Hello Reddit!

We are Charlie Warzel and Anne Helen Petersen and we just published a new book, "OUT OF OFFICE: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working from Home." We'd love to talk to you about it.

TINY bit about us: We moved from New York to Missoula, MT in 2017 and started working remotely. We quickly realized that, instead of capitalizing on the flexibility of WFH, we let work dominate our lives completely. Something had to change. So we started thinking about ways to be more intentional and decentering work in our lives. It was hard...we still struggle with it! When the pandemic hit, we saw a lot of people essentially speed run our own experience. We thought we had something to add to the conversation so we started reporting. We interviewed hundreds of people and, ultimately, wrote this book!

Our theory is that the future of work is not about where we work — at home versus the office — but how we work. It's about understanding that sometimes better work means fewer work hours, and enabling that understanding by cultivating a truly flexible corporate culture where boundaries are the norm, and life outside of work isn't just tolerated, but encouraged.

We're really interested to talk about any and all things related to working...Great Resignation stuff, how to survive writing a book with your partner, whatever! Also, if you just want to vent or share your work from home successes or failures or brag about your excellent desk set up or talk about the ways work can suck less...we are here for it. Thanks so much for having us!

Oh, also, here's a little bit more about our book, in case you're interested: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/673782/out-of-office-by-charlie-warzel-and-anne-helen-petersen/

PROOF: https://i.redd.it/bdn35rg741481.jpg

*** QUICK UPDATE - 11:50 AM PST - *** Thank you for the wonderful questions. We are going to run to do some other interviews but if you post more questions we'll try to hop on a bit later and answer around. Thank you all so much. We love you.

-charlie and annie

Comments: 253 • Responses: 32  • Date: 

Pikaus359 karma

One of the big takeaways from GhostWork (Gray and Suri) https://ghostwork.info/ is that many would prefer to work fewer hours but in the U. S. work 40 hours for the benefits. Gray and Suri suggest that if health insurance wasn't tied to employment, we'd see quite an overhaul in work in the U. S. For example, they found that many parents would rather work 25 or 30 hours and not have to pay for after school care.

Presuming that the pandemic is likely to begat a conversation about Healthcare again, how do you all feel about delinking work and health?

charlieandannie283 karma

AHP here: GHOSTWORK is such an important book, and I'm so glad you brought it up. In short: we all should be working less, and continued automation should make that possible, but only if we can let go of the (frankly arbitrary!!) idea that working 40 hours a week (or more) is what qualifies you for healthcare. This is a huge question when it comes to childcare, as you point out, but also with the massive influx of elders who will be needing care as the boomers continue to age. (And also, what is all this technology for if not TO WORK LESS?) Healthcare must be decoupled from employment. This is the future. We're just dragging our feet getting to that point, and suffering tremendously, in so many overlapping ways, as a consequence.

AddisonsContracture297 karma

Charlie, when we spent a weekend hanging out at a mutual friend’s house in Cape May 11 years ago you borrowed my jacket. I still haven’t gotten it back. How do you intend to rectify this?

charlieandannie178 karma

Wait...for real? Justin's house? What jacket? I'm very interested. DM me At the very least I can get you a free copy of this book!

v8jet165 karma

When do you feel it will be normalized so that people in WFH situations now won't worry about not being able to find other WFH opportunities? Right now I'm not convinced about long term commitment to WFH by companies.

charlieandannie203 karma

I think normalized WFH across industries is going to take time. There will definitely be companies that drag their feet on this and demand butts in seats. And I think that will work in the short term. But, eventually, the staunch in-person only companies are going to see that they're having retention trouble or that they're feeling bloated and out of position. I think a whole bunch of fancy pants business school case studies are going to show the benefits of flexible organizations in the coming years and then these same stodgy companies are going to pay a bunch of overpriced McKinsey consultants to come in and tell them exactly what smart flexible orgs are doing right now. They'll be five to seven years behind, and it's going to cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting fees.

I also think that we're still so early in this transition. There are so many people that are excited to get back into offices (or have returned and are happy). Makes sense! People miss it! But I think we're going to see, after a few months back that people miss parts of their flexible/ remote work lives. Once you give somebody this kind of flexibility...it's hard to take it away. And so there'll be...negotiations. - Charlie

Pepperoni_Admiral102 karma

Hi Anne!

