64

Well. When I first experienced remote work, I was excited as most of us.

Some years later, it seems to be a model that is imposing itself in the IT environment at least.

In my personal case, I am back at the office right now. The thing is, I prefer it. I will say that I prefer it in part because I live in a small town and I work 10 minutes away from home (by foot). Obviously I don't think neither way is superior to the other, and I am happy so many people have encountered the experience so enjoyable.

I do concentrate better in an office though, and it makes me feel less isolated, I like to speak to people and get out of my home, and after work, most of my friends have different schedules and we mostly see ourselves in the weekends. And I am starting to worry that this preference can now be a problem when before, it maybe gave an advantage against people who only looked for remote work. Why? Because the job pool of office work has shrinked these last few years and now I am mostly being offered remote jobs.

Should I try hard to adapt to remote work? Do you think a nice ammount of companies will still provide a workplace as an option? How many of you feel similar? Which other options would you recommend? I, for example, have thought of going to a coworking space, where I can rent a desk and speak with physical people at least.

I should point out that I mean practical/pragmatic drawbacks more than anything. I do not think it is wrong or something like that to prefer one way or another, but for example, back in the day, looking for a remote job could shrink the ammount of jobs that matched your expectations.

1
  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Kilisi
    Jun 10 at 2:48

8 Answers 8

14

Is this now a drawback?

Indirectly, yes. The candidate pool for any new job, assuming they allow both remote work and office, has multiplied. There are far more people now that you will be up against. Because your search will only be in the vincinity, while theirs is national.

Should I try hard to adapt to remote work?

Only if you don't find a job otherwise. If you have a nice job, why bother?

It's not like remote work is a skill and anybody is expecting "5 years experience in remote work". Nobody expected 5 years of sitting in an office either. It's always been about what you bring to produce a product, not what chair you sit in or what office decor you prefer.

7
  • 2
    It is know an employers market, since the number of applicants have increased, the employees willing to accept the terms of any given job's benefits have increased. So employees unwilling to compromised on the working conditions, will be no longer be consider in the decision process, since there will be enough applicants that are willing to compromise.
    – Donald
    Jun 7 at 19:10
  • 6
    In my experience, no company used the pandemic to bridge the cultural, language, timezone and tax regulation gap that "globally" implies. National means it's all as before, just the office changes to remote, global is a huge change in the company that nobody I know has done.
    – nvoigt
    Jun 8 at 5:33
  • 1
    My last company didn't exactly go "globally", but we had one employee who had been hired with the intent to move from Australia to London and who had to stay in Australia for quite a while, and someone who moved back to his home country and flew in once every two weeks.
    – gnasher729
    Jun 8 at 11:07
  • 2
    @nvoigt isn't even nationally quite a bit of a hurdle in places like the US where tax codes vary significantly from state to state?
    – llama
    Jun 8 at 19:20
  • 1
    "It's always been about what you bring to produce a product, not what chair you sit in or what office decor you prefer." I wish!
    – Cody Gray
    Jun 8 at 20:40
47

At this point in time I'd say "no" - while there has been a marked increase in jobs offering WFH and remote in the last couple of years the majority of businesses still have office premises and as such can offer you an office-based experience if you prefer it. And I don't see that changing any time soon - if nothing else because many businesses will still have other job functions than IT that don't lend themselves quite as readily to remote working.

Even if the job is being offered as "remote" then there's no reason you can't ask if there's an option to be office based instead - it's more the case that the increased popularity of remote working has lead to people advertising it rather heavily.

Which other options would you recommend? I, for example, have thought of going to a coworking space, where I can rent a desk and speak with physical people at least.

If you've got ones nearby this is a solid option - it's pretty much the reason such spaces exist in the first place. So this means you aren't having to even exclude "remote only" jobs from your search. Whereas for people who want remote work there's no equivalent if an employer insists on office-based.

6
  • +1, While I mostly agree, certainly that there's nothing to lose by asking if there's the option for office-based working, there are still reasons that companies might offer remote or hybrid only positions. To take an example from our own workplace, we've had an expanded workforce pushing us beyond capacity for the space. The options come down to either finding a new space or - what we currently do - keep functions necessarily office-based where they are and have everyone else either WFH or hybrid working.
    – user83084
    Jun 7 at 11:28
  • Huge companies are reducing the percentage of their workforce that is authorized to work from home, as the world recovers from the global pandemic, I suspect the amount of people working from home will only decrease in the next few years. It in my opinion, the pandemic proved, only a small faction of employees, can actually work effectively from their home. The industry's that I thought could work effectively from home (software engineering), failed to do so, that is evident by the year old delays of some of the biggest projects (primarily AAA video games).
    – Donald
    Jun 7 at 19:06
  • 4
    @Donald Video game development is actually poorly aligned for remote work due to heavy use of large media files such as different language audio packs and high resolution textures. The developers also need powerful machines to run editors which means facilitating taking home desktops or purchasing very powerful laptops. Not to mention still needing to book facilities for motion rig and audio recording. There's a lot of moving parts that don't fit the WFH style very well. Jun 8 at 9:06
  • 5
    @user3161729: I’m a digital design engineer. Our simulations and synthesis runs require lots of processing power and hard disk space. We just run them on a server farm to which I connect remotely. It’s in a different country, even if I come to the office the computation still happens far away from me. Shouldn’t this be the way video games or movies are developed too?
    – Michael
    Jun 9 at 12:55
  • 3
    @Michael I have some experience doing remote analog RFIC design involving lots of hand layout (rather than synthesis and floorplanning) in academia, and remote working (forced due to COVID) was a mixed experience. On a good network it's reasonably pleasant, but a bit of delay+visual artifacts and Virtuoso Layout quickly becomes migraine-inducing, especially if I'm trying to lay out a large block of my design. I'd imagine that for media-heavy tasks, the same issues could arise, especially for someone (like me) who is already prone to migraine headaches in certain cases.
    – nanofarad
    Jun 9 at 16:58
13

It depends - if your employer says "we are going to close one of our offices to save money, because 99% are happy working from home, so sorry, Dre, you will have to work from home", then you would have a problem. If they are happy to have you in the office, no problem. My last company had one guy who lived five minutes by bicycle from the office and was reliable enough to be trusted with the keys, and was Ok to go into the office to turn everything on after a power cut and similar things. A company might need someone in the office.

