Pay Less

October 10, 2019

TL;DR Pay devs 1/2 or 1/3 what on-site workers need. Let them work away from cities where rent is much cheaper. Hire 2 or 3 times the number of devs. Your business is more successful because more workers. Your workers are happier because less weight on their shoulders (they’re still able to pay bills and save a bit every month). Hire within your country so you don’t have to wade through homeless people everywhere you go. Everyone but landlords are much happier.

Companies pay $100–$200k for full-stack Node/React developers. And then, to get their money’s worth out of that developer, they make that developer work way more than they bargained for.

How do they make the worker work more?

  1. The company will ask for an estimate on how long Xyz feature will take.
  2. The developer will theorize how long it will take, and then make A GUESS.
  3. The developer will then reach for some tool he has used in the past, and combine it with another tool, and they will blow up. OR the developer will simply be working with something completely new to them. Both of these scenarios are common with almost every single feature a developer works on.
  4. The developer will then work to debug this. It might take 5 minutes. It might take 5 days.
  5. The company, now angry for paying $150k for a developer who “can’t meet deadlines”, will guilt the developer into working overtime.

The developer will work late, or ignore his family, or make a myriad of other sacrifices to try to catch up. But it is an impossible task because right before he catches up, another 5 minute bug turns into a 5 day bug. These bugs compound, and they appear more frequently because the developer is sleep deprived and has a thousand other errands on his mind that he has been ignoring to focus on catching up.

There is literally no way to accurately estimate how long something will take. Many developers simply multiply whatever their real estimate was by 3, and give that as an estimate. If they finish early, they fill the rest of the time either watching YouTube, or take a day making a README commit.

So we have:

How is this system functional?

It’s not. The tech industry constantly has unfilled positions that they are trying to fill by outsourcing (usually illegally).

I began thinking about all these things and I think the problem is landlords. Hear me out. Landlords in tech hub cities (like San Francisco, Seattle, etc.) realize big tech companies make a ton of money. So they jack up rent (which immediately makes a ton of middle class people homeless), and tech companies end up paying for it because now, to have anyone working on-site, that on-site worker has to earn $200k JUST TO PAY RENT. These big city hipster kids aren’t rolling in the dough. They’re doing well and can save a bit, but they’re not filthy rich by any means because rent is too damn high.

So this is depressing. Homeless populations skyrocket because no one can afford homes anymore. Hipster developers are paying $2,000 a month to rent out a broom closet. Outsourcing to other countries usually results in a worse product, and the more money we export to other countries, the worse our own country becomes. It all just seems inhuman.

So what’s the solution? Glad you asked!

The Solution: Pay Less and Outsource as Locally as Possible

Working on-site sucks. Every survey in the past decade confirms that almost everything about working on-site makes workers less efficient and more miserable:

So hire remotely.

“But you said outsourcing is bad” True. But I think it’s dependent on distance. If you let someone work remotely down the block from the office, then you’re still paying their landlords $200k and on your commute to work you’ll pass by thousands of homeless people you’ve gentrified. If you hire someone in India, then you’ll have the same local homeless problem, but you’ll see more-and-more local businesses close their doors because no locals can afford to shop there.

Without noticing, you have isolated yourself to your home. You no longer want to go outside because of all the homeless people. You no longer meet up with friends at bars or restaurants, because they don’t exist, or they’ve turned into trash because they had to cut corners to stay open.

So pay half, or even a third as much, and hire 2 or 3 remote workers, as locally as possible. This fixes all of the problems I mentioned above.

Pros for workers:

Pros for companies:

Cons for workers:

Cons for companies:

I will never work for a huge paycheck. It hurts our entire industry. It makes employees’ lives absolutely miserable. It hurts employers with missed deadlines and having to pay huge salaries. It forces big tech to lobby for more outsourcing (which will further decimate a country’s middle class).