GitLab’s Radical Vision for the Future of Remote Work

GitLab employees log on to recurring 30-minute Company Calls to replicate the casual conversations that happen naturally when coworkers share the same office.

The company, which makes an application that enables developers to collaborate while writing and launching software, has no physical headquarters. Instead, it consists of more than 1,300 employees spread across 67 countries and nearly every time zone, all of them working either from home or (in nonpandemic times) in coworking spaces. Research shows that talking about non-work-related things with colleagues facilitates trust, helps break down silos among departments, and makes employees more productive. At GitLab, all of this needs to happen remotely.

The company takes these relaxed interactions so seriously that it has a specified protocol in its employee handbook, which is publicly available online in its entirety. If printed, it would span more than 7,100 pages.

GitLab’s all-remote, asynchronous work style is a highly intentional undertaking that Sid Sijbrandij, the company’s San Francisco-based cofounder and CEO, is promoting well beyond its virtual halls. The pandemic ushered in “the first wave” of remote work, he says, “where people just take their existing processes and transplant them online.” But he’s focused on the beast-mode model, where you’re not just moving processes that worked in a traditional office to a digital framework; you’re rethinking the framework entirely. “The next wave,” he says, “will be taking advantage of what remote can offer.”

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