back to article Want to keep working in shorts and flipflops way after this is all over? It could be time to rethink your career moves

It may not be your fault that your broadband is crap, but it is your problem when you're interviewing over Zoom or even Teams. One of the good things to come out of lockdown is that IT pros seem to be a lot more appreciated, which means now is a good time to start pushing for a raise since we are at the sweet spot of high …

  1. Joe W Silver badge

    Not only Brits!

    "Do it [working from a French beach rather than your normal location] for a while and you are liable to that country's tax, employment, and, since Brexit, right-to-work regulations."

    Yes. That is an issue, not only for Brits, but for all. Spend a certain time (often > 180 days) living in a country (if you are allowed to) and you are all of a sudden subject to the local tax. That's why those 'digital nomads' travel around the world and pay no taxes anywhere (I guess unless you are a citizen of the USA, there are different rules for those). I don't want to start discussions on hwo that might be tax evasion or not and the circumstances etc., but as a company I would definitely not employ them - too much headache. Hire them as external staff? That's easier and likely less headache and paperwork.

    1. Dr_N Silver badge

      Re: Not only Brits!

      'digital nomads' AKA tax-dodging illegal immigrants.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Not only Brits!

        Depends. Estonia and Croatia have brand-new shiny above-board "digital nomad" visas for people who work remotely and are paid into a foreign bank account.

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Not only Brits!

      That's why those 'digital nomads' travel around the world and pay no taxes anywhere

      Doesn't work that way. Normally you pay tax where you are "resident", which often means 183 days of physical presence, but if you manage not to be resident in any one place long enough you will then be taxed based on where you are "domiciled", and that's a much more flexible definition. Have a UK passport & own UK property, or a UK bank account, or even just still have family in the UK? Then you're likely to be determined to be domiciled in the UK for tax purposes unless you can prove that you were genuinely resident for tax purposes somewhere else.

      It's the same for most countries in principle, the days when you could live on a boat & claim to be non-resident anywhere are long gone.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Not only Brits!

        Once I moved to Germany, the Inland Revenue still tried to come after me for UK income tax, even though I was resident 360 days that year in Germany...

        A bit of to-and-fro and they eventually realised that I had left the UK and was resident in Germany.

        1. Dr_N Silver badge

          Re: Not only Brits!

          Did you not tell HMRC you'd left to avoid that? As you are required to do.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not only Brits!

            I told HMRC when I moved to France. They were kind enough to recalculate my PAYE situation based on my reduced year in the UK, and sent me a cheque for the excess tax I had already (over)paid.

          2. big_D Silver badge

            Re: Not only Brits!

            Yes, I even sent them a calendar marking the days in Germany and the days in the UK.

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Not only Brits!

      You pay tax in your normal country of residence (where you are registered), but after 180 days, you have to also pay tax in the country where you are currently living. At worst, you have to pay double tax (i.e. tax in both countries), then go through the hoops of claiming it back from one or other.

      I went through this in the early 2000s, I was UK resident, but had worked in Frankfurt for over 6 months. Luckily, my employer took care of the tax situation, even employing a tax consultancy to do my income tax return for the year.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not only Brits!

        At worst, you have to pay double tax (i.e. tax in both countries), then go through the hoops of claiming it back from one or other.

        If the countries have tax treaties (most do) then you declare the tax already paid in one, and the other allows for it. For example if Germany wants 30% on something, and you've already paid 20% in the UK, the Germans will just take the 'extra' 10%.

        It rarely works the other way around, though. If you paid 30% in the UK & Germany only wanted 20% you don't get the 10% back.

        Paying twice & claiming back should be very rare if you do the paperwork correctly.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Not only Brits!

          Correct, my employer did it correctly - they were used to international assignments, so it was all taken care of and nothing changed for me.

      2. Dave 15 Silver badge

        Re: Not only Brits!

        The UK has double taxation agreements with just about every country to avoid you paying twice. You would have needed to be in Frankfurt 181 days in a tax year, easily avoided by a couple of weekends back in Blighty to collect some proper food (sausages cheese and beer as the German versions are revolting)

        1. Aussie Doc Bronze badge
          Joke

          Re: Not only Brits!

