroom at the office. Nor at Walt Disney World.

        --
        Calmly vote. Fill out your ballet and drop it in the ballet box. Don't dance around bothering the pole watchers.
    • (Score: 2) by Opportunist on Tuesday May 10, @10:12PM (1 child)

      by Opportunist (5545) on Tuesday May 10, @10:12PM (#1243942)

      Well, then I guess you can go to the office, I can work from home and everyone's happy.

      Glad we found a solution for that problem. Can we get back to doing some meaningful work now?

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by DannyB on Wednesday May 11, @02:24PM

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday May 11, @02:24PM (#1244047) Journal

        That seems to be the case for both you and I.

        Some people may be forced back to the office soon. (Not at my employer, at present.)

        So that situation may change.

        Another possibility is that employers may close offices and working from home would become the new normal. That would leave a lot of empty commercial office space.

        Who knows what will happen. In 2019 I would not have predicted covid, wacky conspiracy theories, an attempt to overthrow US democracy and install an unelected dictator, nor would I have predicted Putin's Folly.

        --
        Calmly vote. Fill out your ballet and drop it in the ballet box. Don't dance around bothering the pole watchers.
    • (Score: 2) by DavePolaschek on Wednesday May 11, @12:51PM (2 children)

      by DavePolaschek (6129) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday May 11, @12:51PM (#1244027) Homepage Journal

      Very much ditto, back when I was working (I retired pre-Covid). But when asked about my proclivity for coming into the office, I replied with, “the single most important thing about going in to the office is that I can leave.”

      But I also was fairly rock-solid in making sure I was unreachable once I left work. I didn’t check my work email. I only answered personal calls, etc. When I left the office for the day, I was done working for the day. I had a director call me back to the office once, and I did go in, then explained that if I did any work, it would take months to repair the work that director wanted me to do because I was tired and burned out and I didn’t have any productivity left in me until after I got some sleep. “Fire me if you want. I’m going home to bed now.”

      I came in early the next morning and resolved the problem in about ten minutes because I was fresh and rested, emailed off the status, and went home again and got drunk.

      • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday May 11, @02:25PM

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday May 11, @02:25PM (#1244049) Journal

        Yes, that is it. I keep work at work, and home at home.

        --
        Calmly vote. Fill out your ballet and drop it in the ballet box. Don't dance around bothering the pole watchers.
      • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday May 11, @02:30PM

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday May 11, @02:30PM (#1244051) Journal

        I should add, they do buy my loyalty enough that I am willing to pre arrange odd non-business hours times to do production server upgrades. I have this entire process well scripted so it happens in only a few minutes.

        Extremely rarely, like once in five years, there might be some problem which is an emergency where I need (and am willing) to go to the office to deal with something.

        Other than that, I do not really get bothered with work when I am at home. The company says, and their actions reflect that they really do believe in work-life balance. As an example, I get five paid weeks of vacation (25 business days) plus five "personal" days. I think in ancient times this was called "sick days". The only difference is that you can take personal days any time without advance notice. In practice, I've never had a problem using a vacation day for a sick day even after the fact, so I could keep the personal days in case I unexpectedly needed them.

         

        --
        Calmly vote. Fill out your ballet and drop it in the ballet box. Don't dance around bothering the pole watchers.
  • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, @07:54PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, @07:54PM (#1243909)

    These Suited Whore scum should just be glad they are not getting killed en masse. We all watched as they gladly went along with crashing the world's economy and trying to subjugate everyone for "covid". Most of the retarded ass slaves went along with it too. Fuck all these motherfuckers. Burn them all to the ground.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, @11:34PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, @11:34PM (#1243961)

    I've had mixed opinions over the whole remote work culture. Waking up later and having the ability to cook a lunch instead of reheating cold leftovers or getting takeout was a big plus for me. However it kinda ended at that.

    I worked in a large engineering department for a fairly large company... they jumped quickly on board with the work from home requirements right at the beginning of the pandemic. All of us had laptops except for a few, so it wasn't too hard for them to just purchase us additional docks and monitors and send them off to our homes for us to use remotely. Early on, I tested positive with COVID. During that time, I was still expected to attend meetings, do training, etc, since I "was at home and not on the jobsite". The whole time I couldn't focus properly and spent a week with having it where I had to get off the computer and take naps, puke, etc as I was getting over it. I ended up with a disciplinary action against me for failing to complete required training in a timely fashion, which was assigned and due when I had COVID. Others went through the same. In the beginning before people realized they could mute themselves in meetings, there would be large coughing fits, dogs barking, people puking, etc everybody would hear. Stuff like that stretched out meetings because people ended up having to repeat themselves.

