Why Company Culture Is So Important For Remote WordPress Developers

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photo credit: icedsoul photography .:teymur madjdereycc

I follow a handful of people who work with WordPress on a daily basis and I often see WordPress agencies publishing news about their recent hiring. I’ve noticed a lot of employees for WordPress agencies don’t seem to be sticking around with one company for very long. When I think of an employee staying at one company for a long time, I’m talking about three to five years although it’s easy to forget agencies like 10up have only been around for three years.

Why does it seem like they are switching companies as if it’s no big deal? I sat back and pondered this question for a while and came up with the following conclusions.

Tons Of Employment Opportunities

Since WordPress powers 20% of the web, there are a multitude of employment opportunities.. If one company isn’t paying enough, chances are good that another company is. Of course, working for an agency isn’t required as sites like Elance and oDesk have proven there is high demand for individual freelancers who specialize in WordPress.

Insight From A 6 Year Old WordPress Company

WebDevStudios Logo Founded in 2008, WebDevStudios is one of the longest running WordPress development companies within the WordPress ecosystem. I asked co-owner Brad Williams what the attrition rate is for WebDevStudios. He told me very few employees have left the company since it was founded. He also told me they no longer hire contractors and every WebDevStudios employee is full-time.

When asked if he’s seeing a lot of people apply for jobs at the company, he said “We get quite a few applications when we post a job opening.” Overall, Brad has seen a few remote employees bounce around, but doesn’t really consider it to be a widespread issue.

Switch Companies Without Ever Leaving Home

Remote WordPress employees have a distinct advantage over their physical workplace counterparts. They can switch companies without ever leaving home. Employees working in a physical location sometimes have to move to a different city for a promotion or for a new job. Remote workers can perform their jobs from anywhere in the world as long as they have an Internet connection. I think this is the single biggest reason remote workers can move between multiple companies within a one to two year timeframe.

Finding A Culture That Fits

iThemes logo 2Thanks to remote workers not being tied to a physical location, it’s easier to find a company culture where they fit in. Automattic has done a great job of making sure every one of its employees blends in with its culture.

For most companies, it’s not just about being an employee and getting work done. It’s about something larger than any one individual. When I’ve asked employees why they have switched between multiple companies within a year, the answer is usually the same. It just wasn’t a good fit for me.

Glenn Ansley who works for iThemes says his company does a great job keeping him connected to the company:

If you don’t feel connected to your team, the loyalty is probably closer to that of a freelance contractor than an employee. My guess is it’s harder to get full buy-in / ownership from a remote employee. iThemes does a great job keeping me connected.

Not As Big Of A Problem As I Thought

After speaking with Cory Miller, Brad Williams, and Jake Goldman I’ve discovered the problem is not nearly as bad as I thought. Attrition rates for some of the largest, longest, running WordPress businesses are low and employees are sticking with them. However, for the reasons explained above, it’s easier to switch companies as a remote WordPress worker than a typical employee in a brick and mortar shop.


5 responses to “Why Company Culture Is So Important For Remote WordPress Developers”

  1. Equally important to culture is purpose.

    If people genuinely believe their work furthers a purpose they believe in, it’s very hard for another company to compete with better perks or salary alone.

    As web developers, one of the best purposes we can strive for is making the web better. At least one WordPress company, with famously low attrition, understands that: http://cl.ly/image/1C2x083d0r1K

  2. I think that developers switching companies is a symptom of our industry as a whole, not WordPress or remote specific. At my agency, we see workers who stay on for 20-30 years and those that leave within 3 years. Most that stay beyond the three year period are here for most, if not all, of their professional lives. But there is a threshold that many cannot tolerate or simply won’t. There are a plethora of developer jobs out there and if you are simply looking for pay and benefits, there’s always someone paying more.


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