Matt Mullenweg writes in “How Paul Graham Is Wrong“:
If 95% of great programmers aren’t in the US, and an even higher percentage not in the Bay Area, set up your company to take advantage of that fact as a strength, not a weakness.
I have heard recently and first hand, that some investors don’t like to invest in virtual companies, or in companies where any of the important team members is remote.
This makes me sad.
It’s especially disheartening in light of the continued and sustained explosion in communication tools and capabilities, and the fantastic reduction in cost of communicating with remote people. At the same time I have friends who are experts with very deep experience who are having trouble finding work.
In my now over 18-year technology career, I’ve spent nearly half of it working with or for remote teams or at virtual companies, and a large portion of my best and most important work has happened while working “remote” from home.
Companies (and people) that don’t figure out how to do this are already at a significant disadvantage against those that do, and have been since at least the early 2000’s. And this disadvantage is more than likely to continue to grow as communication and coordination tools continue to get better and cheaper.
Similarly, investors who don’t understand this fact artifically limit their potential up-side.
When companies open up to the possibility of remote work, they vastly expand the pool of talent they can draw upon. When people live and work in less expensive locations, they may be less expensive, or they may be more loyal because you can pay them more. Remote workers may be happier and more productive because they can tailor their work environment to maximize their own, personal productivity needs.
And when the whole company is virtual, you can decrease operational expenses: There may be no need for an office. The cost and time lost to commuting disappears. Perks that are common in our industry, like free food, on-site massages, and high-end office decor are unnecessary, and the savings can be passed on to employees to use in ways that better fit their personal needs.
Early-stage startups can leverage the savings for a longer “runway”. And for established or so-called “growth” companies, you can use the balance to pay for better people, support travel for company-wide meetings, sponsor related trade shows, or a multitude of other things.
Ps. Bonus link: I Am Not a Child by Emma Plumb
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