Valued at $3 billion, what’s the right thing to do for 15 years in a row?

Automattic is a fantastic company. Most people don’t know much about it, but its two main products, WordPress and Tumblr, are well known. Matt Mullenweg started in 2005 with wordPress, a personal blog, and founded Automattic. After 15 years of siege, WordPress now reaches 60 percent of Google’s monthly coverage.

In September 2019, Automattic acquired Tumblr, a light-blogging site with 130 million users. In November of the same year, Automattic completed a $300 million D-round financing from Salesforce, valuing it at $3 billion. The company’s workforce has grown from an initial 1 person to 1,100 people in 75 countries around the world.

Interestingly, the company has been using pure telecommuting in the course of expansion and development. Automattic is not a pioneer of telecommuting, but it has used its own performance to break down doubts about this way of working and become an important preacher for telecommuting.

Valued at $3 billion, what's the right thing to do for 15 years in a row?

Automattic’s well-known products, WordPress. Globaling World

Open Automattic’s Twitter page, where nearly a third of the discussion is about telecommuting. Everyone in the company, from founders to executives to ordinary employees, seems to be “doing their job” to express their thoughts and explorations on telecommuting through personal blogs, publishing books, and social media.

In China, due to the impact of the recent outbreak, the Zhilian recruitment survey showed that nearly 60% of enterprises resumed work on February 3. Tele-office, a minority of office, is rapidly “nationalized”.

However, judging by the performance of various office synergies and the discussion of web-based hot searches, most people are clearly not ready, no matter where they are in the production chain. A large number of Chinese companies are groping and experimenting in this flood of telecommuting. So, at this particular time, it’s time to get to know Automattic again.

How do people work at Automattic?

In June 2017, Automattic closed its San Francisco office, the only one they had at the time. According to founder Matt Mullenweg, the reason for the closure was that the 1394-square-metre office, which had been rented for six or seven years, was not used by anyone.

“At Automattic, we knew from day one that we didn’t need to work in the same place because the four start-ups at the time were in different cities around the world. Matt Mullenweg said in an interview with Business Insider. The significant cost savings in the office are used to enhance the employee’s telecommuting experience.

He has blogged that for employees around the world who choose to work in co-working space, the company offers a $250 monthly office allowance, and Automattic pays for their coffee if they choose to work in a coffee shop.

In addition, employees who are officially enrolled in Automattic receive $2,000 to improve their office environment, such as the purchase of desks and chairs. At the same time, Automattic will provide all employees with the latest Apple devices to ensure the quality of their office tools.

In terms of communication collaboration, Automattic’s internal communications take place online, relying primarily on their own development of the communication collaboration tool P2 to replace the mail-dropped, the video conferencing software Zoom, and the team collaboration tool Slack.

At Automattic, the company emphasizes results-oriented, and in theory there is no traditional parent-subordinate relationship, and all work depends on the project team. “Typically, each project group is 2-12 people, and the company does not have the traditional “project manager” fixed position, encouraging the team to try new combinations of work, work together, and speak at actual output.”

Tools such as Design and Collaboration Software Mural are also incorporated into remote collaboration smpathies with different teams to organize and share ideas in virtual spaces, brainstorm ingenues or “design thinking” workshops.

“I don’t care about your hours, you can get up late, you can go golfing and work from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m., ” says Matt Mullenweg. The key question is what did you do? Many people don’t need to sit in the office every day, and they can create something great in other ways. “

“In my experience, a lot of company employees just walk through the scene. “Matt Mullenweg feels that a fixed office does not guarantee “real creativity” for employees.

Valued at $3 billion, what's the right thing to do for 15 years in a row?

Automattic hosts The Company’s Grand Meetup 2019 in Orlando

In addition, Automattic organizes a week-long Grand Meetup each year, bringing employees from around the world together in one city to enhance cohesion and collaboration. The five most popular meeting places are Lisbon, Hawaii, San Francisco, Amsterdam, the Netherlands and The Isle of Taibi.

