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The Evolution of Work: Meatspace Vs. Remote?

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Hey,

So as I been looking for work, I tent to get a lot of different reactions when I tell people my projects are remote or globally distributed.

 

I'm curious to see what kind of reactions yall tend to get, as well as if in the job market, remote work is either seen more impressive than meat space work, or vice versa.

 

I'd think in AAA, it's always seen as meat space is more impressive, but then again, times are changing.

 

I talked to my dad, who's an EE contractor over 60, an impressive task onto itself, and he tells me remote work is seen as more desirable these days, regardless of the company, due to its flexibility.

 

Are meat space 9-5's really a thing of the past? or are those seen as still more valuable than remote?

 

What would your impressions of  a worker be for remote VS. meat space? (in the tech, games, and associated industries)

Edited by GeneralJist

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I'm both. What I mean by that is I work in an office, but we're just one studio out of the many the company has. E-mail, IM, video conferencing are the norm for communication.

Most things work fine as long as each site's work hours have several hours of overlap. If not, the communication becomes much more difficult as you have a 1 day turn-around time for any questions you have to ask of the other site(s).

The worst case I've been in so far is me (Pacific coast US) trying to communicate with London. Eight hour time difference means either someone has to change their schedules, or we are limited to coordinating via e-mail with high latency on responses. The more hours that overlap, the better.

The company also has several employees who work from home (they don't live near one of the major studio sites and can't actually come in to work).


Impressions: Since I'm used to it, I don't mind the meatspace vs. remote difference. Just the time differences. Edited by Nypyren

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1. I tent [sic] to get a lot of different reactions when I tell people my projects are remote or globally distributed.
I'm curious to see what kind of reactions yall tend to get, as well as if in the job market, remote work is either seen more impressive than meat space work, or vice versa.
2. I'd think in AAA, it's always seen as meat space is more impressive,
3. but then again, times are changing.
4. Are meat space 9-5's really a thing of the past?
5. or are those seen as still more valuable than remote?
6. What would your impressions of a worker be for remote VS. meat space?


1. "Meat space," huh? You're using an ugly, disturbing, offensive, and dismissive characterization for the traditional office environment. It might help with your thought processes on this question if you stop using the term, even in your own mind.
 

remote work is either seen more impressive than meat space work, or vice versa.


To clarify: you're saying potential hirers view an applicant's experience differently, depending on whether the applicant's experience is primarily embedded within a team or instead done remotely. Of course, it depends on the needs of the hiring company, and on the background of the hirer.
I'd guess that a hirer who got his start working remotely, and/or hires remote workers, would value the remote experience more.

2. In AAA, most teams work in the traditional office environment. Closeness of one's peers enable stronger work relationships, engender trust, and enhance visibility of the work being done. In AAA, it's not unheard of to have some remote individuals, but those individuals earn that arrangement by a long list of impressive credits, experience, and contacts.

3. Not as fast as you think.

4. Absolutely not.

5. Depends.

6. If I wanted someone to work in my team in an office environment, I would want someone whom I believe can get along well with the individuals in my team. Teams work best when they see each other's faces daily, know and respect one another, and enjoy going out to lunch together.
If I wanted someone with highly specialized skills, for which I expect to pay highly, and the
tasks are short-term, then I'd be willing for that individual to work remotely, provided that the
individual's qualifications justify that arrangement.

[Edit] If it helps, I have worked both ways, and I have hired both ways. Edited by Tom Sloper

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Hi

I worked in an arrangement where I worked two days at home and three days in an office environment for some time.

Working on software from home is hard, not just because you need the self discipline to dedicate to the work and not be side tracked by time wasting, but because you need to talk to others to create software.

Without personal interaction, testing and feedback are difficult as is working with other teams such as QA, design teams, etc. Not just that but as Tom said, when working near someone in the same area (e.g. nearby desks) you become a closer team.

For example imagine you are part of a small team of people and one of them has a problem, even if you don't know the answer, being present encourages rubber duck debugging, e.g. your colleague might say, "GeneralJist I have a problem with the rendering function. It doesn't do A and instead does B". To which you reply "what have you tried" and in response they solve their own problem.

I've encountered this and being present definitely helps. If you aren't there, they will often try to solve it themselves instead of calling or emailing you, which takes a lot longer to find a solution.

