Here's a map of our current offices at Lincoln Loop:

Lincoln Loop map

That's 10 people, 5 timezones, and 3 continents for those of you counting at home. I use the term "office" loosely because we don't have a central office in the traditional sense. Instead, Lincoln Loop is a distributed (people work where they want) asynchronous (people work when they want) workplace.

Why?

Compared to a traditional office, we think our distributed workplace is better, not only for us, but also for our clients. The biggest improvements are:

Better Talent

When I started Lincoln Loop, I wanted to work with great developers. Living in a small mountain town with no tech scene to speak of, my only option was to hire people remotely. As we've grown, we've continued the trend, hiring based solely on talent and compatibility rather than proximity. Hiring remotely has resulted in a team with far more talent than if we were hamstrung by our geographic location.

More Efficient

Since we don't require 8 hours a day in an office, people work when they are inspired and have free reign to disconnect from distractions as needed. In a typical office setting, co-worker distractions are the norm and a serious impediment to getting in the flow. Jason Fried expressed this phenomenon well in his talk, Why work doesn't happen at work.

Lower Cost

Not having a central office means we don't have to pay to rent/heat/cool a cube that sits empty 70% of the time. It also means nobody has to commute to the cube daily and nobody has to maintain, insure, and clean it. It's lower cost not only monetarily, but also environmentally and temporally (it frees up a lot of unproductive time).

Happier People

Freedom breeds happiness. Our developers are free to work around the world (as you can see from the map) at whatever time they please. One of our developers has worked from the Caribbean, Amsterdam, and Paris over the last couple years. As I type this, I'm in a beach town in Mexico. Most people work from home, while others have their own offices or bounce between coffee shops, but everyone has the freedom to choose what works best for them. Our arrangement allows us to do this with no interruption to the daily business.

Beyond freedom of location, we also have freedom of time. More than half of us have children and the ability take them to school, eat lunch with them, and play a greater part in their lives is priceless. For others, it means early morning surf sessions, mid-day mountain bike rides, or simply taking a relaxing walk to clear your mind.

How?

I can hear the naysayers screaming, "You can't run a business like that! If people don't meet at an office, no work will ever get done." Surprisingly, work can and does get done in this environment.

To make it work, we've thrown some standard business practices out the window and adapted others to meet our needs. Primarily, we've had to learn how to do a lot of our work asynchronously. I'll go into that further in the next post.