    Overall, our departments productivity went into the toilet. I went from having ~1-2 meetings a day that were no more than 30 minutes to having 9, taking up a total of 8-10 hours a day. Some settings where you needed help from another person, asking for help that would take five minutes max (hey, can you check and sign this for me kind of stuff) started taking a day... then a week... then a month. Some of it could have been people having covid, though it was hard to tell. There were a handful of people who blew off every meeting and just left themselves as do not disturb, but then never did any work. The few of us who were receptive ended up having to take up their workloads to keep things going.

    People that I used to talk to and associate with daily, lunch crews, stuff like that, went distant. I don't think I saw but 2 or 3 people in my department I worked with in the manner of a year and a half. People started growing more distant, more confrontational and bitter, when it came to any kind of comments. I saw a few instances in meetings with chats that dropped into a Reddit/4chan style passive aggressive response style, some from people who were the most polite people I had seen before everything began. To be fair, I've seen this as a pattern online in general, when people are behind a keyboard, they're quick to dehumanize others or generalize people whereas if they're in front of a person, they would be a little more hesitant to say that outloud. I'm probably guilty of this just by writing this post.

    In the case of my job specifically, I had to go back to a somewhat hybrid working style, as some of the things I worked on couldn't be done remotely. (Can't really go into details about what that involved though.) People who had to report to work to keep things running the whole time eventually realized I came in on a fixed schedule, and would ask me to help them with open items that used to take a day to complete not being done at all. Some of this stuff could have been done remotely and was asked to people who were fully remote and never got responses back. After a year or so passed, when other engineers realized I was on site for some days, ended up asking me to do their in person work for them if something came up, because "they didn't want covid". It seemed a little selfish to me at first but I understood why but I ended up agreeing to help since I had it early on and none of us who had it and were exposed to it were getting it again at the time. That ended up being a big mistake, as I went from having a 43 hour work week to a 70 hour week, every day I reported to work physically turned into a 14-15 hour day. This wasn't counting the remote meetings I still had to attend, even while on the jobsite, and also doing the remote work tasks I had assigned. Jobs started getting more complicated as managers trying to save their jobs added themselves as signature requirements for everything, even for pay raises and hires. A small capital project I was on a team for ended up with 6 levels of management to sign off on some of our design decisions, which stretched our timeframe out farther. Managers also were not too receptive, unless it was one of their dozen meetings they would set up. Management was a lot quicker to discipline people too for things, for example, my training action previously would have just been a "just take it when you're feeling okay and it'll be fine", not a "this goes on your HR record now" kind of action.

    I ended up bogged down with trying to keep my project afloat while taking up everybody else's tasks, that I ended up again with a disciplinary action for missing some teams meeting that had a executive level manager in it... the action being recommended by the executive itself to set an example. My pay raise was removed, I was given a "recovery action plan" to be more attentive for meetings. I ended up sick again around this same time, this time not COVID, and took the time to find myself a different job.

    I ended up leaving there and going to work for a different job that didn't have any remote work and was also with a significantly smaller company. Last time I talked to somebody there, all the people who were hybrid or doing all the work were quitting in droves and they were giving pay raises for the people who were still working remotely and not being receptive. The project I was working on got massively delayed due to supply chain issues and a total redesign they had to do because of a unrelated manager vetoing choices. The non remote job is definitely better, I get more done in a day and work a lot less than I did before. I could see if it was something like software development or customer service it being somewhat of a better experience just being fully remote, but it doesn't work for everything.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by pdfernhout on Wednesday May 11, @01:22PM (1 child)

      by pdfernhout (5984) on Wednesday May 11, @01:22PM (#1244032) Homepage

      Thanks for sharing your experience. Seems to me like your experience (excessive meetings, too many levels of approval needed, working 14-15 hour days, and on top of that getting reprimanded for missing things while working while sick) reflects poor management practices more than anything about remote/non-remote (at least, when management is reasonably enlightened).

      That said, I can see from what you wrote that *if* you already work in a company with poor management practices (management unwilling to reflect deeply on current needs and processes and make adjustments, and also organizations that don't have some healthy balance of distributed meshwork and centralized hierarchy in decision making), then the stress of any challenge or opportunity -- like changing how people work to mostly remote -- may produce increasing dysfunction. But I can wonder if that might also be true for any other workplace challenge too -- like changing customer needs, moving into a new line of business, taking on a new project, changing government regulations, financial challenges, a logistics issue, being short handed and needing to prioritize, some deeply problematical workplace social issues related to dysfunctional interpersonal styles of key people, and so on.