I love your writing on substack. I've forwarded your interview w Meg Conley on LuLaRoe more times than I can count. Keep up the thoughtful analysis! (To readers, here's the link.)

One of your themes is the extent to which our current economic arrangement relies on a lot of unpaid labor, and the ways those unpaid roles are classed and gendered. Do you think that the blurring of lines between home life and work life created by the pandemic and working from home will lead to people reclaiming more free time or pay for unpaid labor, or will it put more of workers' free time on the table as available for working? Or some combination of both?

charlieandannie109 karma

AHP here: It's fitting that you bring up that Meg Conley piece, because Meg is one of the people whose work I always turn to when I'm thinking about domestic and unpaid labor, and what would (and could!) happen if we value it differently. Right now, so much of that labor remains invisible — and, as such, expected, and not considered in the larger calculus of what any one human can bear. Women, in particular, are carrying a huge burden of caretaking (for children, but also for aging parents) added to existing work obligations. There's some interesting data from the pandemic about how men (in hetero couples) working from home --> men doing more domestic labor than before, in part because they were just present, but also because they were witness to (and participating in) some of the labor that they just couldn't see, for better or worse, before they were working from home. When the labor becomes visible, it's easier, in some ways, to divide it (so long as your partner isn't a total asshole). But now, as more men feel comfortable (or pulled) back into the office, those numbers are rubberbanding back!! The worst!! Most moms I know are really struggling still, too, and feel like something has to give — and a lot of that has to do with continuing Covid anxieties for kids who can't get vaxxed yet, and the fact that we still haven't actually addressed the massive childcare crisis (federal funding, dudes, it's not that hard, treat it like we treat elementary school) but also that we're once again expecting women to do fucking everything! Can remote or hybrid work fix that? Not on its own. You have to use it as a tool (like any other technology), but direct it towards the continued gender imbalance of domestic labor (which stubbornly sits at around 65%/35%, and I'll let you guess who's doing the 35%) and also the ever-escalating demands of bourgeois parenthood, which make it so that any time a mom has to herself she should actually be spending on parenting in some new and advantageous way. In addition to being an inequality machine, this dedication to hyperparenting also just makes pretty much everyone miserable. And as for your last question: when people are paid a living wage, and aren't terrified of student loan payments and getting financially devastated by healthcare costs, then there isn't the push to monetize every part of your personality and every hobby. But we need to reknit the social safety net for that to happen in a meaningful way.

buttercupcake2341 karma

Just here to say, thank you this is one of the most engaging and interesting AMAs I've seen in a while. I love that you guys are providing thoughtful nuanced answers and actually conversing with the posters rather than just giving short answers with a reference to "read the book for more". I am now looking forward to actually getting the book and reading more of your writing.

charlieandannie33 karma

Thank you!! In our mind...there is no reason to do one of these things if you're not really going to engage! Also...hearing from people about their experiences and getting their questions is a great way to advance our thinking on all this stuff. It makes us better at our jobs. So...thank you all!

pintong53 karma

It's pretty clear there are benefits to being all-remote or all-in-person. What's less obvious are the ways that this breaks down when some folks are remote when others aren't. What's your take on companies moving toward a hybrid model?

charlieandannie72 karma

AHP: We spend a LOT of time considering this in the book — particularly because it seems clear that the people who are going to gravitate to coming back into the office are people who are largely without caretaking responsibilities, so there's a real potential for the office to be filled with young people (and a lot of dudes!) and parents (and moms in particular) working from home more. If managers still hold onto old understandings of "good work" as "being present in the office for as long as possible," those people who are showing up in the office are going to be the ones who get promoted, who are given choice opportunities, who are perceived as "most committed," etc. etc. One proposal we have is for a back to the office maximum — which you can read more about here! https://annehelen.substack.com/p/the-back-to-the-office-maximum

BubblegumDaisies33 karma

I'm an Exe Admin among many other hats and part of my job is to be at the front desk. I was the first person forced to return FT ( actually 6 months in, I'm the only person that has to be here everyday. I haven't seen my supervisor in person since March 2020)

The children I have custody of are thankfully old enough to stay at home alone and go to school online, but take away a few years and I dont know what I wouldve done.

charlieandannie35 karma

And this is the sort of task that I think (smart) companies are trying to rethink — do we need this person, whose labor is so important to us, sitting in the front desk? Why? For how long?

