I worked in a physical company office for over ten years until late 2011 when I decided that living in perpetual sunshine and heat was unnatural, so I picked up my family and moved from Austin, TX to a city that celebrates all four seasons, Seattle, WA. Since then, I have telecommuted. Around the world, I have a team of engineers who I interact with daily through all modes of communication including email, instant message, voice and video. I do this all despite being separated by 2000+ miles and 2+ times zones.
As the hiring manager for my team, I’m always looking for great people. The problem is that I manage the video engineering team at LifeSize which means I need a very specialized skillset. The number of people in the world, let alone Austin, TX, with that skill set is very small and the demand far exceeds the supply.
About three years ago, I had a position open on my team for close to a year. I finally found someone in another country who was working for a company doing video compression algorithms. However, he was unable to leave his country and move to the US for a job. So, I hired him to work for me from his home remotely. He didn’t have to leave his family and friends; he didn’t have to move to a new country and move his kids into completely foreign school.
This experience made me come to a very powerful realization. Great people don’t live in a specific city in a specific country; great people live in every city in every country on this planet. As a hiring manager, I don’t just want access to the talent pool of my city, I want access to the talent pool of the world. Telecommuting gives me that; it creates a world for me that truly has no borders. If you have an internet connection and the requisite skills you can work for me from a villa on the Mediterranean Sea or your condo at Whistler.
Today, half my team works from home and lives somewhere other than Austin, TX. Telecommuting gives them the ability to live where they want to live, to have their kids grow up where they want them to grow up. In return, telecommuting gives me access to the greatest minds on this planet. If LifeSize didn’t allow telecommuting, we wouldn’t be the world-class company we are today. If a world free of borders could do this for LifeSize, imagine if telecommuting were embraced by society at large.