      And of course, if the company you were working for had been managing OK-enough pre-pandemic, then maybe without the pandemic-induced work stresses, then maybe there would never have been an exploitative situation emerging like you described and you will still be working there and enjoying your job there however much you enjoyed it before the pandemic (not having gone through what you did).

      I don't want to blame the victim here, but part of this also was you not setting limits. Consider reading this thread where someone who is overworking and unappreciated considers quitting and people suggest the same thing may happen at the next place they go unless they change their response to such situations by setting limits (which kind of reminds me of the "Bullies to Buddies" approach to dealing with people crossing healthy boundaries):
      "Quitting job with no plan- Please help assess my situation"
      https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=349041 [bogleheads.org]

      An example response there from "KlangFool": "In any reasonable size organization, 20% of the folks are doing 80% of the works. So, if you are any good, you will be overwork if you do not learn to say "no". And, the horrible part of this is if you are overwork, the quality of your work will go down and/or you will be burn out. Aka, you would not last long. A) Not everything is worth doing. B) If you say "yes" to everyone, you are a pushover. No one will think highly of you. C) If you willing to work for free (weekend, vacation time, and so on), your time must not be very valuable to you. Hence, by extension, you are not that valuable too. Set a priority. Do whatever can be done with good quality within your office hour. Or else, face burn out and disappointment."

      Lots more similar discussions on what is a common issue with people who care about their work:
      https://www.google.com/search?q=setting+limits+work+job+burnout+site%3Abogleheads.org [google.com]

      For example: "What Causes Burnout at Work?" https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=337025 [bogleheads.org]

      That said, it is much easier to become a victim when you are surrounded by a dysfunctional company -- with managers and executives who aren't emphasizing work/life balance and who are willing to exploit whatever weaknesses they find in their employees rather than supporting people in being healthy and reasonably productive over the long haul (including setting limits for them if they can't set them themselves, like requiring mandatory vacation or limiting work hours and communications in various ways).

      Setting limits can be hard when you are in a culture that does not encourage that -- especially one that has "PTO shaming" when people take time off, which is common in the USA. For example, people in Germany have a *minimum* required 30 days of annual vacation mandated by the government whereas in the USA it is literally 0.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_minimum_annual_leave_by_country [wikipedia.org]

      Also on that theme: https://www.salon.com/2010/08/25/german_usa_working_life_ext2010/ [salon.com]
      "How did Germany become such a great place to work in the first place? The Allies did it. This whole European model came, to some extent, from the New Deal. Our real history and tradition is what we created in Europe. Occupying Germany after WWII, the 1945 European constitutions, the UN Charter of Human Rights all came from Eleanor Roosevelt and the New Dealers. All of it got worked into the constitutions of Europe and helped shape their social democracies. It came from us. The papal encyclicals on labor, it came from the Americans."

      What was done to you with overwork would be breaking the law in many other countries (sames as in, say Switzerland, where it is illegal to place employees in offices without windows and natural sunlight).

      All that said, I can see the argument that if your original (potentially dysfunctional, poorly managed) company had not gone remote, then even with some new different stresses, maybe face-to-face interactions somehow might have made it less likely you would end up exploited and eventually burned out working long hours -- like either you would have felt more comfortable pushing back face-to-face, your colleagues might have felt more guilty seeing you exploited and stepped up, or your managers might have been more aware of the issue?

      One other context issue is that this is about non-remote companies going remote in the middle of a pandemic (where stress is everywhere, especially for working parents with small children). That level of social stress faced by employees day-after-day for years makes everything much harder even for the best managed companies. And I can see from what you wrote that becoming suddenly remote -- in the absence of a healthy remote work culture -- then makes it harder for an organization to deal with the added stresses in the ways it previously might have done like casually chatting about them over lunch or in the hallways.

      It sounds like that failure to create a healthy workplace is spreading in the company you left -- as these things often do, where good people leave due to dysfunction, the workload gets bigger per person for those who remain, and then more leave, and it becomes a cascading failure across the organization (possibly leading to the company shutting down or getting bought out, unless it has some monopoly or similar moat).

      In your previous job, given the company is crashing and burning without you, would that company have been better off if you had set a limit of eight hour days and taking sick time when sick -- but still were working there reasonably healthily doing quality work?

      And of course there are better companies out there that don't force employees to make such difficult choices and pushback like that, and it sounds like you found one. If your better company now went mostly remote, would it do remote work much better than your last one and be less likely to exploit you? Hopefully the answer there is yes.