OkayYesThen7 karma

Curious about this! My company has let each department kind of decide their own at-home/in-office schedules - with the option for people to come into the office more than that (some people just much prefer working in the office).

pintong14 karma

I took over 200 flights in 2018–2019 because of the issues inherent to having some folks in-office while others were remote. Things work great when everyone is together or remote, but remote workers are at a disadvantage when others are together in person.

I think a lot of companies are going to do what yours is doing, only to find out that it's hugely problematic for folks who are remote. I advocate for either being 100% remote, or having set days where everyone works from home. There are things we can do to have the benefits of being remote without introducing new problems.

charlieandannie31 karma

This is partly a reason why I think big companies that want to have flex options for employees need to hire a Head of Remote role. It's too big and complicated an issue to pass off to your chief HR officer! There are so many very tiny, sometimes trivial sounding issues -- like whether or not those in-office should all have their laptops on during a conference room meeting with remote employees (they should!). These issues really matter because they have the ability to either level the playing field btwn in person and remote workers...or exacerbate the inequalities. And because we see some early data that shows that workers of color and women seem more likely to want to spend more time remote...making sure hybrid work doesn't create/exacerbate divides is crucial!

kmc30749 karma

In your opinion how did the quick and drastic shift to remote work during COVID (with many still remote) impact organic or spontaneous collaboration, e.g. the "water cooler" chat?

And perhaps more importantly, if there has been a drop in these informal social interactions, is there a way to reverse that trend while maintaining a remote workforce?

Personally I found in WFH that organic collaboration became much more difficult, as all but the most trivial slack interactions were pre scheduled and forced, with even those losing meaning with the onset of zoom fatigue.

charlieandannie73 karma

I think that generally people inflate the importance of spontaneous collaboration in office settings. The water cooler chat is a nice social element and I think there's real value at times in being able to walk over and have a quick, impromptu low stakes chat with somebody about something. And I say this as (Charlie, here) a person who enjoys being in the office and finds the organic collaboration to be energizing.

But you're totally right. A lot of collaboration during this pandemic period has been horribly clunky and exhausting. People set up a Zoom to brainstorm and it becomes this nightmare. I think these are early growing pains, though. Some of this might be ameliorated with interesting tech (a company called Branch is doing interesting proximity based audio stuff and virtual office environments so you can replicate that 'walk over and tap somebody on the shoulder' quality.

One thing that remote work does though is that it forces people to be more intentional in every aspect of their work lives. I look at companies like Gitlab, which documents everything and has these extensive README files for each employee...it's essentially an instruction manual that every employee writes about how they work most effectively and how they like to collaborate. It's a pain in the ass to write, but ultimately, it's this incredibly helpful tool that allows people to really learn how to collaborate with their employees...and it's something that is remote-centric. I really think that flexible work (which, by the way, includes time in the office...or retreats where the whole group gets together) will create new ways to collaborate organically. One thing to remember is we are still dealing with a pandemic that makes organic, in person collaboration a logistical mess. Pandemic flexible work is not quite the same as what we could have if we take the time and design a more flexible future. - Charlie

MichaelChinigo40 karma

Just wanted to add that GitLab's Guide to All-Remote is an excellent resource full of practical advice.

charlieandannie15 karma

LIKE...SO GOOD - Charlie

faustwhispers47 karma

What do you think the impact of all this "change of work" talk will have on people who cannot do their jobs from home? I'm a library worker—my job depends on me being in a location for the public, who often lack access to technology or digital education. I often feel like people in my profession and other similar professions get left out in the "revolution of work" talk. When other people are realizing that more work can get done in less time and at home, what does it mean for people who need to be in certain locations, who need to be "on call," and who are, historically, underfunded and understaffed (nonprofits)?

charlieandannie42 karma

I think it's really important to acknowledge that there's a fundamental inequality here between those who have the privilege to have jobs that are possible for WFH. And there aren't tons of ways around that. But part of the reason we focus on de-centering ourselves from work is that there are so many downstream effects (as u/postjack comments on below!) There's a chapter in the book on community and we argue (Annie is more eloquent on this than I am) that the more we decenter work in our lives, the more we start to undestand ourselves as labor and the more we understand and identify with others and build solidarity — and that's across industries.

