More businesses are starting out bringing on the best talent they can find—wherever they may be based.
When Matt Mullenweg started his semi-eponymous web development company Automattic in 2005, he took what was then considered a very unconventional, even unwise, approach. Rather than opening an office and luring talented people to Houston—where he was, and still is, based—he hired people from around the world with the skills he needed. And then he let them work from home.
While this was a paid promotional piece for UpWork in the Wall Street Journal, it’s still a good article. Remote is becoming a necessity to reach out to get the best talent. We all don’t have the ability to move around to follow where jobs are. I live in a situation where I live between two major metropolises where many jobs are, but they are too far to commute–especially for a mom of a special needs kid (okay, he’s a young adult now, but that doesn’t change things much). I also work in a field where much of the work is solo–it’s writing and coding and thinking, which requires quieter environments. Does this mean that I’m not a team player? Of course not! Just like in the office, due to advances in technology, I can easy call, IM, text, email, or have an online conference call complete with video and audio and sharing computer screens globally. Matt Mullenweg has built one of the largest and most respected tech companies based on this–why can’t others? Are they afraid of losing control, or are they afraid of having happier and smarter workers? Either way, the flexibility of remote work is still a strongly viable way to go.
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I definitely agree about the viability of working remotely. The best people won’t always live within commuting distance, and we have good technology, so why not?
If you’re interested in the culture at Automattic, I highly recommend Scott Berkun’s A Year Without Pants, in which he describes what it was like to work there. Working remotely isn’t a panacea, and you have to make accommodations for the fact that you rarely, if ever, see your colleagues face to face. But on the whole, a remote workforce has more pluses than minuses, and more and more I think that smart, top-notch workers are demanding the option to work remotely.