Not even remotely possible

TechCrunch | 8/13/2017 | Jon Evans
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Down with the tyranny of geography. Down with commuting, “the daily activity most injurious to human happiness.” Down with allegedly “collaborative” open floor plans built such that “high-level executives […] are exempt from this collaborative environment.” Up with more time, greater flexibility, and, believe it or not, higher productivity.

I’m talking about remote work, of course, a subject that provokes surprising vituperation whenever I write about it. (Armchair-psychologist theory: people get very angry at notions which imply they have spent much of their lives needlessly making themselves very unhappy.) It’s also a subject I know more than a little something about: we at HappyFunCorp have been building software with all-remote and/or partly-remote teams for seven years now. I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t.

Presence - Code - Meetings - Communications - Magic

What doesn’t work includes confusing physical presence with checked-in code, or in-person meetings with productive communications, or valuing the starry-eyed magic of “serendipitous collisions” above all else and/or common sense. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying remote work is a panacea. It too has its failure modes. But the assumption that its failure modes are worse than those of office work, just because office work is the historical default, is sheer intellectual laziness.

We at HFC do have a headquarters in Brooklyn, where a plurality of us labor, but I’ve worked successfully with teams scattered across New Delhi, Milan, New York, Berlin, Campina Grande, and San Francisco. In this era of Slack, Skype, and Github, a team of a dozen capable people across a dozen time zones can run like a well-oiled machine.

Time - Rent - Evidence - Teams - Ones

Quite apart from the time and rent saved, there’s growing evidence that remote teams can be more productive than in-person ones. Consider: “We found massive, massive improvement in performance — a 13% improvement in performance from people working at home.” Consider companies like Automattic, Gitlab, InVision,...
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