I realize this may sound a bit 'pie in the sky' but the current way that work sucks up all our time and energy forces us into an individualist mentality and takes away a lot of our ability to work or think collectively. The more time we have to focus on things outside our jobs, the time we can spend advocating with and for other people. When you're so focused on keeping yourself and your family afloat you don't have as much time for others.

Hopefully that answers the question and doesn't feel like a dodge. The truth is that some jobs will not be as flexible, location-wise...but how do we rethink the way we work to make the process of labor more equitable for everyone?

charlieandannie34 karma

AHP here: There are a lot of librarians in the Culture Study community, so this is a question that I've thought about a lot. So one thing that seems clear is that the way we train librarians, just generally, is broken. The MLS is way too much money, mires people in debt, and that debt then prevents them from pushing for better pay or changes in the way work is arranged — and that includes rethinking things like the hours of the library, how members of the public access librarians, what the overarching purpose of the library is within the community, and so much more. From my understanding (and correct me if I'm misspeaking here) a lot of the people who are asked to be most present are actually people who are paid the least, and have the least power (and are at the bottom of the library hiearchy). All of this is fucked up, of course, but like all systems in which change feels impossible, part of the reason is that people are cowered by low pay and high debt. (Not saying this is the case with you, but with a lot of people doing these jobs). But one thing to start thinking through is just how the community is requiring presence, and how that can be allocated in a way that doesn't demand one person being present for 40 hours a week, and what library work can be done in remote scenarios. Being in-person for the public is a really emotionally draining position; think about how much more compassion and tolerance and kindness people might have if they weren't doing so much of it that they were burning out? There's really interesting experiments in shorter work weeks for public-facing employees going on in Iceland right now — a real challenge to the idea that the four-day work week is only available to people who work in less presence-demanding office jobs.

julieannie29 karma

Do you think workplaces understand collaboration can be asynchronous? I’ve found my own industry seems very behind on this understanding but I’m curious what you have seen.

charlieandannie37 karma

AHP here: Great question; I think a lot of it depends on industry. Companies that still think that everyone has to be online at the same time for anything to happen are also the ones that are holding a lot of meetings (too many meetings!) and trying to replicate what happened in the office into what happens remotely, which is a recipe for a lot of waste and boredom and overwork. We're at the point now, though, where companies are trying to figure out what this is going to look like moving forward -- which might mean being more imaginative when it comes to how work is done, and also appreciating the value of asynchronous set-ups.

Crisps_locker20 karma

I’ve been exploring and discussing the future of work for years, and it’s obvious that a lot of the current discussion is centred around knowledge workers. How do you think debates about changing how we work can have a beneficial impact on those people for whom location is never going to be a choice?

charlieandannie21 karma

I think it's really important to acknowledge that there's a fundamental inequality here between those who have the privilege to have jobs that are possible for WFH. And there aren't tons of ways around that. But part of the reason we focus on de-centering ourselves from work is that there are so many downstream effects (as u/postjack comments on below!) There's a chapter in the book on community and we argue (Annie is more eloquent on this than I am) that the more we decenter work in our lives, the more we start to undestand ourselves as labor and the more we understand and identify with others and build solidarity — and that's across industries.

I realize this may sound a bit 'pie in the sky' but the current way that work sucks up all our time and energy forces us into an individualist mentality and takes away a lot of our ability to work or think collectively. The more time we have to focus on things outside our jobs, the time we can spend advocating with and for other people. When you're so focused on keeping yourself and your family afloat you don't have as much time for others.

I answered a q like this above and wanted to paste the response here so that you could see it.

WITPECA19 karma

As more and more positions go fully remote, will the competition for jobs become tougher since the pool of applicants essentially becomes everyone who is qualified regardless of physical location?

charlieandannie19 karma

I think this is possible...and I think that there are potentially worrying consequences from this...like high skilled, well paying jobs being outsourced to people in places where wages are much lower (in order for orgs to get workers without paying them what they're worth). Which is why I think labor policy will need to evolve alongside this. A really distributed workforce is a real change and I really hope that those crafting policy don't just see this as some kind of perk...it's a reimagining of how we work and for it to succeed we need policies (a stronger safety net, strengthening of unions) to bolster it.

beansmedley19 karma

Is there any evidence that working in person builds teams and relationships better than remote? People claim this all the time but it doesn’t seem based in anything beyond their own assumptions as far as I can tell.