Just past the 2019 “Big Party,” they chose Orlando. In a blog post, Automattic employee Cole Stryker mentions that During the “big party,” Matt Mullenweg spends an hour answering questions from anyone in the company. In this way, strengthen the values that the team shares.

The key to supporting telecommuting

After the number of people reached a certain level, telecommuting process will inevitably produce communication misunderstandings. There will be questions about how telecommuting will no longer apply when the company has more than 30 people.

In fact, Automattic has grown to more than 1,000 people with this model, as does InVision, an Internet company founded in 2011, using telecommuting to grow to the size of the 700 people it now has and influence dwell on digital product design around the world.

According to Matt Mullenweg, telecommuting works perfectly at Automattic because of the company’s flat management architecture and 100% transparency. All work-related conversations, documents, minutes, and training are visible to employees throughout the company to minimize friction and misunderstandings caused by remote communication.

Scott Berkun, a former employee of Automattic, explains the key to supporting telecommuting from another perspective. He previously served as Microsoft’s chief program manager and joined Automattic in 2010. He then wrote a book about his work at Automattic, The Year Without Pants – WordPress.com and The Future of Work.

Valued at $3 billion, what's the right thing to do for 15 years in a row?

One of the many books written by Scott Berkun groove

“Most of the current corporate management models are based on business schools, founded by large chaebols, which primarily serve traditional industries such as manufacturing and banking, and are characterized by a focus on professional managers,” says Scott Berkun. Most of the work involved in these industries is also repetitive. “

As a result of inertia, this management system has been inherited from the manufacturing era to the Internet era, “but gradually reflects its shortcomings and the economic nature of the economy of the unadaptability.” This kind of inadaptation, from the current many new economic enterprises to seek enterprise structure innovation, transformation of the trend can be seen.

In the wave of digital workforce transformation, represented by the Internet, Scott Berkun believes that creators are at the heart of the company, not professional managers. For creators like programmers, writers, and designers, the inherent management model is killing their creativity. Digital enterprises and manufacturing should not follow the same management model, office model.

Although existing office products already meet the needs of a remote work team, there are still many people who cannot achieve telecommuting perfectly. Scott Berkun summarizes this in his personal blog as 5 reasons and suggests a solution:

1. 在总部中没有盟友。如果公司有总部,那么远程办公者很难知道总部正在发生着什么。总部的决策也很难快速传达给远程办公者。因此,远程工作者要么在总部建立盟友;要么公司建立“远程第一”的原则,在线进行许多讨论、会议与文件处理,并且使用随时随地可以使用的在线协作工具。这样,所有的工作对话都可存档和可搜索,对于“非远程”人员也可以提高工作效率。

2. Be careful with your corporate culture. Amazon and other companies see “action-oriented” as an important part of their corporate culture. This culture expects employees to take the initiative, rather than waiting to be told what to do. A “action-oriented” culture also fosters more adaptable employees who are willing to discover and solve problems. The more a corporate culture requires communication and collaboration, the greater the pressure on remote communication tools, and the more the team’s ability to communicate and collaborate.

3. The role definition is ambiguous. Unclear role definitions can cause trouble in any organization, and this hassle can be magnified among remote workers. Remote workers need to have a clear definition of their roles, clearly stating the authority they have and how performance is measured. In this way, they can better decide how to spend their time and resources.

4. Poor communication. Most organizations around the world have been hiring people with good communication skills, but in practice, good and mature communication skills are not common, and poor communication skills can have a greater impact on remote work.

5. The wrong person has been hired. Remote work is not for everyone. Remote workers often require above-average organizational and self-management capabilities. Even in a Google-like work environment, teleworkers need to be more proactive than other employees. Telecommuting is better suited for ambitious people. At Automattic, the company recruits through a “remote trial” that better evaluates a candidate’s remote work skills.

The people who come together

The digital age is rewriting the business model left over from the industrial age. Behind telecommuting is the new human resource management and enterprise operation thinking.

