Since you are reading this, it is reasonable to assume that you have internet access. If this text has been provided to you in hard copy, it would be advantageous to put the book aside and take a dive into the vastness of the World Wide Web. It appears that things have proceeded well for you so far.
It is highly probable that you have come across a creation by Automattic during your internet sojourn. Automattic is the company that developed WordPress, a well-known blogging software, and WordPress.com, a domain that sees heavy traffic. As a matter of fact, Automattic is responsible for powering 24% of all websites that exist on the internet today.
Over the years, the worth of this company has significantly escalated and is currently estimated to exceed one billion dollars. However, the company’s headquarters are not situated in a lavish and fashionable district, with an extravagant and expensive complex from which they run their operations as one might expect. Instead, their office is a simple, cosy, and cost-effective structure that usually sits vacant.
This business runs their entire digital enterprise online, with an amazing 400-person team dispersed among 40 countries. Notably, they do not need a central office or even email to operate.
It is undoubtedly fascinating to ponder over the reasons why Automattic has opted for a remote working model. While the company’s worth of over one billion dollars is evident, it is also worth exploring how this approach is aiding them. In the subsequent sections, we will acquaint you with Automattic and evaluate both the benefits and drawbacks of remote work for the company.
What drove Automattic’s Success?
It is intriguing to contemplate how a business, which did not provide its workers with the option to purchase stock, became so large and successful. The company probably employed multiple tactics to manage their operations across different time zones, maintain high employee morale, and guarantee that the appropriate individuals were assigned to the appropriate roles. In addition, certain mechanisms may have been established to ensure that everyone was working towards common goals. Henceforth, some of the significant elements that may have contributed to the company’s success are:
- Developing precise and effective communication protocols, both internally and externally;
- Assigning the correct personnel to the suitable projects;
- Introducing mechanisms and procedures to guarantee that the workforce was always striving towards the same objectives;
- Cultivating a culture of cooperation and mutual esteem to aid in sustaining high morale.
Automattic kept an internal blog to ensure that all of their workers were updated.
Tired of dealing with the never-ending stream of emails that occur when you communicate within your company? Well, Automattic felt the same way and decided to create a solution, similar to Google Alerts, called P2 – an internal blog. With this system, everyone can remain informed on the latest developments. Employees can choose to only follow keywords or names that are relevant to them.
Open and Continuous Communication Made Possible through Chatting
Matt Mullenweg, the founder and visionary behind Automattic, recently expressed his views to Business Insider regarding the significance of virtual platforms in the domain of corporate communication. He emphasised that these platforms have become the “epicentre” for such communication, with many critical conversations happening on online forums or through Google Hangouts video conferences. Moreover, Mullenweg pointed out that anyone, regardless of their location, can now be an equal participant in these discussions.
The Recruitment Process Initiates at the Highest Level
The ability to delegate responsibilities is a crucial aspect for all leaders. Nonetheless, Automattic’s CEO, Matt Mullenweg, takes personal accountability for conducting interviews. He carefully reads through all the job applications before approving the selection of applicants for an interview. The interview usually takes place via text on Skype. Following the interview stage, candidates may receive a paid project to work on in their free time to assess their compatibility with the company’s culture. This method allows Mr Mullenweg to remain involved in the recruitment process without straining his time. Lastly, if the candidate performs well, they will be referred back to the CEO for a final review discussion on Skype.
Investing Money into Amenity Improvements for Workers
Although Automattic believes that people should not always work collaboratively, they still see benefits in coming together occasionally. As such, they have set aside a substantial budget to cover business trips and “hack weeks”, where teams can come together at any time and in any location they prefer. In addition, they highly encourage most of their employees to gather annually in a unique destination to foster teamwork and innovative idea generation.
What Motivated Automattic’s Remote Strategy?
The creators behind Automattic, a remote software development firm, recognised the effectiveness of open source software, which had already been productively integrated by other companies creating similar products. The successes of programs like Firefox and Ubuntu Linux illustrated that the most exceptional open-source programs were those which were backed and created by their own communities. This inspired the founders to realise that businesses pursuing the same level of flexibility and ongoing development would benefit from observing this process.
During their course of business, they stumbled upon unexpected advantages of functioning in this manner, which reinforced their choice and never required a second thought.
What Were the Advantages of Remote Work for Automattic?
One could argue that Automattic’s achievement was in spite of their remote working style, rather than because of it. Nevertheless, this view would ignore the larger context. According to Mullenweg, when the company organises trips for their staff as described, productivity considerably increases, and major breakthroughs are achieved: “[During the trips] WordPress.com is updated with new code more than 100 times a day.
It is evident that the company has a significant advantage in finding top-quality professionals, as remote work offerings provide a level of flexibility that is not feasible when location is a deciding factor. Have you heard of the highly skilled computer programmer who relocated to Texas to live near his family? Although he is reluctant to move to San Francisco for a job with a major tech company, he has indicated that he would be open to working for Automattic, as long as he can do so remotely.
It is evident that Automattic excels not only at recruiting the most skilled professionals, but also at retaining them. It would be accurate to say that the company’s retention rates in some areas are exceedingly high, thanks to their practice of allowing employees to work from home or from a preferred location of their choosing. Additionally, Automattic will subsidise coworking spaces for those who select the office environment, which highlights the loyalty and devotion of the workforce.
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