Virtual vs. Distributed

At the Future of Work Summit there were many discussions about remote workers and teams, in the sense of people working from wherever they are in the world. I heard several people call these virtual teams, which is a description we try not to use at Automattic. In a world dominated by the traditional office culture, it’s already hard enough to explain to people how working from home as part of a team/company actually works. Using the term virtual doesn’t help drive the conversation it the correct direction.

If you were to ask people to name something described as virtual I bet one of the most common answers would be virtual reality. One of the definitions of virtual as it relates to computing is

Not physically existing as such but made by software to appear to do so.

A definition used for English language learners is

Very close to being something without actually being it.

Having met several hundred other Automatticians and knowing other people who work remotely, I can tell you we definitely exist in the physical world and we are real.

We prefer to describe Automattic as a distributed company. It fits in well with this definition of the word distribute

To disperse through a space or over an area; spread; scatter.

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