To continue my series chronicling my current job search, I come to this interesting observation: “What happened to remote work?”
Back 2-5 years ago, Remote Work was the upcoming ‘killer feature’ of job listings. The nature of ‘programming’ leads itself really well to remote work and that’s why I’ve worked remotely for the last 4 companies/positions that I’ve had.
Programming (and related tasks) tends to focus around semi-regular checkpoints (weekly, daily) where everyone needs to understand the tasks at hand and what they personally need to do. But then those people need solitude to sit down and crank on actually producing the code. It leads to the funny situations where in actual offices, everyone drives in, sits down in front of their computer, types for hours, all get up together in concert to head to lunch (organized by IM), then come back, sit in their cubes again for 4 more hours then go home.
Remote work was the perfect solution. Not only does it VASTLY increase the pool of employees you can draw from. But it allows you to save costs, you need far less (if any) office space which always comes at a premium.
But I digress, the main issue here is that back in 2008 when I was looking for a position, 80% of the positions I was running into were immediately OK with Remote Work. Perhaps in many of those cases I’d be the only (or close to it) remote employee. But they were perfectly OK with that, and had been talking about doing more of that to get the ‘right employees’.
Fast forward to today however, remote work has completely dried up. Very few companies are open to it. Even brand new startups, are immediately rushing out to buy office space and prepare themselves for an office full a people. A massive outlay of money. Suddenly for some reason, no one wants remote anymore.
The interesting twist is that more and more companies now are pushing ‘Telecommuting’. But not remote. That is to say, they are fine with the idea of someone who is only in the office a couple days a week, but that lives close enough to drive in for those days, and just works from home the other days.
The ones that are willing to discuss remote often end up wanting to treat it like a telecommute situation, where they want you to fly in on a very aggressive schedule, every other week perhaps for a couple days. Or for a full week every 3-4 weeks. And honestly that’s not being remote. That’s an attempt to get the feeling of someone local and/or telecommuting. That’s not embracing the benefits that remote employees can bring to your team.
Anyway, I don’t guess I have a witty end to this post. I’m just surprised that we’ve moved backwards in these regards in the last 5 years. 5 years ago remote work was the future. Today, it’s in the past.
There are so many tools & technologies that make working remote so easy and effective. Yet for some reason, all the companies have decided that they need local people only now.