The Benefits and Detractions of Remote

  • I look at what I am saving during lockdown

    • £80/week commuting
    • Wear and tear on the car.  Mileage down from 25,000/year to a few hundred.
    • Not wearing out clothing usually worn at the office.  Still wearing SQLBits clothes from 2014!
    • Lower energy costs due to not using a tumble dryer because I can hang out the washing during a 10 minute break rather than having to wait until the evening.

    I live in a village 20 miles from my place of work (in central Manchester (UK, right next door to where the last SQL Bits was held) so cost of goods/services is no different.

    I think it would be quite a bit of effort to say what part of someone's salary is for the value of the service they provide vs a weighting factor for where they have to live to provide it.  I know that London has a weighting factor but I am not sure if there is any other form of geographic weighting.

    It becomes even less clear with regards to cost of goods.  If I buy a product from London then does the cost of that product reflect the fact that it is made in an expensive city?  If I take a drop in my salary because I live outside London does that make it financially hard for me  to buy London products and if so do we create a financially disadvantaged area?

    I feel that lower salaries for remote workers is a very slippery slope and a potentially dangerous legal minefield.

  • Slippery slope David - totally agree. Also, by working remotely I can fit more into the day, I'd say that counterbalances the savings I make, and means I should continue to receive full pay 🙂

  • I've always been a big believer in working remote. While not everyone has the self-discipline necessary, many do. I do find myself working longer hours because my commute time has been replaced with productive time, so that's a benefit to the company. I save money and hassle by not having the commute to the office, which is a significant savings to me both monetarily and to my sanity!

    Even more, my work style has not changed. I usually work from home two days a week. While in the office, I spend most of the day on Zoom meeting with colleagues who are out of state. My teammates sit near me in the office, yet for those few meetings that we have in common are still held via Zoom. We never meet in a conference room and rarely have time to chit-chat when not in meetings. So, what is the point of being in the office?

    I believe that companies would save considerably on office space by having remote workers. Of course, those who are extroverts and thrive in office environments would probably perform better in such settings, but companies could have smaller offices. But, in my opinion, it should not affect how much they pay their employees. At least for myself, I have not found significant differences in pay according to locale. In fact, when I investigated a position in the SF Bay Area, their pay rate was not much different than elsewhere. I specifically looked for positions that had smaller commutes and less congested areas even though it reduced the choices available to me.

    If companies want to thrive in a post-pandemic economy, they will will need to embrace remote workers to a greater extent. It was proven that companies who were already fully remote or remote enabled had little interruption to their workflow. Mine certainly didn't change because even when in the office I worked remote. This will become a strength for companies, not merely an indulgence for employees.

  • If my commute costs were higher, I might be willing to consider a reduction in salary for the privilege of working from home, but right now, that is not the case, so I'm less willing. But no matter how you slice it, its a tricky subject to negotiate.

     

     

     

  • I totally agree on the benefits - to both parties - on working remote.

    I do wonder, however, how will we "build relationships" and get to know (new) people in a remote environment?  Do we need to setup "water cooler" Zoom meetings just to "chat"?  That is the biggest loss I see.

    @SteveJones, you were a remote Newbie when you started working for RedGate - how did you develop those relationships?

    • This reply was modified 2 years ago by  IowaDave.
  • IowaDave wrote:

    I do wonder, however, how will we "build relationships" and get to know (new) people in a remote environment?  Do we need to setup "water cooler" Zoom meetings just to "chat"?  That is the biggest loss I see.

    In a previous 100% remote job, I had a great team and we grew to be family. We did meet regularly throughout the year, but we were family before we even physically met! We set up chat times outside of meetings and shared things about our lives. We had a great rapport that has survived the company's sale twice over and it's subsequent breakup with all of us going our separate ways. But we're still family and keep in touch! Such obstacles can be overcome if it's important enough.

  • My boss has been very proactive in this area - we already had a weekly "Tea and biscuits" meeting, but he's moved that to Teams and we join in from home. Attendance isn't compulsory - people skip it if they're too busy, but we've taken on two new people during the WFH period and I think they're integrating really well.

  • I've always been a "pay the person for the job", not necessarily for that person. So if I'm a younger/newer person, but you trust me to be a dev, or a senior dev, pay me that rate. I learned this early, when a friend got a job as a chef. He was young, and new, and someone gave him a chance. They wanted to reduce his salary over what they had initially offered because he wasn't an experienced chef. However, in this case, he argued they were asking him to do the job of the chef (managing, ordering, menu, etc.). They ought to pay him for that job.

    I mostly think that's the case. Maybe there are adjustments over time, but really, I do think it ought to be simple. You pay for this job, not for where I live. If there are exceptional issues, like living directly in SF because you need to be on site, then include a yearly housing bonus of some sort.

     

  • I'll add my 1.5¢ to the discussion.

    I've been working remotely since September last year when I moved to another state. I'm lucky enough to work for a company that understands they are paying for my work and not my commute. I've had to be available on around the clock basis for most of my career and this hasn't changed.

    Things I've gained from working remotely:

    * Approx 20 hrs/week not commuting.

    * Wear and tear on my truck.

    * Gasoline depending on the current price anywhere from $60 to $110 per week.

    * Fewer distractions, most of the time.

    * Better able to concentrate on actual work tasks.

    * Ability to configure my work environment as I like.

    * No more going out to lunch. (This is a mixed bag.)

    * Seeing more of my wife! 🙂

    * Lots of other little stuff...

