I’ve been working exclusively remotely since 2010. I wouldn’t work onsite again if the company was across the street. Not having a commute is a benefit I don’t see mentioned enough. My last (in both senses of the word) onsite job took up that agile BS and my 30 minute drive became a 90 minute drive to attend a useless ceremonial meeting they insisted had to be at 8:30. They were downtown, I lived in Woodinville, and you know what Seattle traffic is like. The aggravation and weariness of inching through traffic was an inauspicious way to start the day.

Most of my remote work has been solo but there have been a few on teams.

There is one pivotal and qualitative difference between the team jobs, and it is how often we had online meetings. In 1989 at Microsoft we had one team meeting per week, with occasional one-offs usually consisting of a subset of the team. At my best remote gig we also met only weekly while we stayed in communication over Skype as needed. I was on this job three years and worked well with the other developers, but we all left after the hire of an intolerable technical lead who told me a gapingly obvious lie on his very first day.

The jobs with daily meetings were qualitatively inferior experiences. I came to dread them. By this time we were using zoom and while we had one front end developer in Ukraine most were in India and I was the only American. I live in Vietnam.

One of the Indians was aggressively mediocre in everything, his work was shoddy and his pronunciation was a strain to understand, not because of his accent but because he didn’t bother finishing the job and learning which syllable of a word to stress. He was a terrible teammate, making wanton changes in interfaces that he would never discuss nor even mention.

I’m convinced he was getting most of his work from Stack Overflow; his eight Django files looked nothing alike and there were vestigial comments that were suspiciously different.

The reason I mention this is the flip side of what you said about feedback; management was so intent on keeping things in the team nicey-nicey that they refused to deal with this guy. He’d make breaking changes; his voice on Zoom was three times louder than anyone else’s; he hijacked every daily call with an unmotivated screen share just so we could watch him wiggle his mouse.

He needed some uh feedback desperately and he never got it. That would’ve been negative.

No commute is the best part of remote work; fewer meetings is a close second. Managers who demand daily all-hands meetings do harm, and they do more harm when the emphasize team cohesion over good work.

American Software Developer living in Vietnam. Classical musician (guitar, woodwinds), weightlifter, multilingual, misanthrope • XY

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