Can Big Companies Work Without An Office?

Virtual Office in UtahYou might think that almost everything on the web is controlled by a familiar name: Google. But the truth is there's another familiar (but nondescript) name literally running a quarter of the entire web. The name and business? WordPress, run by the company Automattic.

It’s not WordPress itself that should amaze you, though. It’s the company behind it. Automattic is valued at over $1 billion, as per WordPress creator and Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg. And the company is entirely digital. Yes, you read right – it doesn’t have a physical office at all. They don’t even use e-mail. Not bad for a billion-dollar company.

Some other companies may be working in this manner, though not in the same scale as Automattic. Such a phenomenon is made possible by companies like Gateway Business Center, which provide specialized business services. Virtual offices are among these offerings. Now, digital offices may seem perfect for startups, at least those without large employee bases yet. But how can it actually work with billion-dollar companies?

The Case Of The Remotely Controlled Bigwig

A “totally distributed” company is how Mullenweg describes his enterprise. Claiming to currently have people from over 40 different countries, Automattic uses applications like P2 and Slack. These apps are touted as replacements to the age-old e-mail client. Here’s how it works. Instead of e-mail, people can post and comment on a blog. Different teams will have their own space on the blog and everything is traceable. It also has a built-in alert system to track everyone else in the company, all without having to read everything.

The digital services company Buffer, though not as big as Automattic, is another example. The two simple reasons as to why they ditched the headquarters: accountability and costs. Having an office means that meetings, for one, can’t always push through unless everyone is in. And as for the costs, it’s self-explanatory. Buffer having its headquarters in a business hub like San Francisco meant sky-high rent numbers.

Now, Buffer is working completely remote, using a bevy of tools like Traveling Mailbox. Their overall system is basically the same as what Automattic uses, the only difference being the actual tools used. Literally everyone in their 50-person team works at their own pace now. This is the beauty of the out-of-office work environment: there’s enough opportunity for both industry bigwigs and smaller-scale enterprises.