Why don't I work remotely any more you ask? Well, part of that reason is that when I started out working remotely I had the title of "manager" but only managed myself and my own time and projects. As time progressed I became a manager of a team of three, and managing a software development team has extra difficulty if you also factor in trying to manage that team remotely. It's far easier if you're there (see above).

Hope this helps!

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I do in fact work for a globally-distributed medium-sized organization in the software field (about 800 employees distributed worldwide, with a few bricks-and-mortar offices in key geopolitical locations).  There are always a few technical issues (I can never have my entire team meet online at the same time, since the folks in west coast Australia and the folks in east coast USA do not have overlapping hours) but they're not insurmountable and certainly no worse that limiting your hiring pool by local geography or demanding workers contribute personal hours out of every day in a physical commute.  For many engineers, working remotely from a home office is a dream come true.

 

Trick is, extroverts can't stand remote work, they want to schmooze and exchange infectious biota with as many people as they can simultaneously.  One of the primary attributes required to become a successful salesdroid, HR specialist, or executive is to be in the long-tail of the extrovert category, so overt hostility toward distributed employment from above tends to be the limiting factor in most places of employment.  I found it very insightful when I was sent on a management course with a bunch of sales managers and HR people who one and all bemoaned the reality of remote work within our organization.  As an the only extremist introvert in the bunch, I was startled, since the isolation and self-reliance of remote work was one of the biggest selling features of my job as far as I was concerned.  To each their own.

 

So, most organizations don't really tolerate remote work, despite the many documented advantages, because the decision-makers want to feel good and the get that good feeling by being physically near others. The larger the organization, the more the needs of the non-technical staff matter.  I don't see that changing even as technology progresses, because it's never been about the tech but about the psych.

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While I like working from home.  So much more work is done when you are in the office.  I'm the tech manager at work and there is no way I could effectively do my job while being remote.  Instead of having an office I have a desk in the pit with the rest of the programmers.  We talk to one another constantly through out the day about the task at hand or if somebody is having trouble figuring something out anybody who wants to add input can get together and hash it out.  I'm fairly introverted at work so it isn't like I really enjoy all the talking but it is part of the job.  Programmers have some design leeway so if they think a feature is going to have some problems down the road they can talk to the designer and see about fixing it.  There have been many bugs at work that have been squashed because QA could just show us how they broke the game instead of trying to write a super detailed report.  While we could video chat all of this not everybody keeps a close watch on their Skype chat so the other person could be waiting a while to get a simple answer.  Not to mention trying to get five or six remote people together for a spontaneous discussion isn't exactly easy.

 

Remote can be fine if you are working on mature software that pretty much is set in stone the path it will take as there isn't a lot of room for interpretation on how things should go.  But if you are working on new evolving tech you can't really beat taking somebody over to a whiteboard and quickly laying out your design and letting them show you everything that is wrong with it.

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1. "Meat space," huh? You're using an ugly, disturbing, offensive, and dismissive characterization for the traditional office environment. It might help with your thought processes on this question if you stop using the term, even in your own mind.


 

 

It's not a derogatory term at all.

 

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=meatspace

 

It's just a colloquialism to identify the offline realm, vs. the online realm.

 

No doubt, there are some mixing these days, but it's meant to replace the fallacy label of "real life".

 

I used to go offline vs. online, but these days there is a lot of mix and interaction between them, so this term suffices.

 

This in no way was meant to disparage a physical office vs. a digital one.

Edited by GeneralJist

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It's not a derogatory term at all.
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=meatspace


Of course it's disparaging. Just because the term may be in use doesn't mean it's not
insulting to intelligent talented people who work in an office. Calling them "meat" is
most definitely unkind. Rather than "meat," I prefer to refer to those people as "talent,"
or "teammate."

If you ever said "meat space" in an interview for a job in an office, your chances of
being hired would be chopped way down to near zero. Edited by Tom Sloper

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It's not a derogatory term at all.http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=meatspace

Of course it's disparaging. Just because the term may be in use doesn't mean it's notinsulting to intelligent talented people who work in an office. Calling them "meat" ismost definitely unkind. Rather than "meat," I prefer to refer to those people as "talent,"or "teammate."If you ever said "meat space" in an interview for a job in an office, your chances ofbeing hired would be chopped way down to near zero.

