Naming things is hard

Just because you like it doesn't mean it's good for you

Most of what can be said about remote work and returning to the office has been said already; there’s one point I’d like to make that I haven’t seen represented.

The consensus seems to be that many companies couldn’t even return to the office even if management wanted to because their developers are now demanding the opportunity to keep working from home — that’s their preference. I don’t want to discuss if that preference is beneficial to the company, I want to discuss if it’s beneficial to the employees themselves.

It’s surely more convenient for many: time and money is spared by not having to travel to the office every day, you get to enjoy the comfort of your home (assuming your home is comfortable). But just because you like it doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Sugary soda tastes better than water; sleeping in is more enjoyable than getting up early to go to the gym. You’ll always be tempted to choose the option which brings you the more short-term pleasure, but you won’t be well served by it.

And there’s nothing wrong with drinking a can of coke every now and then, just like there’s nothing wrong with working from home from time to time. But only drinking coke each day, every day is a different story. Of course we already know that. But as for switching to fully remote work, most of us don’t have enough experience to gauge the long-term effects, and so we might be misled by our craving for what feels better right now. This is also a vicious cycle in some sense: if we’re not feeling very good about our job our about ourselves, we’ll have even less energy to go the extra mile (literally) to hit the office and to socialize. And only once type-2 diabetes kicks in do we start to ponder if we would’ve been better off “losing” all that time and money on public transport.

Different companies, different teams, different situations, different people — your mileage may vary. One size doesn’t fit all and I don’t suppose that I know better than everyone else. I do believe, however, that for most people in roles such as mine, the option of working fully remotely, comfortable as it may appear, is a horrible call.