Reddit drew some criticism last week when it announced that it would require employees working remotely or at its offices in Salt Lake City and New York City to relocate to its San Francisco headquarters.
The company is giving employees until the end of the year to make the move or accept a severance package.
In a thread on Quora, the company’s CEO Yishan Wong says that his employees did good work, but that he felt the company would be more effective if people were able to collaborate in person.
“Despite the emails, messaging, IRC, phone calls, Skype, online project management tools, and even liberal in-person travel policies — we just couldn’t do as well as we all knew we should be doing,” he writes. “There were too many times when we just needed to be able to walk over and tap someone on the shoulder and discuss a complex issue in-depth, right away.”
We spoke with Rona Borre, the CEO and cofounder of the IT recruiting firm Instant Alliance, to get her take on whether changing its policy would hinder its ability to recruit top-tier engineering talent.
She said that while many people do enjoy having the flexibility to work from home, the company will likely be better off in the long run because the employees that remain will be able to get more done working together in person.
“Companies are pulling back their work-from-home policies because it allows them better collaboration and because at the speed at which the technology is moving, it’s really hard to get the same quality when people are everywhere and not as focused,” Borre says.
She added that she thought it was cool that Reddit took a hard-line approach, since doing so likely means the company cares deeply about creating the best possible product.
She admits that this holds true for herself, as well. Though one of the most commonly cited benefits of flexible working policies is that they allow parents to take care of their children, Borre says that on the one day a week she stays home with her kids, she is unable to accomplish as much.
“I can tell you that I work from home on Tuesday, and it is craziness in my house and I barely get anything done,” she says.
In her mind, technology is ultimately a project-based business and if talented employees feel that Reddit is doing interesting work, they will have no trouble following the company to San Francisco.
“It may not work for everyone, but maybe they will gain better brain power collectively than they would individually,” Borre says.
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