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Slashdot Asks: Are Remote Software Teams More Productive? ( 165

A recruiter with 20 years of experience recently reported on the research into whether remote software teams perform better. One study of 10,000 coding sessions concluded it takes 10-15 minutes for a programmer to resume work after an interruption. Another study actually suggests unsupervised workers are more productive, and the founders of the collaboration tool Basecamp argue the bigger danger is burnout when motivated employees overwork themselves. mikeatTB shares his favorite part of the article: One interesting take on the issues is raised by ThoughtWorks' Martin Fowler: Individuals are more productive in a co-located environment, but remote teams are often more productive than co-located teams. This is because a remote team has the advantage of hiring without geographic boundaries, and that enables employers to assemble world-class groups.
The article shares some interesting anecdotes from remote workers, but I'd be interested to hear from Slashdot's readers. Leave your own experiences in the comments, and tell us what you think. Are remote software teams more productive?
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Slashdot Asks: Are Remote Software Teams More Productive?

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  • by aleksander suur ( 4765615 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @12:47AM (#53894669)
    Surely there is no clear cut answer for a question like that. I personally am much more suited to working in office and can never get anything done at home, surely there are people with opposite working environment preferences. Personally I work on industrial equipment software, that means my work needs to be done where the actual hardware is and remote work is in most cases not viable, if it means traveling half way across the word then so be it. Some software project lend itself to remote work better than others, some projects you can complete entirely remotely, some you can break off pieces to be done remotely and sometimes you must have boots on the ground. As with any team, success depends on what is worked on, who does the work and how its managed, there are no golden rules to fit all situations.
    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @01:45AM (#53894839)

      It is not just a question of whether a programmer is more suited for remote working, but also if the management and the rest of the team is willing to make the effort to communicate and coordinate. In my experience, all these factors NEVER happen, and companies that try distributed development are some of the most dysfunctional organizations I have ever worked with. There are always people way out of the loop, and submitting work on projects that were cancelled weeks ago, and when it comes to office politics and backstabbing, the remote workers are at a severe disadvantage. I am not saying it is impossible, I am just saying I have never seen it work.

      • by djinn6 ( 1868030 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @04:09AM (#53895081)
        Just setup an always-on VC at the office, then tell everyone to log in to it during work hours. This is exactly the same as having them all in the same room. And as a added bonus, you avoid a major disease vector that could put the entire team out of commission. Don't give them excuses to not be on: buy them headsets, mic's, additional screens, and if necessary, internet. No matter how you cut the cost, it's still going to be cheaper than renting a bigger office and equipping them with $1000 desks and chairs.

        The rest of the problems you mentioned are not problems with distributed work. Someone (presumably the manager) should know what their people are working on and tell them to stop working on obsolete stuff. If that guy can't figure that out without constantly looking over people's shoulders, then the higher-ups need to find themselves a better manager.

        The only real problem I've seen with a distributed team is timezone differences, but you can avoid that by hiring on the same side of the globe.
      • by Lorens ( 597774 )

        I mostly communicate with my coworkers over slack or mail or github, even with those literally sitting next to me, so communication isn't a problem in my case.

        • If you communicate with the people sitting next to yiu over Slack or Gihub only then, yes, you have a communications problem. A bad one

          • by tomhath ( 637240 )

            If you communicate with the people sitting next to yiu over Slack or Gihub only then, yes, you have a communications problem

            Read the part in the summary about how disruptive it is to be interrupted. Unless the question needs to be answered RIGHT NOW it's often better to send a text or email and let the other person respond when they have a spare minute. People who think they're really good communicators are often the ones who wander around the office or shout over cubicle walls, disturbing everyone within earshot.

            • ... People who think they're really good communicators are often the ones who wander around the office or shout over cubicle walls, disturbing everyone within earshot.


              I hate noisy offices. I can't hear myself think, and answering stupid questions that can be looked up on google demolishes my productivity for the day.

              The worst is open plan noise pits and "benching". It reminds me of the photos we see coming out of third world sweatshops, with monitors and keyboards instead of piecework on the tables.

              I often communicate better over IRC/Jabber/Slack because I can actually type stuff out, and don't have to struggle to understand 50 different accents.

