Before I get too deep into this post, let me first remind you the fact that everyone has very different definition of fun. For me, that’s being able to spend a good time with some people whom I can connect to. 9 out of 10 times those people tend to be geeks. So I can talk about things that I know or am curious to know about. Besides, most geeks tend to be introverts as well. As a result, just like two minuses make a plus, we connect faster.
I’m in Pune, India this week to attend WordCamp Pune that’s happening this Sunday. It’s the first time this is taking place in Pune and the organizers are already getting a huge response from the local people. It’s gotten to a point where the organizers might have to turn down people because of lack of space at the venue. I’m pretty excited to attend the first WordCamp in my life.
Everyone at a distributed company like Automattic has something interesting to share.
Anyway, we arrived a bit early to co-work with our colleagues. That’s something we don’t get to do a lot as Automattic is a distributed company that lets you work from home or anywhere you want. While that sounds nice and all, it’s still an important part to actually meet people in person and get to know them. I was originally curious and stressed about this mostly because I’m not fluent in English speaking and most of the time when talking to people I don’t know what to talk about next. That results in those awkward silences that make you feel like it was a mistake to show up in the first place.
Not with Automatticians, I guess. These past few days have been really great. I’ve met three Automatticians already who come from different countries and cultures. It’s one of the greatest perks of working at a remote company like Automattic. Because it has people from a wide range of countries and cultures, when you meet your colleagues, you always have something interesting to learn from them. Chances are, you’ll even be surprised yourself when you share something with your peers that is very common in your place but that’ll be pretty interesting and often shocking to them.
Eventually, you realize that stepping out of your comfort zone and meeting your remote colleagues isn’t as scary as it sounds.
So this evening, we were out for lunch. We were originally planning to go to a place called The Hidden Place. It’s in Pune, only a few minutes’ walking distance from the hotel we’re staying at. We heard good things about the food and drinks at that place, so we went looking for it.
What we should have expected from the beginning is that it’s “The Hidden Place”, there was no way it would be easier to find. One does not simply find “The Hidden Place”, right? Anyway, failing to find the hidden place — which held the true meaning of its name — we were out looking for an Italian restaurant called Dario’s. Weirdly, we were unable to find that as well. Google Maps led us to a street and we couldn’t find anything that indicated the restaurant was there. Did Dario’s just hide because we went out looking for the Hidden Place in the first place?!
Anyway, we ended up finding our way into Dario’s and we sat down for dinner. There were four of us Automatticians. It didn’t take too long before we got into a very interesting conversation about random topics that came up. We were really getting to know each other, having fun and talking about interesting stuff related to our culture, the places we’ve lived at, the places we’ve been to, and generally a lot of things that you’d otherwise not know if you didn’t have a friend in a particular location.
Working from home or places you enjoy staying at, and then traveling to other places to meet your colleague is a thrilling experience that’s difficult to explain.
Having spent a few days, and especially this evening out for dinner, with people whom I didn’t even know a few months ago, and whom I have met for the first time ever, and whom I can’t talk to in my mother tongue, I suddenly realized, even for an introverted person like me who wishes to avoid every human interaction possible because he’s worried ‘things can get a little awkward’, it isn’t such a bad thing to meet your colleagues. I mean, it certainly scared me to meet some people and spend a few days even if I were talking to some of them pretty much every day on Slack — the messaging app we use to communicate with the team internally.
But when all this actually happened, it wasn’t even remotely scary. Just like me, meeting new people may sound scary to you. But when you do meet them, you understand that they have a lot in common than you think. And because they come from such a wide variety of backgrounds, they’ll always have something to share that you didn’t know. In the same way, you’ll always have something to share that they don’t know about. So the conversation goes two ways pretty easily.
Right now, it’s 1 in the morning and I’m at the hotel room typing this post. I know we’ll be here for a few more days and I’m sure there will be more interesting things happening, especially at the WordCamp Pune, but I wanted to write this up quickly so that I can share what’s going on my mind this exact moment.
Working at a distributed company can sound like it’s going to be lonely and all. If you’re an introverted person, you’ll probably like it just because of that. But when the time come around when you’ll actually have to physically meet your colleagues, there is no reason to be scared. You never know what you’ll enjoy until you’ve enjoyed it!
If you’re living in Pune or in nearby areas, please feel free to come by at WordCamp Pune and say hi. Make sure to keep tabs on the official WordCamp Pune site for updates on ticket availability. If you’ve already got a reservation and end up being one of the lucky ones, don’t forget to visit us at the Jetpack booth. We’re pretty friendly, I can say that from experience. 🙂