Is remote work hereditary? A short story of my distributed life

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

1984 was the year that changed my life.

My Dad started transcribing music in Braille.

The library he worked for is in Zurich, but we couldn’t move to Switzerland despite his rare skillset. He had to read and write music both in Braille and print. The work was manual and only needed a small Braille typewriter.

He started working from home.

Transcriptions were highly fragile, so he traveled to Switzerland once per month to deliver them personally. So we moved to the east of France, which made it more manageable. Once there, he taught my Mom, and for many years, they worked together remotely.

I grew up stranger to the notion that you had to go to an office or a factory each day to work.

In 1994, I discovered the web.

The distributed gene took its toll.

After studying in Paris, I went back to the east of France, working from home half of the week, traveling to the city the other half. The following years saw me moving a few times, including to New York and back to Paris, where I had an office and started going there more.

Deep inside, I knew this had to change.

By 2004, I had gained my freedom.

Everyone I needed to do my job now lived far away from me.

With a family of my own, I moved to Switzerland. To raise children in the countryside, and maybe as an act of small revenge for the fact that my parents couldn’t do it.

I was living there when I joined Automattic.

Back to the present.

I live now in Vienna.

Automattic is an entirely distributed company. I lead 89 people spread across 5 continents, 37 countries, and covering 17 time zones. Distributed, or remote, work has suddenly become common. We all know why.

It may be comforting to realize that some have decades of practice already.

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  1. […] A new version of this post has been published on February 3rd, 2022 under the title Is remote work hereditary? A short story of my distributed life. […]

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