          Yeah, I hear German sausage is the wurst --------------->

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: Not only Brits!

            That joke works even better with Dutch.

    4. katrinab Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Not only Brits!

      It's not as simple as that:

      In the UK:

      183 days or more, definitely resident

      Fewer than 16 days (ie a typical 2 week holiday), definitely not resident

      Between 16 and 182 days, it depends on a number of other factors

    5. Dave 15 Silver badge

      Re: Not only Brits!

      That's ok, spend 90 days in France and 90 in Spain then try Italy a while, you can buy a place in all for less than the price of a beer. (Ok, slight exaggeration but Italy does have 1 euro houses, some parts of Spain similar, Portugal is cheap and you can get a place needing work for under 20k in France

      1. fajensen Silver badge

        Re: Not only Brits!

        Italy does have 1 euro houses, some parts of Spain similar,

        Some terms and conditions may be applicable :)

      2. Filippo Silver badge

        Re: Not only Brits!

        Uh, yeah, those places tend to be in severe need of very expensive repairs, and in areas with extremely poor services.

      3. Sweeper

        Re: Not only Brits!

        Plus if you only have a UK passport you would now be limited to spending a maximum of 90 days in every 180 in the EU. Plus working is not allowed for visitors.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not only Brits!

          Schengen. It's 90 in 180 spent in the Schengen area. I foresee many Brits failing foul of this due to the confusion between "Schengen" and "The EU". (If there was any justice it would only apply to brexit-headbangers, but sadly not.)

        2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

          Re: Not only Brits!

          No, you simply get a work visa.

          As an Australian with far less rights in Europe than post-Brexit Brits (eg, not even part of Schengen), I had precisely zero problems working all over Europe.

          .

          Well, apart from occasionally lazy bureaucrats. On one 5 week contract they dragged it out till the last day. In fact, had done nothing until I said I NEEDED it now because I left the next day, at which point they got flustered, sent me away for an hour, and when I came back it was done. Still got paid.

  2. chivo243 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I'm done

    I'm done with WFH, it was nice while it lasted. I'm ready to be back in the office full-time too many details were missed while WFH. My boss has seen the light, if we need a day at home to concentrate on bigger projects, I'm pretty sure it will be totally on board it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Indeed!

      The only good thing WFH gave me was the loss of the commute (and savings in rail tickets). Every other aspect of my job has become harder. Teams work best when they are co-located and can communicate and co-operate properly. Occasional WFH is useful (nights, weekends, the odd day), but not full time.

      And no, Teams/Slack/What have you is not a proper substitute.

      Trouble is, the Management are beginning to twig that perhaps this "working from home" thingy that the peons were blathering about is ... cheaper!!!!! ... So we are likley to be stuck with it or at best with a half-arsed "you can come in to the office x days a week" which guarantees that the team will never be together.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Indeed!

        I did 15 years of WFC (working from customer), where I was shunted from one project to another, only telephone calls and the odd face-to-face with my "boss" (usually once every 6 months for an appraisal). The rest of the time, I was in client teams or small teams of changing employees from our consultancy.

        No real contacts, no friends, no network within the company. I think in the 15 years, I spend, maybe, 8 months working at my base site - which moved 3 times without me!

        With videoconferencing things are a little easier, but you are still an outsider to the rest of the company that is "working together" on site. There are some benefits to working from home (or away from base in general), for sure, but over the long haul, there are also a lot of negatives.

        You are tied up in the project you are working on, all communications are on the project. All those casual encounters within the office disappear, you are no longer "in the loop" on what the other teams are doing, your network becomes sporadic contact and then just the Christmas Do, if you even go to that - most years, I went to the client Christmas Do and not my employers, because the client one was local to the hotel I was "living" in and the company one was a couple of hundred miles away.

        The worst, for me, was after 15 years of being shoved from pillar to post, with a management team working out where I was going next, I suddenly found myself without a project and the management team had been laid off, so I have to use my "network" within the company to find another project. That is easier said than done, when you haven't worked with the same person for more than a few months over the last 15 years.

        1. Dave 15 Silver badge

          Re: Indeed!