              Give me a door or le

          • And word of mouth is better than a documented technical discussion. Do not know about you but some that I have talked to sometimes get selective amnesia. So in some instances, word of mouth is fine, but on big projects documenting quite a bit helps in the long run.
      • Sprints and morning scrums are less important when everyone is in the same room all day. But remote teams benefit greatly for all the reasons you listed.

        • Agile is definitely not my friend. It's an veiled excuse for stakeholders to avoid making up their minds from the get go and having engineering pay the price for it. Figure out what you want, write it all down, and we'll give you WIP demos as we go along, if you agree to not say a word. You've changed your mind, that's great, write it up for v1.x. Agile correctly assumes that stakeholders don't know what they want, and as a result it's a playbook for missed deadlines, bloated features, and cost overruns. Th
          • Scrum is the devil. Agile development "methodologies" are just thinly veiled excuses for total command and control over every bit of minutia on a project, plus a forced speedup and a series of two-week death marches with demands for fast "productivity" at the expense of quality and sanity.

      • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @10:18AM (#53895613) Journal

        > also if the management and the rest of the team is willing to make the effort to communicate and coordinate.

        If you're the only person working remotely in a company where everyone else is in the office 9-5, I could see that being a problem. If a lot of people work remotely, even working from home two days per week, everyone figures out how to make that work.

        In my professional career of almost 20 years I've only worked at a few different companies, but all did remote dev and ops work succesfully. In one company *most* people came to the office most days. Other people lived a thousand miles from the office. In all the other companies most people did not come in the office. I had one guy working for me and for months at a time I didn't know or care where in the world he was at the time.

        Currently, I work at a place with scrums three times per week. That pretty well solves the communication issues. I'm not a big fan of Agile and Scrum overall, but it does facilitate communication. This company also has offices all over the world - I think that happened before people starting working remote a lot. Because different teams were already in different countries, all meetings include video conferencing by default. The whole infrastructure and everything is built on the assumption that people may be working from different locations. Therefore it doesn't matter if that location is our UK office or your house - either way I'm working with someone who isn't here in Dallas. Because I'm in Dallas, I *can* go into the office (other co-workers can't), but that requires sitting in traffic. Simply working from home instead of sitting in traffic saves an hour a day of unproductive time.

        The company before this one, each person had a well-defined role. Each system had an "owner", someone responsible for that system. I developed amd maintained our online learning system (ecampus), someone else was responsible for the courses hosted on that ecampus, etc. That reduced the need for constant communication and coordination because you didn't have many chefs working on the same stew.

        Before that, I worked at a very small company which at one point didn't have any two employees in the same city - we were all remote. At that company we used a ticket system for small jobs, larger jobs werw clearly assigned to one person, thereby reducing the need for constant communication.

        As you said, it also depends on the individuals involved, some people are better at remote work than others. A big part of that is a few things you can learn (and teach). A company considering making changes to their remote work policy should consider a short training session for remote workers. Mainly covering these two items:

        Set up a seperate work area, away from the normal distractions of the home. In my case, my office is the only thing upstairs, other than some storage and a guest bedroom. I go upstairs to work, I go downstairs to go home. There's never any confusion of whether I'm at work (upstairs) or at home (downstairs). If necessary, the office can be in one corner of a room, but it should be a defined place and with as few household distractions as possible.

        Set and keep defined work hours. If I'm downstairs at 10:00 AM, I'm late for work. My wife needs me to do something around the house? I'll do that after 5:00, after work. Similarly, after 5:00 I'm at home with my family - I don't make it a habit to ignore my family at work all evening.

        After doing this many years and establishing habits, I can *occasionally* work late in the evening or take care of a household issue during the day, just as people who drive to the office to work occasionally stay late. 90% of the time, though, I keep my work space and work time seperate from my home space and home time. Confusing the two leads to many of the problems people have working from home.

      • by jez9999 ( 618189 )

        Sounds like you've been unlucky. I'm currently working for an organization that doesn't have perfect management, but generally remote workers are kept in the loop just fine. I've worked for orgs with far worse management and lack of communication where everyone had to go into the office - and the office environment was noisy and distracting. A massive blow to productivity.

    • by R3d M3rcury ( 871886 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @03:58AM (#53895073) Journal

      I personally am much more suited to working in office and can never get anything done at home [...]

      I'm the same way. My solution was simple: Go get an office.

