The year without pants – remote work at WordPress

I´ve recently read The Year Without Pants by Scrott Berkun – former Microsoft manager. It´s the story about Berkun´s time working for Automattic on WordPress as a manager. It´s about the open culture of Automattic and the advantages and obstacles of a remote-work-culture instead of a conventional office culture.

This book is great for entrepreneurs who are interested in unconventional ways of leadership and people with an outsourcing mindship. Why? Because Automattic´s team works almost completely spread throughout the world and is connected via blogs, skype and IRC chats.

Remote work is the key.

Berkun´s storytelling gives the reader deep insights in the everyday life working at Automattic. The book is at no point boring or too theoretical.

The main topics I´ve took a closer look are the hierarchy, the way teams work and operate, the remote work  and the culture.

To the date of the book Matt Mullenweg was on top of the company and separated the employees into different teams. Each team had its own tasks like Team Social (where Berkun worked). A team consists of five members and a lead. This makes communication easy and fast.

Every team member works remotely – even though there is a headquarter in San Francisco. Once a year is a great meeting where all employees of Automattic get together to get in touch personally and work together on different projects.

The daily work looks like: every team gets a specific project and a fixed timeline. Everybody works remotely on his tasks and is connected via chats, skype and blogs. Chatting is around 75% of the company´s communication.

Blogging is – of course – an important pile of communication for the company behind wordpress. One of WordPress´ core values is transparency.

This means that discussions about bugs, fixes, ideas and so on are completely public (to WordPress employees) and can be read by any employee. This allows everybody to stay updated/ informed as well as to have the chance to take part of any discussion.

This is just a fragment of the book´s content and I don´t want to get in more detail. It´s absolutely worth reading and is really enjoyable and easy to read because of Berkun´s storytelling-style.

This books shares great insights for unconventional leadership which is definitely important for today´s entrepreneurs and shows how remote work can work out.

In my eyes remote work is only possible once you have built your core team, have your standards and are not reliant on a team surrounding you after you have set up everything need for the company to run. Remote work isn´t as easy as it sounds. But once you got over this point it´s easy to either work remote or even outsource quite a lot of tasks. Especially since the markets and services are completely international and people/ experts can be found all over the world remote work/outsourcing is an essential part of a successful startup.

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