          I have also worked for consultancies on site. This is just as bad and unnecessary as working from your companies office. I work in a team, face to face with the team and often the boss all the time on video, working together. Two or three meetings with the extended team including coffee and cake on Friday, just virtual instead of in person. Hell even exercise together in the morning! What is needed is more imagination and less moaning. Time to realise you get a lot of extra time for family, friend. Sport and hobbies. I took my daughter for a couple of hours swimming after work yesterday, far nicer than sitting in the sun in a traffic jam

          1. big_D Silver badge

            Re: Indeed!

            I think the commute does make up part of the equation. I've gone from a 2 - 3 hour commute, when I was working for the consultancy, to a 15 minute commute these days, the only traffic jams are when you get stuck behind a tractor for a few hundred metres.

            We are currently in a rotating schedule - always somebody on-site, the rest working from home. But apart from the odd ad-hoc call, we are "on our own". We have a team meeting/conference call maybe every 3 - 4 weeks, about the same schedule as before the pandemic.

    2. Sykowasp

      Re: I'm done

      I'll be going back in two days a week, for the face to face meetings and collaborative work, and hopefully leaving the WfH for getting down to getting stuff done.

      Big problem is having a split team between London and Bangalore, the meetings are still going to be online where-ever they are held. But at least the office has good air conditioning and a pub next door.

      But certainly the commute was not missed, especially with the regular train delays. 2 hours a day, simply lost to reading a freebie newstrash or phone doomscrolling.

      1. Dave 15 Silver badge

        Re: I'm done

        The idea of needing to be in an office with a split team is the height of lunacy but has afflicted the pathetic middle management for decades. If I can work with someone in bangalore I can work with someone 200 miles away. Its not just the time of the commute but the inevitable high cost of housing within commuting range that passes me off. At the moment my team are spread out over about 3000 miles but we are on conference calls working together all the time

    3. Dave 15 Silver badge

      Re: I'm done

      If you missed details then it was the way you and your team worked and the boss kept you informed. In my team we carried on with mob programming, planning and other meetings, nothing lost and productivity up. The company saves thousands a year reducing office space, desks, lighting, air conditioning, car parking space, security, insurance, coffee etc etc and the environment isn't hit by those costs and the cost of your commute. Most people lose 2 to 3 hours every day to sitting in traffic jams, that's time they could spend on helping their kids education, getting fit, hobbies etc.

      Interestingly for HMG contracts you need to report on CO2 (including commuting) and show a meaningful plan for net zero CO2 for latest 2050. Having people sat in traffic jams even if they were in electric cars isn't going to do that

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: I'm done

        Most people lose 2 to 3 hours every day to sitting in traffic jams, that's time they could spend on helping their kids education, getting fit, hobbies etc.

        Bosses aren't thinking of 2-3 hours extra a day so their underlings can help their kids education, get fit, hobbies, etc...

    4. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: I'm done

      This is difficult. I am in a position where at work I have a large setup with the most insane bandwidth in the country (trust me, mine will beat yours by a country mile regardless of where you work, unless, maybe, you're at CERN or a large science/data institution in Europe or the US), and it makes my life doing what I do *very* easy. Working from home, that is no longer the case. I sit at a cheap desk that is not adjustable, tied to a generous DSL setup (but not even close to the setup I have at work), and all that in a tiny apartment (don't ask).

      While I appreciate that our organisation has been very generous (and continues to be) when it comes to working from home, and continues to look at how people work from home and whether they feel they are more productive or not, I do miss the distinct change in scenery when I leave home, trundle to the bus, hop on, mask on, earphones in, possibly start catching up on email so that by the time I walk into the office (which is now open), I am ready to rock and roll. Same in reverse... leave the office, hop on the bus, wind down and review what has been done, and what needs to be done still and by the time I hop off and trundle home, I know I'll have maybe an hour at home to get the last bits done.

      I'd go stir crazy at home all week. TV just doesn't cover background noise. It's the fact I am sat in what is meant to be my sanctuary, MY HOME, not my OFFICE, that eventually starts building up resentment. Hell, I'd go work in a local coffee shop if they'd offer me 10Gbps that I can plug my laptop into (but that's not going to happen, is it).

