Buffer hit a new milestone recently, but it wasn’t a metric like annual recurring revenue, total users or cash in the bank.

In fact, this one is more of a philosophical milestone: We closed down our office.

Now, since our startup operates with a fully distributed team, it might seem a bit odd that we ever had an office to begin with.

But for a variety of reasons, many distributed startups still have a physical office: Automattic, GitHub and Basecamp are a few examples.

Here’s how we came to have an office, and why we decided to close it.

no office

Committing to an office

Buffer avoided having a home office, or even a base city, for quite a while.

But in the social media space, proximity to other startups and the big social networks—most of which are based in San Francisco or Silicon Valley—can be important. For us, it has been a huge advantage in order to secure partnerships and integrations.

By early 2013, Buffer was a team of 9, with 4 teammates in San Francisco, some of whom preferred working in an office. We spent about 6 months sharing an office with the Storify team as our own team grew a little, too.

In July 2013 we moved into an office of our own, in the SoMa area of San Francisco, for two main reasons:

Moving into the office
Leo cleaning up a shattered desk (whoops!) on move-in day in 2013.

Remote work, physical office

Early on in Buffer’s journey, Joel got some great advice from David Cancel.

David’s key insight was to commit to either the whole team in the same office or the whole team fully distributed. Both scenarios can work well, he said; but mixing the two likely wouldn’t feel too great.

Jason Zimdars from Basecamp summed up perfectly how we think this might work well in practice:

“There are no advantages for people who come into the office, no disadvantages to staying home to get your work done.”

This principle is one we strive to keep consistently in mind. Buffer worked hard to hire new remote teammates to balance out the local team in San Francisco, and to maintain a fully remote mindset—even for teammates in the same place.

Joel in old office
Yes, there were bunk beds in the office. And they got a lot of use!

Here’s how Joel describes making that shift:

“With an office, if team members are in San Francisco it can be easy to delay meetings until all team members are in the office. The conclusion we came to is that we should always do the thing we can do immediately. If we need to quickly have a meeting and we’re not in the same place, we should jump onto a Hangout, even if we are in the same city. In a similar fashion, we try our best to have a real bias towards chatting on HipChat and sending each other emails even if we sit across from each other in the same office.”

the old office
The office also served as a great spot to meet new teammates during their boot camp. Here, Nicole and Octavio (back left) were meeting the San Francisco crew for the first time.

As a remote teammate who never even visited the San Francisco office in person, I can attest to the fact that there was no disadvantage to being elsewhere—except that it seemed like it would have been a lot of fun to hang out in person.

Face-to-face time is one of the major reasons we spend a lot of time, effort and money on meeting up periodically, and teammates in the same city have the fun advantage of being able to have pair calls and mastermind chats in person, not to mention going out for lunch, dinner or drinks together.

In fact, research has shown that face-to-face encounters build more empathy between people, through sensations like touch (say, in a handshake) and mirror emotions.

Tallying up the cost

San Francisco is a fun city, a tech hub, and a place that saw a lot of natural “teammate drift”—with the ability to work anywhere that makes them happy, many teammates chose San Francisco as that place. At one point, nearly half of the team lived there.

So it felt worthwhile to maintain a physical office there, even as we began to add more team members around the world. Eventually, though, only about 2-3 people were working from the office at any given time.

Not long after we tallied up every penny of what your money is used for when you purchase a Buffer subscription, we noticed that office space was a not-insignificant element of our overall expenditures each month—more than we paid for health insurance, or advertising and marketing.

monthly costs

Meanwhile, team migration had shifted yet again as we grew and some of our digital nomads got back on the road after a stint in San Francisco.

These days, we seem to have critical mass in both London and New York, but fewer team members in San Francisco—and only 1-2 people working in the office on a regular basis.

When we opened a discussion on whether keeping an office was the right thing to do (working through items like taxes, visas and more), we decided not to renew our lease.

Now: Completely remote!

How do we work now? Pretty much the same way we did before: All around the world, from homes, coffee shops and coworking spaces.

Those in San Francisco who worked in the office now have moved into coworking spaces, which Buffer pays for as part of our team perks.

We’ve also opened up some discussion about paying for a monthly coffee shop allowance for teammates who prefer that environment to a true coworking space. We’d love to hear your thoughts about that!

We stay united by our bevy of communication tools, to which we can add Traveling Mailbox, which is our new (and only!) address.