charlieandannie37 karma

AHP here: I think that the people who hold fast to this belief are people for whom this does work — they feel more connected when they're in person with other people, so they often assume that it must be the same for others. But that's a certain sort of person, right? A person who's probably extroverted in some way, who's neurotypical, who feels really at ease in the office space which, itself, is often a very white and very masculinized space, but has been so naturalized as "the way things are" that people don't think about it. Building teams remotely is hard work, but that's because building relationships just generally is hard work.

happyklam15 karma

How/when do you predict that larger corporations run primarily by Boomers will finally realize that demanding office positions to be IN the office 100% is an antiquated notion? I'm talking Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 companies. Looking forward to your responses!

charlieandannie28 karma

AHP here: The other day someone in the job-hunting channel of our Discord was talking about how the remote position they had applied for — and for which they had an inside recommendation — apparently had 800 applicants.....meanwhile, the place where this person currently works, a pretty solid job in a major metro area, is struggling to even get a handful of applicants for their hybrid positions. That tells me a lot about who's going to be getting high-quality applicants moving forward, and what organizations are going to have to consider in order to remain competitive.

jedi_bean12 karma

Can you talk more about your writing process as partners? When you live with your collaborator, how do you keep from working on your book all of the time? How do you separate the personal and the professional? (Sorry these are kind of nosy questions, but I'm fascinated by people who can work with their partners--I definitely could not).

charlieandannie18 karma

Charlie, here: It was an adventure. Writing-wise, it took a few weeks for us to figure out how to do this without going nuts. Annie has written 3 other books and this is my first, so on top of her work, she was also, in a way, teaching me how to write. We tried to divvy up the chapters, with each of us doing first passes on 3 of them and then the other coming in to write/edit/etc. That worked to a degree for some chapters, not all. For others, one of us would start writing and the other would come in a day or two behind and sort of backfill the previous days work with their reporting or try to help sharpen ideas.

I would say we got in a rhythm but the process wasn't without its share of disagreements and frustrations. Annie and I have spent the better part of a decade now reading each others work and helping to edit and sharpen it. It's a really lovely thing but I'd also say that it requires a lot of grace and humility on both sides. The biggest thing we realize is that sometimes we'll have good days and other times we'll have bad days. But we work at it.

In terms of how to keep from working on the book all the time: We wrote this in a bit of a sprint, to be honest. We did the bulk of the writing over 2.5 months during the darkest winter days of the pandemic. We figured in this one moment of our lives...it was dangerous to be out in the world and we would really kind of binge write this thing in a long, focused block. It was really hard...but then we spent the spring and summer focusing much less on work and being out in the world and seeing friends and dedicating ourselves to our hobbies. Mostly though, we're a work in progress!

MusclePuppy8 karma

In regards to your assertion (which I agree with) that better work can come from working fewer hours, what are your thoughts on companies utilizing techniques to micromanage its employees? (i.e. Tracking software, keeping cameras on at all times, etc.)

charlieandannie28 karma

AHP here: I wrote about this a bit in a recent newsletter, but in short: I think it's the fucking worst! A surefire way to make your workforce hate you and try their best to subvert your attempts to make them work all the time. Just a toxicity machine.

charlieandannie16 karma

I think it absolutely sucks and has the potential to jeopardize any and all progress in a flexible work future. Talking to managers and employees, one of the biggest recurring issues I hear is just a total lack of trust (on both sides). Managers don't trust employees to do the work (silly, since they hired them because they think they're good at what they do) and workers don't trust that employers have their best interests at heart (for good historical reasons, tbh).

I think remote work only works if there's the right levels of trust. And trust is earned by modeling vulnerability and having the other group mirror it back. Companies that install invasive tracking software are explicitly saying they don't trust their employees. It undermines everything about the promise of a different future of work. It sucks and whatever short term productivity gains it creates, it's just going to have serious side effects down the line (burnout, resentment, turnover, etc). - Charlie

ImaginaryLaw47588 karma

Many of us who’ve shifted to WFH full time now have the freedom to move. How has your move to Missoula been? It’s a great college town but it’s also facing affordability issues for workers. I live in rural Colorado and people who’ve lived here for decades seem to be afraid that inviting remote workers to town will drive up housing costs.

