Notes from Sam Harris’ Matt Mullenweg’s New Future of Work

My notes from Sam Harris’ New Future of Work podcast interviewing Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg of This is a wordpress site, btw.

Level 1 – Working Physically together

  • Watching the clock, staying there, bosses to look over someone’s shoulder. Taylorism.

Level 2 – Recreating Physical Workspace remotely

  • Doing level 1 remotely. Old models stay – in new pants, like “teleworking”, or movies were “talking pictures” before.

Above is based on the Factory Model – focus on inputs – possible to fake not working for 3-4 months. 

Below is based on the Knowledge worker model – focus on outputs – not possible to be judged by “showing up from…matt based based it on Dan Pink “DRIVE” model: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. Good video here.

Level 3 – Investing in your remote space

  • SE130 Seinheiser
  • Arctis 7
  • (remove machine learning to remove background noise)
  • iOS app
  • Screen for Writing Ability…How do you apply, Interact, e.g. Slack/Tickets

Level 4 – Moving Asynchronously

  • Give agency to produce the same output with different inputs
    – 2016 relay race team – focused on baton handoff, shave seconds off the baton handoff….
  • Tap into the global talent pool
  • Follow the sun: US, AsiaPAC, Europe – 24/7
  • Decisions take longer, but they become better
  • Most meetings are terrible (Meeting for status updates, forcing people to get people in the same place in the same time, getting “reactions” vs HIPPO culture, Extroverts, Men speak more than women)
  • Moving asynchronously enables people whom English isn’t a first language, removes biases, take a walk, think about it for an hour
  • Maybe decisions take 1 day or 2, but decisions are much better than reacting in real time

Level 5 – Nirvana….Unattainable

  • Doing better than any in person work can do
  • Fun things,  Can do things that might be socially awkward or impossible in an office (e.g. puppy, health, mental well beings) e.g. in between meetings 20 squats or pushups, candle, treadmill desk
  • WordPress uses their own app to identify who has met up with eacother. (Use Zerobase for this?)
  • All org structures are tradeoffs. Optimize for Resilience. Focus on Antifragility, try to make teams super cross functional, allow them to ship/iterate. Teams of 20 should be able to ship as they did when they were 


  • Concern about Security – Endpoint security should solve this, vs access control model of security: “walled garden”, only as strong as the weakest link….Assume trusted employees don’t align with the interest of the company. Look at behaviors, what we want….
  • Managers – hard to recreate this online. Try checking in on people more often.  If they are slumped in their desk, can’t see it. Also start meetings with check-in.


  • Transparency: Zoom, Slack, a blogging platform. Something to replace email – email is nice, it’s async but it’s private. P2 is an asynchronous blogging system built on WordPress. Matt gets only private email on HR things….People ask questions for Matt with Google Alerts when people mention a topic you are interested in. Salesforce has Chatter. 
  • Acronymn API – Assume Positive Intent
    • 99% of the time they are not trying to attack you. Use Emoji, etc. Be conservative on what you put out. Write kind/humane messages as possible. Perceive that people could mis-interpret
    • Hop to audio calls right away to de-escalate things. Or de-escalate yourself. Take a few mindful moments away from the computer – be kinder to another person
    • Don’t use punctuation at end of sentences
    • Be clear what you agree to e.g. instead of Yes, say Yes, I am approving increasing salaries for these 3 hires.

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