Team distribution visual via timezone.io
Team distribution visual via timezone.io

Remote work still feels like the right solution for us, for reasons including freedom, time zone coverage, productivity and lots more. Now we can say we’re 100% remote!

By the way, Andy was the last one to turn off the lights in our office (and do a million other needed things—thanks, Andy!). Here’s a video he made of the last day:

Have you experienced both remote work and in-office work? Which environment do you prefer, and why? Do you think we should have kept our office or closed it? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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Written by Courtney Seiter

Courtney writes about social media, diversity and workplace culture at Buffer. She runs Girls to the Moon on the side and pets every dog she sees.

  • Francois Perrault

    It’s a great strategic move.I’m in Montreal .Québec canada and bild my start up with the best people and in fact they are out of my place . By the way as a lovebrand that i endorse by the culture fundamentals i have something for you .How can i communicate with you ? Full Respect,Darcy

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Thanks so much, François!

  • Sylvia

    I have worked remotely for the better part of the 4 going on 5 years with the start-up company I’ve been with, and I absolutely loved the flexibility, inherent trust, and focus on communication that came with it. I was in the office 2x a week and we made those times count just as much as the times I was not. Starting this year, I’ve been in the office most of the week and the biggest difference has been the convenience of having a quick conversation with different teammates to move forward with a decision vs having to email back-and-forth or gchat. Currently, our team is really emphasizing being together so we’ve made a shift, but up until last week I was able to work off-site for at least one day/week.

    Personally, I like being able to work remotely because it gives me the ability to choose the locations (usually at home, a coffee shop, or a book shop) and optimal times in a day to do certain types of work. I can block out time to do “higher level thinking and strategy” and otherwise make myself available for collaborative work. I think it promotes self-governance and motivation, which when used wisely can really positively affect both the individual and team’s well being! It would be fun to see where each of Buffer’s teammates do their best work every day.

    • Alexandra Kantilieraki

      I am with you! Truth is that different things work for each other, but I completely adore your crystal clear point of view! Go on as you feel it’s right! :D

      • Sylvia

        Alexandra, thanks for the affirmation. And you’re right! Different things do work for each person. Some people may prefer to work in a more set environment, and more power to them! For others, like us, who align with Buffer’s distributed team mindset, it’s great to have the option to work remotely as well.

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Awesome thoughts here, Sylvia! This post is older, but it shows quite a few of our workspaces at Buffer: https://open.buffer.com/buffer-distributed-team-how-we-work/

      • Sylvia

        Thanks, Courtney! Something to read on my afternoon break :)

  • http://www.blogmelovely.com Lindsey Aleson

    I love that you work completely remotely. It is something I am striving for. I completely agree with this quote from the article: “There are no advantages for people who come into the office, no disadvantages to staying home to get your work done.” For me I am more productive on the days that I work from home, I actually have less distractions!

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Makes sense to me, Lindsey! Thanks for checking this one out!

  • Cristian Gonçalves

    Hi Courtney! :)

    So nice to read your articles… And this one!… Oh man, it really blows my mind! How can you work with a fully (100%) remote team with such performance?! We have to applaud your effort on making Buffer a beautiful place to work, with awesome products and an impressive team with a great customer support.

    Congrats for all of you. I truly ‘upvote’ your decision.

    I only need to ask you one question, if possible. From now on, without a physical office, where and how will you perform bootcamps?

    Cheers,

    Keep Rocking! :)

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Thanks a bunch, Cristian! Great question on bootcamp; we do those fully remotely as well. Towards the end of the period, we do fly bootcampers to somewhere with at least a few Buffer teammates so they can have the experience of working together :)

      • https://twitter.com/crisgoncalves84 Cristian Gonçalves

        Great to know Courtney! Thank you for sharing.
        Everyday I learn new things through your experiences… and it feels good! :)

        Keep awesome!

  • http://www.appfluence.com/ Appfluence

    Awesome article; definitely relevant with so much technology floating around, too. Have you ever considered checking out Priority Matrix as a means to collaborate remotely? You can check it out on appfluence.com

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      I’ll check it out, thanks!

  • http://desfocado.net Miguel David

    I love the fact that the team is brave enough to stay the course and go full remote. It’s the way of the future!

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      It feels like the future to us, too! :)

  • Rachel G

    Awesome news and great ideas, I can’t wait to see the results of going fully remote :)

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      We’ll keep you posted!

