I am 100% fully, completely remote. I love it so much. I don't mind the office but the distractions are brutal and I never get momentum going. Plus the commute. Oh god, the commute. No, I think working remote is much less stressful than the office. If someone calls me and I don't want to talk to them, I don't answer the call. Responding to every ping and call as if your job is on the line is going to stress you out no matter what the environment.
IMO, still much better than the stress of driving in rush hour traffic 2x a day to go to an office where everyone is looking over your shoulder all the time and won't hesitate to interrupt you, or the guy right next to you, or anyone in the room, for a quick, disruptive chat that everyone can hear.
I worked remote for 4-6 months in 2010, and really hated it. My team of 3—I was the most junior—were all local and met at the office once every couple weeks.
I felt a pressure to always respond to pings and phone calls instantly, lest it be thought that I was slacking off. I felt guilty about going to the bathroom, let alone eating lunch or—god forbid—getting coffee from the Starbucks right outside my apartment building.
Yet at the same time, I wasn't very productive. If I hit a question or wasn't sure what to do next, it seemed to take forever to get "unstuck" without being able to walk over and have a conversation with my boss live. Phone and IM just didn't cut it. As a result, and beyond the "on-call" pressure, accountability felt low.
So it was the worst possible combination of a high pressure to be "present" for long/strange hours (some of our bosses were in Europe) combined with boredom and low productivity. There were instances where I didn't leave my apartment for days, and I looked like the guy in the second frame of the Oatmeal comic in the article. Thankfully, I lived with my girlfriend (now wife) who probably kept me healthy and sane.
It's only looking back that I realize how unhealthy this was for me, to the point where I'm typing this comment and thinking, "Holy shit, that's bad."
Years later, as a people leader, I'm a proponent of remote work, though feel strongly that there's no replacement for sitting physically* next to someone 20%+ of the time. I'm also extremely aware of the need to enable remote workers with process, technology, and culture to help them be successful. Without that foundation, people may have the same experience I did, and I don't want to put others in that position.
(* Video technology has made this better, and I know there are virtual presence technologies that can replace physical presence, but I still don't think there's a replacement for in-person human contact.)
I've worked 100% remote for nearly 4 years now and I can definitely say that I'll never go back to working in an office if I can help it.
Yea there are different challenges. You have to over communicate and be available, but availability doesn't mean 24/7. It really only applies to working hours and the occasional on-call shift. If your boss wants to get ahold of your on a Saturday night, that sounds like a company culture issue, not a remote work issue.
I've worked remotely for a company in another state for the past 5 years, I can relate to many of these issues.
On socialization, I can understand the feeling there, but for me the solution was to find social circles beyond work. For me I have my church community and also meetup groups with other developers in a similar field. If you don't have those already you will definitely be feeling the loneliness.
Other things I do is have a dedicated office space that I only use for work, to create at least a semblance of home/work separation. I also have a pretty disciplined morning routine that involves working out (at the very least, taking a walk), reading and actually getting dressed. I've found just jumping out of bed onto a call is a recipe for disaster especially if it becomes ingrained as a habit.
I also work partial days from coffee shops (I also feel bad if I spend 3+ hours in a seat after just buying a bagel and an americano.) I'll often go there in the morning to also promote the work/home separation.
The other thing is that I work for a relatively small company and they bring me up to the office every few months for a few days, so there is a time to connect with people in the office. If you are 100% remote and never meet people in person I feel it could be a bit more difficult to make connections with people.
Overall, I really enjoy it, I do wish I could go into the office more often. Having a 2 office/3 remote weekly schedule would be my ideal situation - do meetings and socialization in person then have the distraction free time provide via remote work. I'm not sure how many companies would be into that idea.
I've been 100% remote for almost 6 years. I don't think I can go back.
I have a family and a stay-at-home wife, though, so I'm really not looking for socialization through work.
My work is very strict about keeping normal work schedules (it's not flex schedules) to avoid issues like this.
I work remotely, and it can definitely get lonely. To combat this, I do martial arts. I get my 'social fix' and am good for the day. I don't need constant conversation throughout the day with people I may or may not like ;-)
What is most difficult for me, is getting inspiration. I work remotely for myself which is different than those work work remotely for others, and have a boss to report to. So...I'm struggling with how to get unstuck right now.
