Although there is a trend for tech companies offering remote working conditions, a great deal do not. This is pretty silly since most tech companies are on a 24/7 environment (especially those operating on the web) and the fact that technologies have caught up to allow for collaborative environments without requiring physical and central locations. Here are my reasons that tech companies should move towards this trend sooner rather than later.
- Commuting is a huge expense. If you live in an urban jungle like Los Angeles, then chances are that you’ll be on average anywhere between 30-90 minutes from your job. If not, you’ll be sacrificing either space or money to live within a reasonable distance to your job (especially those so-called Silicon Beach offices). Saving 1-3 hours a day per worker will ensure long term happiness of one of your most difficult to retain resources.
- It allows for more options in terms of recruiting possibilities. A person who can work remotely just needs to be on the same (or similar) time schedule as the core team. Most companies have a concept of core hours so as long as remote people are within these boundaries, there should be no problem. But the distance to a job is a huge deciding factor. A lot of companies (like those in Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Burbank, etc.) are in horrible locations and qualified employees will simply ignore them on the basis of that alone.
- Permitting remote work implies you can lower your salaries over time. This isn’t a great one from an employee’s viewpoint but I think a person would be willing to sacrifice some of their salary for a cheaper spot to live. For instance, I would love to move to a spot such as Nevada or Wyoming where the cost of living just beats the hell out of LA. However, my fear is that my employer won’t allow me or that becoming unemployed would mean fewer options. Having a standard of remote work in the tech industry would alleviate these concerns and provide more options for housing.
- Office space is expensive. You can still have an office but only for those that require to be onsite (maybe like marketing or sales where people need to meet clients or a plant requiring manufacturing). But people on the tech side of things generally just need an internet connection, a decent computer and quiet to do their work. You could save a great deal of money on office space just for allocating what you really need.
- Save on snacks and other office perks. As good as a free lunch sounds, it’s really not as glorious compared to a home cooked meal. I saw the budgeting on snacks for my office of around 60+ and it’s pretty mind blowing. At home, I don’t snack much and probably gain a ton of weight being at the office. Most people like myself in tech just want to write some code, fix a few bugs then enjoy their day. I could live without all the amenities if I had a nice home out in Nevada or Wyoming.
- Offices with their open office settings are horribly distracting. I can get more done at home in 1 hour than I can in an entire week when I go to the office. It’s just that people often times will see me and start talking to me randomly. If I’m on Slack, I can mute people or just ignore them while concentrating on my tasks. Psychologically, when I’m at the office, I feel compelled to do non-office work and even rationalize that it’s okay due to the fact that I’m forced to physically be there. When I’m at home, I feel more obligated to show some actual progress.
- Commutes put employees at risk all the time. Anything can happen on the road. A car accident, an angry individual with a gun, etc. In a place like LA where people are just insane when it comes to driving, the likelihood of a person getting into an accident is quite high. Unfortunately, companies are not liable for their employees’ safety on the road (well not all the time). So why create more risks?
- Allowing for remote work will reduce the need for cars overall, clear up traffic, decrease the cost of gas and help the environment. This is a no brainer. Sure, certain businesses like local restaurants will feel the pinch, but you have to look at the bigger picture. I’ve always felt cars should be a luxury rather than mandated. We’ll still need them but not in the manner nor level that we see these days.
There are a lot of other benefits that I’m probably missing in allowing for telecommuting. However, the point is that it’s quite clear about the economics, logistics and overall improvements in society that would result in a single easy to implement policy.
I believe that remote work typically isn’t allowed because people are used to traditional ways of doing things. No one really questions why a person should physically be present. The only thing I can think of is mostly trust issues. Thus, people in tech ought to ridicule management concretely in what exactly they do not trust in allowing remote work. Seeing a developer’s fingers move on their keyboard at a certain rate? Any idea that management has in terms of lacking trust can be easily refuted.