David Heinemeier Hansson

May 8, 2023

In defense of the office

You're never getting me back into an office. I credit much of my career to escaping that place in the early 2000s. It wasn't until I found the prolonged solitude of working from home that I could consistently make big leaps in my creative process. The pandemic taught millions the same lesson. And yet – AND YET! – I'm going to come to the defense of the office.

Because I find it so nonsensical to hear remote-work advocates proclaim the universal, moral superiority of abolishing the office, as I did listening to those who couldn't envision productive work from home just a few minutes ago. Let's be real here. The modern world we live in was designed and executed from an office. It's a perfectly legitimate way of working.

It may not be your preferred way of working. It sure as hell isn't mine! But let's not make the same mistake of those who couldn't fathom how we at 37signals built a successful, long-term, and prosperous company for twenty years by being remote (that's why we literally wrote a book on the joys of remote working!).

The remote workers of the world have already won. There are now endless options to choose from if you want to work from home. Don't spoil that victory by becoming an entitled, totalitarian whiner who won't let some companies make different choices than the one you now happen to like the very best.

I salute Apple, for example, for sticking to their in-person culture now that the pandemic is long gone. They're making that choice knowing that some, talented portion of their workforce will leave as a consequence, yet have the confidence that others will fill those chairs. Isn't this what we wanted? The freedom to choose how we'd like to work by picking between a plentitude of companies offering the style of our preference?

This is what frustrates me about so many technical and social movements. It's not enough to carve out a clear passing in the forest of options for you and your compatriots to frolic in peace. No, the battle must rage on long after it's won. For the love of all that is holy, learn to take the win!

About David Heinemeier Hansson

Made Basecamp and HEY for the underdogs as co-owner and CTO of 37signals. Created Ruby on Rails. Wrote REWORK, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, and REMOTE. Won at Le Mans as a racing driver. Fought the big tech monopolies as an antitrust advocate. Invested in Danish startups.