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Are Office-Free Companies the Future of Business?

Automattic Inc. is one of many businesses that doesn't force its employees to report to a physical office every workday. Its 123 employees all work from home, and are based in some 94 cities in 26 countries. Is this office-free model the future of entrepreneurship?

Automattic Inc. is one of many businesses that doesn’t force its employees to report to a physical office every workday. Its 123 employees all work from home, and are based in some 94 cities in 26 countries. Is this office-free model the future of entrepreneurship?

The WordPress.com blog platform relies on Automattic to host its servers. In this sense, it’s almost more convenient for Automattic’s workers to telecommute and work asynchronously. The company saves on real estate costs with this office-free model, and can also recruit employees from a global talent pool rather than a local one.

To stay connected, Automattic relies on internal blogs, Skype, phone calls, email and instant messaging. Consultant teams, however, see each other on a daily basis while interacting with clients. And the company hosts several employee get-togethers a year, including a weeklong all-staff “grand meetup.”

Although telecommuting can significantly boost employee productivity, the practice isn’t without its pitfalls. “Some people hunger for the personal contact,” said Michael Boyer O’Leary, an assistant management professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University.

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