But generally, it's not something you would worry about until it actually happens.

5
  • Would "not" worry about I think - too small an edit for me to do...
    – Jon Custer
    Jun 7 at 12:45
  • Yep, in one previous job we were allowed to go to the office when we remote worked in case someone preferred it.
    – S. Dre
    Jun 7 at 12:53
  • 2
    Jon, it's not something you would worry about until it happens - don't worry until it happens.
    – gnasher729
    Jun 7 at 16:17
  • 2
    @JonCuster the "not" is already present before "something"
    – justhalf
    Jun 8 at 8:12
  • @JonCuster You're absolutely right that the inability to fix small typos is annoying.
    – gnasher729
    Jun 8 at 11:04
7

This is not a disadvantage at all. You should not have to force to change your ways. This is the case for me too. I like to work from office as I like to be with people, have smalltalk with them and like that. Also, easier to concentrate and to separate work from personal life.

1
  • 2
    "Ought not to be a drawback" is not the same as "is not a drawback". Jun 8 at 13:30
6

No, it is not a drawback. It is a desirable quality of an employee according to many employers.

During the pandemic, many companies may reasonably implement the "remote work policy".

However, when the pandemic is gradually fading away, the majority of the companies will prefer the "onsite work policy" because they can have more direct control of the work situations, and instant communications with their employees whenever needed.

Working onsite is the way that most big and medium companies want to operate in the long run regardless of whether their employees like it or not. (Example: In May/June 2022, Elon Musk has just asked all Tesla remote workers to work onsite or else, he says they should look for jobs elsewhere...).


Note: I personally prefer the "remote work policy". But, I have nothing particularly against either remote or onsite work policy. It is something to be worked out between employers and employees.

3

I was exactly in the same situation as you are now. The pandemic came, everyone went remote including me. At first it was nice, and then I realized I preferred office work for the same reasons are you do.

But I took a different approach. As we say in Brazil, "If life gives you lemons, make a lemonade!".

At first I kept working (mostly alone) at the offices, and then the company removed it to save costs as (nearly) everyone was happy with remote work. Instead of fighting the trend, I took advantage of it. If I have to work from home, what is the difference if my employer is next door or in the opposite of the world? And I found a job with a waaay better salary, still working from home and that actually is at the opposite of the world :-)

I do go to a co-working space 2 times a week, I feel it as a tradeoff between working from home and working at the office : More focus and better environment than home, but not as much as a company office. Specially regarding the socializing part.

1
  • When life gives you lemons, make life take the lemons back! Jun 9 at 13:55
2

Yes

Even if you are in the office, your colleagues are not (potentially, depends on company, etc). So if you're at home, or at the official office, or at a co-working or other office-like environment, you are going to be communicating with your colleagues remotely. That means video-calls, audio-calls, Slack/Teams/etc, less synchronous face-to-face high bandwidth communication, and more asynchronous considered and documented communication.

So, depending what you want, you may be most interested in not only an office-based role but also in an organisation that is primarily office-based for all. Those are fewer than they were pre-2020 and so therefore this is a disadvantage compared to history.

But comparing to history isn't very useful - we can't get in a time machine and look for a job in the past! Is it a disadvantaged compared to someone of the same skills and experience having a preference for remote work? No, I don't think so. Different people want different things, and the more organisations recognise, accommodate, and value that diversity the better they will be for everyone.

0

imposing itself in the IT environment at least.

This is a fallacy, it may apply to some niches of IT in some locales. But it would be pretty hard to cable a building or maintain a server remotely or any of the 99% of IT work some of which require specialised and expensive tools I wouldn't let people take home without good reason.

Development work is one such niche. The tools basically can all fit into a machine the size of a briefcase.

So while some companies may not need an office (most companies are not just developers, usually it's a pretty small part of the staff), others always will and it makes sense to have their IT in the office.

4
  • 4
    99% is a gross overstatement. Definitely some tasks require on-site attendance, but once e.g. a server is set up it should indeed be possible to do most of its maintenance via SSH. If not, you did something wrong during set up. (I suppose you could argue that only very nonstandard and maintenance-heavy server setups are worthwhile to have physically at the company at all, and everything else should be outsourced to the cloud. I'd disagree, but technically it's a sound opinion. Anyway that wouldn't really change the conclusion.) Jun 8 at 11:36
  • 3
    Let me introduce you to "the cloud"... For the rest of it, as more other generic office workers (accountants, graphic designers, etc., etc.) can work from home, there's less office infrastructure to support them and more remote desktop (if you were supporting a company with multiple offices before then you were probably already doing this anyway). In office days are being treated more like on call days and after hours support--part time on a rotating schedule or ad hoc when it's really an emergency. Jun 8 at 13:23
  • 1
    Non cloud networks and servers aren't disappearing any time soon.
    – Kilisi
    Jun 8 at 14:17
  • Maybe imposing isn't the correct word, but you get the point. It has expanded quite a lot.
    – S. Dre
    Jun 11 at 9:48

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .