Why working from home is good for business | The Way We Work, a TED series


The basic problem
with working in an office is you’re just not in control
of your work environment. [The Way We Work] Howdy, my name is Matt,
and I’m the CEO of Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com,
Jetpack and WooCommerce. We’re coming up on over 800 employees,
and they live everywhere, from California to Alabama, Mississippi,
to where I live in Texas. They’re also in 67 countries. Canada, Mexico, India, New Zealand. Some of them choose not even
to have a home base, they’re nomads. Whether they are in RVs
or traveling through Airbnbs, they are in new places
every day, week or month. As long as they can find good Wi-Fi,
we don’t care where they are. Our focus on distributed work
didn’t happen accidentally. It was a conscious choice
from the very beginning. Notice I don’t use the word “remote,” because it sets up the expectation, that some people are essential
and some aren’t. I use the word “distributed”
to describe what we do, where everyone is
on an equal playing field. I think a distributed workforce is the most effective way
to build a company. The key is you have to
approach it consciously. When we started WordPress, many of the first 20 hires
were people I’d never met in person. But we’d collaborated online,
sometimes for years. I wanted to continue that
for one simple reason. I believe that talent and intelligence are equally distributed
throughout the world. But opportunity is not. In Silicon Valley,
the big tech companies fish from essentially
the same small pond or bay. A distributed company
can fish from the entire ocean. Instead of hiring someone who grew up
in Japan but lives in California, you can gain someone who lives, works, wakes up and goes to sleep
wherever they are in the world. They bring a different
understanding of that culture and a different lived experience. At the base of the decision
to go distributed, there’s a desire to give people autonomy
over how they do their work. Unless you’re in a role
where specific hours are important, you can make your own schedule. Everyone can have a corner office,
their windows, the food they want to eat, you can choose when there’s music
and when there’s silence. You can choose what temperature
the room should be. You can save the time
you’d spend commuting and put it into things
that are important to you. A distributed workforce
is ideal for a technology company. But people often ask me, “This works great for y’all,
but what about everyone else?” If you have an office, you can do a few things
to build distributed capability. First: document everything. In an office, it’s easy
to make decisions in the moment, in the kitchen, in the hall. But if people work remotely and some members of the team
are having those conversations they don’t have access to, they’ll see these decisions being made
without understanding the why. Always leave a trail of where you were
and what you were thinking about. This allows others to pick up
where you left off. It allows people in different
time zones to interact, it’s also great to think about
as an organization evolves, people leaving and people joining. Try to have as much communication
as possible online. When everything’s shared and public,
it allows new people to catch up quickly. You also need to find the right tools. There are so many apps and services
that help with day-to-day communication, video conferencing, project management. The things that changed how you work
probably aren’t objects anymore. They’re things you access
through your computer. So experiment with different
tools that enable collaboration, see what works. Create productive, face-to-face time. In a traditional office, you’re in the same place
48 weeks out of the year and you might have
three or four weeks apart. We try to flip that: we come together
for short, intense bursts. Once a year we do a grand meet-up where the entire company
comes together for a week. It’s half-work, half-play. The primary goal is connecting people. We want to make sure
everyone’s aligned and on the same page, and they have a deeper connection
with their colleagues. When they work together
the rest of the year, they can bring together
that understanding and empathy. And the final practice: give people the flexibility
to make their own work environment. Every person at Automattic
has a co-working stipend that they can put
towards a co-working space or just to buy coffee, so they don’t
get kicked out of the coffee shop. One group in Seattle
decided to pool their stipends together and rented a workspace on a fishing pier. Each person who joins the company
gets a home-office stipend. This is money they can invest
in getting the right chair, monitor, the right desk setup, so they can have
the most productive environment for them. Today, there are just a few companies
that are distributed first. In a decade or two,
I predict that 90 percent of companies that are going to be changing
the course of the world are going to function this way. They will evolve to be distributed first,
or they’ll be replaced by those that are. As you think about
what you’re going to build next, consider how you can tap
into global talent, give people autonomy to live and work
where they feel they should and still participate fully in whatever
it is that you’re creating together.

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43 thoughts on “Why working from home is good for business | The Way We Work, a TED series

  1. This is not news. But you did notmention "self dicepline", to work from home people must have self dicipline, most people dosent have it. People must also be social for getting energy to get the work done. Thats why many compaines let they eployees to work both from home and the office.

  2. One downside to working without an office is the isolation. In an office you have coworkers to interact with. Sure there are ways to mitigate this, like video conferencing, but it's not the same. There's no "hey let's go grab a drink after work" with your coworkers.