      There are lots of options for people who don't want to work from home. Personally, I went for the "Executive Suite." I get an office with a window and decent Internet for a little less than $600 per month. There's also a community kitchen and photocopier. It came with a desk and chair--nothing fancy--but I'm not paying extra for them (i.e. I didn't rent a furnished office, they were left by the previous tenant). Needless to say, the company provides the computer and router. I can sit and video chat or IM anyone I need to get ahold of.

      Other options are your local coffee shop or co-working type places. While the company I work for doesn't assist me in paying for the space, some will. Also, as I understand it, I can write off my rent on my income taxes.

      While the commute from the bedroom to the spare bedroom or living room sounds cool, I like keeping them separate. But my office is about 4 miles from where I live. I can bike, drive, or even walk!

    • by Cytotoxic ( 245301 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @06:54AM (#53895325)

      This was exactly my reaction. It entirely depends on the people involved and the job to be done.

      The most productive programmer I ever worked with was remote for more than half the time we worked together. She'd have her kids running around in the background while we were collaborating. But as I'd describe an idea I had for solving some tricky multi-system, multi-business problem you'd here the clickety-clack of a keyboard mixed with the sounds of preschool children playing. And usually by the time I had finished explaining the idea to the team she'd say, "you mean something like this" and post a preliminary version of the solution I was describing.

      She was crazy fast - both mentally and with her keyboard skills. So you could work with her being anywhere. And in her particular case, I think she was better remote... because she didn't have to do the office dance and chat in the breakroom or any of the other stuff that wasn't really her thing. She could just build amazing stuff.

      On the other hand, I have worked with guys who needed their hand held in order to get their best work. Not just someone looking to make sure they were working instead of goofing off, but also a team concept to make sure they kept moving in the right direction. There are a lot of programmers who get excited about an idea they have and can go off on a tangent. I've had several guys who would, if left to their own devices, build a really cool bit of code that doesn't actually address the issue at hand. Because they lost sight of the forest and got way too interested in the trees. For these sort of folks, having a team in the same room is a big help. Because they are going to say "hey, check this out" before they get too far down the wrong path. Whereas they might work for 5 hours on the wrong thing before saying anything if they were remote.

    • I guess I'm the opposite. I don't have the problem of distractions when working from my home office. This is largely because I have a very dedicated home office space, no interruptions, so nothing to cause a distraction.

      Also, I can confidently attest that I get a LOT more work done working from home, where no one is poking their head in my cubicle to interrupt me. I also set my IM banner message to "Priority interrupts only" when I am writing code. Most people will respect that.

      I do a lot of freelance c

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You're fired because the team lead ignored all your pull requests on the company GitHub when you didn't follow our coding style as you were told when you were sent an email with a link to our wiki.

  • by Ritz_Just_Ritz ( 883997 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @12:50AM (#53894677)

    Many of the folks who have a track record of getting stuff done in their field (especially open source projects) know their value and often don't feel like they have to relocate to command what they're worth. And I think that's the way it ought to be.

    It's nice when you can have teams gathered in a single place, but I certainly wouldn't "not hire" a rockstar simply because they couldn't/wouldn't relocate to some arbitrary location that the company wanted. Hire the best talent you can afford and don't stress about where they live.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 19, 2017 @01:02AM (#53894719)

    If a remote team is more productive than local then you are looking in the wrong place.

    The only reason they can possibly be more productive is that the local management is toxic.

    • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @02:01AM (#53894875)

      The only reason they can possibly be more productive is that the local management is toxic.

      Oh come on. Local management not being toxic is the exception, not the rule. It's a rare workplace where you have really effective and competent management (and I don't mean just one manager, I mean the whole chain; I've had good direct managers, but they were hamstrung by the idiocy directly above them).

    • Not the manager, but perhaps the environment or the office culture. I've had times where I wasn't getting much done working from home, and I have had great runs of banging out code at the office (sometimes in a cube farm no less). Some people can't stand distracting noises but I have no problem with them. I do have a problem with interruptions. As the articles states: a programmer needs 15 minutes to resume work after an interruption, which is true in my case. On top of that, after a day full of interru
  • One should be close to the customers and users to make useful office software. If most of your effort is fiddling with low-level programming and UI issues, then you are doing something wrong and wasting labor.

