Ryan Bigg

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Working Remotely

02 Oct 2014

The news came out today that Reddit is requiring all workers to move to San Francisco. Of course, DHH (the guy who wrote a book about working remotely) had an opinion about this:

I haven’t read DHH’s book, but I agreed with him and even went as far as retweeting the last two tweets, which is unusual as I typically view DHH as person with extreme opinions and a “fuck you” kind of attitude that is rather grating when you’re on the receiving end of it. Today though, he was spot on.

I worked remotely for two and a half years in my last job, wrote a book with an entirely remote team and therefore I can self-proclaim myself to be an expert on remote working. I would even go as far as to say that I’ve done the best work of my life while being a remote worker. So when I hear about a company which self-proclaims itself to be “The Frontpage of the Internet” – i.e. the front page of a globally distributed computer network – moving their entire staff to San Francisco for “optimal teamwork”, it sounds very strange.

What even is “optimal teamwork”, anyway? You think that by magically gathering people in one building you’re going to make them work any better than if they were apart? Do you think that they’re going to not “slack off” because their boss can now come up behind them at any given moment? Do you think that they’ll communicate better because they’re all together?

No, they’ll just work the same as they did before. They’ll still slack off because humans aren’t robots and like taking breaks every now and again from their work. It’s actually provably beneficial to let people take breaks when they feel it’s necessary to do so.

It’ll be very interesting to see or hear about how bringing Reddit’s team together works, or doesn’t work and how many Redditors decide that the SF move is not for them.