By: Jeff Robbins
When I started Lullabot back in 2006, the choice to be distributed was more of a "convenience" than a "decision".
I think it works this way for a lot of companies that start out distributed. I met my business partner through an online community of web developers. I hired him to help me with a project, and we hit it off. He lived in Ames, IA and I lived in Providence, RI. We didn't find the distance to be a hindrance in working together or being productive. It felt more productive actually. So there wasn't even much of a discussion about "distributed" vs "co-located" when starting the company. I don't think we were even using those words back in 2006.
Like most companies, we didn't start with a big business plan and big ideas about the future of the company. It was more of an extension of our freelancing efforts, which then extended to hiring employees, offering benefits, job security, and building a business.
I've talked to leaders of several companies who converted their staff from co-located to distributed. THAT is certainly more of a decision, and it requires more intentionality, more of a plan, and some constant vigilance to make sure that the transition happens successfully.
But both Lullabot and Yonder have had "remote" as part of our DNA. Our company structures end up being more of an evolution than a decision.