On February 20, 2020, we officially moved out of our amazing San Francisco office and became an all-remote company. Few people have worked at an all-remote company before, and I frequently get questions—especially from candidates—about what led to this decision. This blog post documents our journey to all-remote.
Many of our early engineering hires were distributed across the world, so we have had remote-friendly practices ingrained in our culture from the very beginning. As a result, we strongly value asynchronous written communication, personal responsibility, and autonomy; nothing else works when your teammates are in different timezones.
Since we were open to hiring engineers from all over the world, our engineering team organically grew to be more distributed over time. As we grew the team, it was important that we continue to be a remote-friendly place to work. In late 2018, we started experimenting with scheduled days where San Francisco teammates were encouraged to work from a location other than the office. We called these "distributed days".
This experiment had two goals:
After doing this a few times, we surveyed the team to see what everyone had learned. Here’s a summary of feedback we collected in early 2019:
In the middle of 2019, we decided to formally communicate to the team that we wanted Sourcegraph to be a remote-first company.
In practice, this meant:
We made this change because:
Near the end of 2019, we decided to become an all-remote company and get rid of our San Francisco office entirely. As our team grew, we didn't want to create an office subculture that made our distributed teammates feel second-class; we wanted to treat everyone equally. We knew that continuing to have an office would be an increased risk to our remote-first culture, so we decided to go all in.
Once this decision was made, we needed to:
We love all-remote, but it doesn't work for everyone (just like an open-office floor plan doesn't work for everyone). Working remotely gives you extra freedom and flexibility, but also requires extra discipline and personal responsibility. Certain things that happen organically in an office environment (e.g., informal conversations at lunch), need to be explicitly planned (e.g., by scheduling small "water cooler" meetings with no agenda, or scheduling 1:1s between random teammates using a tool like donut.com).
We are committed to supporting all our teammates to help them be successful. Check out our tips for working remotely.
If you have any questions about all-remote teams, join us during our Developer Meetup on Tuesday, May 7 2020 at 10:00 AM PDT, and I will be happy to answer them.