When I left Quilted, a worker cooperative I co-founded and developed for 9 years, I promised myself I would only work with people within an hour by bike or public transit. I swore off remote work.
Why am I so adamant about working locally on something (usually, a website) that can be viewed all over the world?
I’ll just come out and say it: I am completely against doing creative work remotely. Everybody from Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson with their book REMOTE to Newsweek is singing the praises of flexible schedules, working from home, and the focus of remote work. The problem is, remote work is like a sensory deprivation chamber for creativity.
After 9 years of working remotely in a highly collaborative worker co-op, video chatting 3-8 hours a week, screensharing, and group chats, I can tell you this: remote work warped our creative process as a team, drained our energy, and dimmed our intuition. There are good reasons for remote work. Developing highly complex and fragile ideas into insight and inspiration isn’t one of them.
Here’s something else I can tell you: making websites is fucking weird. I’ve spent my whole life making things that can’t be touched. They disappear, and it’s as if they never existed. They leave no human trace.
And so for myself, and for you, when we begin our work together: I ask us to meet someplace real. I ask us to put down our phones and laptops, pick up some fat markers, and sketch our fragile visions like children. Together, at the same table, in the same room, let’s share our understanding at full bandwidth, with our whole bodies and minds.