With the latest news that Reddit, of all places, is now forcing all of its employees to move to San Francisco to work in their local office, or go find a new job, I again thank my lucky stars that I have the option to work remotely. It’s a great time we live in when all of the tools we need and all the collaboration we want can happen anywhere in the world at any time.

I’ve been a remote worker for about 6 years now on a number of projects and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Are there trade-offs with having remote workers? Sure, but I think the pluses completely outweigh the minuses. Sadly, not everyone agrees with me and most of those people are old, don’t know how to judge a person’s work other than seeing them sitting at a computer and typing, and think that work should be the most important thing in their employees’ lives. Sorry, I don’t agree with this and see the following as huge benefits to any company willing to go the remote working route.

  • Hire anyone from anywhere
    If you can set up your company to handle remote working, you can literally hire anyone from anywhere. If your company is based in Smalltown, USA, this is a massive benefit. What are the chances that you have top notch developers within driving distance of your office? Probably pretty small, but if you can hire from anywhere then it really doesn’t matter.
  • Take advantage of Cost Of Living differences
    I live in a small town in Ohio and, as an employee, I can make way more money working remotely just due to cost of living differences between where I live and where most of the work is located. This makes me more money but it saves my client money because I’m still cheaper than a local developer for them and am probably a little better at what I do (if I do say so myself).
  • Save on office space
    If most of your workers are remote, you can keep your office space requirements to a minimum. Even if you have to spend a little more for some of the online tools, like screensharing software and an online collaboration tool like Basecamp, you’re still saving huge bucks per month not housing people and providing internet/electricity/coffee for 8 to 10 hours a day to every employee.
  • You have happier employees
    By keeping a flexible work arrangement like this and trusting your employees to figure out how to integrate the work that needs to be done into their daily lives, you will have happier people on your team. The big problem here is the trust, most companies don’t have it. What with drug tests, dress code, mandatory working hours and locked down computers/internet, companies have proven to their employees for a couple of decades now that you won’t be trusted. I think that’s a shame and it makes people miserable knowing that they’re being watched every second of the day and big boss man might call you into his office to give you a strong talking to.
    You might be able to tell that I have a problem with this. I think that if company doesn’t trust me, they should fire me, not try to lock me up in a little prison while I work. Letting your employees work remotely is a clear indication that there is trust between employer and employee and everyone is happier when they are trusted and relied upon to do a good job that helps everyone.

I’m at a point where I would up and quit if anyone told me that I had to work in an office somewhere. I’m certainly not against the occasional group gathering, I’m at one right now in Philadelphia for the company I’m doing work for at the moment, but it just doesn’t make sense in this day and age and in this line of work to force anyone to be in an office all day long. While it may increase collaboration, as all the companies that do this point to, it also increases disruption and wastes time (I never knew how much time I spent commuting until I didn’t have to do it anymore). It also disrespects a person’s preferred method of working. I know people who would never work from home because they don’t want to. They either don’t trust themselves or, more common, want to stay at an office for the social aspect of seeing people every day. With today’s technology, both modes of working can live together in harmony and moves like what Reddit is doing is just going to hurt them in the long run.

Which makes me wonder, does Reddit block reddit.com on their corporate firewall to make sure “people are working”?