    I used to crank out custom internal software quite quickly in the pre-web days: blam blam blam! Now it takes a 10 fucking hours to get shit like scrollbars to work right in JS libraries with lots of screwy code and dealing with browser differences. Something is fucked about the Web Stack; we are doing

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Don't worry, we can fix it with an extra layer. Be sure to run your jsx parsing code that generates javascript that generates HTML (I'm not making that up, it's the modern strategy) inside a VM []. For best results, add Docker as well, it makes everything better.
    • Apparently you never programmed with the MFC or used win32 with com/dcom :-)

      Javascript is roses in comparison to get anything done

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )

        Apparently you never programmed with the MFC or used win32 with com/dcom :-)

        Using Win32 with com/dom is certainly a good idea, I wouldn't want something to mess up my pipes.

  • Nope (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AuMatar ( 183847 )

    Unless you're in a position where you absolutely need a certain expert (such as a research project) or a few other special circumstances (if its quit or go remote situation, say someone moving for non-job related reasons).

    First off, that whole 15 minutes thing is absolute bullshit. Maybe its a worst case if you were in truly deep thought over one of the hardest problems of the year. But most of the time you aren't, and it will be a few minutes Like around 1.

    Secondly- your productivity doesn't matter. T

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      First off, that whole 15 minutes thing is absolute bullshit. Maybe its a worst case if you were in truly deep thought over one of the hardest problems of the year. But most of the time you aren't, and it will be a few minutes Like around 1.

      YMMV but whenever I'm stuck with half an hour from coming to work to a meeting or between a meeting and the lunch break or whatever I feel that time is exceptionally unproductive. Whether it's making a change or implementing something new or tracking down a bug I usually need some time to work out what it really does, what it should do and how I can do it with good code that's easy to maintain. Most botched jobs happen if I rush that, I can work quick and dirty but it builds technical debt. That I'd be thre

    • It's a bit harsh to call the conclusion of a study "absolute bullshit" solely on the strength of your personal experience. Maybe you're god and you only need 1 minute to recover from an interruption, but most people need more time. 10-15 Minutes sounds about right for me.

      Your remark about team productivity is spot on. However I strongly disagree that most interruptions during the day are team members getting stuck and needing help. In my experience it's often pointless crap, or stuff that can easily
    • by Anonymous Coward

      First off, that whole 15 minutes thing is absolute bullshit. Maybe its a worst case if you were in truly deep thought over one of the hardest problems of the year. But most of the time you aren't, and it will be a few minutes Like around 1.

      We're definitely not all the same. Your viewpoint would explain the terribly distracting half height cubicles my previously sane previous employer forced on us. I spent a lot of effort to be promoted up to Senior Software Engineer at that job, and I left within a year of the new cubicles being installed. Maybe some people just don't get how damaging distractions are to some of us. I have ADD. I am a pretty damn good engineer, but I have my limitations. I can't switch contexts in 1 minute. A simple interrupt

      • I'm in tne same boat as you. I think the OP just isn't doing any real work.
        • Agreed. I figure he is one of those jerks that make open plan such a hell for any deep thinker. He just wants his coworkers around so he can talk at them.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I produced some bleeding edge algorithms/systems nobody did before while working 100% remotely for the past 4 years, including traveling around the world (which massively increased my productivity due to pure joy it gave me). I can't now even consider joining office-only companies like Google, Apple Special Projects Group, Uber etc. who are sending recruiters my way all the time as I experienced much better quality of life and significant improvement in my abilities to create great software than in any offi

    • First off, that whole 15 minutes thing is absolute bullshit. Maybe its a worst case if you were in truly deep thought over one of the hardest problems of the year. But most of the time you aren't, and it will be a few minutes Like around 1.

      Obviously you don't think deeply about much of anything. It's often at least 15 minutes.

      Secondly- your productivity doesn't matter. The team's does. Those interruptions- it means a team member needs help. They're blocked. Their productivity is at or near 0 until unblocked. If interrupting you costs 15 minutes from you but saves an hour for him, that interruption is worth it for the team. There are almost 0 of those interruptions that aren't a net gain. Now if you have a problem with particular people being too disruptive, that's a management/personnel issue you should bring up to your manager.

      Guess again. Your review is based on YOUR productivity, not your team. Therefore it is what matters. I have been in jobs where I mentored juniors (answering questions takes waaaay more than 15 minutes), then got crucified on my review for spending too much time on "other stuff", and not doing my tasks. I got no "credit" for helping, "unblocking", mentoring or being an information source. None.

