Startups

Why I love working remotely (and why your company cannot and never will)

It is 4pm in Italy and I just had an epic pizza. Yes, not a slice but a whole pizza. Don’t judge, this is my lunch and I have a long day/night ahead.

It is 9am in California and usually around that time, companies are ready to have their Standup where everyone talks for less than 10 seconds and says what was done yesterday, what needs to be done today and if there are any show-stoppers. In our case, everyone is working from another state (or country) and I can assure you it takes us waaay longer than 10 seconds. Waaaaaay longer. Not because we are apart but because we like to talk.

I am logging in today from Italy and the internet in this Airbnb keeps dropping all the time. And I feel a bit sleepy which is definitely the jet-lag and not the pizza. Definitely.

Being on my fourth Startup, I kinda know how not to annoy everybody with my stuttering voice so I have Google Fi and it works pretty good. Most of the times.

Google Fi for the rescue

The same goes for my co-founder Niko that has strategically selected the best noise-to-work-to-view place at a coffee place in New York (it is lunch time for him), Maria in Salt Lake City that is doing some upgrades in her house while showing us our new epic homepage (and her new patio), Rania grilling us (mostly me) for not having compliance approved any blog posts (ha, add this to the list!) while she is about to put the kids to sleep (is it 7pm in Athens/ Greece), Alex trying to fight off his food cravings by entering a meditative state through product development (three more hours to breaks his intermitting fasting in Los Angeles) and more people jumping on and off or reporting on Slack. Good times.

For some of us it is the beginning of the working day, for others the middle or the end which makes things tricky to plan. Oh and some people are on vacations (we have an unlimited vacations policy). Did I say good times? Good times again.

Having lived in this environment for almost ten years and a half version of it at Splunk which acquired my last company, I can tell you why this is the best way to work. The healthiest and the happiest. And then I can tell you why your company cannot do it.

Why we can do it

For this to work, the whole team needs to be aligned. Needs to be aware that “working from everywhere” means that you need to make sure you have stable internet connection, no noise and that you can work concentrated. We cannot have someone that needs to be (micro)managed. You need to be self-motivated. And you need to be really good at what you are doing. Reeeeaally good. You need to be an one-army man/woman. But the reward is that you get to have pizza while building products and having fun with a view like this:

Why your company sucks

Startups used to be about working from a garage with a team of super dedicated and smart engineers. They were makers. Creators. They could work all day/night and they would radiate passion and will inspire people to join them. Not only for the perks. Not only or the salary. But mostly for the vision. I know that you are thinking “hey man, we need to pay bills and you cannot buy medical insurance with passion”.

Correct. But if you want to evolve as an employee (and as a person?), you need to demand more than just a simple transaction of “money <> time”: Someone gives you money, you give back your time.

Ok, let me give you an example.

We built AgentRisk to help Entrepreneurs manage their money better. More transparently. We even provide free education for cryptocurrencies. No this is not a product pitch. What I am trying to say is that every single customer we have, was an employee at some point and then became obsessed with a problem. They worked like there is no tomorrow, failed, tried again, failed, tried again and then made it. They freaking made it. And I am not saying that they just made money. They are better, more rounded as a person.

And this is the reason why your company cannot let you work from home.

Companies hire people that don’t have passion. That don’t have vision. They need you to work 9–5 at an office so that a manager can nano-manage you. Vacations are not unlimited because they think you will be on vacations all the time. And of course you end up wasting time and time and time again in meetings (ok some companies are not like that but you get my point).

But at least you get to pay the bills, right?

What you can do

Working remotely is not for everyone obviously and not everyone is a super engineer. The truth is in the middle and companies just don’t know how to run remote teams. It takes time and dedication and many times I prefer being with the whole team at an office (we fly all together in one place) than on Google Hangouts. But working from wherever you want, is liberating. And the pizza is not bad at all.

- Thu 18 October 2018

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