Jason Fried

July 14, 2021

It's not remote if you have to go to the office

As companies begin to experiment with pulling people back to the office, you're hearing a lot of talk about hybrid work arrangements. Work at the office a few days a week, work remotely the other days.

In general I think that's a fair approach for a lot of companies. But it's not remote work. That's work from the office + work from home work. If you have to go into a physical office, it's not remote work. You can't work remotely if you have to still work locally.

Remote work means working from anywhere. Moving or traveling without penalty. If you have to commute, you can't work remotely. On the other hand, if you can get up and move to a new city and keep your job (without transferring to another local office in the new city), that's remote work.

Remote work is ultimately about flexibility and optionality. Working from home is ultimately about being close enough to go to an office. Nothing wrong with a work from home situation, but it's not remote working. Beware companies that call it remote work if there are office visits attached. There's a good chance over time that you'll be required to be at the office more and more. If they can pull you in, they will pull you in.

To be clear, there's nothing wrong with being required to work in an office. If that's the policy, and you like the company, office, and commute, it may, in fact, be the best fit. But if you're looking for true remote work, be sure not to get caught with in-office requirements, or overly-specific geographic requirements. Time zone coverage or team overlaps are one thing, but requiring a relatively narrow radius around a corporate office means you'll be pinned to working from home, not working remotely.

About Jason Fried

Hey! I'm Jason, the Co-Founder and CEO at 37signals, makers of Basecamp and HEY. Subscribe below to follow my thinking on business, design, product development, and whatever else is on my mind. Thanks for visiting, thanks for reading.