      So, right now, it's a couple of days a week in the office. I might switch to 3 times, or not. It depends on what our organisation demands. Right now the flexibility during the day is suitable, maybe too... ahem... flexible, but we'll have to see. It certainly beats Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan demanding that their workers return to the office tout de suite, suited and booted and with all the same stuffiness as pre-pandemic. Apparently those two just cannot cope otherwise (cue the world's tiniest violin!)

  3. The Original Steve

    Flexible working

    I've said on here before that I'm the exception to the rule - I miss what I had before.

    Worked for a large consultancy firm where in general you work from the client site Mon - Thu and can charge expenses for the hotel / food / fuel during that time, and you WFH on a Friday. However I often worked onsite for the full 5 days during the first few weeks to build up the relationships, and then would work 2 or 3 days onsite for the remainder of the project in general. Some weeks I'd be in the full week, sometimes I'd go weeks without leaving the house and often somewhere in the middle depending on the needs of the client and the project. That's the main point - it's what is best for the project.

    I really do miss the face to face interactions. I've yet to use a remote tool that compares to having 6 geeks in a room with a whiteboard during a project kick off. Likewise it's great to sit at home and hammer out a HLD or other design doc.

    Now I fully appreciate I was very, very luck to have those arrangements, and I know that I'm the exception as I genuinely miss having that flexibility since we've had to WFH exclusively.

    On a side note, I changed jobs start of the year to a smaller consultancy. Paid considerably more and they're based about a 6 hour drive away so I won't be expected to go into the office at all other than once in a blue moon (and the MD has agreed they'll be paying for it). Will likely need to occasionally go to a client site for a workshop but that'll be far less frequent than before. So I'll be WFH about 90% of the time and have gained a considerable pay increase too. Thought I'd take advantage of London salaries whilst getting my new employeer to commit to WFH as the rule which on the back of what's been said in this article it sounds like it maybe a wise decision!

  4. MJI Silver badge

    I do not miss my commute at all

    5 to 6 hours per week more time.

    No as soon at home time come scarper before the traffic goes bad.

    No sat at the same junction every day for 5 minutes to go to work.

    No weekly fill ups.

    No sat in most depressing town in the county.

    No driving past empty warehouse after empty warehouse because the local council will NOT allow office building.*

    But I have had, me only person in office, very depressing late in afternoon.

    But I slightly miss the abilty to commute past 3 specialists for my car make.

    I miss the odd greenlaning session on way home.

    I miss flying past a slow driving Porsche who then suddenly wakes up.

    * Half the staff live in same town as me. And we could not find a local office so had to chose another town 30 minutes away.

    1. Sykowasp

      Re: I do not miss my commute at all

      And in London most people are saving 10 hours a week or more on the commute.

      More time with family, more time to sleep - it's no surprise that productivity has not dropped for these workers.

      And you can't really work on the commute because it's usually split between walking, train (standing/no room), and walking stages. So no advantage versus driving. Indeed those who commute from further are better off, they have a longer period of time on the train to make it worth getting the laptop out, if you have the space.

      There is a well known phenomenon where people stay up later than they should because it's something they have control over (or by the time they get home after work at 8pm, cook and eat dinner, do some housework, and have some personal time, it's past midnight), even though they will be tired. WfH gives them more personal time, so they are also likely to get more rest and work more efficiently.

      1. Dave 15 Silver badge

        Re: I do not miss my commute at all

        When having to go in and out of London from cambridge any commuter time train was (if you were lucky) sending room only in both directions

  5. Warm Braw Silver badge

    So that you're looking them in the eye...

    I was just talking to someone who had been holding interviews last week for a tech position and was complaining the social skills of the candidates were practically non-existent. Not only were they constantly looking away from the camera (assuming their whole face was even visible), they barely offered any kind of greeting or engagement beyond answering the questions.

    Now, whilst it's not an intuitive skill to project a personality over Zoom, I can't help feeling that social isolation is making things worse. The hardest part of any job is working with your enforced colleagues; take away the moderating influence of shared space and that gets harder still.

    While there's still both a necessity and a willingness to make concessions to an emergency, it will be interesting to see the extent to which this persists.

    1. Sometimes an Engineer

      Re: So that you're looking them in the eye...

      Interviews and meetings with new people are definitely harder online. I've been both the interviewer and interviewee for Teams/Zoom interviews.....and it is a whole different kettle of fish. The social rules that run normal interviews no longer apply, and things are very different.

      For example you mentioned greetings/social engagement. For in-person interviews that is mainly done during meeting "setup". So you'll do the greetings at reception, then have a bit of a chat as you wander to the meeting room, and then maybe a bit more as you wait for the second interviewer to turn up. And only after all that is the meeting "setup" and ready to go. For on-line meetings you skip all that, you click the link and it's all setup already and you are straight into the main agenda.

      And I completely agree on the looking away from the camera.....but it's very difficult not to do as the interviewer just gets no context on why the other side is looking away. For myself I often have a notepad/second screen to take notes on or to display ancillary material that I can refer to. In a in-person interview I would very much approve of such things as it shows preparedness of the candidate and that it is a two way information exchange. But if I'm not there in person, I cannot see that. They may well be taking notes on a second screen or they may be running Minecraft, who knows? And lets not get into godawfullness of laptop camera positioning and the difficulty in getting yourself properly in frame (or how I acquire a few extra chins from most camera angles)

      So old in-person interview social etiquette cannot be the same as on-line etiquette.

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: So that you're looking them in the eye...

        "Sorry - my camera seems to be broken. Can we just do audio?"

        1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: So that you're looking them in the eye...

          "Sorry - my camera seems to be broken. Can we just do audio?"

          "Sorry, I prefer candidates who have the foresight and technical ability to ensure their camera is working."

      2. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: So that you're looking them in the eye...

        If you put the second screen above/below the first screen, its almost impossible to tell that you're looking at a different screen.

  6. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Interview cheats?

    "I have had two cases reported to me of candidates blatantly looking up answers on the web during Zoom interviews

    Back in the 90s we needed to recruit a number of coders from a distant country. This was pre-zoom, so we did telephone interviews, calling the agency we were working with.

    Some seemed a little strange - we'd ask a technical question and things went very silent for a while, as if someone had pressed mute. Then they gave the right answer. Could there possibly be someone in the room prompting them? Other times there was no mute, but we could distinctly here the flipping of pages as someone looked something up in the manual (although that was fine. Whenever anyone asked me in an interview what a DB2 xxx error code was my answer was always 'not sure - I look them up')

    We changed agency.

    1. hammarbtyp

      Re: Interview cheats?

      To be honest the ability to locate the correct stackoverflow page is pretty well a requirement nowdays. If the interview is asking questions about facts rather than problem solving, then maybe your interview questions need updating

  7. GreggS

    Clothing?

    No one can force me to put any on whilst i'm typing this response from home!

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Clothing?

      Can they force you to wear clothes in the office ?

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Clothing?

        The screaming and wailing is usually enough. No need to call HR.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Clothing?

          I missunderstood the nature of a gender-reveal party

  8. Joe Gurman

    Funny....

    I worked for 39 years at an extremely high tech place just outside a national capital, and a good fraction of the sys and net admins for shorts, flip-flops and Hawai'ian shirts for at least six months of the year.But then again, we were valued for our tech performance, not for massaging the bosses' egos.

    1. Sometimes an Engineer

      Re: Funny....

      I've worked with engineers who were permanently in shorts and flip flops. Only problem was that this was the uk and they'd be like that even if it was below freezing and snow on the ground, so their sanity was questioned. Upon investigation it turns out that lack of sanity is no barrier to being a good engineer.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Funny....

        Scorching hot UK summer temperature 300K, freezing snow on the ground temperature 273K

        So to one significant figure they are the same.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Funny....

      The company that I work for is a sportswear clothing manufacturer (mostly shorts, Hawaiian shirts, etc.). Everyone from the top down wears a lot of our products (we get huge discounts as employees). It's great because no one is going to claim our products are not nice enough to wear to work.