I can see why you consider that insulting and I agree.

I've also experienced the same in reverse for many years. I've been involved in open source projects online for decades, way before it was common to telecommute or work remotely or do such things when actual jobs working from home were unheard of apart from as postal scams.

Back then it was similarly insulting to me to be told the projects I contributed to meant nothing, would get me nowhere and I was wasting my life away "in cyberspace".

That kind of thing has kind of come full circle in the space of about 25 years...

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Getting back to requirements to be in the office, there are other important aspects to consider.

 

 

Not everyone has the tools at home. Someone may require licenses to Photoshop and Maya and ZBrush, plus reasonably fast computer and tablet. Similarly for programmers who may need access to all the build tools. If you need to pull down the latest source tree and there was a massive update, a multi-gigabyte download may be too large for those not living in a modern city with very fast internet connections, or for those who choose not to buy high speed internet at home, or just don't want to store all that stuff on their home computer.

 

If doing console development, the companies require devkits to be in a physically secure location.  If working on contract there may be similar constraints. Even working for a small contracting facility there are requirements for building security, kits cannot be visible from outside the office, there must be physical security, there must be security cameras at all entrances. 

 

Many companies have limits that Internet access be controlled in specific ways, with logging as a bare minimum. Even though a person can still leak the code through their favorite tools, it can potentially be tracked to corporate network logs. Unlikely to track, but still possible.  They may ask 'which person had access to the code base around this date, and which of those had large internet transfers over that time window, now pull up the logs for each of the connections they made'....  quickly drilling it down to an account.

 

Meetings are generally better in person, hallway conversations are better and more fruitful.  There are some people who won't work or can't work from home for myriad of reasons, anything including too many distractions, not enough supervision, or simple lack of motivation. 

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@ Tom

Right,

I guess this goes back to my observation of needing to appear in a professional stance at ALL times, regardless of the platform and distance to the job. (in the what gun to use when looking for a job thread)

(I actively decided to post this in this section, not "breaking into the industry" since this is more of a discussion, than an asking for advice.)

 

Unless your actively or passively evaluating me or others for work,  then I don't see the issue.

 

I get it, your telling me the term evokes a meaning of "meat to the slaughter", that is not the intended interpretation of the word, that is not it's given meaning.

It's meaning is meant to be referring to the contrast of physicality represented by flesh and bone, vs. the digital trail and existence.

 

Look beyond the word to it's meaning, for example, I used to be a recruiter for a few years, and I jokingly called it human trafficking for a short time. 

 

If I actually saw people and talent in such a negative light, I'd be turning my back on all my production experience and education in psychology.

 

I'd have to be a strict actuary or purely #s driven business person, who seems people as nothing more than #s on a spreadsheet / $s

 

I'm the furthest away from that.

 

If it really bothers you so much,  then find a better term and replace it in my OP and title.

 

My tone of the OP was a bit more remote biased, I admit that.

 

It's also interesting no one else in the thread brought it up, until you made an issue of it...

 

Getting back to requirements to be in the office, there are other important aspects to consider.....

 

Meetings are generally better in person, hallway conversations are better and more fruitful.  There are some people who won't work or can't work from home for myriad of reasons, anything including too many distractions, not enough supervision, or simple lack of motivation.

 

Indeed valid concerns,

But I'd go as far as to propose remote work isn't for those people who have the above in excess.

 

It likely has a lot to do with environmental triggers, and a said above, if the person is more extroverted or introverted. 

 

Example:

My friend who works at Cisco in IT invited us to Starbucks the other week. Since they let her "work from home".

 

I was wondering why she invited us, and then I realized, we were there to help distract her from her work.

 

She told me how she prefers the office a lot more,  and has a really hard time working outside it.

 

I'm used to working wherever, whenever, given the availability of the people I'm working with, regardless of the time of day.

 

Guess that's what remote work does to you.

 

Reminds me of this other thing I read a bit ago, how a lot of business people are tired of  being available "whenever" , and are exchanging their smart phones for flip phones.

 

Well,

 

When it comes to "supervision", isn't it interesting that some people can't work, unless they are being  directly supervised?

And, some managers Can't supervise, unless they are right there in the office with you?