As far as 'never leaving work,' I change up my work locations. Sometimes I'm at Starbucks, other times Panera's, and sometimes I'm at home.
As far as degradation of social skills, I'm going to assume that was an attempt at humor, and not really proven lol :) Seriously though, yesterday I realized that I definitely don't socialize the way I used to. I went to panera and ordered at the kiosk with my card. Later on in the day I went to Target's 'self check-out.' It's almost as if we don't have to interact with humans as much these days.
If you want to succeed working remotely, this helped me:
1. Focus - learn how to 100% focus on your work, filter out any distractions
2. Socialize - find some nice hobbies involving other people with completely different backgrounds for the time you saved by e.g. not commuting
3. Pause - don't overwork yourself; having computer in front of you is enticing to cram more algorithms, experiments etc. into it - just put a firm boundary on the amount of work you do in a given day or you risk long-term overworking issues
I was following this for over 5 years and had the best time of my life working remotely with 0% office time.
> To summarize, the main problem for me is to feel like a text processing machine, receiving mails, Jira tickets and chat messages as input and writing code as output, without the human interactions needed to make it more meaningful. I do not like becoming a kind of a remote developer black box.
This sounds fantastic, where can I get such a gig? There's really nothing better than being given a more-or-less defined task, and being free to just go get shit done, without interruptions, or waffling, or hemming and hawing about whether it should be done this way or that way, by people who have no understanding of the technical realities.
Thank god it's a work-from-home Friday. I predict I will get far more accomplished in four hours today than I did in the 40+ I was in the office Monday-Thursday.
I've been 100% remote also for the past two years. IMO the most important thing about remote working is communication. I'm still not perfect at it but I try to improve everyday. Even though there are issues you can't avoid (e.g. childhood sickness as OP pointed out), most of the problems can be solved by communicating clearly with your co-workers.
Everything has trade offs. I've mostly worked remote for the last ~15 years (last job was partially remote, this one is all remote except one meeting a sprint typically.)
This article does a pretty good job bringing up the issues I came across early on, but there's way to mitigate all of these. Some of them are cultural fixes for the company; don't hold it against people when they are slow to respond to chats. It doesn't mean they aren't working hard, it might just mean they needed to poop. Stuff like that.
Some are things you have to do yourself if you need a change; for me going out for lunch is a big one that helps avoid fatigue of constantly being at home and helps me have social contact because I arrange to go to lunch with friends or family at least once a week.
Another one is that I have dogs; so I have company here at home with me. That might not work for some people but it's something that helps me.
Lastly, we do pair programming at my company. So I'm on voice chat with people a lot during the day.
In the end, the stress of remote working or working inside a cubicle is caused by the same group: everybody around you.
You might or might not have co-workers that are cooperative or not, who interrupt you a lot or not, who make everybody's life easier or not.
You might have or not a good family, a good chair and desk, a good headphone, a good coffee break, a good lunch.
And everybody that is on the other page will think that you aren't doing as hard as you can, and if they were in your sittuation (remote or local), you should do better.
I'm a remote developer (FTE w/large out of state co.) who happens to be a 40 year old single dad of two elementary school-aged kids living in a one bedroom apartment.
Yet even if I was able to recreate a workplace with my favorite colleagues, ideal collaborations, and the best on-site perks, I would still prefer to be remote most of the time /at this stage in my life/.
Reflecting on this led me to boiling it down to 2 key reasons: 1. I have a natural drive to want to do my best work. After 24 years of working full time (about 20 doing roughly what I do now), I have a good idea of what that takes.
2. Having children changes you fundamentally in so many ways that a meaningful discussion probably isn't possible without considering what that means.
Working remotely isn't perfect (especially during long school breaks...), but it does facilitate most of what I want given the need to trade my time for money.
I worked remotely a lot when my kids were young. Awesome taking them to the park at lunch, dropping off and picking up from school. Its just not natural to travel for an hour to sit in a box. Plus I was in the best shape having time to go bike riding or running at lunch.