  • Ryan Newland

    Fantastic read! Y’all are doing great things

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Thanks so much, Ryan!

  • Rajesh SIngh Saharan

    Buffer is known for the spirit and love for the brand among the teammates. AFAIK about you all, going full remote will not have any effect on the product and service. Keep rocking !!!

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Thanks for the kind encouragement, Rajesh!

  • Victor Muthoka

    Working remotely is the way of the future office. I can’t adapt this as I’m a consumer goods & manufacturing guy but I applaud you on adopting this.

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Thanks, Victor!

  • Tracy Tessier

    My company decided after after many years (some coworkers have been 100% remote for 8+ years) to bring people back into the office twice a week. Many of us have developed a lifestyle tied to remote work and this is a huge upheaval. The biggest negative is that there isn’t space for the whole team in the office at once, so a disconnect is developing. The people in the office tend to communicate in person and bypass the chat; this leaves the remote workers out of the conversation and often missing out on info. Living in the northeast as I do, I find the remote scene makes me more productive (I’ve called off only once in five years due to illness because I don’t have to worry about getting people sick), less worry goes into how I’m getting into the office (or home) on a particularly snowy day, and, if my babysitter is late, I’m still on time!

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Oh wow, what an interesting case study, Tracy! Really sorry to hear this change hasn’t been a positive one for you. :(

  • Adam Greenwald

    Awesome stuff guys! Also proves why services like LaunchableLabs.com is imperative: to be able to choose a workspace where you feel most productive. Work does not have to happen in a “traditional office” setting.

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Looks really cool; thanks so much Adam!

  • lbdsgn

    Having done both, I find the success of either approach has more to do with 1) management, and 2) coworker attitudes. If management either tolerates or causes excessive, impromptu, disruptive meetings, or lacks a consistent plan, or has an attitude that if you aren’t on-premise you are probably facebooking, then remote workers suffer (along with on-premise workers!). Support for remote work must be top-down and all-in. Likewise, coworkers need to respect and support each other, and have excellent communication skills that can transcend physical presence. Personally, I prefer remote work so I can concentrate and match my work patterns to my daily needs. Communication has never been a problem.

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Totally agree, I think you’ve really hit the nail on the head! Remote seems to work best when there’s total buy-in on all sides.

  • Lisa Jordie

    Courtney- Congratulations to you and the 49 other lucky folks who get to call Buffer their employer. I’m incredible proud of everything this company has accomplished and continues to represent for the flexible work community. It seems like closing the physical office was absolutely the right move to keep pushing Buffer forward. But so sorry about that desk, Leo ;)! Keep on keeping on in the remote world! You are and continue to be most of your user’s favorite distributed company.

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Oh my goodness, Lisa, thank you so much for these incredibly kind words. We’re excited to keep going and keep sharing along the way!

  • Melissa Lim

    Love it! Thanks for showing the world how highly motivated people can maintain their productivity without reporting to an office!

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Thanks for the encouragement, Melissa!

  • Angela Merrow

    Having worked within the confines of 4 walls my whole adult life and managing 2 offices – I have questions related to hard copies. What do you do with your files for Human Resource related items and taxes for the business? Are these items you can get away with being virtual as well? I am highly intrigued and feel the urge to learn as much as possible about this venture.

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Hey Angela, great questions! We have an outside accounting firm that helps us out with taxes, and we use Dropbox for any important docs we might all need access to. I’m sure there are some things I’m forgetting here!

      • Tobias

        Why wouldn’t you use google docs so you know who edited the document?

      • Jaime Hanson

        Hi Courtney! This might seem an odd request, but I think a lot of companies would really benefit from a guest post or interview style blog from someone in your accounting firm about how Buffer handles some of the logistics of being a distributed team. Things like where to register the business when you have no physical office, payroll taxes, unemployment etc for various states… There are a lot of logistics involved and in fact many accountants aren’t even able to give a clear answer!

        • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

          Ah, that’s a great idea, Jaime! Thank you; adding it to our file right now!

    • http://www.LocalTrifecta.com Samuel

      Hi Angela – Strictly speaking from an HR perspective, you should take a look at BambooHR. I think it’s great :)

  • Tracy Sorensen

    As someone who works for management that discourages remote work, I’m intrigued by a complete remote, distributed work environment.

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Thanks for reading! This style may not work for everyone, but it feels like a good fit for us so far. :)

  • Emma Thompson

    So in love with the distributed workforce concept. I find working at home (or in coffee shops) to be SO much more inspiring, comfortable, and positive than traditional office settings!

