I like college football. Not many people in San Francisco do. Even fewer programmers. But some of my GitHub colleagues that live in the South most certainly do. On Saturdays they talk Georgia and Georgia Tech. And while Campfire may not be Bobby Dodd Stadium, it’s sure not bad. I feel connected to what’s going on there.
More and more companies are accepting that remote work is good for the remote worker. But when remote work is really done right — that is, encouraged and celebrated rather than merely accepted — there are major company-wide benefits. Having remote, engaged co-workers becomes a boon even for those people that are “local”, like me.
Consider this perspective. There is this increasingly ugly and self-satisifed startup culture throughout the Bay Area. Eventually the current bubble will burst and a lot of the more hideous aspects will go down the sewer like so much rubbish. But this culture is there right now and it’s not healthy for anyone.
So, look beyond. GitHub employs Midwestern homeowners, Texans with gardens, European urbanites, climbers in the Pacific Northwest, British guitar players. We’ve even allowed in several Australians. This helps temper the worst cultural excesses and business cul-de-sacs rampant in Social Hybrid Cloud Web 3.0. It broadens our vision. It reduces local bubble think.
The effectiveness of remote work, and the extent to which it can help your culture, depends on how much a company encourages it. If you’re going to do remote, you must do it all the way.
Consider job postings. “Remote work possible for the right candidate” is awful. “Work where you want” should be the message.
A company can’t just begrudgingly accept the possibility of remote work. It must embrace it.
And the company will be rewarded for doing so. Sure, sometimes the benefits might seem small. But whether it’s talking SEC football with teammates in the South or British politics with colleagues in Brighton — this geographic exchange is a huge part of what makes a vibrant and unique culture. This is the kind of culture that keeps people happy. Not to mention again that big benefit: defense against startup mono-thinking.
It’s almost cliché now, but the Internet has demolished geographic borders in an unprecedented way. It’s painfully ironic that Internet companies would not embrace this same change. Companies that don’t celebrate remote work will find their best hires, current and potential, heading elsewhere, and soon.