Magento does recommend using client-side less compilation? Just... where did you read about it? For sure not on the official webpage of magento :)
It says few things about the compilation.
You don't need the node-js to do the server-side compilation.
Depending on your configuration, there's a few folders you might need to clear before your changes are caught. Are you using server-side or client-side rendering? Are you in production mode, default mode or developer mode?
Assuming you are in production mode, most likely you need to empty the following folder
var/view_preprocessed and var/cache.
I usually ...