    So, it has never made any sense to me that we have to be in the office. It seems more of an insecurity on the part of the management than any sort of functional requirement. I still do the same work, and actually get more done now than before. It has more to do with perception than anything else. The office is in Kennesaw GA and the servers were in a data center 65 miles away.

    As a final comment, I was a manager of the infrastructure DBA team before I moved. For policy reasons, that was taken away from me.

    Have a great day!

    Richard

    -ps.  One final comment. If they don't trust us to do the work without watching us, why did they hire us???

    -R

  • @IowaDave: Great question. I should think and write about this a bit.

    I will say my role at RG has often been it's own role, with very little team interaction. I continued to manage SSC, and initially, I still mucked with code. My only real interaction for the first year was sporadic emails with my boss and one other person I knew previously. I also had a bunch of spec meetings with developers as they were taking over the code and needed to know how things worked. These were almost all email in the 2007 time.

    Over the years, we tried a few things. We used to do a standing weekly video meeting, but at that time all of us in the meeting (me, Simple Talk editors, support staff), tended to do different things. The meetings were a bit of a mess with poor video software, bad audio, and very little need for us to coordinate.

    I'd say that the biggest things for me to develop more of a bond, trust, and comfort working with others has been the face to face time. I've gone from 1 trip a year to the office, to 4, including seeing people in other places at times. Working across email/video is good, but the more I meet with people, the more that those remote interactions have greater impact and are more productive. Until I meet someone, we often have some difficulty interpreting how to take each other's words (Written or spoken). Even in video, I can see and react to body language once I've met people.

    Others may feel differently. Often there are people that might "meet" me from some webinar or presentation I do before I actually talk/email with them. Definitely with my role, there isn't an even exchange of contact points and methods.

    This is one reason I make the effort to go to the office 4x a year and set up tons of meetings. In a Tue lunch - Fri lunch schedule, which is my most common length, I will meet with 8-9 dev teams, 2 couple marketing teams, a few 1:1 catchups, and I'll find random times to have a coffee with people I don't often directly work with, but may encounter them. I usually have 2 dinners in that time with some group as well. On top of that, a few former employees or friends out there will often get an evening of 1:1 time. It's a somewhat exhausting trip, and the days before are busy prepping and my return is hectic, but it allows me to work more effectively with feedback, events, etc. It's worth some stress.

  • rlDawson_SLC wrote:

    ...

    -ps.  One final comment. If they don't trust us to do the work without watching us, why did they hire us???

    -R

    Absolutely. Treat people like adults. If you have issues, deal with the issue, but let everyone else continue on.

  • Being able to work from home (WFH) is one of my top 5 goals, for a job. Until this pandemic hit, working from home wasn't an option. However, it isn't just my employer that wasn't interested in letting their employees WFH, it is nearly all of the employees in my state. Until the pandemic hit. Now I suspect there's a lot of rethinking going on, around the C-suites throughout my state.

    But its a complicated thing. A couple weeks ago my CIO invited everyone in IT to attend a video conference being hosted by Gartner. The presentation was on how to prepare for the coming budget cuts, which are inevitable. I learned a lot as to what things look like, from the C-suite's point of view. The important point for this discussion, was when the Gartner rep talked about what savings IT might realize by people WFH. Their research suggests none. Employees WFH didn't save IT any money at all, or whatever savings it realized wasn't worth the effort. So, looking only at WFH, I would presume that the C-suite will say to those employees wanting to WFH, "Too bad, so sad, not going to happen. It doesn't help the bottom line."

    The Gartner guy did point to a different metric, that of the savings from not needing to pay for rent for office space, utilities, etc. If you couple that with WFH, then it has a positive impact upon budget cuts. (As an aside, in my situation this doesn't help, as my employer owns the building I work in 70 some miles away.)

    But the primary doubt that the majority of employers have in my state, has been proven wrong. We're able to get things done, even though we're remote. I don't think any of them can defend that old argument in fact of the empirical evidences. And I noticed in yesterday's USA Today, that of those people WFH, 75% want it to continue past the pandemic.

    To answer your question, Steve, yes, I'd be willing, within limits, to take a pay cut to continue WFH. If that does happen, I'm certain it will result in a pay cut. One of my colleagues who works on my team, lives some 300 miles south. Obviously, he can't go to the home office as the rest of us do. And his pay is already significantly less than mine. I'm also ambivalent about lowering the pay of individuals, because it seems to communicate that the value they give isn't as important as their location.

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • David.Poole wrote:

    Still wearing SQLBits clothes from 2014!

    That's a really long time, David.  You should at least change your underwear every one or two weeks. 😀

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.
    "Change is inevitable... change for the better is not".

    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)
    Intro to Tally Tables and Functions

  • Prior to our HQ office relocation a few years ago I had a 7-15 minute commute to a beautiful forested corporate campus.  At the time I told people my commute was worth $20k-$30k to me.  When the HQ relocation to downtown Seattle happened, my commute changed to a 7-15 minute drive to a park-n-ride (within sight of a building I used to work in) followed by a 45-90 minute bus ride.  Add in the 10-15 minute wait for the bus at each end, and my workday had increased by a minimum of two hours.  What is two hours a day of your life worth?

    To soften the office relocation blow, our DBA team was allowed to telecommute two days a week.  So when the current lockdown happened, transitioning from 2 days a week remote to 5 days a week remote wasn't a big deal.  It's worked so well that for our team I don't think we will ever go back to more than once a week in the office.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 30 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic. Login to reply