      Also, your coworker who is s

  • My company is near the east coast so i get up at 6 a.m. have Standup at 7: a.m. attend sprint grooming meetings very thursday right after Standup All through Google Hangouts Yes there is squelching, and feedback, you learn to control that. My productivity is really great when i take on a big project, then I can work hours, and nap, and work more hours I am less afraid of searching , and downloading than when i worked at Intel, DirecTV, or Siemens I have to provide my own snacks, tea, and other drinks no fre
  • by Anonymous Coward

    From my experience it depends on the person.

    In an individual basis, I'm more productive at home (to argue for the "remotely" case), because I'll have less annoyances throughout the day. Problem is I won't mind the hours I work when I work from home, so I'll end up doing way more hours than I would if I was at the office (way more, as in close to pushing myself to burnout if I do it for some weeks at a go). There's a caveat, I did started "in an individual basis", that's because most of the annoyances I get

  • by buss_error ( 142273 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @01:45AM (#53894835) Homepage Journal

    Doesn't much matter if folks come in to work, or if they work in their underwear at home while skipping a shower for a week. Their productivity is about the same from all I can see. I do feel it's a lot easier for a slacker to goof off at home than in the office. I worked with one person for over a year that was remote, and they told me after they left that basically they surfed the internet and did personal projects most of the time. About the only time they did actual work was when metrics with deadlines were imposed or there was a major outage.

  • Are remote software teams more productive than what? Than local software teams? That is an impossible question to answer without knowing much more about the teams, isn't it?

    OTOH as a person running a software business with different types of teams (I have local, I have remote teams) I can say that as long as there is somebody in the remote team capable of understanding the requirement at the business level and capable of managing the team there shouldn't be any reasons for the remote team to be less produ

  • Your research... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by God of Lemmings ( 455435 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @02:45AM (#53894957)
    ...should also take into account the office format. Today's open floor plan offices is a horrible environment for programmers to work in.
  • For me, it works (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 19, 2017 @02:45AM (#53894961)

    I've been working remotely for about a year, after working for the same company for many years in a more traditional office environment.

    It's definitely not for everyone, but I know *I* am more productive working from home. There are some extra distractions (noisy washing machine, kids, etc.), but I have an office with a door that closes, I control the music and temperature, and I'm still in constant contact with my coworkers (who are distributed across the US in various offices and home environments) via IM, email, voice chat, and conference calls.

    I live in a small city that is *not* a tech center, so there is no local software development job market. But it does have a low cost of living and I have close local family ties. So if my current employment ended, I would give very high preference to a remote work opportunity. Someone would have to dangle a REALLY big carrot to make me relocate my family halfway across the country to work in an anonymous open cube farm, lose 1-2 hours a day to an infuriating commute, live in a house that costs 10x as much as I'm paying now, and require my wife to re-start her small business in a new market.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've done office, at home, and hybrid. All can work or fail. It really depends on the processes. One of the processes is gonna need to be how to get rid of the bad apples. Another should be to not be cheap and organize trips for face to face meetings at least a couple of times a year.

    Regarding "rockstars", I think a good team is better than a rockstar. Especially if the rockstar is keeping the others down, purposely or incidentally. Now, I work in sales (at home) and one of my preferred strategy is to

  • by Gavrielkay ( 1819320 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @02:56AM (#53894987)
    I've been working remote as a software developer for almost 9 years now. It works well for me and I've been productive even in environments where some of my teammates have been in the office. It requires tools like online meeting software and chat rooms, but it can work really well. I think people feel that being in an office means you can make sure someone is doing their work, but I've had office mates get fired when management figured out they'd been working on personal projects all day long in the office for months.

    If your team is structured so poorly that you can't tell if someone is doing their work, it's not a problem with where they sit. Teams can be good or bad, productive or not completely separately from co-location.

    If the company is willing to provide the tools then it is just a matter of hiring the right people. And that's true no matter the remote work policy.
  • It's his job to be in 6 hours a day to be in meetings. Not you which is what seems to happen in an office. Alot of companies love to eliminate that title and have the uses, PMs, IT leadership, and have them interact directly with the programmers instead to cut costs. So you spend 5 to 6 hours talking about what you are going to do with little results. Working from home forces a Sr programmer to be a lead anD go to guy.