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Same here, Emma! I’m grateful for our flexibility :)

  • http://lostpr.es/ David Iwanow

    Very interesting folks would love to see what other startups take your lead

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Thanks for checking it out, David!

  • cv harquail

    I appreciate your commitment to making Buffer 100% distributed for everyone. With no physical center, everyone is the same distance away, or close. That seems exceptionally fair and invites everyone to find her/his own ways to stay close to each other.

    The one question I have is– now that you have no office, where does one send you/”Buffer” physical things? It’s one thing to have a traveling mailbox where analog letters and papers can be scanned & accessed by anyone, but what about when someone wants to send “you”/ Buffer something that isn’t scannable?

    You all actually know the value of sending things that aren’t scannable. You send people physical, analog, material things– t-shirts, stickers and handwritten notes. There is something ‘more’, something +, that’s communicated with a physical thing.

    Without a physical place or channel, now what?

    I bring this up partly b/c of my own effort to send Leo and Joel something I’d promised them (about a year ago maybe?) — two copies of a book that by its design needs to be of paper, and needs to be held. I got a physical office address– maybe from you Courtney? — sent the books there, but never felt confident that they got to Leo and Joel as I’d promised them.

    Also, what if people want to send *you* t-shirts?

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Oh gosh, these are some really great questions, CV! I am not really sure what the best solution would be for sending physical items to Buffer; this feels like a great one to think on! Thanks so much for sharing these thoughts.

      • Esmé Bollenbeck

        With regards to the question on physical, unscannable things, I can say that there is always a physical addressee that parcels can be sent to. At InVision we do have offices, but we’re trying to reduce physical mail as much as possible. It works well for paper, but also goods can normally be attributed to a single person. And if it is something for everyone at the company, then this one recipient will have to send the things on to the others.

      • aggieben

        Traveling Mailbox can accept shipped items and then forward them to wherever is convenient.

  • Katie Erdman

    I like the all or nothing approach. For the past 8 years, I have been working 100% from home with travel to/from branch offices occasionally and I love it! I personally think the all or nothing approach keeps everyone on the same level and creates a sort of camaraderie.

  • Tengku Rahmaddansyah

    Since my first kid were born. I decided to off employ and start my first self-employ, work at home (at some coffee shop, studio, friends home, at anywhere). After 1,5 years. I admitted, I miss the environment of workplaces. And try to get back to it by working on new company and get the fresh atmosphere, where I like is the chit-chat, singing together, sharing, and we help each other. In the same time, when you want to focus on the task, you wear your headset or earpieces but it seem you can goo off the chatter background. Yeah, home office with the door closed better for that.

    I realize wherever you want to work is a place that fit to your mood, whether it’s on the fun mood and lazy days you can hangout with friends working together, or you have a bad mood and you want to refresh, or you want focus on your task so you go back to your home office.

    Well..In my case. I love to see my kids growing up so I stay in open door home office watching them play while I working every day. And choose night shift if I must focus on something or go to coffee shop.

  • http://www.focusonthestory.com Anna Edwards

    I absolutely love how open you guys are with all this information! Kudos to you and the team Courtney for sharing the journey.
    As someone who has worked remotely for a little over a year (PR, Marketing) I am fully in favor of it. I love the flexibility and freedom, and with twice-weekly conference calls and daily email updates (and one-on-one phone calls) management and accountability are not as difficult as some would imagine.
    Having been home this past year as I look to change gears professionally I cannot imagine going back to an in-office, confined setup.
    I think you guys made the right decision and I look forward to seeing how things go as you work through it all :-)

  • http://mattamyers.tumblr.com/ Matt A. Myers

    Was any of this practice or philosophy inspired by Basecamp’s methods?

  • http://www.pointsandfigures.com/ pointsnfigures

    try Deskpass.com and see if that helps you with remote working.

  • http://blog.lyncdialog.com Jonathan McKinney

    Posted on your communications tools post… but I’ll add to this one too. The company I currently work for is completely virtual and I feel it has made us more profitable and more nimble. We don’t have to hire from a specific geography for our talent either. I just so happens that the technology that makes this easy is also the technology our company specializes in. But I’m excited for other companies to realize how big of a benefit this can be. The tool we use to communicate is Skype for Business and what is great for small to medium businesses is that this can be hosted, but still give all the benefits that managed on-premises deployment would give. Take a look… hopefully this helps others see the light… http://blog.ucomsgeek.com/2015/09/unified-communications-as-service-ucaas.html

  • John Andrew Hazlewood

    I am going down the same path with my startup http://www.sharingXchange.com which is a metasearch comparison and listing service for the sharing economy. We are about freelancers and working from home so having an office and not a distributed company would seem like a double standard.

