Distributing the team

This Lifehacker piece highlights some of the characteristics of “being a successful remote worker.” It’s a solid list, and it’s something I’m thinking about as I’m looking at the strategic plan for the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network this year.

We’re a small nonprofit with an Annual Budget of roughly $250,000, and last year we celebrated our 10th anniversary. Originally headquartered in St. Petersburg, Florida, the company moved in 2012 to Philadelphia. We’ve got a great office just outside the city in Narberth.

The reality, however, is that we’ll probably be serving our mission better by transitioning ourselves to a distributed workforce. We already are in practice, with our president in Cincinnati, me and another staffer in Philadelphia, and a staffer in Florida. Between Slack, conference calls, email, etc., we function well. I think probably in a more productive fashion than if we all came into the same office.

Distribution makes sense, most especially because it means we can look at hiring talent in the future from anywhere, rather than just the most talented people within a particular geography. Change is hard, though. We’ll see how it turns out. I’m grateful to be able to consider and potentially formally change our culture to a distributed one while we’re still small and nimble.

In any event, I think it’s worth discarding the old, clunky mental models of “remote” working (or worse, “telecommuting”), because in an information economy where connectivity is ubiquitous, you’re just distributed. Practically speaking, you’re not “remote” from anything if you’ve got the will and tools to execute your work.