Before the COVID-19 pandemic, only around 5% of US workers toiled away at home full time. By the spring of 2020, that figure had risen to about 60%.

While some parts of the world have seen widespread vaccine rollouts allow for the reopening of offices, the majority of office-based workers aren’t planning on returning to their pre-pandemic working ways. In the UK, a survey carried out by YouGov on behalf of the BBC found that 79% of business leaders (and 70% of the general public) think it’s likely that people will never return to offices at the same rate as before the pandemic.

One US-based business leader who firmly believes this is Phil Libin. Having co-founded four companies (including note-taking app Evernote, which he left in 2016), Libin is currently the CEO and co-founder of both All Turtles and Mmhmm. A couple of months into the pandemic, All Turtles closed its three physical locations — in San Francisco, Tokyo and Paris — and now has a fully-distributed workforce across the globe. So does Mmhmm, which was spun out of All Turtles in May 2020, and lets users liven up video calls on platforms such as Zoom or Google Meet with virtual backgrounds, slides, and animations.

Libin recently spoke to Computerworld about why his companies moved to become fully distributed, what the benefits are, and why other organizations should be following suit.

This intereview with Libin has been edited for clarity and length.

What was your approach to building a distributed workspace or working environment? “It wasn’t something we’d been thinking about a ton until everything started to change in the world. At Mmhmm, we’ve been pretty lucky because we started during the pandemic, so we were always fully distributed. But, with a bunch of my other companies, we had to make the transition.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.



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