Stances

Yesterday (essentially), I woke up and decide to stir the pot a little bit. I had come across this post while looking into the company behind MapBox. As I noted, I do this to get a feel for what the company is doing. What technology is important to them? What do they value? Are they funded, and so on, and so on.

That particular job posting rubbed me the wrong way, however, because of it’s emphatic no telecommute policy, with them going so far as to call attention to it with a bold font. To automatically shut the door to any potential employee who might be an amazing fit, just not in their particular office seems extremely one-sided.

I woke up ready to write, and did. Before writing my first book, my post would have been rather mellow. I would have presented the case, but not gone quite so far in making my case. This post, I decided to let it rip. Companies that didn’t allow telecommuting don’t get it, end of discussion.

And boy did it work. Nearly 90 comments—between Hacker News and my blog—later, I’m still amazed at the fervor with which both sides attacked the issue. Almost to a T, no one was in the middle on this. Everyone had an opinion. They loved it, or they hated it. Everything from management types saying how their teams wouldn’t be the same if IRC was their only interaction to people with severe social anxiety talking about how telecommuting affords them the opportunity to deal with that anxiety by focusing on their job, not their proximity to people.

I like to mine the edges of the conversation to get the bigger picture. My post emphasized the importance of taking a stand. Had I not been so opinionated, I doubt much interested would have been given to the post.

Honestly, the post is a little harsher than my personal opinion on the subject. Companies that start the conversation with prospective employees by outlining the things they aren’t going to stand for are starting off on the wrong foot, but beyond that I realize that telecommuting does present challenges in some environments and some companies—at their loss—aren’t willing to try to overcome those challenges.

A few months back a recruiter—the flaky kind it turns out—was talking with me about a gig. I was honest that I wasn’t looking to move, but for the right opportunity every thing was on the table. I told him:

I want to be up front with you. I’m not looking to move, but I’m not ruling it out. All I ask for in return is that you approach this with the same open-mindedness. Let’s continue the process, see if its a good fit, then figure out if we can make the logistics work.

Needless to say, they didn’t. Companies, particularly in the tech space, are asking their potential employees to take a chance on them. Companies are taking a risk too, but when companies expect the employees to be the only ones giving (broadly disregarding monetary compensation from the companies for the moment), they set the wrong tone.