      It always very funny to see the looks on the faces of guests that come in for a high level business meeting. The visitors usually show up in very nice business suits, jacket, tie, etc. Then our senior management comes in. They see our CEO, CFO, and a couple of VP's enter the room in shorts and flip-flops!!!

  9. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "unless it is an extreme case involving them making you brave blizzards and dodgy moorland roads."

    My last gigs before hanging up the invoice book for good did indeed commuting over a dodgy moorland road with occasional blizzards. Not that visibility of about three metres would stop some idiot Merc driver overtaking.

    1. Dominic, Writer of this aritcle

      Sadly the people dying was a real case from my tame legal expert.

  10. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Broadband?

    My landline 'broadband' struggles to get to 1Mbit and that just doesn't cut it for online meetings where screens are being shared. The company has certainly raised the game with network bandwidth so I requested a cellular data connection which was approved without any hassle at all. They will also pay for office furniture for those who need it.

    It is a rolling monthly contract that the company pays (I never see a bill).

    Netgear AirCard. Works a treat.

    Amusingly, even though I am in deepest rural southeast Cornwall, because I live on top of a hill I get really great network coverage.

    On the WFH front, it looks like that will be my primary location with the (very) occasional office site visit for those times where you really can't beat getting everyone around a table. That works for me as I have a home office.

    I log off at normal time and I do not check / respond to emails outside of my normal working hours unless it is an urgent project (most aren't).

    I realise that the water cooler moments don't happen but the team feels free to contact me whenever they have an issue and we turn cameras on because the non verbal clues are so important.

    Works for some - for others, not so much. I have great sympathy for the younger members of the team (recent grads and young married couples with small kids come to mind) who are trying to get stuff done in a converted bedroom (if there was a spare in the first place) or in a shared areas which is apparently common for some recent grads.

  11. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Much cheaper.

    My company can employ three IT guys WFH in Croatia for the price of one IT guy WFH in England. And they are over the Moon with their salary, so it's win-win. Apart from the English IT guys who lost out - but that's three happy guys for every one unhappy guy, so it's still a win. A huge proportion of foreigners under the age of 30 can speak reasonable English these days, so language is not the problem it once was.

    1. Nifty Silver badge

      Re: Much cheaper.

      'My company can employ three IT guys WFH in Croatia for the price of one IT guy WFH in England'

      Yes it looks good on the surface and I think that are consultants earning fees by 'selling; how much money an organisation can save. Reality is that salaries are rising at easily 10% pa for just this reason. I've seen the situation where once the employment centre has moved to Eastern Europe it's a struggle to retain anyone for more than 18 months. And some vacancies stay permanently open.

      I've also been in interviews where the manager frankly admitted that he'd been trying to hire in Eastern Europe but could not find the speciality he wanted. Kudos for honesty there.

      Oh and BTW - what has WFH really got to do with it?

      1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Much cheaper.

        "

        Oh and BTW - what has WFH really got to do with it?

        "

        It is not feasible for anyone to do a daily commute between Croatia and England, so unless the person is WFH they would have to emigrate to the UK. Which means they would have the same cost of living as anyone else in the UK and would not be perfectly content on a salary that is low by UK standards. Thus no advantage in employing a foreign worker. Plus all the hassle of getting a residence visa, relocating family, living in a different culture etc. means that only a low percentage of foreign candidates would apply for the job anyway.

        If all the UK employees are WFH, then it makes no difference to the company where those homes are geographically situated, so it makes sense to recruit from areas that have a low cost of living (and thus a lower salary demand).

        1. Nifty Silver badge

          Re: Much cheaper.

          Yes you can compare WFH here with WFH there.

          Now, UK managers are already having a mind-struggle with UK based WFH workers that used to be office based, never mind Croatia based ones. And a legal payroll mechanism is needed for say, Croatia.

          The real corporate dream is move whole departments including the 'prep monitor' to Eastern Europe or maybe even India at a fraction of the wage bill. In this case the manager himself may experience an existential crisis.

          The WFH-only comparison works where there's a compelling use-case, i.e. employing experienced specialists with a massive track record. That's usually developers or consultants.

          In your case it looks like you're exceptionally confident and nimble and have solved the payment/EU employment regs issues.