Automattic has developed a recruitment model for screening telecommuting talent. Dave Martin, the company’s director of design and business development, reveals automattic recruitment in his personal blog.

Dave Martin writes, “We’ve also screened employees through interviews, mimicked Google and Microsoft, asked job seekers tough questions, and had an interview lunch with them.” But we later found that the way candidates spoke and behaved in restaurants had nothing to do with their work. Some people do amazing lying in an interview, but the actual job is not a fanof, and the interview skills are not the same as job performance. “

Later, Automattic canceled the offline interview session on the hiring process. Founder Matt Mullenweg will be personally involved in the first instance of the resume, and Then Automattic will ask the selected candidates to work with them on a contract ($25 per hour) for 3-8 weeks. At the same time, both parties may terminate the contract at any time.

Valued at $3 billion, what's the right thing to do for 15 years in a row?

Automattic Founder and CEO Matt Mullenweg MONEYINC

In this “trial” process, candidates do not need to resign from their current company, but they will work side by side with potential future colleagues to participate in real-world projects. Time is flexible, you can also be in the evening or on weekends.

During this time, the trialer and the company can quickly and effectively assess whether they match each other. And, thanks to telecommuting, Automattic can recruit talent globally, regardless of geography.

Dave Martin reveals that each Automattic employee can supervise up to two to three probationary employees, “and in our company culture, supervisory trial tasks take precedence over day-to-day work.” If someone needs to temporarily put down the job at hand because of the supervision task, we fully accept this point. “

“We’re particularly concerned about whether job seekers are self-motivated, good at written communication (because we rely heavily on instant messaging for telecommuting),” says Matt Mullenweg. “

At the end of the trial period, Matt Mullenweg will “end up” with a web chat. “I don’t know the interviewer’s gender or race, I can only see the text on the screen. This process allows me to focus on the interviewer’s passion for work and cultural adaptability. “

The purpose of the trial is to find the right person. “It takes years, not months, to form the most productive relationships,” says Dave Martin. If you want to build products that change the world, it takes a lot longer. We expect Automattic’s employment relationship to last for decades. “If the firm treats everyone as a short-term employee, managers will develop very different approaches and attitudes based on short-termization in terms of employee input.” Therefore, loyalty should be mutual. “

“It’s not just that I think so.”

“I worked for a technology company in Silicon Valley, and one day my supervisor and I had a very deep conversation in Slack, but he wasn’t far away and didn’t come up to me and talk directly. I realized that everyone in this room, their work can be done at home. As it turns out, I’m not the only one who thinks so. John Cunningham, who then created Remote Rise, specializes in helping businesses implement remote work systems.

According to Global Workplace Analytics, a research firm, there were 1.8 million telecommuting employees worldwide in 2005, and by 2014 that number had doubled to 3.6 million. By the end of 2018, more than 56% of technology companies worldwide allowed their employees to telecommute, a higher percentage in the developed world, according to the Owl Lab. In the United States, 30 million people already work remotely from home, accounting for 16-19% of the U.S. working population. They predict that by 2020, about 50 percent of technology companies will have about 29 percent of their employees allowed to work remotely.

With the reduction of network equipment and network service charges, the cost of telecommuting is becoming more and more insignificant compared with the cost of traditional office. In theory, it is possible to sell, support, develop, and operate these jobs by working remotely, either outside the office or on network equipment, which is not necessary for them.

At present, there are Amazon, Hilton, Dell and other international enterprises in some positions to open telecommuting mode, such as customer service, technical support, software engineers, marketing managers, etc. , China’s VIPKID also has “online teachers” this remote position, compared with the domestic enterprises on the overall remote office is still conservative.

Thirty years ago, the development of traditional video conferencing made telecommuting possible, and today, the development of Internet technology has led to the popularity of telecommuting tools. And the urgent need to upgrade the replacement is often people’s thinking.

Compared with telecommuting, the outbreak is also a reminder of whether domestic technology companies need to explore new ways of hiring and organizing.