Why this CEO started remote work in his 1.16 billion dollar company.

In June 2017, Automattic, the company behind WordPress, shut down it’s San Francisco office. The company revealed that they were closing their 15,000 square foot office space because, well, their 550+ employees just weren’t showing up.

Automattic has always given its employees the choice of working remotely. This is the reason why most employees never show up and a few show up only once or twice in a month. The San Francisco office was more of an optional working space for the employees than a traditional office.

In a Stack Overflow podcast, Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg said, “We got an office there about six or seven years ago, pretty good lease, but nobody goes in it. Five people go in it and it’s 15,000 square feet. They get like 3,000 square feet each.” 

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Business benefits of a remote team

One can assume that an early stage startup has a remotely working team as a test run. Other reason could be small team millennials-workforce who as a starter can work remotely.  This, yet, can not be the only reason for an organization as big as Automattic (did I mention their billion dollar revenue last year) to have a distributed team. Definitely, there must be some significant benefits that come along with building a remote team which convinced the organization to go remote.

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Photo by Kaleidico on Unsplash

Access to a global pool of talent

Great talent does not always live next door. In fact, at times, [talent] lives on the other side of the globe. Remote organizations have the flexibility of hiring employees from anywhere in the world. This opens new and better opportunities for employees as well (because great opportunities aren’t always next door either). 

In fact, CEO Matt Mullenweg shares the same views and told Quartz, “All I hear from my friends in San Francisco is how hard it is to hire. Should I not tell them this secret? I decided it’s a great idea and everyone should do it [Hire remotely working professionals]. I’ll keep shouting from the rooftop because everyone should do it.”

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Reduced overhead costs

For Automattic, the rent alone translates to more than $1 million a year for the office space in San Francisco. Also, the overhead maintenance costs the company had to bear every month were huge (especially in a city as expensive as San Francisco).

Not needing to set up a physical workspace notably reduces the operational cost. Without the cost for utilities, security, and equipment that is necessary for a physical office a lot of money could be saved. The saved budget can be invested towards the development of new products, buying new project management tools to improve the collaboration and team engagement among the workforce.

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Photo by Joseph Gruenthal on Unsplash

Increased productivity

Remote work allows employees to work in an environment created by them, where they feel the most productive. Imagine being able to work wherever you want, in your home office after you wake up or sitting in your favorite cafe in the afternoon while sipping coffee.

When you choose your work environment, your productivity is definite to increase. Workplace flexibility improves focus and the quality of work. 

With detailed planning and effective communication working remotely is an assured stairway to satisfaction at work.


Over to you: What do you think?

Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

“If we make it look easy, it’s because we’re working incredibly hard at it,” says Mullenweg.

When you scrape the upper layer of remote work, you’d realize managing and working in a fully distributed team can only be successful when done right. And honestly, doing things right isn’t so hard once you know what exactly you need to do. Share in comments your reasons for working remotely.

To know more about how teams at Automattic are working remotely watch Peter Slutsky, Director of BD, Automattic, talk about how you can effectively manage a remote team and the do’s and don’ts of working in a remote environment. Click to Watch.


Poorvi Naithani

About the Author

I am a content writer, working remotely for the past 3 years.
I write about remote work, marketing, and analytics.

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