Edited by GeneralJist

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When it comes to "supervision", isn't it interesting that some people can't work, unless they are being directly supervised?
And, some managers Can't supervise, unless they are right there in the office with you?


This is actually very true in my experience.

The kind of people who can be managed by a manager who isn't present are the kind of people who would also work well remotely or from home.

This style of work isn't for everyone as unfortunately not everyone has a strong work ethic, loves their job, or will work without direct supervision.

It's a case of "when the cats away the mice shall play", and given the chance perhaps half of people ive worked with might take that chance to slack off and production drops. These things can't really be dealt with by actively monitoring staff as this engenders mistrust and takes up valuable time, nobody wants to be micro manged.

Remote working is the complete opposite of being micro managed, you're given a task and a deadline and how you manage your time and resources to meet that deadline is up to you.

In all honesty some poeple love to work like this and many others simply can't. I prefer to work from home, but I find myself working for an organisation where things simply don't happen as effectively if I do.

I think if everyone could work from home without direct supervision as a software developer or gamedev everyone would be, as it's magnitudes cheaper for the employer.

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I get it, your [sic] telling me the term evokes a meaning of "meat to the slaughter",


No. I'm telling you the term takes intelligent creative people and refers to them as meat. Cattle. Sheep. They mindlessly go to the office to be warm bodies. Asses in seats. They're not intelligent creative people - they're just meat.

that is not the intended interpretation of the word, that is not it's given meaning. It's meaning is meant to be referring to the contrast of physicality represented by flesh and bone, vs. the digital trail and existence.


Seriously, you think I didn't understand that? Its intention is irrelevant to the connotations it carries. What I said before about saying "meat space" in an interview? If in an interview a candidate refers to the office as a "meat space," the interviewer will get the impression, rightfully or not, that the candidate doesn't have respect for office workers (thus would not fit in with the team).

I'm so glad you continued defending the term, so that I could go into more detail explaining my reaction to it.

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No. I'm telling you the term takes intelligent creative people and refers to them as meat. Cattle. Sheep. They mindlessly go to the office to be warm bodies. Asses in seats. They're not intelligent creative people - they're just meat.

 

No, that's a direct interpretation of the term, irrespective of the actual intended meaning.

 

It's like if someone tried to make the case to you, that your name means peeping "Tom", on the action verb of a snowy bank "Sloper", that your actively skiing.

 

Or,

 

If I ask you what time of day it is, and you say "knight time", and I get upset since knights hypothetically killed my dog.

 

or

 

telling me the saying, "a bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush", is an inhumane hunting practice of keeping a bird trapped in your palm, is equal to allowing 2 birds to be free in a bush.

 

Seriously, you think I didn't understand that? Its intention is irrelevant to the connotations it carries. What I said before about saying "meat space" in an interview? If in an interview a candidate refers to the office as a "meat space," the interviewer will get the impression, rightfully or not, that the candidate doesn't have respect for office workers (thus would not fit in with the team). I'm so glad you continued defending the term, so that I could go into more detail explaining my reaction to it.

 

Wow really?

 

Intentions always matter, along with the context

 

Your taking my words out of context, stripping them of intentions, dressing them in a suit, and telling me  your personal interpretations of this term should dictate how I and others speak on a semi professional gaamedev forum. 

 

Last I checked, we're not in an interview, and I didn't submit this thread in a job application.

 

Your trying to moderate something that's out  of your platform, my personal thoughts during an interview. 

 

Yes, I agree with you, "meat space" should not be used in an interview. 

 

Nor do I think of people of any background as cattle.

 

The only possible way I could see how this term would have the meaning your giving it is in context of factory work, where your meaning would indeed be an accurate misconception, reflected in the term itself.

 

I am also glad for this back and forth, since it does also give me a way to better articulate my meaning, and the context of the word, and how I've usually seen it used.

 

But, striping any term out of context..

 

look,

If I made the case to you that "stripping" words out of context meant having indecent naked words, without proper punctuation or divine capitalization....

 

Or

 

How "Remote" would mean that the worker is a mindless slave to the device they are using, since they are acting not to the actions of anyone nearby, but actions of people far away, isn't that insidious mind control on a global scale?

 

 

Remote working is the complete opposite of being micro managed, you're given a task and a deadline and how you manage your time and resources to meet that deadline is up to you.

