How many companies are 100% distributed? (Research Summary)

[post updated 8/12/14]

One common question about my book The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work is how many other companies are primarily distributed, with a majority of employees working remotely. WordPress.com is among the most well known, with over 200 employees all working from wherever they like on the planet. But how many others are there?

Here’s are some companies we’ve identified. If you know of others please leave a comment, and note how many employees the organization has, and what % are distributed. You can also read the FAQ of questions about the book, many of which are about remote work trends and WordPress.com’s example.

A good list of traditional companies with liberal telecommuting policies can be found here.

(First edition of this post written by: Shawn Prenzlow 

126 Responses to “How many companies are 100% distributed? (Research Summary)”

  1. Benjamin Patton

    Hello!

    I work for Site5.com, we’re a web host. We have over 100 employees now, every employee works remotely.

    Reply
    • Brock Tice

      My company CardioSolv LLC is 100% distributed, but we’re only 5 people.

      Reply
  2. Tim O'Reilly

    At O’Reilly Media, we have several hundred employees. We have two principal locations in the US (Sebastopol, CA and Cambridge, MA), as well as in the UK, Germany, Japan, and China. Many employees (including me) work remotely even if they are in commuting distance of one of those offices. However, we have employees who work from home in the better part of a dozen states. (Off the top of my head, I can think of CT, NY, MD, WA, RI, CO, NJ in addition to CA and MA.)

    In a small anecdote, one of my key employees (now over 30 years) was hired sight-unseen by email, and has worked from his home for all of those years.

    You should broaden your definition, though. When you think about our business, it is really a network, with thousands of authors, conference presenters, outside conference chairs, many of whom spend substantial portions of their time in our enterprise, even though they are not employees. If you look at the total population that is part of this wider circle, it is almost entirely outside our principal locations.

    Reply
  3. Nicola peluchetti

    I work for time.ly and we are distributed. 1 is in Vancouver, 1 in Toronto, 2 in Italy, 2 in bulgaria and 1 in lituania

    Reply
  4. Mark Bevan

    Perhaps the original distributed company was IMDB. The creators didn’t even meet each other until the company was bought by Amazon in 1998. They met for the first time at a welcome party in a hotel near Heathrow, along with employees from Bookpages – the UK online book retailer Amazon had also just acquired.

    Reply
  5. Mayhem

    Hey!

    The MetaBrainz Foundation ( http://metabrainz.org ) is all virtual. We only have 5 contractors, but they sit in AZ US, UK, DE, EE, NL and ES. Recently I gave up the main office and moved to Barcelona, so we don’t even have a “headquarters” anymore. :)

    Reply
  6. Loren Buhle

    About 40% of IBM’s employees work remotely, either from their home office or at a client site (not an IBM facility). As of mid-2013, IBM employs 434,246 employees…making the number of remote employees to be ~175,000.

    Reply
  7. Scott Hanselman

    Let me know if I can help. I’ve been remote at MSFT for the last 6 years and written extensively on how I deal with it, including my Persistent Portal.

    Reply
  8. Gwen Shapira

    Pythian (pythian.com) is a 300 person remote-database services company, headquartered in Ottawa, Canada that has employees working from their home or offices in the US, Canada, South America, Australia, India, UK and Macedonia. I probably forgot few places :) The geographical distribution allows them to offer 24×7 follow the sun services, with awake and alert employees answering the phone at any time. The company developed internal systems and processes that allows team to collaborate and transition work between locations and timezones.

    Reply
  9. Jane Park

    Creative Commons is a distributed network of staff, volunteer affiliates, consultants/advisers, and contractors. Though its headquarters are in Mountain View, CA, its volunteer affiliates number 200+ and work in over 70 jurisdictions around the world.

    More than 50% of the staff/contractors listed at https://creativecommons.org/staff work outside of Mountain View. Of the core full-time staff, 25% work remotely.

    Reply
  10. Jeremy Dunck

    I asked on twitter:
    buffer
    mozilla
    appcelerator
    lincoln loop
    eldarion
    37signals
    basho
    heroku

    Reply
    • Jeremy Dunck

      CMGd (Cox Media Digital)
      Rackspace

      Reply
      • ex-racker

        Rackspace must have changed it’s policies. As of 2008 remote work wasn’t allowed.

        Reply
    • Jeremy Dunck

      red hat
      opscode eng > 50%
      canonical

      Reply
  11. Jeff Slutz

    ‘We’ are 100% distributed, but we refers to 1 person, me– the sole employee of my freelance/contractor web applications development company.