    Using this title and making him a supervisor will give you the freedom back to do your job

  • At Google, Yahoo, Facebook, etc.? NO.

    Remote workers are the people you throw under the stacked ranking bus when it's time to get rid of the people you have no emotional attachment to, so that your friends get to keep their jobs.

    There's a reason Yahoo got rid of remote workers, and why they tend not to last long at companies which do stacked ranking in employee evaluations.

    • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @03:48AM (#53895051)

      There's a reason Yahoo got rid of remote workers

      Yeah when I think about a well-managed company that's getting things done, I think of Yahoo...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I've avoided companies that do stack ranking. I won't work for a company that does it knowingly. I don't want to be in a hostile environment where you have to avoid helping coworkers because you need them to get fired instead of you. You lose good people and cross training that way.

    • Yep.

      Stack ranking automatically penalizes people who aren't present to be "seen" and play politics. If you mentor others but don't self promote and kiss ass, the people you help will keep their jobs and you won't.

      Stack ranking is evil, and destructive to real collaboration and teamwork, regardless of how densely you pack them in and how much you micromanage sprints.

  • The reason you might want to co-locate is to get the developers to talk to the users. The "distraction" is then the interaction about what it's actually meant to do It's quite shocking to see the difference between messaging and video interaction, and face-to-face (sorry remote working advocates), I can remember the moment we turned up at a remote site after working on a project for six months and seeing the a-ha moment when they realized what it was for.
  • Good workers can work in an office, at home.
    They can understand an issue and suggest how long it will take to work on a new or complex problem.
    see The Mythical Man-Month []

    To find good staff word the requirements to exclude average and lazy staff.
    Read their paper work, make sure it is correct.
    Do interviews. Does the resume match the person? Can the person think about problems when asked?
    Change up the questions so no interview is the same.
    How much contact with compu
    • I would add some other items:
      Have they ever watched IT Crowd? Officespace? Silicon Valley?
      Have they read any books by Asimov, Heinlein, Gibson, Adams, Clarke, or such?
      Do they grok?
      • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
        The other issue is the spread of past application questions on social media by alumni. Graduates globally are getting a lot of support in how to pass interviews.
        What questions to expect and how to pass.
        Always have new questions ready. Social media has allowed too many graduates to seek advice from people who have taken work related tests.
    • Computer hobbies? Did all their education provide access to different computer topics?

      IOTW, discriminate against people who taught themselves on crappy equipment, only hire people with fancy degrees who know nothing except how entitled they are.

      Don't hire the applicant who did not have access to new and expensive computers over the years.

      Translation: Discriminate against poor people and people with cheap parents.

      Seriously, when I was in high school, the AppleII had just come out. I asked for a computer for Christmas. I got some half-baked mechanical boolean logic "game". I was teaching myself to program on the TTY at school because there wasn't room in the programming class. It was r

  • The answer to the question is visible by just observing the world. What are the best pieces of software out there? Linux, *BSD, PostgreSQL, Vim, FFmpeg (sorry for the shameless plug), Zsh, etc.

    Then look at the kind of team that did produce these awesome pieces of software.

  • Like this bright spark. []

  • This is a very important question and needs an answer now! Until then, everyone should stop working immediately.
  • In SME there are two crises facing an on-site development team:- first of all they will be expected to 'pick up' all sorts of general tech. support and queries, which is disruptive to the coding flow; they will be expected to be present as 'techs' in marketing pitches - which can be great, but also means not doing their job.

    SME tend not to even consider 'working from home' as an option, which can be disconcerting for a modern developer who can use anywhere quiet as a coding location as long as there's some

  • because you'll never have much in the way of networking opportunities. Sooner or later a bean counter will lay you off and you won't be able to shuffle onto another department because nobody knows you.

    I guess if you're OK with moving from job to job, but as you get older and can't work the 10-12 hour days most companies get out of a programmer these days you'll hit a wall in your mid 40s and end up screwed.
    • by TheSync ( 5291 )

      because you'll never have much in the way of networking opportunities.

      Yes but you often get a job from someone you know in another company, rather than the one you are in...