 

I very much like all of your post,

 

Couldn't the case also be made that many workers in our society can't handle that kind of unstructured freedom?

 

Remember,

 

Our last full revolution was the industrial revolution, where people were, "meat" as Tom likes to misinterpret the phrase we been debating over.

 

The Industrial model treats people like machines, yet now we have "machines", as in our automation revolution.

 

Many have of-course already heralded that our society is in the information age, but I'd say most can't ponder and adjust to the ramifications, until the tail end of any given shift.

 

The core issue that our society has right now, is that there are too many revolutions going on, mainly brought about  by technology, yet, some are trying to hold technology as a static variable, when it's a dynamic one.

 

How it all effects "work" gets at the heart of how most people spend their time, at work.

 

 

 

This style of work isn't for everyone as unfortunately not everyone has a strong work ethic, loves their job, or will work without direct supervision.

 

But when we seek work, that is unfulfilling, in everything except the financial aspect, are we really doing work worth doing?

 

I've always known my brother was motivated by finance and status, he even confirmed it to me today actually, yet he's going to med school to be a doctor.

 

I wounder if he will be happy and satisfied down the line, my gut says no, but if we took the dangerous path of saying intentions don't matter, just the result, we could propose that he will be fine, given just his effort and payout.

 

Will he continue  to have the same work ethic if some of his job is automatized?

 

will wanting the reward and loving that feeling spill over into loving his actual job?

 

Will he continue, even if doctors may make less as a result?

 

These are rhetorical, but the questions of why work remain.

 

 

 

In all honesty some poeple love to work like this and many others simply can't. I prefer to work from home, but I find myself working for an organisation where things simply don't happen as effectively if I do.

 

Now, is that effectiveness due to the proportion of inperson VS. remote worker?

 

Perhaps the tools and dependencies remote workers are dealing with, vs. in person systems?

 

or countless other variables....

 

Do you mean both effectiveness and efficiency?  or just effectiveness?

(One has to do with the quality, while the other has to do with the quantity of work)

 

 

 

I think if everyone could work from home without direct supervision as a software developer or gamedev everyone would be, as it's magnitudes cheaper for the employer.

 

Right,

no doubt, remote works very well for our technical fields, but what about others?

 

I was working for a nonprofit for a year, and many times I was at my prefab table, with my laptop, looking around the office, many days would go by with few communications to co-workers, and still got all my work done.

 

I would many a time wounder why there was not as many purely remote nonprofits, if any.

 

I mean, the amount of cost to just rent our space...

 

I guess, the main drawback would be we're serving under privileged people,  and new immigrants, many of which don't have the resources or skill to use computers (not a generalization, it was true in Houston's china town.)

 

But for other nonprofits who don't need to have such contact....

 

 

 

It's a case of "when the cats away the mice shall play", and given the chance perhaps half of people ive worked with might take that chance to slack off and production drops. These things can't really be dealt with by actively monitoring staff as this engenders mistrust and takes up valuable time, nobody wants to be micro manged.

 

But aren't most of us hypothetically adults?

 

Of course, micromanagement is not the solution, but why are we paying people money, and in many cases big money, if they can't be trusted to manage themselves?

 

No I know, it's not that simple, and many people want to put the least in, for the most amount out, but is it them? or is it our society that allows for and rewards this behavior?

 

I have a sneaking suspicion  that many of our incentive systems in our society, and mainly work in particular, aren't actually aligned with each other, or the full diversity of human nature.

 

Isn't there something wrong when making money and doing good for others and society are mainly opposed?

 

Sure, that's how you make shure people are doing it for the subjective "right" reasons, but when teachers make less than most everyone, and are near the bottom of the status hierarchy...

 

Why is it that those with the most potential direct human impact make the least, but those with the most potential mass passing human impact make the most?

 

"survival" can't be the answer here, like it's seemingly everywhere else, can it?

Edited by GeneralJist

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Kinda seriously irritating that the "meat space" thing is dragging on. Can't read those...

 

Anyway frob raised some very important security considerations (and also software licenses issues). 

 

Also how about the very important issues of costs? I've always imagined remote working helps the smaller companies by cutting out the enormous cost of an office space with all the work-place insurance thing. For this reason I've always thought its a no-brainer that technology will catch up and remote working is the future

 

And talking of the future how about the impact of the latest VR technologies, How would these AR/VR techs affect remote working? Is VR tele-presence still a non-starter in this context? 

