Working in an all-remote company has always been an interesting thought exercise to me. Would it work for me? Would it work for the company? At what cost?
Let’s settle on the positives first, starting with the big one: one could work with his pajamas all day! While this might not sound serious, it implies a couple of subtleties - the office is where you when it to be. You want to work from your couch? Sure. How about that cosy coffee shop nearby? Of course. Maybe the coffee shop which is right next to the park, and now that the park is mentioned, it doesn’t sound as such a bad office idea either. Definitely! And maybe occasionally you would just go to the company office and meet up with the people you work with because you are a human being, just like them, and you do feel the occasional need to socialize. Hum.. sorry, this won’t work - “all-remote”, remember? There isn’t such a thing as a company office when doing all-remote. Not only that, but the chances of too many people working in the same time zone as you are slim…
Let’s get back to the positives, though, this is the
Undoubtedly, your company would have a huge pool of engineers to chose from. How big? People from all over the world! That big! That’s a definite win for you when considering whether to join such a company - you won’t ever have to worry about whether relocating makes sense for you in this phase of your life.
Now that joining such a company is mentioned - hiring is likely to be “special” - expect an intense series of interviews, each testing your ability to work in a remote team. You might get chat-only interviews since chat will likely be the most widely and commonly used communication channel for the whole company. It makes sense to have all your interviews online, sending text messages only. No voice, no video.
Working by yourself for long periods of time seems like the most obvious challenge. I guess for myself it would be no more than a month before I feel a need for in-person human interactions. Nevertheless, this need varies widely between people. I can easily imagine someone who never really start craving a face-to-face dialogue. Your mileage may vary, just be careful not to fall into the trap that is working with your pajamas, all day, every day…
For the company, having a global pool of talent is an obvious win. Nevertheless, special care has to be taken when figuring out how many people in the company will be remote and how many - in an office. I don’t believe you can mix and match here, so the only viable, long term option in my (limited, biased) opinion, is all-remote. This post is about all-remote companies so I won’t bother going into details why a hybrid model wouldn’t be easy, if at all, to pull.
For the individual, working with people from different parts of the world, different time zones, seems like a lot of fun. Until you need to have an all-hands meeting, that is. If you’re slightly lucky however, you could easily have top-notch colleagues from all around Earth, and be able to learn a lot from them. And all from the comfort of your own couch!