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  • feedwordpress 20:28:47 on 2020/05/21 Permalink
    Tags: Asides,   

    Gradually, Then Suddenly 


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    The two main theses of my professional career have been that distributed is the future of work, and that open source is the future of technology and innovation. I’ve built Automattic and WordPress around these, and it’s also informed my investments and hobbies. Just today, we announced an investment into a distributed, open source, and encrypted communication company called New Vector.

    On the distributed front, the future of work has been arriving quickly. This week, a wave of companies representing over $800B in market capitalization announced they’re embracing distributed work beyond what’s required by the pandemic:

    Change happens slowly, then all at once.

    The forces that enable working in a distributed fashion have been in motion for decades, and if you talk to anyone who was working in technology in the ’60s and ’70s they expected this to happen much sooner. Stephan Wolfram has been a remote CEO for 28 years. Automattic has been distributed-first for 15 years.

    What’s been holding us back is fear of the unknown, and attachment to the familiar. I can’t tell you how many of the investors I see espousing distributed work who once told me that Automattic would never scale past a few dozen people unless we brought everyone into an office. Or the CEOs who said this would never work for them, now proclaiming their company hasn’t missed a beat as tens of thousands of people started working from home.

    What’s going to be newsworthy by the end of the year is not technology companies saying they’re embracing distributed work, but those that aren’t. Those who thought this couldn’t work have been forced by the pandemic to do it anyway, and they’ve now seen that it’s possible.

    It was probably terrible at first, but now two or three months in it’s gotten better. We’ve learned and adapted, and will continue to do so. I promise you if you stick with it, you’ll progress up through the levels of distributed autonomy. Over time people will be able to move houses, tweak furniture, buy equipment, upgrade their internet, and otherwise adapt to being more productive in a distributed environment than they ever could be in an office. Products and services are being developed all around the world that will make it even better. I’m so excited about how a majority of the economy going distributed will improve people’s quality of life, and unlock incredible creativity and innovation at work. (They go hand in hand.)

    At some point, we’ll break bread with our colleagues again, and that will be glorious. I can’t wait. But along the way we’ll discover that things we thought were impossible were just hard at first, and got easier the more we did it. Some will return the physically co-working with strangers, and some employers trapped in the past will force people to go to offices, but forever the illusion that the office was about work will be shattered, and companies that hold on to that legacy will be replaced by companies who embrace the antifragile nature of distributed organizations.

     
  • feedwordpress 17:55:45 on 2020/04/27 Permalink
    Tags: Asides   

    Tulsa Remote Worker Experiment 


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    Sarah Holder at Citylab has an interesting article on a program that paid people $10,000, a year of co-working, and a subsidized apartment to move to Tulsa, Oklahoma.

    Traditionally, cities looking to spur their economies may offer incentives to attract businesses. But at a time when Americans are moving less frequently than they have in more than half a century, and the anticlimactic race to host an Amazon HQ2 soured some governments on corporate tax breaks, Tulsa is one of several locales testing out a new premise:  Pay people instead.

    I love this idea, and hope that after the permanent step-up in remote work from the virus we see much more internal mobility between cities in the United States.

     
  • feedwordpress 03:26:48 on 2020/03/19 Permalink
    Tags: Asides   

    Physical Distancing 


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    I’ve really had enough of this term “social distancing.” That is not at all what we are looking for, is it? It should be “physical distancing.” In these times of rampant loneliness (especially for seniors), disconnection, and lack of empathy and compassion, we need the opposite — social connecting. And we need it under these circumstances more than ever. Let’s be creative in finding new ways to come together.

    Adam Gazzaley, M. D., Ph. D, University of California, San Francisco

     
  • feedwordpress 03:26:48 on 2020/03/19 Permalink
    Tags: Asides   

    Physical Distancing 


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    I’ve really had enough of this term “social distancing.” That is not at all what we are looking for, is it? It should be “physical distancing.” In these times of rampant loneliness (especially for seniors), disconnection, and lack of empathy and compassion, we need the opposite — social connecting. And we need it under these circumstances more than ever. Let’s be creative in finding new ways to come together.

    Adam Gazzaley, M. D., Ph. D, University of California, San Francisco

     
  • feedwordpress 03:21:15 on 2020/03/17 Permalink
    Tags: Asides   

    Business as Usual in The Information 


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    The Information wrote Business as Usual — Remotely, which includes “85% of its 900 employees working from their homes” Hashicorp, which just raised $175M at a $5.1B valuation today. (I have to get them on Distributed.) Here’s my part:

    A survey of American workers by the polling firm Gallup found that in 2016 43% of employees worked remotely at least some of the time, up from 39% in 2012. Of those remote workers, almost a third spent 80% or more of their time working remotely in 2016, compared to 24% in 2012. In computer-related professions, 57% did some remote work in 2016, according to Gallup. 

    That includes tech companies like Automattic, which makes WordPress and other software products and has been almost entirely remote since it was founded in 2005. At one point, it opened a large office in San Francisco for employees who preferred a more traditional work environment, but it got rid of that space in 2016 because of how little people used it.  

    “We had this 15,000-square-foot place with only five people coming into it,” said Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Automattic, which acquired Tumblr last year. 

    Now Automattic rents only one small co-working space in a WeWork suite in New York  and uses another small office in San Francisco exclusively for board meetings. It manages its remote workforce using Slack and Zoom and gives new employees $2,000 so they can purchase home office equipment. 

    Employees can also get up to $250 per month for access to a co-working space or for daily coffees at a local coffee shop. But Mullenweg says only about 300 of the company’s 1,200 employees chose to work somewhere other than a home office.

    “I hope there can be a silver lining to this crisis, which we all hope is over as soon as possible, that enables people to reexamine how they work and how they interact with things and improve it,” said Mullenweg. “I’m happy to spread the gospel wherever possible for distributed work. I think it’s better for companies, employees, the environment and the world. There are very few downsides.” 

    The Information is a worthwhile subscription if you’re in the tech business.

     
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