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ok, sorry.

Anyways,

Wouldn't that be the ultimate twist?

 

Using VR/AR to work remotely in a digitized in person office?

 

Either in an actual office, a computer generated one, or some hybrid of both?

 

I've actually never thought of that before now. (I'm not that up on VR/AR tho)

 

Hmmm

 

We're likely really far from that.

 

I mean, we just recently had remote working go mainstream and people have adjusted to it's pros and cons for working, but asking for VR/AR and hybridizing the systems? Might be too complex right now.

 

over all,

 

Part of the big potential for remote working is it can limit,reduce or eliminate initial visual biases, melting everyone down to their words and actions, I'd think that eliminating that, or reducing that would be a big mistake, and a step in the wrong direction.

Edited by GeneralJist

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Also how about the very important issues of costs? I've always imagined remote working helps the smaller companies by cutting out the enormous cost of an office space with all the work-place insurance thing. For this reason I've always thought its a no-brainer that technology will catch up and remote working is the future

 

Yes, you can save costs as an employer by working at home in the same way a BYOD policy might save money too.

 

However, there is a calculated risk to this; if you choose to allow an employee to work from home, using their own equipment, you have to also have policies, and vpn setup etc that ensures that they don't "mix work and pleasure" on the same device. For example, configuring the gateway to go through the vpn whilst ever they are connected to work, policies to ensure that antivirus is installed and up to date, checked by the vpn client etc, correct paperwork signed to indicate the employee accepts the responsibilities of working from home that go way beyond simple time management skills etc.

 

A rogue employee is harder to detect if theyre using their own equipment. Imagine what would happen if an AAA studio had a rogue home worker, who decided to leak the entire source tree, or worse, they weren't rogue but were hacked because their home network security was lax.

 

It would be far easier to attack this low hanging fruit than attempt to attack the studio itself and i'm sure this would scare many studios out of allowing home work, out of paranoia of source code and asset theft...

 

Not to mention licensing abuse. What happens if an employee decides to create some projects in their off hours, they spend some time outside of work hours creating their own projects, assets etc which they then sell on (for example) gamedev marketplace, or turbosquid. The problem is, they use the software licensed to "XYZ Studio Ltd" which was provided to them by the studio and installed to their personal PC for remote working. Sure, they did this in their own time, but they used "equipment" which was company equipment which puts both employee and employer in a sticky legal situation should the game be released. Remember, such software is even things like a microsoft office 365 installation, which could be used to send and receive personal emails about personal projects etc on a separate account in a separate outlook profile. It doesn't just have to be things like design packages and game engines.

 

Edit: I know of someone who occaisionally works from home for a large UK company (tens of thousands of employees). They give him their VPN enabled router, with a site to site vpn, which only talks to their laptop which he doenst have admin access to, which he can't use on his own network at all (it's configured to only use ipsec, with various other policies). I've known some places go one step further and provide a specific work-only internet connection separate from their own personal one. With each new thing you provide that employee, those potential savings for allowing remote working bit by bit are eroded away.

 

Thoughts?

Edited by Brain

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Hmm,

 

Well, one of the big barriers to entry for some is the cost of the software.

 

Maybe hour logging built in to the software?

 

Something that at most basic, detects "approved" file names? And designated working hours?

 

But that would get invasive, and potentially breach privacy.

 

Maybe an addendum in contracts that say any non approved asset creation is operable to a sir charge or a cut above X $ value if sold.

or a simple deduction of an agreed upon deduction of wages based on the net balance of  the sold work?

Edited by GeneralJist

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Maybe an addendum in contracts

 

Maybe slightly off topic:

 

Well, some places (mostly outside the UK, in the US) have something in the employment contract that says anything you create, even outside of your work hours, while you work for your employer that you create in your employer's business sector are property of your employer.

 

In the UK as i recall something like this is dubious with regards to human rights etc, and separation of work and personal life, and may not stand up in court, but i'm no lawyer. After all, if you build an extension to your own house outside of work hours and youre a builder, does your employer then own a share of your home? But, if you signed it, youre bound by it, and it's hard to worm your way out of it. Always read what you sign!

Edited by Brain

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