Matt Mullenweg is teasing out a new website at distributed.blog with the tagline “The future of work is here.” It’s not clear yet whether subscribers to the mystery blog will be on board for blog posts, a new podcast, or a book promotion, but the site has piqued curiosity.
This should be fun… (take 2 with working form) https://t.co/RpAfb8jvg5
— Matt Mullenweg (@photomatt) February 14, 2019
Mullenweg recently recorded a talk for TED’s new video series, The Way We Work. Over the past 14 years since founding Automattic, he has become an expert and an industry advocate for distributed work, having grown the company to more than 800 employees. In the video he said he prefers the term “distributed” over “remote,” as remote implies there are some people who are central and some who are not.
When I first started working as a developer from home in 2008, many of my friends and family didn’t believe I had “a real job.” People would often say things like, “Remind me what it is that you do at home all day…?” Sometimes I would even receive honest questions from incredulous friends, asking, “Why don’t you go find a real job?” The culture of remote and distributed work is still not widely understood 11 years later but it is slowly improving.
“I think a distributed work force is the most effective way to build a company,” Mullenweg said. “The key is that you have to approach it consciously. I believe that talent and intelligence are equally distributed throughout the world but opportunity is not.” Large tech companies, along with more traditional style companies, still struggle to get on board with this way of working.
Mullenweg’s TED talk explains a few advantages of distributed work. He also anticipates responses from managers in traditional work environments, who might say, “Sure, that may work for all you fancy tech folks but not for us.” Mullenweg outlines a few tips for getting started, such as documenting everything, increasing communication online, and experimenting with collaboration tools.
Automattic was the first WordPress company to operate a completely distributed workforce. Many other product companies, hosts, and agencies have followed suit. Remote and distributed teams have now become so common in the WordPress ecosystem that many who have experienced this way of working can never return to their old way of life.