    My previous company we had over 100 people and there were people that we knew were not putting in 40 hours which was what we they were paid for and some of our previous management which were somewhat old school were of the philosophy that as long as the work gets done then they dont really need to work 40 hours. We saw this in the office that people do constantly use facebook, watch videos, and other personal things. Its naive to believe that everyone that is salaried is spending 40 hours per week working. People are human and there needs to be controls in place hence the importance of the tools and overall management approach.

    Part of the controls we are trying to find is how to track tasks and time. Using Jira for devs is great because each tasks has the time it took to develop. Using a CRM will help gauge how many activities people maybe working on. We have others filling out task and time reports not only to understand and track there time but understand the tasks and how much the company spends on certain tasks and see if they are repeatable if we can automate or optimize. We are only 15 people now most working part time with an hourly rate so its not that difficult. Bus as we go down the path of creating a customer support department where they all work from home it will get more complex. Are there any tools you are using that help manage and provide oversight on tracking tasks and time and what kind of controls do you have in place to help in this regard?

    • otakucode

      ” Its naive to believe that everyone that is salaried is spending 40 hours per week working.” That is a bizarre statement. Are you talking about salaried workers, or hourly workers? Salaried workers are paid to accomplish a task, not to put in a certain number of hours. That’s what salaried MEANS.

  • Michael de Groot

    Fabulous article Courtney. Change is good and remotely distributed means fantastic cost savings. But why did Yahoo reverse their strategy? What did they find out about not being together. Part of me feels a little sad that Buffer hasn’t got an office in the mad metropolis of the tech world. Wishing you all massive success with your new set-up.

    • otakucode

      Yahoos story is a ridiculously bad one. They literally had no way to even keep track of who was doing what, or whether anyone was doing anything. My personal belief is that approaching remote work with the expectation that it should be like office work just at home is a big mistake for a company. Requiring, for instance, the employees to log in to a system so their activity can be tracked and clocked to make sure they are putting in 40 hours is counter-productive. But if you’re working with a team of software engineers working remote, for instance, you do need to see who is fixing what bugs or adding new features. Yahoo didn’t even have THAT. They literally had no way to say “Has Bob Jones done any work on the project at all this week?” When they started investigating, they discovered that some people weren’t just doing nothing – they were working for a different company and just collecting their Yahoo paychecks. I don’t blame them for shutting down their remote work program such as it was. There’s just no excuse for running it that badly unless they actually wanted it to fail.

    • http://threshold-zero.com/cblog captainskyhawk

      Let us not use Yahoo for our litmus test for making the right choices, agreed? :) Whatever they’re doing, we all might want to do the opposite.

  • Daniel Simon

    I have done both but I have been remote for over 7 years now and I love it. Congratulations on this decision, it seems like a great fit for your organisation and I wish more companies would look into allowing and promoting remote work. There are a lot more advantages than disadvantages but unfortunately in many places leadership is not willing to even consider remote work as an option for certain employees. However, as tech advances and traffic problems become more and more prominent in most cities, I believe the home office, is the office of the future!

  • https://justintaylor.consulting Justin Taylor

    Love the way you guys think. And you are willing to act on ideas. Awesome.

  • http://www.coveragebook.com gary preston

    Really great insight to how this is working for you. We’re a team of 6 all living in the same area and used to working in the same office. For the last 2 months we’ve been exploring what mix of remote work, works for us. Everyone is enjoying the freedom. Even when they end up coming into the office space anyway. Knowing its cool to head out for a walk in the countryside to plan our next feature is liberating. We’re having a lot of fun breaking old habits though. We’ve not gone 100% #officenotrequired yet though. Sweet move. You should be in our next video :) – https://vimeo.com/142719751

  • Samantha Owens

    I have the opportunity right now to seek a very desirable opportunity, so I am trying very hard to go remote, whether full-time for a company or with multiple freelance projects on an ongoing basis. We’ll see how it goes. :)

