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Le Web: Automattic and the virtual workplace

Sarah RossoThe Ignite talk at Le Web I’m most interest in: Sara Rosso from Automattic

No-one is inspired by a cubicle-filled office. But we’re locked into thinking about productivity as something that happens in an office. But what should that be? Some people are more productive at home, at the beach, in a co-working space. But remote workers are still viewed with suspicion in most businesses.

Automattic, makers of WordPress.com, are completely distributed. They don’t have an office. Their staff are scattered all over the world. Rosso lives in Milan…

How do they do it? Private chat on IRC, Skype and a bunch of internal blogs are the key communication tools. It means that all the information and discussions in the company are searchable as soon as you join. IRC is their “showing up” in the office. Everyone needs to be a self-starter, though, they need to manage themselves, and they need to over-communicate on their progress.

Companies need to be distributed because they can recruit from a bigger pool of talent. You can move beyond the idea of the Apple Store-radius of recruitment.

They meet once a year (at least) for a mix of fun and work. 

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Where do you write?

Practical Blogging talks about the coffee shop as an ideal place to write, based on an article in USA Today.

This is a familiar idea. In fact, it’s been something of an obsession for me since I ran an article in Estates Gazette on the idea of coffee shops becoming the new offices for mobile workers nearly three years ago. But lately, my thinking has been turning on its head. Why are these places more conducive to writing than more conventional work environments? I certainly find it easier to do any form of writing in a coffee shop, or on a train, or on a sofa, than I do in my work or home office.

What’s the psychology of that, and how could we use it to improve our work environments?

Slice of Life

My temporary workspaceSo, yes, I’ve been busy. I’ve been running Mum to the hospital for tests, clearing my desk in preparation for a short break, which I should be on by now and trying to do basic things like, say, get a haircut. And the car serviced. And my teeth checked.

Wow. What an amazing life I live. Still, I was very happy with the temporary workspace I was able to set up in my Mum’s spare bedroom.

An orderly workspace is so important, don’t you think?