I recently listened to a podcast – Distributed by Default where Matt Mullenweg had a conversation with Shane Parrish of Farnam Street. If you are looking for lessons on remote (or) distributed work (however you call it), you should listen to this podcast. I definitely recommend listening to the entire podcast, however, if you are looking for specifics to distributed work – you can jump to the 30th minute and listen until the 60th minute. Here are some of my learnings listening to the podcast.
Writing culture is key to distributed work. One of your biggest assets with distributed or remote work is written notes. Any decision you make (technical or non-technical), you will be able to go back in time with the written notes (historical) so you do not make the same mistakes again (when it comes to architecting a product or why a product was designed a certain way). Writing is very important. Having a summary towards the end of the document helps. (For long documents, one does not have to read everything and go to the end of the document and read the summary).
Everything is recorded: Town Hall meetings and everything is recorded. (Ray Dalio also talks on similar lines on his books Principles). Instead of listening to the entire hour, one can skim through and listen/watch in 30 minutes. Even with distributed teams (with companies like Automattic) which Matt runs, employees are expected to travel 3-4 weeks in a year. For a week, they bring the whole company together. For 1-2 weeks, they work together with the team.
No Emails: Internally they do not send emails to each other. Automattic has 80% fewer meetings than other companies. Matt is also looking at 5 years (long-term) investments – Inspired by Charlie Munger.
Training: Investments in training are important for distributed work. How can you make people 10% more effective? Automattic has great retention rates. Even though they are private, they run as if they are a public company.
Getting to listen to Matt, I also bumped into a great resource on how to read better. If you are interested in learning how to read better, check this out.
Matt spends one-third of his time on hiring, HR, and people. 1/3rd of his time is spent on products and the other third is reserved for anything that comes up.