charlieandannie19 karma

AHP here: The second part of the narrative of our move is that we actually moved from Missoula to a small island off the coast of Washington State (near Bellingham) in the last few months....so that we could be closer to our own community (and cultivate it more). But as for your question: because of our time in Missoula (and watching what's happened in cities like it all over the Mountain West) we spend a lot of time in the book considering the responsibilities that people who do move into new communities have to those communities, whether in terms of civic involvement or advocating for affordable housing or just, you know, not being total assholes.

dragon-queen7 karma

Do you foresee a big crash in commercial real estate as a result of the work-from home movement? I know many employers want their staff to come back to the office because they are stuck in long-term leases that they can’t get out of.

charlieandannie15 karma

It's entirely possible. A lot of these leases are longer term so I am not sure exactly how it'll play out. Although I have a lot of trouble sympathizing with commercial real estate companies (sorry!). One thing that is real is that it could change a lot of downtowns in weird/unexpected ways (all the different businesses that cater to office workers). So there could be some painful reshuffling. But I've also spoken with architects who design offices who see new and interesting possibilities for remote workforces...like coworking hotels across the country that companies pay for subscriptions to, so that their more nomadic employees have places to work in different cities or for work travel. These people see opportunities there to create new and maybe more dynamic work/cultural environments that aren't just rows of desks under fluorescent lights. There'll prob be hardships everywhere but also opportunities.

porcupineschool6 karma

Do you think the fact that you are both writers has affected how you've adapted to working at home and how you think about it? I ask because I hate working from home (I do account management for a design firm) but I have friends who are writers and they love it. I think it has to do with type of work but also personality. Another way of putting this, what have you done to account for your own bias?

charlieandannie9 karma

Charlie, here: This might be surprising but I actually like working in offices! I'm a reasonably extroverted person and constant WFH can be stifling at times for me. I think any company that is serious about designing a flexible work future realizes that they're going to have to have options for all kinds of people with different work styles. I think people tend to try and fit WFH into this rigid IN PERSON/TOTALLY REMOTE binary. And that's just false. Companies we've spoken with who are really thinking this stuff through (Twitter is one, Dropbox is one, Gitlab is one) realize that they're going to need real input from their employees and that they'll probably make mistakes and get things wrong.

But I think there's another element here (not saying this is you, btw!). There are people that don't like WFH because the office is the locus of their social life as well. This used to be the case for me. Many of my closest friends in my late 20s were coworkers. My work and personal life were barely separated. And so I loved the office for that reason, too. But I don't think that's a healthy way to live, either.

porcupineschool3 karma

Thanks for the thoughtful answer. I think for me it has to do with being an external processor. I think while I talk. It kind of works on zoom, but only partially.

charlieandannie7 karma

totally hear that. i don't know what your work situation is...but all i'd suggest is that you be as open about that with your colleagues as you feel you can be. i've told people that I'm way better, for example, talking story ideas through over the phone instead of over text/chat. And ultimately, they've adapted to me because they know they can get better, more interesting work if we talk it out.

thatsballin5 karma

How do you think the future of work will change what we demand from education as a means of preparing people for work? In particular, how can we improve education at all levels, not just college, to ensure that people exit school ready to participate and thrive in the new and changing landscape?

charlieandannie6 karma

Charlie, here. To be honest...I haven't really thought a lot about this part. I don't know how much of our education system right now is geared toward preparing us for work that is de-facto office centric? My (privileged) experience in the education system is that I was basically trained to be a productivity robot always looking for ways to climb the success ladder (all my hobbies were parlayed into things that looked good to college counsellors, etc). I think there are ways that the education system could, from an early age, focus on harnessing creativity and ambition but also reminding kids they are three dimensional people with rich external lives outside of career achievements.

Generally though I don't think that schools do a great job teaching people practical skills...like...where is the class that teaches you about the small quirks of personal finance/taxes/ etc? I think that education that has some focus on teaching you how to navigate all of the logistical parts of life and work life that add stresses (and that privileged people have networks to help them navigate) then you level the playing field just a tiny bit.

