Should Tech Companies Employ Remote Workers?

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163076190Are remote workers a good investment? This is, not surprisingly (given the times we live in), a burning question that affects the entire workforce and economy to some extent. In recent years remote workforces have become a staple in the tech sector, yet there are signs of blowback as companies like Yahoo! decide to reel in remote workers or give them the axe. There is something to be said for seeing people face to face; it’s why Steve Jobs designed Pixar’s HQ building for impromptu bump-ins. At the same time, there is a lot to be said for remote workers. Jason Fried of 37signals is a big proponent Here to help you make up your mind on the subject is the DailyTekk Think Tank. As you’re about to discover, remote workers are generally smiled upon by the panel.

Yes, But It Takes an Investment

ryan-fixedCompanies should definitely employ remote workers if they’re prepared to make the investment of time, culture, and resources. Remote employees—those who don’t report daily to a corporate office—still require management, attention, staff development, and regular face time with their colleagues. They come with the same amount of overhead and expenses, just different types. But the benefits far outweigh the costs (StackExchange’s David Fullerton has a great article in Fast Company on that very topic this week.

Over 35% of Mozilla’s global workforce—full and part-time employees, contractors, etc—are what we affectionately call “remoties.” And that’s before I count the thousands of volunteers who aren’t even employed by us that contribute every day.

Remoties often struggle to feel connected to those of us who work in offices, and we invest a lot into travel for workweeks, team building, and face time to counteract it. But we also get to hire the best people, no matter where they are and what life circumstance are keeping them in their current location. To stay effective and cohesive, we adapted our culture. Today we flow seamlessly in and out of chat rooms, video conferences, and collaborative document editors to work with people around the world. I have staff in five timezones who I speak with daily. It’s not an event—it’s just how we work. Some days I wonder why I bother going to my office, when I spend most of it on a video chat with my team.

This model isn’t for everyone, and we’re not perfect at it either. I won’t ...

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