  12. Nifty Silver badge

    'Believing a celebrity that the vaccine puts you under Bill Gates' 5G mind control is not a health issue unless you want to claim mental health problems.'

    What if it's your wife who's the vaccine refusenik?

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      What if it's your wife who's the vaccine refusenik?
      Then you may have married the wrong person.

      1. Dominic, Writer of this aritcle

        I do hope he has not had children with this person, since she is piss in the gene pool.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Tell her the self-assembling graphene 5G nanobots haven't done you any harm.

  13. Dave 15 Silver badge

    Just written to the ceo

    A company decided to have a chat with me, then came back and claimed the software engineering job HAD to be in the office FULL time.

    I went back to Cariads website and read again the bullshit about multiple countries, modern, distributed, the networked nature of the car software being developed and the environmental credentials (cough, part of VW, cough diesel, cough) and then wrote to the CEO briefly comparing the website with the reality from his middle managers. This of course is Germany where managers are authoritarian, ungrateful, rude, racist and useless but in charge of a highly obedient workforce... yes some stereotypes are unfortunately very true indeed

  14. FlamingDeath Silver badge

    “I like Money”

    - Frito

  15. hammarbtyp

    We having been trying to hire a embedded software engineer for months and it appears to be a sellers market. The agency we employed to look basically told us that unless we offer flexible home working, we wouldn't even manage to get them to interview stage with 7 jobs per candidate.

    My problem is how far do we go. I am still a believer that there is value in face to face working, but understand the attractions of WFH and it increases the pool of candidates. But i am not sure whether I am at the point where i would be happy employing someone who lived so far away that no travel into the office would be acceptable

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      I am still a believer that there is value in face to face working

      Are you measuring that value using the same units as you use to calculate the cost of being without a development resource for months?

    2. Nifty Silver badge

      I was fortunate to get the full experience of on-boarding to a new company while working from home during Covid. The water-cooler and over-the-shoulder moments are missing. Now, with best intentions the boss did institute group activities as a replacement, typically fun quizzes and competitions online.

      Problem is that both with the group activities and Slack chatting during daily work, the boss keeps a constant stopwatch on everyone's metrics. That kind of atmosphere makes genuine teamwork while working remotely quite a stressful thing. It takes me right back to one of my first jobs where the boss used to patrol the cubicles and comment pointedly if he saw anyone chatting with colleagues...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "It takes me right back to one of my first jobs where the boss used to patrol the cubicles and comment pointedly if he saw anyone chatting with colleagues..."

        A dickhead micro-manager like that will always be an asshole no matter where his/her employees are.

        I work for one now. He thinks that if I'm not in the office, I'm not working!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I had one like that

          I had a manager like that a couple of jobs ago. He seemed to think that nobody would do any work unless closely watched.

          The team realized after a while that *he* wouldn't do any work unless closely watched, and he assumed that other people were like him.

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: I had one like that

            The team realized after a while that *he* wouldn't do any work unless closely watched, and he assumed that other people were like him.

            And while he was watching you and your colleagues, he didn't do any real/useful work.

    3. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      As a freelancer I prefer to WFH, but welcome occasional trips to work with the team. A daya week, or a week a month (depending mostly on how far away it is) suits me fine.

    4. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Yup, embedded software (firmware) does seem to be something that very few people are learning. Most educational courses concentrate on high-level programming. I speak as an embedded software/hardware engineer who typically writes assembler programs for systems where the CPU speed is measured in tens of MHz, and memory in kB, and yet must have functionality that is a tad more complex than a typical microwave oven or washing machine. We are a dying breed. Why use a custom PIC design when a complete Raspberry Pi is not a lot more expensive and can be programmed with a C application running on Linux?

      One of the first common office networked computer systems I worked on was Wang. It used an 8 bit 8080 or Z80 running (IIRC) at 4MHz and 64K of RAM for both program & data. Perfectly adequate for 90% of the office tasks carried out these days on GHz PC's and GB of RAM. Productivity was probably a bit higher due to not having the distraction of Facebook & Youtube etc. (And El Reg come to that).

