In something that will surprise absolutely no one, 2020 is the year we updated the way we think about remote work at Mux.
Mux was founded in San Francisco, and our first full-time team was fully colocated in SF. We did this intentionally, because we know how valuable in-person communication is for a small team. As we grew, we opened a London office, and hired a handful of remote employees, but stayed SF-centered.
In 2020, we became a much more remote-friendly company. This happened for two reasons.
Obviously, the pandemic forced us to move to a 100% work-from-home model for an extended period of time.
But we also made a strategic decision to embrace a Remote-Equal approach, where employees who work from our SF headquarters, from remote offices, and from home are on a level playing field.
A remote-equal policy means that employees working in a core office aren't privileged over employees working from smaller offices or from home.
Every remote policy is on a spectrum. Sid from Gitlab, one of the exemplars of full remote work today, recently tweeted a 10-point scale ranging from "no remote" (1) to "strict remote" (9). Gitlab is a 9 on the scale.
What we're calling "remote-equal" is a 6.5 or 7. We're intentionally somewhere between "Hybrid Remote" (5) and "All Remote" (9).
On the one hand, we didn't choose to go Remote Only (8), because we still think that offices are useful tools, and we didn't choose to go All Remote (9), because we still value some synchronous work (as well as asynchronous work).
On the other hand, we considered Hybrid Remote, but think that's actually the option that captures all of the disadvantages of the extremes with few of the advantages.
Here is the policy, extracted from our internal company handbook.
We chose this approach for a number of reasons.
We can't all be in SF. We're a global company, which means remote teams will always be a part of Mux. We need people on the ground in key markets, starting with London and expanding from there.
Access new talent markets. San Francisco is a highly competitive market for talent, and there are good people all over the world. We've hired dozens of excellent people in SF, but as we grow, we'll be able to build a better team overall by opening ourselves up to other locations.
Remote hiring helps with diversity & inclusion. By widening the pool of talent we can draw from, we can make sure that we're making progress on D&I and living our values.
Learning how to work remotely makes us all better. Much of the work we need to do to scale to 150 people is the same work that we need to do to be remote-equal. This includes things like more intentional communication, documenting, improving collaboration and onboarding, and investing in systems and processes over individual heroics. Aiming at being remote-equal will help us be better across the board.
If we're going to have anyone remote, we should do it well. Policies that are less remote-friendly than "Remote-Equal" make work difficult for people who are remote. We believe that if we are going to hire someone, we should set them up for success, which means we should either avoid remote team members or else be Remote-Equal.
In order to do this well, we're going to do some things differently.
Write things down. This is important anywhere, especially in growing companies. When you're small, everything is in the team's head, but that doesn't scale. But writing this down is doubly important when people aren't working together in the same office.
WFH days. Today, everyone is WFH while we deal with the COVID pandemic. Even after we get back to the office, we will continue with 2 all-company WFH days every week. This will help level the playing field for office-based and remote employees.
Face-time (when safe). Even as we hire more remote people, we still want to get together as a team. We expect everyone to have face-time with their teams and manager at least a few times a year. In-person relationships are valuable.
Meetings. Try to avoid meetings where some employees are in a conference room and others are on a screen. This disadvantages the employees on a screen.
Location concentrations still matter. We believe a strong SF presence is important for a number of reasons, like proximity to customers, investors, and talent. Similarly, a strong London presence is important for the European market, and we will likely have more concentrations over time. Remote-equal doesn't mean that we're fully location-agnostic.
Work on asynchronous decision-making. Even though we're choosing to prioritize some level of synchronous communication, getting better at async work is only a good thing. We're working on identifying the patterns, tools, and processes that will help us doing this well. (More on that in another post, maybe.)
This means most positions at Mux are now open for remote hiring. Check out https://mux.com/jobs/ if you're interested in learning more!