      Anyway, I wrote more on the tradeoffs of remote working, but the lameness filter says this post is too long with that.

      Here is a reading list I put together that people at your previous company might have benefited from (not that it sounds like the managers there might be likely to read anything on it, but one can always hope):
      https://github.com/pdfernhout/High-Performance-Organizations-Reading-List [github.com]

      --
      The biggest challenge of the 21st century: the irony of technologies of abundance used by scarcity-minded people.
      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by pdfernhout on Wednesday May 11, @02:11PM

        by pdfernhout (5984) on Wednesday May 11, @02:11PM (#1244045) Homepage

        (Continued from above) I've worked from home as a programmer most (but not all) of my career spanning decades. And I've liked that situation overall (ignoring the issue of what I work on sometimes). I don't like commuting. And I do like working without too many interruptions in my own quiet space.

        But I can see how working from home poses challenges for people not used to it, or who don't have a separate home office, or who don't have a spouse to handle childcare issues, or who live alone (especially during a pandemic when you can't go out), or who do different sorts of work, or who have different personalities. Or also unmarried people who are at a different stage in their life where they want to be meeting potential partners at work or school.

        So I think overall you are right that remote work does not work well for everyone (even if I think it can work well for more people than were doing it pre-pandemic -- especially with the right support and a remote-friendly work culture).

        And I can also admit that sometimes over the years I have yearned for more social times like when I was managing labs at universities (with a lot of autonomy and yet also interesting social interactions) or when I worked at a research lab and had interesting lunch conversations with coworkers. Even as I don't miss some of the other aspects of being onsite especially at some other jobs (like working in noisy places or a manager literally staring at my back all day in one situation). That said, I can wonder if nowadays I would still overall like such an on-site role as much as I did back in my twenties (even ignoring that I would have to move to make one feasible). The internet makes interesting chats (like on Soylent News) much more available than in the 1980s (although there was Usenet even then). But it's true that repeated face-to-face chats with the same people can develop more social rapport.

        Related: "How our housing choices make adult friendships more difficult: We can refuse to accept the status quo of default isolation."
        https://www.vox.com/2015/10/28/9622920/housing-adult-friendship [vox.com]
        "Why do we form such strong friendships in high school and college and form comparatively fewer as the years go on? I read a study many years ago that I have thought about many times since, though hours of effort have failed to track it down. The gist was that the key ingredient for the formation of friendships is repeated spontaneous contact. That's why we make friends in school — because we are forced into regular contact with the same people. It is the natural soil out of which friendship grows. ... This kind of spontaneous social mixing doesn't disappear in post-collegiate life. We bond with co-workers, especially in those scrappy early jobs, and the people who share our rented homes and apartments. But when we marry and start a family, we are pushed, by custom, policy, and expectation, to move into our own houses. And when we have kids, we find ourselves tied to those houses. ... Those of you who are married with kids: When was the last time you ran into a friend or "dropped by" a friend's house without planning it? When was the last time you had a unplanned encounter with anyone other than a clerk or a barista, someone serving you? Where would it happen? The mall? Walmart? There are so few noncommercial public spaces where we mix and mingle freely with people on a regular basis. ..."

        The place I have worked for the past several years -- entirely remotely -- has a headquarters on the other side of the continent from where I live or I'd enjoy dropping in there more often (but I don't like flying or travel that much, even if they are willing to pay for it and I get to visit a relative there on the weekends). The times I have gone there for visits for a week at a time, usually at most one day involves meeting immediate coworkers for lunch, and our daily standups were mostly me alone in a conference room talking to others on my team who lived in the local area but were working remotely to avoid heavy local traffic and long commutes. And frankly, standups sound better when everyone is remote than with some people in a conference room struggling with AV issues and poor audio quality. But one advantage of those trips was random lunch conversations with other people in the company (shipping, production, marketing, other programming teams, etc) and also meeting in person people I work with outside my immediate team. I enjoyed those chats and learned some key things. Possibly there might be a law of diminishing returns on them at some point though -- or maybe not if friendships grew and new areas of discussion became available. This is in a company that was not remote-first though and has a lot of required on-site work for other non-programming roles. As a whole, it could not function remote-only (unless maybe it had Avatar-like force-feedback remote presence robots for hands-on tasks).