    5. Dominic, Writer of this aritcle

      Embedded s/w is one of the area where I can see serious limitations in WFH if the h/w is also being worked on or the sort of gear you don't really work on at home.

      In my pimping experience the lower level developers are among the strongest in really hating the idea of working in London..

      A good pimp would be finding a good compromise. I was writing this as advice to ground troops not managers, but would at least float the idea of pricing days in the office differently to those at home. It wold sweeten the idea of travel and the developer would know that it wasn't just for facetime since a cost means you get people to come in for a reason.

  16. Maximus Delfango
    Coffee/keyboard

    A very interesting and useful article...

    And a very interesting selection of comments too.

    I'd assumed when starting reading that everyone working in IT - or at least reading this site - enjoyed solitude and would be very wary of ever returning to the office. But perhaps I am in a minority, or at least not a 100% majority! Who knew?

    Even the horrors of grappling with the squirting sh*t-fest that is Teams - the software equivalent of a carsick old dog - beats commuting into an office to sit as a noisy desk talking to the same set of people based in other countries that I talk to right now.

    So I'm very eager not to return. If I never see the inside of the office (which is a very nice building) again, fine by me.

    This is the sort of article the Reg does very well. Keep them coming, please.

    1. Dominic, Writer of this aritcle

      Re: A very interesting and useful article...

      Thanks, I trust our glorious and wise editor is reading this.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some people though…

    As an autistic person I find it incredible how many people tell me what’s best for me - working in the office with others. Rather than force me to adopt to your needs, why not let me continue with the new normal that’s worked so well for me so far.

    Some of us are many times more productive when on our own.

    Anonymous as I know some of my colleagues read this and treat me like this.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. Mike 137 Silver badge

    'You could argue that "anything you can Google and understand" is part of your skill set...'

    You could, but you'd be wrong. That's the big mistake made by the overwhelming majority of "training". Being told something (or reading it) and being able to recount it again when prompted is only the first tiny step towards knowledge. You really know it only if you can actually do it, and it becomes a part of your skill set once you can apply it and adapt it to differing demands and circumstances under pressure in the real world.

    I seem to remember Justin Bieber saying "I know everything - or at least I can look it up on Google". But that was just a pop start talking - he didn't have to prove it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 'You could argue that "anything you can Google and understand" is part of your skill set...'

      The word "understand" seems to mean different things to different people.

      1. Dominic, Writer of this aritcle

        Re: 'You could argue that "anything you can Google and understand" is part of your skill set...'

        Of course *I* have never googled any technical matter at all, even once. No. Perish the thought.

    2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: 'You could argue that "anything you can Google and understand" is part of your skill set...'

      Having the information instantly available is very useful and can make it unnecessary to do a lot of rote learning, but far more important is to know what information you need to have and how to use it. Having something available does not mean that you know how to use it correctly. A baby will starve to death even if it has plenty of canned food and an electric tin-opener within easy reach. I could not design a viable nuclear power station without many years of study and practical experience even if all the information I need is available via Google. Google will not make you a grand master at chess or even a good poker player, though it might help.

  19. s. pam
    Happy

    As long as you work for a DECENT company

    you can work from wherever provided you have a laptoy and decent bandwidth.

    employees have actually worked MORE and to a higher quality due to Covid.

    companies too damn stupid to realise this need you to fire them and find a new gig

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My office used to have a dress code. They were told that if they called me in for an "emergency" when I was on holiday - then they had to accept what I was wearing. Usually that meant a T-shirt and short-shorts.

    1. Dominic, Writer of this aritcle

      A few years back a rather important client decided I was too expensive for the "mundane" part of my work and got someone via a Recruitment Process Outsourcer.

      He decided he knew better than me how the security worked and made changes which seemed to work. The results where entirely consistent, since no data was returned to my calculation routines they performed as they should and came to the conclusion that the *important* values were all zero.

      As it happens it was my wife's birthday so I turned up in the important place in a bow tie and full penguin costume. The RPIO drone was still at the "I can fix this" stage" in the way of a natural health practitioner thinks a bit of organic honey can cure your cough which is actually throat cancer.

      Curiously not one person at the client batted an eyelid at my profound overdress.

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