Introduction

Why an all-remote team can be successful… and work better!

Let’s start this book with some key benefits of #NoOffice - with this introduction you will both get why and how this works and that you can quickly implement the basic ideas from this book in your company right now.

What I mean by “#NoOffice” is a team or company that doesn’t have a central office where people go to - where everyone on the team works remotely from their homes, the road or co-working spaces. Alternatively I’ll be using the term “all-remote” to describe the same thing.

Before we start, let me introduce myself and explain in one paragraph why I’ve written this book for you:

Hi, I’m Michael, the CEO and founder of Nozbe

I’ve been running my #NoOffice company for more than a decade now. Nozbe to put simply is a to-do app for teams used by more than half a million users from all over the world. With our software we help people and teams get stuff done better. We are all about productivity when it comes to both our product and the way we do things. This book will be focus on the latter - on how we work together as an all-remote team to create a successful company.

Not only our team is all-remote, our customers are, too!

This book will show you how we’re running an all-remote team of close to 30 people and more than 10 additional collaborators, all spread across different cities and countries, crossing many time zones.

Our customers are all-remote, too! Even though much of our team is scattered across Europe, our main chunk of customers comes from the USA, Canada and Australia. We also have lots of Nozbe users from Japan and many countries in Europe including Poland, Germany, Spain and the UK.

With both our customers and our team members from all over the world, where should we have built an office? Would it even make any sense at all? Well, not really because:

“Work is not a place to go, it’s a thing that you do!”

Yes, your job is not where you’re going. Your job is what you’re doing. You don’t “go to your job”, you just “do your job”. Right?

No. We’re not unicorns or snowflakes!

Whenever I tell this story to anyone they’re like:

“Yeah Michael, that’s nice that you have this small team of 20-30 people and you can work remotely. It works for you but you’re so special… You have just this one simple product and nothing else… your business is not complicated… while our business is very much so - we are a serious business with serious needs and one of them is to have a serious office where everyone goes to!”

First off, my business is not that simple - in theory we have only one software package called “Nozbe” but in practice we have different apps for all the major platforms that we support (Web, Mac, Windows, Android, iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch) and we offer them in 11 major languages and on the billing side we let our customers pay us in 7 different currencies and on top of that we need to run a major server infrastructure on 3 continents to make sure our customers’ data is synced and secure. So no. Not as simple as you might think. And the last time I saw a unicorn was on my daughter’s drawing.

No, we don’t need to grow up!

When people downplay our business what they’re basically trying to tell us is that at some point we will need to grow up. And when we finally do, we will need a proper office like a every traditional business.

The problem is, I’m not sure when the growing up part should start? We’ve been in business for more than a decade, we have more than 20 full-time staff, we have more than 500,000 users on our platform… at which metrics will we count as a “grown up business”?

[IMAGE of Wordpress Office Space]

We’re not alone in this. There are many companies bigger than us that are all-remote and successful. Some of them I’ll be referring to in later chapters of this book. Companies like Buffer which is more than twice our size and also fully remote. MySQL at more than 400 people had most of their team working from either remote offices or from their homes. Automattic, the makers of Wordpress had a beautiful office space in the heart of San Francisco (shown above) which they had to shut down because nobody was going there. And they’ve just crossed a threshold of more than 1000 full-time staff. All of them working completely remotely from virtually all the countries in the world. They’re not only responsible for the open-source Wordpress project which runs one third of all Internet sites, but they’re also running many successful commercial projects. I would argue that their business is vastly more complicated than mine and they have 30 times the workforce of my team and yet they still get it all done without any central offices.

With all that intro out of the way, why would you want to go #NoOffice? Let’s focus on the benefits of remote work in the next chapter.

Continue reading...

Back to the Table of Contents