    I’ve spent all of my working life so far on-site at wherever I worked, and for the past three years with a small team in an open-plan office. There are of course pros and cons, but for my personality it’s hard to get things done when you’re being constantly interrupted and pulled in different directions. If I’m left alone (or at home to work on things), I can work for hours straight without a break because there are no distractions and my concentration is superb. It’s part of the reason why I’d like to go remote or have a private space or cubbyhole to work in at my next job. :)

    • otakucode

      That’s not just your personality! There are literally THOUSANDS of studies in ‘industrial science’ which show conclusively that open-plan offices are total poison for productivity. Nobody works well there! The distractions are stupendously destructive. On average it takes a person 20 minutes to resume after being distracted, and they get interrupted shortly after that.

  • Anastasia Alpaticova

    Hi Courtney, congratulations to Buffer team for going completely remote! I have to agree though with the previous comments, that there are a few challenges to consider, like physical files and documents, for example. It’s great to see though, that you are challenging this status quo as well as many others, and hope you can figure out a way to manage all of that in the cloud. In my past work experience managing a team and office we were required by law to have most of the documents in print on files.

  • http://www.westoncommunications.org.uk/ Liz Weston

    I meant to ask, have more of the team taking to work in different places throughout the week – in their own locality? I think I remember reading something where you were thinking of providing an allowance to the team to go and try co working spaces and other things out?

    I ask as I have an office half way down our garden and I invite others to come and work in it as and when they want to – sometimes it’s nice to have others with me and it’s also good to go and try out other places as well. Would be interesting to see if people feel it’s making their work more interesting?

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Hey Liz! Yup, we do pay for coworking spaces for teammates who prefer to work that way! It feels like more and more teammates are drifting toward that option lately. Your office and garden sound lovely!

  • http://fortyweekslater.com/ Seth Burleigh

    It’s funny you mention the “coffee shop stipend” as that same dilemma crossed my mind when I heard about the fully distributed team. Coffee can get expensive quickly, if you have to buy a cup (or 15) to use WiFi or occupy a table. :)

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Very true! It’s great to be respectful of the cafés and coffee shops one works in. Luckily I can drink a loooot of coffee! :) We never quite followed up with a coffee shop stipend; this is a great nudge! Thanks, Seth! Excited to report back. :)

  • Mko Nkr

    Can’t be that easy!?

    • otakucode

      Why not? Our structure with offices and such was created to be beneficial for manufacturing companies before computers were even introduced to the workplace. Why should it still be a sane solution when the work is mental and computers and the Internet are ubiquitous?

  • https://www.chargify.com/blog/ Chargify Blog

    Chargify has been 100% distributed for over 4 years. Your awesome post inspired me to write “Remote work tips from Chargify’s distributed team” at https://www.chargify.com/blog/remote-work-tips/

  • Sarah Elizabeth

    This is a great article! I love the fresh perspective and transparency. More companies could benefit from taking a step back and evaluating if what they’re doing is the best practice.

  • Terry

    I work at a company with a 70% mobile worker commitment (we are very close to that now) and it’s amazing for engagement, productivity and cost savings! There are a few challenges, but the majority can be overcome by have strong digital policies.

    • otakucode

      When you say that, do you mean 70% of workers are 100% remote? Or that workers spend 70% of their time working remote? I have always been perplexed by the second situation, of companies that have people work remotely but also require that they come into the office occasionally. It seems like that would destroy a lot of the value of remote work for the company. When your workers work remotely, completely remotely, your potential talent pool spans the entire globe. If they have to come into the office, you just threw that out the window and crippled yourself as badly as a company that requires 100% in-office work. Plus, you still have to maintain the physical office even though it is a money pit with no return on investment!

      • Terry

        There’s benefits to both, we have a big combination of everything from high tech video conferencing (telepresence) to reserve-able desks to permanent offices. Flexibility is the biggest benefit and in a large company you simply can’t avoid having office space. We have 40k+ employees.

  • pj882

    I haven’t tried remote work yet but: can imagine all of the advantages and how much I’d enjoy it!

    Probably #1 is avoiding the commute, and rush hour! And so then you wouldn’t have to wake a few hours in advance to get ready and beat the traffic. You’d get more sleep and be more productive. You won’t be itching to leave the second your shift is over to beat the afternoon traffic (which was always the deadly of the 2)

    I’m sure that there are /some/ drawbacks but the advantages have gotta far outweigh them!

