Way to Work: Distributed Companies

Earlier this week I posted on my Facebook page a status that said: “Not sure why companies encourage people to sit at a desk all day. My best ideas/clarity come from swimming laps and strolling streets.” I was shocked how much positive reaction it got. To me it seems common sense, but at my old job even when I went to the gym for lunch, I remember feeling the sense of guilt when I wasn’t at my desk (despite the great dose of sanity it gave me each day to get away). But why? These days I still waiver back and forth between the benefits of “real jobs” (salary/stability) and the freelance piecemeal life I lead. But Sara Rosso‘s talk at Le Web last week seemed to be a perfect solution. She works for Automattic (WordPress.com) which is a completely distributed company, where their employees are located all over the world (she’s in Milan), and they don’t even have any offices. Her 5 minute Ignite talka fantastic format for giving presentationsdoes a great job of talking about how distributed companies are the way of the future.

One of my favorite projects I’m working on that is set to launch in the next couple months is completely distributed. It’s pretty amazing to be able to pull together a project linked between San Francisco, DC and Paris. Can’t wait to tell you about it when it launches!

By the way, you can find Sara on BOARDING PASS too!


  • I so agree. I am borderline useless when I’ve been sitting for a few hours. I think much more clearly when I’m in my own space, not thinking about how many hours until I can leave my desk to go home!

  • I would love to work for a distributed company, but I almost wonder if it would have to be a tech company. Would it work for architects? Simply generating the infrastructure for everyone to work together remotely and training the entire team would probably be prohibitive. Then again, maybe the costs saved with Class A office rent would be worth it. Thanks for posting!!

  • I know I’m late to the party with commenting, but I am getting caught up after the holidays and I had to comment about how much I *love* this trend.

    I am a technical writer for a large documentation company. We have over 100 writers and maybe a handful of them work out of our office, and that is due to security measures that were required by one of our clients. I work from home most of the time and only go into the office every couple of weeks, mostly to socialize. None of the people I work directly with are local…we are spread all over the place…so there is no real reason for me to go to the office in the first place. All of our meetings are done over the phone, and we rely on email and IM for pretty much everything. It works beautifully, for me. I don’t have rigidly set hours, as long as I put in 7.5 hours somewhere between 8am and 7pm. I am more productive now than I’ve ever been, and I can take an extended break and have a nap if I feel sluggish in the afternoon, or go for a walk if it’s a nice day. I save a TON of money by not having to buy lunch, buy transit passes, and it keeps me out of the mall during my breaks :)

    Honestly, I don’t think I could EVER go back to working a desk job in a cubicle farm. I mean, I *have* a desk job in a cubicle farm, but I also have the freedom to work from where ever I want. I can take off out of the city and go visit my parents for a week if I want to…I can set up my “office” anywhere with a good internet connection! Who knows, maybe I’ll be working from Paris, on a “working vacation” some day! :)

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