October 22, 2007 spout

The Whiteboard Whisperer: Working Remotely for Microsoft

I’ve been at Microsoft about 4.5 years, the whole time a remote employee,” i.e. I work mainly from my home in a suburb of Portland, OR but the teams I’ve worked for have all been based at Microsoft HQ in Redmond, WA.

Microsoft is traditionally a company that moves the bulk of their employees to WA, especially for product team and related duties. Of course, we’ve got subsidiaries and sales world-wide, as well as the occasional technology team in talent hot spots around the world, but there is a large corporate bias towards moving new hires to HQ. In fact, so much so that when we’ve got open spots, I’ve learned not to recommend someone that I know won’t move.

And yet, there are notable exceptions. Martin Gudgin worked from England for a number of years. Tim Ewald worked from New Hampshire. Scott Hanselman works from Portland, as did Rory Blythe. Sometimes if there’s enough need and the right role, the distance bias can be overcome. And when it does, I sometimes get an IM, an email, a phone call or a meeting request so that I can answer the question: how do you do it?

Tune in tomorrow for Can You Focus On Work At Home?”