I enjoyed listening to Matt Mullenweg’s pitch for why distributed work is just plain good. It’s a TED video on Facebook that apparently I can’t embed here.
I started remote work in 2007 (I remember cause I keep a timeline) when I told my boss at the time that I wanted to live in a different city and that I could either continue to do my job from there, and that I suspected it would be no big deal), or I’d have to leave. Sort of a threat, but I didn’t mean it that way, it just was how things needed to go down for me and I actually really wanted to keep the job. He agreed, and I worked there for a solid three years. I’d like to think I really leveled up their ability to do web work for clients.
Even when I left there, I went to Wufoo, and we all worked from home as well, which really locked in the idea that I was probably going to do this forever. Ironically my next step was a job where I was required to go in, and I’d say that’s the main reason I left after only a year.
In those sort of “early days” of working remotely, it wasn’t as technologically enabled as it is now. I remember that the #1 way we kept in touch was AOL Instant Messanger, which feels bananas to me now, but I also remember that it was largely fine. We did work, we talked, the end. But I was working with very small teams building things with far less complexity than we are now.
It’s these tools that seem to me have blown the gate off of remote work for tech teams:
- Zoom: seemingly the only video conferencing that almost always works. When you can talk, see each other, and screenshare reliably, it makes a big difference.
- Slack: Team chat, but like, for real.
- Notion: Like Matt says in the video above: document everything. This is how I use it.
Those are the newfangled tools on top of classic enablers like Git and, my all-time favorite: email.
Matt says “fast-forward a decade or two and 90% of companies will be remote first”. I wonder if that’s a conservative estimate.