  • http://www.danielroot.info Daniel Root

    I’ve worked both remote and in an office. I like the flexibility and _very_ short commute of working remote, but now that I have kids, the quiet office environment is more productive for me. I’m working on building out a home office, so maybe that will be my “sweet spot” ;)

    • http://www.donnfelker.com/ Donn Felker

      I also have small children. I’ve been working remote for quite some time. The key is finding that home sweet spot as well as a few other areas you can escape to once or twice a week. Perhaps a coffee shop, or a co-working space. Just make it into 2-4 hour blocks or into tasks. “I’ll get XYZ done at the coffee shop today” and then go to lunch and then to a library and say “I’ll get ABC done here and then I’ll go home.” That will give you the feeling of accomplishment as well as break the monotony of working from home.

      • http://www.danielroot.info Daniel Root

        Good to know it can be done. I do occasionally work from a coffee shop, etc. but as a developer I really am more productive with 2-4 large screens that would get me funny looks in the coffee shop ;) A decently priced co-working space may be worth looking into though. Thanks for the tips.

  • otakucode

    That empathy that face-to-face contact creates is a double-edged sword. It can certainly facilitate team bonding, but it also hands over a great deal of the decisions which should be made rationally to intuition. Charismatic extroverts find it easy to dominate (usually unintentionally) introverts regardless of the value of eithers contribution. This is not something that can really be solved, it is a fundamental part of being a human being. Even the most objective reasoning relies on an emotional component (neuroscience backs this up). Human beings are at their worst in terms of being able to make good decisions when put in a face-to-face situation with another person. Even without the interplay of different personalities, just the speed of verbal communication forces the participants to take shortcuts and avoid nuanced and complex positions. Offices offered value for a long time, and for a long time that value was greater than the costs they brought to the table. But that situation has changed. Those costs we ignored or judged as duly compensated for by benefits must be re-evaluated. And when you do re-evaluate it… don’t do it in-person!

  • Tobias

    224/9 = 24k average salary per person?

    Also your server cost seems way out there…

    • dyarosla

      The values are all per month. Not 24k average per person per year.

      • Tobias

        It says month, so 24k per month obviously.

    • alastairmoore

      The article said they consisted of 9 people in 2013 and have since grown.

  • Rik Nieu

    As someone who spends about 2 hours a day commuting to work(on a good, average day), this seems like an ideal solution. On the other hand, having colleagues to bounce ideas off of and to joke around with face-to-face seems like something I’d miss.

    But being free to push code to work while travelling? Oh man.

  • http://threshold-zero.com/cblog captainskyhawk

    I’ve worked remote for a major company for the past two years — I’ll never go back to working in an office, if I can help it. :)

    However, I’ve noticed that there are simply just some employees who *don’t* have the self-control to work from home, no matter what. How have you managed this? Did you have to do any training about keeping a work-at-home regiment, making a quiet office space, etc.?

    I’ve also noticed a *huge* difference in those employees without children, and those who do have children, unfortunately. My employees with children are just less… “focused?”

  • lookfirst

    $22k on servers seems a bit excessive. That is a lot of drinks!

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      LOL 😂

  • Daniel Deitrick

    Added @travelingmailbox to my personal toolbox in 2013… haven’t looked back, can’t say enough. Life saver. Archiver and digitizer. Forwarder when necessary.

  • Paul

    We just did the same at my work. We voted and decided to give it a try for an year, and see how it goes, closed the office and now everyone works remotely. Few started travelings and working on the road… some moved to other cities (helped by the company).

    I’m really happy because I feel more freedom but I started to notice that I go outside less and work more this way, because it feels like you’re not at work at all. I mean, you’re at home doing things you love…

    And to be honest this bothers me a bit. I’ve a social anxiety and working with other people was hard at the beginning but after a while I noticed that it started slowly to improve. And before closing the office was at a good point. Now not going out often my anxiety started to regress…

  • krisdahl

    I think you’ve hit it on the head–you can either be distributed or have everyone in the office. If you are 100% distributed you invest in the tools and communication processes that insure things work. If you try to mix it you don’t, the folks that are face-to-face are always less connected.

    That being said, having done both (and the mix in-between), we at Atomic believe pretty strongly that there is value in being in close proximity if you can do it. Low latency communication is super important.

  • https://enticedigital.com.au Entice Digital

    We have had similar experiences at our creative agency. After having the whole team in the office for around 7 years, it was an interesting shift to go almost fully remote.