    Reply
  12. Philipp Schmidt

    Peer 2 Peer University is a small (5 staff) non-profit organization that is registered in California, but completely distributed. Not only does every one work virtually, most of us are not based in one particular place, or at least not for very long. Our Tech Lead was hired in Durban (South Africa) is currently passing through Boston and in the process of moving to Santiago de Chile. Being open to very flexible work arrangements is one way we can compete for talent with better funded for-profit companies.

    Reply
  13. Matt Pope

    At Talko, we established a (near) location-free policy from day 1. In practice, now at 10 people, it has turned out that we’ve become distributed between 3 cities – Boston, Seattle, San Francisco. We don’t consider anyone to be “remote”, per se, because we don’t consider any one place to be the “center”.

    Reply
  14. Ahrash Bissell

    The NROC Project, under the legal name the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education, is an entirely virtual and distributed (11 states and counting) organization with more than 20 employees and about that same number of full or part-time contractors (including international) to round out the needed skills and expertise. The non-profit company, founded ten years ago, has always been virtual and is going strong. Of the various non-distributed and more distributed organizations I have been a part of in my career, the NROC Project is by far the most effective and functional, perhaps in part because the operating premises of being part of a virtual organization are baked into its DNA.

    Reply
  15. Amanda

    Envato (envato.com) is a company with a large remote staff, I believe it’s about 50/50 at this point, though it used to be even higher majority remote.

    Reply
  16. Sarah Pressler

    I helped build out a job board for a startup in Austin. I have a huge spreadsheet with companies that hire remotely – many of them make up more than 50% of their overall employees through work at home positions. Most of them are Work At Home Customer Service (call center, inbound) or at home tech support positions. But there are literally hundreds of these type of employers across the country, hiring US Agents. I have so much information from the 8 months of research, it’s ridiculous.

    In fact, I just wrote a post about this today and plan to expand this topic on my blog. I linked to this article – it’s amazing how many positions are out there and people just don’t seem to be able to find the information online.

    Reply
    • Seth Weedin

      Hi Sarah – Can you provide a link to your blog article? I would love to read it and learn more about your research. Our company is entirely distributed and we actually offer a project management solution specifically for distributed teams called Spotlight People & Project Manager. I’d be very interested in what you found out!

      Reply
      • Sarah Pressler

        Hey Seth,

        Sorry just now saw this comment.

        Here’s a link to the initial blog post: http://sarahpressler.com/work-at-home-job-leads/

        I’m about to write another one today with general information on companies that hire inbound work at home customer support technicians. A lot of people are comfortably happy earning $9-12/hr working on inbound customer support for big companies. But some of those companies have shady business practices and the turnover rate is SO high for these positions. I don’t know if it’s employees ditching these lower end jobs or companies who have little integrity.

        Anyway – working at home is a super hot topic these days!

        Reply
      • Sarah Pressler

        BTW – I’ll take a look at your software. I’m working with a distributed company now and we are having lots of discussion about how to manage our people and projects since experiencing some pretty positive growth this past year. Thanks for the blurb about it!

        Reply
          • Sarah Pressler

            Seth – that’s actually REALLY impressive software. Right now we utilize a wide variety of programs that each do something different. HipChat, BaseCamp, Harvest, GitHub, BitBucket, DropBox, SmartSheet, HelpScout… It’s a lot to keep up with and I keep thinking….there HAS to be a better way to streamline some of this. Things grew really fast – so I’m NOT complaining. But I’m just an organization nerd and I can’t help myself. LOL Spotlight looks very efficient – very well integrated. I like it. I’m going to have to look more closely at it over the next week or so. I’ve added it to my official task list. :)

          • Seth Weedin

            Sarah – Thanks! We are on the exact same page as you. We wanted to build a platform that had all those types of features built right in to prevent the confusion and time that can be wasted using so many different tools at once. Obviously we use Spotlight for all our projects (we eat our own dog food) and we don’t use anything else but Skype for our team. And even better, we have Skype integrated right in to Spotlight :) Our development team does use some other tools for coding, etc though.

            Let me know if you have any questions or comments after you take a closer look – you can reach me directly at seth.weedin@spotlightppm.com. Looking forward to hearing from you!

  17. Keith Hollenkamp

    Wolfram Research has a long history of running a distributed operation.
    Even our CEO, Stephen Wolfram, has been remote for 22 years. Of our current
    workforce (of approximately 700), about half are based at our main office.
    Some are in branch offices, and the rest are scattered around the world. We
    quite often do projects where the people working on them have never
    physically met

    Reply
  18. Megan

    So exciting to hear of so many companies that have a distributed workforce. The company I work for has about 600 remote workers in about 10 states in the US. We are trying to expand our remote population so I’m curious if anyone has any advice or can suggest any research or articles that will help with managing employment law in many different states? How do you make sure your HR functions are up to date on the specific state laws for so many different states at once? Thanks in advance for feedback!

    Reply
  19. Jakob

    I would guess that Xamarin qualifies too, my impression is that they are quite scattered around

    Reply
    • Scott

      Scattered around makes it sound like they’ve been sprinkled across the planet :)

      Reply
  20. Andrew Berkowitz

    Love the book, Scott!

    TeamSnap has been distributed since day one. We currently have ~40 people spread out across the USA. Nominally we’re headquartered in Boulder, CO, with a small office space, but only about four employees are there semi-regularly and another four or so come in occasionally to co-work. Everyone has the flexibility to work where and when they want to.

    Without a doubt the biggest boost to our company culture has been Google Hangouts. The ability to see each other face to face and have ad hoc meetings of 2 to 15 people has been huge. Some people even host regular Hangout lunches which are just social time to chat about anything at all, company or personal. Of course because we’re in four or more timezones (depending on who is working from Europe or South America at the time), it’s usually only “lunch” for some of the participants. I have a reputation for bringing a giant salad.

    We talked a bit about our company culture here: http://www.wideteams.com/2012/09/12/episode-49-wade-minter-and-andrew-berkowitz-of-teamsnap/

    Also, our big secret is our hiring process: http://blog.teamsnap.com/announcements/the-secret-to-startup-success-in-jenn-uity/

    I find it hard to believe that distributed teams won’t be come the standard in my lifetime. So many things about it make sense.

    Reply
  21. Zach Abramowitz

    My company, ReplyAll.me has three founders and all of our founders work from home offices. Our writers are also distributed across the Globe.

    Reply
  22. Mischa Nachtigal

    Upworthy is 37 people, and 100% distributed. We are in the states of NY, CA, WI, DC, TX, OR, WA, SC, NC, ME, MO, GA, and more.

    Reply
  23. Andrew Montalenti

    Parse.ly, 12 / 16 distributed (75%). Engineering team is 100% distributed, sales/marketing is colocated in NYC. Yet, whole team operates under “fully distributed” principles — 100% web-based tools, reduced out-of-band communication, etc.

    Reply
  24. Brin Wilson

    Interestingly, only seven* of the companies mentioned in the list above are NOT using WordPress; the rest are all either using it for their whole site or, at the very least, the blog section of their site – which is kind of poetic really since Automattic were, I’m guessing, one of the first to work remotely!

    *at most.

    Reply
  25. Alfredo Ramirez

    Tenable Network Security is based in Columbia, MD. and has about 350 employees right now, about 50% of which are remote across North America.

    Reply
  26. Chuck Vadun

    Our company, Fire Engine RED, is 100% virtual/distributed, with team members across the U.S. and Canada. (We provide marketing, technology, and data solutions for the education market.)

    Reply
  27. exim

    Please as well differentiate US vs non-US (world wide) remote positions. Lot of companies you have listed have US-only remote jobs.

    Reply
  28. Ani

    Hi Scott,

    Great list here.

    Axelerant is a 6 year old completely distributed company. We are a hard-core software engineering company working with Drupal, RoR and DevOps. We have been developing our own workflow processes and project management tools. We rely heavily on cloud resources such as Google Drive, and collaborative communication tools like Slack, Hangouts etc. Our location independent team-mates are spread across some 15+ cities across the India, US, Israel and Australia. Axelerant in fact eschews traditional offices in favor working from where ever makes us happy. Our primary mission is to Make Happiness Possible. Seriously! :)

    Reply
    • Ani

      oh forgot to mention: we are currently 36 mad hackers, and growing fast ;)

      Reply
    • exim

      Adam,

      You remote positions boldly state that it is US only…

      Reply
      • Adam O

        Some current positions are US only. We have awesome employees working around the world.

        Reply
        • Tanya Storm

          Hoooray Articulate! Fully distributed, and fully awesome. :)
          ~drinking the Kool-Aid

          Reply
  29. Michael Keeler

    LeaseAccelerator’s workforce is 100% distributed. There are 28 people in the company distributed across the US, Canada, India, and China. We have one flex office in Montreal for the people in the vicinity. It works great. We have been able to attract top shelf, highly experienced A players whereever they are. Retention is very high. Commuting is time-consuming, unproductive, expensive, and bad for the planet. Telecollaboration is where it’s at. Just beware: many VCs and Private Equity firms are in the dark ages — they won’t invest in distributed workforce companies. Their loss.

    Reply

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