        At a small remote-only programming-focused company I once worked for pre-pandemic, a big effort was made to engage people in various ways. Those included text chat related to hobbies, a rotating schedule of meet-and-greet meetings with various peers across the organization, scheduled peer mentoring meetings including over-the-shoulder screenshares for new hires to watch people work, and weekly show-and-tells about technology that people were using at work or just playing with. There was also a weekly company-wide Monday-morning meeting (with scheduling assignments and priorities) where everyone also was asked to say what they did over the weekend and usually wrote up a paragraph often with pictures in a shared document. These forms of social engagement would provide some social resilience when potentially stressful things happened.

        There is also an increasing sense for many people (whether working or being online for shopping, entertainment, discussion, or education) for which potentially-liberating and empowering computer technology of abundance can also be used for extensive surveillance (even to the point of keylogging and taking screenshots on company-owned work computers). Related example:
        "How employers use technology to surveil employees"
        https://www.brookings.edu/blog/techtank/2021/01/05/how-employers-use-technology-to-surveil-employees/ [brookings.edu]

        Such fine-grained monitoring potentially can make working from home (or attending school at home) feel more like being under house arrest. This is especially true in work cultures essentially requiring an always-on presence active in a chat system on a laptop (like that remote-only company did) which makes for a sort of unconscious background vibe like being a criminal having to wear an ankle bracelet tracking your location (at least during core working hours).

        Years ago, before chat was common, and as a contractor using my own equipment (so, not an employee), where I had occasional meetings or phone calls and worked towards broad objectives related to a project, working from home as a programmer could never have such a fine-grained oppressive feel.

        And if you are working onsite or on-campus, people may just assume you are working wherever you are or whatever you are doing.

        And watercooler or hallway voice chats leave no records and so potentially can be engaged in differently about sensitive job-related topics (within limits, and for good or bad).

        And then there is the potential issue of how easily work/home boundaries can get crossed with potentially 24X7 email and chat in remote work versus clear time boundaries when you work on-site. As people have said, the good thing about "going in" for the day is that eventually you can "go out" and leave for the day.

        So, there are tradeoffs. I think the only way we are going to transcend such tradeoffs is to rethink the nature of work itself. There are books related to aspects on that reading list I mentioned. For a more radical take on rethinking "work", see for example Bob Black's "The Abolition of Work" or James P. Hogan's "Voyage from Yesteryear" or Theodore Sturgeon's "The Skills of Xanadu". Although a downside of changing (especially by automating) the nature of work can be found in the sci-fi short story "With Folded Hands" or "The World Inside" and similar dystopias.

        --
        The biggest challenge of the 21st century: the irony of technologies of abundance used by scarcity-minded people.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, @08:03AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, @08:03AM (#1244331)

    How this is even a debate is fucking stupid. Most of the necessary work to be done in a nation state can't be, "worked on from home."

    Grocery stores can't be stocked from zoom meetings.
    The trash still needs to be collected.
    Power, water, and all the infrastructure can't be worked on from home.

    Certain jobs CAN be done from home: call center work, receptionist type stuff, taking calls for various reasons; basically any kind of work that only requires you to use a computer, can be done from home. If that's the case, skip the shower, leave your pajamas on, and enjoy. Just quit bitching and acting like anybody fucking gives a damn whether you are for or against, "going back to the office." lol

    The rest of the world still works the same way.

    I say, if the job is doable from home, then fuck off and stay home. Fuck the offices, the office culture, the morning meeting, the TPS reports, and all that horseshit. It will mean less cars on the road, less pollution, less traffic, and more headaches for fucking management pricks. win win.

    Just have some common fucking decency and sense in those stupid fucking meetings you have to attend. Wear some pants, prevent interruptions, and shut your stupid dog up. Nobody cares. Good day.

  • (Score: 2) by Kell on Saturday May 14, @02:03AM (1 child)

    by Kell (292) on Saturday May 14, @02:03AM (#1244865)

    I discussed with him the idea of getting him some office space nearby (he lives an hour commute away), but that fell on deaf ears. I suspect that he is enjoy working from home and isn't cognizant of his reduced productivity. His wife works in the public service and her managers have been brutal in enforcing a return to work, so suddenly kid logistics is harder and having him work from home is kinda convenient. I've been a very understanding boss, but I feel I'm being taken advantage of here. We've got deadlines; as an academic, my career is on the line if we don't deliver.

    --
    Scientists ask questions. Engineers solve problems.
    • (Score: 2) by Kell on Saturday May 14, @02:05AM

      by Kell (292) on Saturday May 14, @02:05AM (#1244866)

      Ah heck, this was supposed to be a response to Thexalon. Sorry for the confusion.

      --
      Scientists ask questions. Engineers solve problems.
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