Nerd Corner #65

Remote work, rationality, comics, bridges ...

What I am Reading 📚

Last week I tried (in vain) to empty my reading inbox. Here are the top articles I read:

  • In Praise of the Gods. Simon Sarris is one of my favorite Twitter follows. His ideas are fresh and his pictures of homesteading in New Hampshire are soothing to the point of nostalgia. This essay makes the case against pure rationalism and advocates for a return to the mythical and religious that can be best summed up in his own words:

"Rational insight is a powerful tool, and one of our worst excesses Virtue lies in giving things their proper place. To lack reason is to be inhuman. To rely on it solely is to be disembodied. "


Nerd Corner 🤓

You can also read this directly on my blog

Remote work came under the spotlight when COVID-19 turned into a pandemic earlier this year. But is it here to stay? Will our homes become our offices forever?

Not too long ago, the idea of remote work seemed like a faraway dream for most knowledge workers. All but a few companies—Automattic, Basecamp, Gitlab, Buffer come to mind—already operated in a fully-remote fashion.

But as Matt Wullenbeg said: "change happens slowly, then all at once" *. Within a few weeks of the lockdown around the world, most companies shifted to remote work and Zoom became the new household name. Necessity can be a huge catalyst for change.

This is probably old news for you. But with more companies making a full transition to remote work and a lot of us reminiscing about our office days, filled with nice coffee breaks and chats with colleagues, the big question remains: What is the future of remote work?

Some say they'll never go back to the office. Others can't wait to return. I'm somewhere in between.

On one side the advantages of face-to-face interactions can't be denied. Call it “serendipity" or just availability, working in the same physical space as your coworkers can motivate you more and foster collaboration. So much so that in the past Yahoo banned remote work, and Netflix CEO thinks "there are no positives" to remote work. Plus all the perks most tech-workers grew used to and now miss: free barista coffee, catered lunches (and dinners), happy hours, dinner parties, etc.

On the other hand, there are things like long commutes, less flexibility, and constant interruptions. It used to take me ~35 minutes to drive to my office, don't miss it at all!

In my own remote work adventure, I've noticed that it is way easier for me to concentrate at home so I can squeeze a "normal" 8-hour day into 4-5 really focused hours. This leaves a lot of time for me to recharge, explore other things, do more research, read, and workout. All things I couldn't do before because one is expected to be physically present for ~8 hours even when one has no work to do. This highlights the incongruence that we still use principles from hourly work to measure the productivity of knowledge workers. But also, working from home requires more discipline to set boundaries between work and play. Otherwise, we risk working longer than usual.

So, what is the future of remote work? While I'm not one for making predictions here's what it seems it will be like: a hybrid system, we'll have the best of both worlds.

We'll be able to work from home whenever we want and we'll have offices and/or co-working spaces that we can use whenever we need to have face to face interactions. Some will just go back to their old Monday-Friday 9-5 routine, but for a lot of us, the flexibility to work from anywhere that we gained during these months (ironic, I know) has been such a game-changer that going back to normal doesn't feel completely right. In the end, all we need is a computer and fast Internet.

What has been your experience?
How are you envisioning the future of work in your industry? I'm curious to hear more so hit reply to this email or join this conversation on Twitter!


Cool Finds 🤯

  • This animation showing how bridges were built in the Middle Ages will blow your mind away.

  • And this one shows how fast different planets spin. Days here on Earth feel so short some times that I can't even imagine what a 9-hour day would look like. We'd sleep every third day more or less 😂.

  • News are mostly exaggerated interpretations of a few facts:


Before you go 😎

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And, if you come across anything interesting this week, send it my way. I love discovering new things through Nerd Corner readers!

Have an awesome week!
Alberto