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The future of work?

Consider the experience of physically meeting for the first time someone you’ve known digitally for a while, then imagine that scaled across an organization of 50+ employees. Now you’ve got a sense of what this year’s Alley Interactive meetup entails.

Alley is a distributed agency, “the digital team for publishers,” and we write pretty good code if I do say so myself. But more than the software & tooling we use to build products for clients, the company culture might be the organization’s biggest asset. Pretty wild that we’re able to operate 51 out of 52 weeks of the year as a team spread across the globe.

This feeling can be familiar to those who are used to open source or working in public online, but the novelty hasn’t yet died for me. It’s a social smearing of sorts, dancing between the analog and the digital.

The distributed experience differs radically from the colocated corporate setting most of us know so well. Arriving at the retreat, I became suddenly aware of a few assumptions I had made unconsciously – someone’s height, a sense of humor, where they live – but for the most part, digital connections from months of Zoom and Slack carried right into the “real world”.

Resort staff seem nonplussed at the concept of a couple score of nerds gathering on their premises, partly because Alley held the retreat here last year, but also partly because (in my bus driver’s words) the distributed team & annual meetup concept makes sense, with the seemingly self-evident benefits for talent acquisition/retention and other finances. Is this the future of work? Probably, but we haven’t hit consensus yet.

In the meantime, corporate America’s reluctance to embrace remote work should be Alley’s opportunity (and yours too). The company is currently looking for a software developer – maybe next year, you’ll be here too.

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Real publishers, real problems, real opportunities

Here is a copy of my presentation and prepared remarks from WordCamp for Publishers 2019 in Columbus.

Chris Gethard & Mal Blum – Crying At The Wawa (Official Video)

Old but new to me.

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