Monday morning I interviewed Darren Murph, head of remote control for the Coder Collaboration Company GitLab, from my bathroom. There was a time when that would have been a strange and embarrassing thing to do, let alone write. But you already know where I'm going with it – and so does he. There were some workers in my house and my school-age daughter attended classes in the small apartment that I use as an office. So my exile in the privacy of the secret.
Murph has an optimistic and realistic view of our work-from-home experiment at the same time. GitLab is an all-remote company, and Murph understands the difference between working remotely, as his company and others envisioned before the pandemic and the unfortunate situation many are in now. "The best part of Remote is yet to come," he says. "Right now we are in what I call a crisis job from home."
His point is that while there are advantages and disadvantages, our current setup should not be confused with the goal of having a distributed environment where people can live where they want, but with the right tools (like comfortable furniture or a Co-co-setup workspace) and the ability to go to a cafe or whatever else is floating on a distant worker's boat.
I asked Murph if GitLab brought its people together. The answer was as follows: "Heck, yes". The entire company gathers once a year, and the teams meet to network and build teams. "Personal is important," he says. "We are communal beings." On travel expenses, "When you're running your offices, you're going to have a hard time ever spending what you would have spent on real estate if you put people in hotels in San Francisco and New York," he says. Living on the North Carolina coast near his wife and wife's extended family, he says he could never have done it without the ability to work remotely.
Murph believes that a year from now, companies that provide real and flexible support to their employees will skyrocket in employee surveys like Glassdoor. And the reputation of companies that merely tolerate employees who reshaped their lives during the pandemic, assuming they could, will decline.
This edition of the datasheet was curated by Aaron Pressman.