10thunderpigs5 karma

Who were your most influential teachers in school, why, and do they know it?

charlieandannie14 karma

I was always good at writing papers and I had a teacher (Mrs. DeLuca) who in 11th grade gave me a D on my first paper. I was pretty crushed and she told me that she gave me the grade not because the paper was awful but because she could see my talent and that I was phoning it in and writing what I knew she wanted/expected. She offered to see me once a week during a free period to talk about ways to really analyze the books we read in new ways and find different frameworks to criticize the works. It basically changed how my mind works and also made me realize that I had some kind of raw talent that was worth cultivating. I am not sure if she knows that — she's retired now. But my HS gave out an alumni award to me last year and I mentioned her in the speech. - Charlie

ChipForestt4 karma

What are your thoughts on losing some of the nice things about office culture with remote work like seeing coworkers and catching up, lighthearted joking around the office, grabbing drinks after work, etc…? Have you seen successful attempts at recreating this in a remote environment or is this just an unfortunate trade-off?

charlieandannie17 karma

AHP here: I think one thing to consider is who, exactly, in the office was benefiting and/or enjoying the lighthearted joking around the office and grabbing drinks after work. They're exclusionary in a lot of ways that aren't always immediately visible to the people who've enjoyed those things. Also think about how transformative it would be to take that time and energy socializing with work colleagues (who you probably like just fine, sure) and transfer it to the friends you care about the most, the members of your community who need it the most, or your close family?

MachoDagger3 karma

Would you say that your book is US-centric?

charlieandannie5 karma

AHP: A lot of the companies that we interview are based in the US, but a lot of the thinking about what a fully distributed company (or even what remote work can look like) are based on companies that are globally distributed (and working across multiple time zones). We also spend a lot of time considering the failures of different governments to try and legislate work/life boundaries (like France's attempt to prevent email from following you home after work)

Notagoodguy802 karma

Does working at home tend to encourage a slothy sedentary lifestyle and do people find it easier to sink into depression when working from home?

charlieandannie23 karma

AHP here: If they don't create rhythms and breaks and structure in the day, sure! For me, I walk before I start the workday with my dogs (including Steve, who's pictured in the 'proof') and then, particularly when it's not the dead of winter, I garden for a few hours midday, then come back to work. As for depression and loneliness: we talk a lot in the book about how whatever you've been doing in terms of remote work for the last 2 years is not the future of remote work; that was working from home during a pandemic! There's so much space for thinking about what remote work can look like, whether that means working with friends at your kitchen table, going to coffee shops, or all sorts of other 'third' spaces (like libraries or co-working spaces). The pandemic won't last forever!

therealkdog2 karma

Hello Charlie, big fan of your writing. How are you liking Missoula and do you think you'll ever be back to a big city like NYC?

charlieandannie3 karma

Hey! Thank you. Very kind of you. So...we recently moved from Missoula (which I love and will forever feel like home) to be a bit closer to some family and to help be near our friends and do some care for their kids (we don't have kids of our own). Now we live near Bellingham, Washington. I love cities, I really do. But I think I realized what I love most is to visit them for extended periods. So we're very close to both Vancouver and Seattle and have lots of friends in the former. It's really nice to be able to participate in the culture there and to feel that vibrancy...but we also really love to be out in nature and have a bit of a slower pace of life! - charlie

integratebyparts2 karma

If Steve worked from home (I guess he does?) - what would his preferred WFH setup be?

charlieandannie3 karma

Steve (aka Stoven, aka Stoven Boven aka Sto-vine the Bovine) is a tactile learner. He's a standing desk kind of guy. He needs frequent breaks, too because he gets restless. He's a really earnest and dedicated employee but he works best in short bursts. Expect him to take meetings via airpods while he takes one of his many daily walks. A great coworker and collaborator but...hate to break it to you...he's going to take a nap 2-3 times in the middle of the day. - charlie

Yabbadabbadabbado-4 karma

My question is for Anne primarily:

What are your thoughts on parachute journalism and the negative effect that people, like you, have on small, local news communities?

It seems like writing a book about why it’s not important where you work but how you work is a thinly veiled excuse to continue using your megaphone to drown out the important work of local journalists in Montana.

charlieandannie15 karma

Great question, and I'll also add that Charlie also did journalism based in Montana. A few things: whenever I did coverage in Montana in my role at BuzzFeed News (which, over the course of three years, amounted to around half a dozen stories) I always attempted to defer to and cite local news organizations whenever possible. Second, I never tried to replicate what these local organizations were already doing very well. Third, I consistently promoted the work of local journalists in my own Twitter feed (using my 'megaphone,' as you put it), and fiscally supported these organizations by subscribing and/or making monthly donations (in the case of MTPR). For various reasons — including but not limited to Lee stranglehold on so many of the Montana papers — there's less and less space available in daily publications for bigger, feature-length reporting. That's what I tried to do.