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How the Linux Foundation Runs Its Virtual Office 52

CowboyRobot writes "The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit that manages much of the day-to-day business behind the open source operating system, maintains a small office in San Francisco. Stop by, however, and you probably won't find anyone there. That's because the organization's 30-something employees work virtually. It's like the anti-Yahoo: Just about everyone, including Linux kernel creator Linus Torvalds, works from home. 'We really wanted to have that effectiveness and nimbleness of a virtual organization,' said Amanda McPherson, Linux Foundation's VP of marketing and developer programs. 'You have that commitment and ownership of your job more than when you're just sitting there in that cube farm,' McPherson said. 'For us, if you hire the right people who are motivated by that, you just get more commitment. [You get] people who really love their jobs and like to work, but also like that they can go to the gym at 2 in the afternoon when it's not crowded. In an office, [people would say]: "Why isn't he at his desk? It's 2. There must be something wrong."'"
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How the Linux Foundation Runs Its Virtual Office

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  • Let's be real. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Saturday June 15, 2013 @12:09AM (#44013263)

    How much do you think office space in San Francisco costs? It's cheaper to have the developers work from home and use their own computers instead of leasing office space and providing the stuff people need to do their work.

    So they rent a tiny office a little off the beaten track so they at least have a mailing address and it's no doubt close to somebody who can actually go by and pick up the mail, and maybe it has a room big enough for a small meeting.

    Whether working from home is more effective, I really don't know, but I doubt it. There are all kinds of issues that come up that can be resolved in five minutes or less if you can just talk face to face with the right person. I can't count the times I've spent hours on things that could have been resolved immediately if I had just had access to somebody who wasn't around at the moment.

  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom ( 2244874 ) on Saturday June 15, 2013 @12:57AM (#44013367)
    I made a game 100% telecommuting. In a way, this should be the way of the future for coders. You save on commute time so you get more work done. You save on commute costs so you don't demand as much pay or save up some more money. In meetings, everyone has access to the software being developed and their own computer. You can recruit the best talent across the world instead of relying on local talent. There's so much good that comes about through telecommuting that I'm surprised it isn't the norm yet.
  • Re:Let's be real. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by oranGoo ( 961287 ) on Saturday June 15, 2013 @01:58AM (#44013505)
    Working virtually is not what makes someone unavailable - I work in a nice mix that allows for comparison. We have four people team: two people at one site, one person off-site in another office (at +6 hours) and another person off-site working from home in the same time zone.

    Virtual meetings i.e. voice and sharing a desktop tend to be more more productive than cramping around a monitor or booking a meeting room in most cases. If you manage to add video you can recover a part of non verbal communication channel and sharing control and switching desktops from one person to another allows for very productive work for up to four people to the extent that we sometimes prefer it even when all participants are at the same site. On the other hand the time zone difference of one team member indeed leads to some issues having to wait.

    Therefore it is not virtual work that makes it less effective, but it is the working times flexibility or time zone differences that needs to be offset with attention to scheduling that you are highlighting as a cause of productivity loss - and that is a matter of working hours policies not real life vs virtual office setup.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling