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When jobs are cut, remote engineers may be first to go.

Remote developer jobs look risky as positions are cut

So you want to work remotely as an engineer? Take a long look at the list of the people laid off at the likes of Klarna and Coinbase, and ask yourself the same thing again. 

Both companies were all about working remotely and at Klarna in particular, the list of 583 people being laid off includes 470 people who are at least partially remote and 34 people who are nothing but. Many are developers. At Coinbase, which had a remote first ethos, there are terrible tales of people in the technology team only finding out they'd been laid off after trying to log into their laptops from home and finding their Slack access had been cancelled. 

There's no objective indication that working from home makes you more susceptible to being cut, but in an environment where being relatable might make all the difference, anecdotally it makes sense to be in the office for at least part of the time. 

There are suspicions, sometimes proven correct, that remote workers are not actually working. Remote work is based upon a "flawed" understanding of human behaviour, says one Google employee on Blind, complaining that he'd hired someone who only worked three to four hours a day. "Better to force RTO where you can be sure most people are reasonably productive than full remote where some people might do a little better but you have to deal with 1/3 underperformers," says another Googler in response. A senior product professional at a London finance company tells us he hired a remote employee whom he suspected of not working and that his suspicions were proven correct when it was impossible to contact the new hire to inform him that he hadn't passed his probation period.

While struggling fintechs like Klarna and Coinbase have espoused remote working, established financial services firms have been less flexible. At places like Citadel Securities all staff are back in the office full time. At banks like JPMorgan, engineers tell us that three days a week are mandatory unless you get prior approval from senior management. "You have to go right up the management chain to get that approval," says one. 

Best comment picked by the author
Everyone assumes that being in the office is super productive, but in my experience, at least half of the in-office business day is wasted by useless chatting and socializing, meetings that could have just have been an email,

Although fintechs are currently laying-off staff, banks have yet to target engineers for cuts. This could change, though. Credit Suisse chief executive Thomas Gottstein has already indicated that Credit Suisse will be targeting technologists when it extracts costs in the second half. 

For the moment, though, one senior technology headhunter says financial services firms offering 100% remote work have an advantage: "Firms are asking for three days a week in the office, and many technology candidates don't want that."

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Photo by Muhammad Raufan Yusup on Unsplash

 

 

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
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  • Sa
    Sashidhar HC
    18 June 2022

    The picture speaks for itself. The guy's laptop is not even on, and he is playing with his phone. So get him back to office!!

    Even at office, employer should be given the right to monitor excessive phone usage and kick out non-productive workers. Imagine you going to a doctor and the doctor is playing with phone or has to Google for a diagnosis. How is it justified? Is ability to use Google an estimate of a worker's skill?!

  • Da
    Dave Acklam
    17 June 2022

    If your employer can't tell that you are or are not working without physically seeing you, the work you do isn't that valuable or quantifiable....

  • ev
    evcharger
    17 June 2022

    It's fairly easy to verify if remote developers are being productive or not.. Results! It's all determined by results, not by if someone is occupying a seat in office 9-5 or not. Of course some people will slack off working at home, but they will be easily found out and dismissed for poor performance. There is no free lunch even for remote workers, but some people will be even more productive working remotely than in offce due to lack of overhead and hassle of commuting. It all comes down to whether you are interested in your work or not. If you have strong interest in your work, it doesn't matter if there is no boss and coworkers looking over your shoulder. You will be even more productinve working remotely without hassle of commuting everyday wasting two or more hours on the road..

  • Nu
    NullPtr
    17 June 2022

    there always be the debate regarding productivity in and out of the office. But this is article is clearly pushing an agenda or the author has no knowledge of what he is talking about. The two companies outlined, have had their industries either changed or hammered (in the case of coinbase the crypto crash) which is the primary driver in the layoffs and hire freezes, which this author conveniently omits. Is it easier to lay off remote workers? Maybe though I'd argue switching off access can be done at the flip of a switch regardless of whether you're in or not.

  • De
    Deji
    17 June 2022

    Hmmmm. Let's do some critical thinking for a moment. People are fired en mass when companies either can't afford them or they are no longer needed.

    A company that is downsizing usually hired too many people in the first place and is reducing their force down to a size still capable of continuing operations, or is temporarily requiring remaining workers to increase their stress and workload until the organization can afford to rehire. In these cases companies keep their top performers. They wont care where you work from, they are trying to survive.

    A company may also downsize because their employees turn out to be much more productive than they anticipated and can increase their profits by letting some go. Did this happen suddenly after introducing remote work? If this is the case, then perhaps it was the remote workers that increased the productivity to allow them to downsize in the first place.

    Everyone assumes that being in the office is super productive, but in my experience, at least half of the in-office business day is wasted by useless chatting and socializing, meetings that could have just have been an email, "business lunches", technological down time, birthday and other celebrations, people working at a slow pace, etc. Several times I've been the new guy at a job and scolded by other employees for working too fast or being too productive. I've been told to "relax, chill, take it easy", or my favorite "Tomorrow is another day."

    People need to stop pretending that your work mates are your "family". They are not, and they arent your friends either. Your real family and friends are the ones you lose time with when you are communiting 2 hours to work each day, to be with people who are threatened by you and would throw you under he bus in a heartbeat.

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