Over the past few weeks, high-profile companies, including Twitter, Facebook, and Nationwide, made headlines by announcing new policies that make remote work more available to their workforce. But conspicuously absent from the conversation is an important distinction: the difference between partially remote and fully remote organizations.
Couched in each of the announcements are acknowledgements that the office isn’t fully going away. It is being reprioritized. While the bold decisions to create remote arrangements are welcome changes, to date no well-known company has announced plans to abandon the office entirely. Rather, many are scaling back the office presence or scaling up remote options. Choosing neither fully remote nor fully co-located, these companies have instead opted to negotiate a new balance between the two.
I want to highlight a different option, one that’s received far less attention: going all-in on remote.
InVision, where I’m the chief marketing officer, has been a fully remote company since its founding in 2011. (We call it “fully distributed.”) Our 700 employees are scattered from Seattle to Singapore with no offices anywhere, save for a smattering of coworking spaces, dinghies in a sea of home offices. The lack of a central office and the fact that the entire staff works from anywhere are defining traits of InVision, a digital product design and development software company.
The distinction between partially remote and fully remote is an important one, because the experience between the two is radically different.
As many will have experienced in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, when remote workers are “in it together,” there is a camaraderie and shared understanding that emerges. Friendships develop. Both the benefits of remote work and the challenges inherent in it are experienced by the entire staff. People use the same tools and commit to following the same processes. This can create an equal playing field for all employees and becomes an integral part of the culture that binds people together—despite the distance.
When part of that team moves back to the office, and others stay remote, the experiences diverge.
Some meetings happen in an office; others happen virtually. Perks and benefits apply to one cohort but not another. Processes that should be followed by everyone are unevenly respected. Relationships become divided based on who’s in an office and