  3. Lol overly outgoing people are already complaining about not being able to socialize.
    Not everyone enjoys or even wants to socialize after work. No! I don't want to grab a beer… I just spend the whole day with you people, the last thing I want to do is spend my non paid free time with you. Working from home all the time would honestly be a dream!
    To the outgoing people complaining… Honestly, you can go play in traffic. 🙂🙂

  4. I think ideally both choices should be available… Sometimes u need to physically collaborate with you team to get stuff done other time you can work alone at home….

  5. As a business owner that has attempted the work at home concept locally my question is how do you maintain accountability? We had some problems with team members not doing so much work but were involved in other areas of their lives while on the clock.

  6. Couple of really hard things to understand – they did WHAT on a fishing pier?
    4:10 "I THINK?" that companies will be dist….
    Perfect, Matt — you're just a model of beardedness at whatever age!

  7. I just recently started a non-profit and really appreciate this video. We should be able to utilize some of these tips for all the work that goes into creating the videos we post to this channel. Thanks again!

  8. Could work well, if all the employees clearly understand the mission and the goals of the company. Where the managers do not have to push for results all the time.

    Distributed companies are able to grow faster, because they do not deal with local laws for hiring people. They pay on the pay by month basis. It's like a way around the bureaucracy.

    The better Internet access will make distributed companies more and more common on our planet !

  9. This is the lifestyle that I wanted, the freedom to live anywhere in the world. I love my current job but I'm stuck living at home because I'm in the tech hardware service field (field technician). I need to be physically at locations to fix things when somethings are not working. With all the free time I have I wish I can pick up and move but I can't go far in case I'm needed.

  10. Great thoughts shared!
    Been surely one of the most controversial and debatable topics in past few years.

    Due to numerous factors, circumstances or choices this might have prevailed or continued to prevail; the following was accomplished during this period too which is surely worth sharing with everyone.

    "Cost avoidance of $192,000.00 during this period. Building professional and personal relationships for short term and long term strategies, enablements as well as shared value propositions".

  11. I do love the idea of working from home as an office. However doing so requires so much structure and will power. After all the place you consider your 'relaxation zone' now could be a place of stress and your work-life line gets much more blurry when you work from home. People start to think you are available at all hours.

    I only work from home on Fridays, which is nice and in the future I'd want to have a system and more 'office' like workspace so I could increase the number of days I work from home each week.

    I waste so much time commuting so working from home 2 or 3 days of the week seems like a great way to get time back.

    Overall I'm conflicted on the idea, but I definitely think the pros beat the cons IF the person working from home is able to focus on working and is able to balance their work and life.

  12. Remote working opportunities are great for a work-life balance. As rightly pointed out in this video, not just the employees but also the employers are benefited at large. By stretching geographically, employers can hire the best quality resources from a vastly spread out talent pool.

  13. “Talent and intelligence are equally distributed throughout the world, but Opportunity is not” This is an amazing insight, if more companies adopted this mindset, they would find much more fulfilled employees.

  14. And some jobs like being a NANNY are severely cheapened You by working from your own home! For example I'm I can fetch 15$ to $55 (1 or 2 babies) an hour working outside of my home but the second I move my business into my home I need at least six babies/kids to make $30 an hour….

    The math that doesn't add up when you're paying for individualized personalized care of an infant.

    And that's not to mention all the service jobs, what a white collar bullshit story that doesn't apply to most of us!

  15. Exactly. Im a game developer and i choose to work remotely because i live in Iraq and in Iraq there are no game companies, so the best and most efficient way to for me is to work from home. At least for now, im planning on moving to another country😊

  16. I cant work from home… i cant concentrate when i hear my kid crying or asking for his time.
    If i am physically in office, then i m mentally in office. Same way speaker mentioned its better to hire japanese than a japanese born in california… its better to be in location… physically n mentally

  17. I work from home and it is a great experience. I'm willing to forgo better opportunities, just to stay here. I live in the country, but have 30mbs (somehow) wifi. One thing I have learned though is that it is nice to have colleagues in the office. For easy questions. Leave emails for business… text or skype chat (whatever) for other things. Use the web camera!

  18. Если хотите посмотреть это видео на русском:
    https://youtu.be/ee0rRRPUZ0U

  19. I work for a remote company that helps connect other remote workers so you aren't dealing with some of the problems people discuss here like being in isolation or loneliness. Traveling with the Hacker Paradise group is the only way I've been able to survive three years on the road without going crazy. The big benefit for me of doing this as opposed to just socializing with your coworkers in an office is that you get more power to choose who you want to be with and they generally align more with my interests.

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