Remote, Forever.

I love how Quora’s leadership took the necessary time to consider the tradeoffs related to remote work — the bottom line? More productive:

We have been sheltering in place for three months now. This whole experience has been difficult, but it has also been educational. Surprisingly, despite growing up as a company centralized in a single location, despite years of investing in culture and processes built on that assumption, despite the stress people are feeling from the state of the world, despite the distraction involved in adapting to that world, despite the burdens facing parents with small children and no schools or childcare, we have been very productive. And many of us have actually been more productive than before.

This raises an important question: what should we do when covid-19 is over? Should we go back to the way things were, with most of the company working out of an office? Or would we be better off sticking with remote work?

via Quora

As a distributed-first organization, I’m grateful that I don’t have to take any time to consider the upsides and downsides of building a team that I don’t actually see, physically, day-to-day. I know the trappings and how easy it is to become misaligned when communicating digitally; I have the (battle) scars to prove it.

It’s always so neat when other folks have that lightbulb-moment:

Because of these observations, I was genuinely surprised to see how productive we were while remote. I was especially surprised to see that the majority of our employees preferred remote work, despite having taken a job that required presence in an office. 

But it’s not about whether remote or distributed is objectively better than an in-person or physical office environ — it’s about agency and choice:

I expect this freedom of location is going to unlock many other benefits that we can’t even anticipate yet. And all of this is on top saving the incredibly valuable time and stress of commuting.

The freedom to choose the optimal work environment for you at the present moment is everything. But, this won’t be the same forever as your preferences and needs / wants will change as you change.

I’m living through this right now as I start thinking about a brand-new office environment in just a few weeks:

The new YEN HQ?! LOL. I think so.

Your needs will change and the types of engagement that you’ll want from in your professional life and work ecology will also change! Consequently, the best thing that an employer can offer you is the freedom of choice — you get to decide where you’d like to work so that you can maximize comfort, productivity, and enjoyment with your time.

That’s what I offer in the small project and community that I’m building with YEN — my staff and growing team have the space and freedom to choose. I share more thoughts on my open source handbook on GitHub.