True innovation requires colocation … or does it?

July 1, 2021

I recently heard someone say this:

True innovation and collaboration take place when those working together are actually working together, in the same room.

It’s a common sentiment. And it’s getting a lot of attention as some companies are now deciding to mandate colocated workforces again.

But is it true?

Let me offer some counter-points:

These, and literally thousands of other companies and open source projects, are operated by completely or mostly remote and distributed teams. If these things, including some of the most important software running the entire Internet (Linux, Apache web server and WordPress) can be built by remote, distributed, asynchronous teams, this pretty clearly debunks the idea that “true innovation” requires sitting together.

There are valid reasons to work together in an office, but don’t let this myth be one you use.

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