At Voxeet, we spend our days thinking about the nature of collaborative work and developing solutions to facilitate it. We hear a lot about how collaboration tools like ours will drive the move toward a more distributed workforce, and about the advantages—and the drawbacks—that this move presents.
To sidestep some of those drawbacks, some older, larger companies—like Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard—are doubling down on more traditional, butts-in-desk-chairs models. But increasingly, companies seem to be leaving traditional office models behind, many with great success. In a 2012 Forbes article, J.J. Colao points to Automattic (of WordPress fame) as one such company:
As a legacy of its open-source roots its 120 employees are spread across 26 countries and six continents. Although most work alone at home, each team—usually made up of five or six people—has a generous budget to travel. “All of the money we save on office space, we blow on travel costs,” Mullenweg laughs. Groups have gathered in Hawaii, Mexico and New Zealand. Once a year everyone meets for a week at an accessible destination with a solid Internet connection. A distributed workforce means Automattic can hire talent from around the world—without having to offer the perks and pay of Google, Facebook and Apple.
Matt Mullenweg, Automattic’s founder, believes that this type of distributed model is “the future of work.” We happen to agree. More and more, we see the workforce becoming a place where successful companies hire the best people anywhere, not just the ones who happen to be available in their market. Where employee pay, flexibility and happiness increase as overhead costs and commute times decrease. Where the real benefits of working with an exceptional team doing something you’re passionate about from anywhere in the world trump trivial perks like pool tables and beer fridges.
Do you agree? How do you see work evolving in your world?