  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @01:31PM (#53896023)

    As a lead video game tester for Accloade/Infogrames/Atari (same company, different owners, multiple personality disorders), I was responsible for a Nintendo GameBoy Advanced title. I was in California, the producer was on the East Coast, the developer's management team was in London, and the developer's programmers were in Australia. I didn't like this arrangement because I was answering British emails at 6AM, East Coast emails during the day, and Australian emails at 12AM. This around the clock development cycle drove me nuts for four months until the game shipped.

    • OH YES, this is a major issue and totally blows. I've gotten calls at 2:00AM-4:00AM CST from corporate in Ireland, because to them it's in the morning. I need to reboot a production server; and am told it needs to be during off hours. BUT, we have teams in China, Japan, India, UAE (who's weekends are Friday / Saturday and are at work Sunday), Ireland, Germany, Brazil, etc. So there really isn't much of a "no use" timeslot, someone is ALWAYS using a esxi host as they have multiple servers on them...if I s
  • by l0n3s0m3phr34k ( 2613107 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @02:37PM (#53896225)
    I know that trying to set up a new server, set up DFS, configure esxi, etc is pretty difficult when people keep walking into my office. A few weeks ago I was trying to re-cable a bunch of patch panels and switches, after the third person walked by and stopped for some random conversation I lost track and plugged a switch back into another twice and caused a small outage.

    I end up working 2-3 hours after 5:00PM often because of interruptions, and usually at home on the weekends for another 10-12 hours. I figure I'm up to about 70 hours a week at this point. Almost every conversation ends in "send in a ticket, I'm not going to remember all that and am in the middle of XYZ" which often I can tell annoys them and/or they just don't believe me. Closing the door only makes the end-users knock on it. I finally put up a special sign for my lunch that says "AT LUNCH: UNLESS IT'S ON FIRE FILE A TICKET" that usually seems to help.

    The fact that the recently fired my boss, and dropped all his responsibilities into my lap isn't helping either. He hated documentation, had worked there for 12 years, and had everything in his head. I've only been there for a bit over six months.
    • He hated documentation, had worked there for 12 years, and had everything in his head.

      Auuugh! I hate that!

      Seriously people, document as you go.

      Let me tell you why: Accidents happen.

      Do you know what happens to all that lovely detail data that you keep in your head after a concussion? Yeah, it's has gaping holes, or is completely gone.

      I hate to think of how many projects and departments get derailed by auto wrecks ands major illnesses.

      I'm still cleaning up stuff left half completed by a guy who went on medical leave a year ago.

      • If I had an auto wreck or a major illness my company would probably collapse within a few days. I've made a semi-secret Drupal site on our Nagios box with a ton of notes, but there is only one other network admin in our company that has 15+ sites world-wide and just under 1,000 employees.
  • I'm an American abroad, so working remotely has given me the chance to tap back into the U.S./U.K. market while living in a city that isn't the best for software development. In some busy Southern European cities, getting to work everyday can often be a huge barrier to most people who didn't grow up there. For me, having virtually no distractions is wonderful. Also, having a few hours "by myself" due to the timezone shift allows me to stay focused for a few hours and then "lock on" with the team. No gossipy
  • pointless interruptions, bureaucracy, and boilerplate paperwork.

  • FWIW, I work remotely with a team based in an office. The performance metrics such as number of stories completed, rate of tasks completed, story point difficulty and commit history metrics show that I'm actually the most production member on the team. I think remote working is great, you can do what needs to be done and work more autonomously, but the productivity would depend on the person being employed.
  • I got interrupted over an hour ago.

    I'm just going to go home...

  • Hey guys. I've been working as a remote executive coach for the past year - this basically means that I help businesses hire and integrate remote workers into their workflow and management. So it goes without saying that I'm biased. If you want credentials, you can find several of my writings on the subject at the remote recruitment company I work with: That said, it is my experience that a successfully implemented remote work regimen reduces costs and boosts productivity - IF you have h
  • I run a virtual company, which has been in business for just over six years. We're literally scattered about the planet - Texas, Illinois, Detroit, Poland, Ukraine, the UK. We're very successful, very green, and extremely productive.

    All our systems are cloud based, we use multiple communications tools (Skype, Uber Conference, Google Hangouts, Goto Meeting, etc.) .

    The way you make this work is by hiring "A" players who are passionate about the work, and are quick to fire whiney complainers who carry

If a 6600 used paper tape instead of core memory, it would use up tape at about 30 miles/second. -- Grishman, Assembly Language Programming