Here’s a short video with Matt Mullenweg, founder and CEO of Automattic*. He talks a bit about lessons he’s learned in running a distributed company, and why he calls his workforce distributed rather than remote.
These are his tips for physical companies interested in transitioning to distributed work:
- Document everything – so that key information like the reasons for decisions are clear to those who weren’t in the room.
- Move communications online – “when everything’s shared and public, it allows new people to read through and catch up quickly.”
- Find the right tools – “If you look around the office, the things that change how you work probably aren’t objects anymore – they’re things you access through your computer. So test out and experiment with different tools for collaboration – see what works.”
- Create productive face-to-face time -Automattic holds an annual get together “half-work, half-play” to create the empathy and connection that helps the distributed team work together productively for the rest of the year.
- Give people the flexibility to create their own work environment – “Every person in Automattic has a co-working stipend… and a home-office stipend… so that they can have the most productive environment for them.
I feel wary of losing the connection and accountability that in-person work allows, but there’s a long list of potential upsides here – including a wider talent pool, greater diversity of perspectives, more time and flexibility for employees, huge savings on office space and other overheads that can be spent on other things – that make it worth thinking more deeply about this.
Today there are just a few companies that are distributed first, but if you fast-forward a decade or two I predict that 90% of the companies that are going to changing the course of the world are going to function this way. I think that companies will evolve to be distributed first, or they’re going to replace those that are.Matt Mullenweg
See also: easier tomorrow
*the company which, among other things, makes WordPress.