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The tools and tricks that let Ars Technica function without a physical office

Enlarge / Stepping outside the Ars Orbiting HQ for a brief moment to take a space selfie. (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty)

We’re running a new series on Ars over the next few weeks about “the future of work,” which will involve (among other things) some predictions about how folks in and out of offices will do their future officing. To start, let’s take a tour of the fabled Ars Orbiting HQ—because we’ve learned a lot about how work works in the future, and we’d love to share some details about how we do what we do.

Ars bucks the trend of most digital newsrooms in that we truly are an all-digital newsroom. While we have mail stops at the Condé Nast mothership in New York, there is no physical Ars Technica editorial office. Instead, Ars Technica’s 30-ish editorial staff work from their homes in locations scattered across the country. We’ve got folks in all US time zones and even a few contributors in far-flung locations across the Atlantic.

Marshaling this many remote staffers into a news-and-feature-writing machine can have its challenges, but Ars has operated this way for more than twenty years. We’ve gotten pretty good at it, all things considered. The main way to make it work is to hire self-sufficient, knowledge-hungry people, but another major part of our remote work philosophy is flexibility. Not everyone works the same way, and remote work should never be treated like a one-size-fits-all, time-clocked job. Also, tools matter—you can’t expect people to do collaborative jobs like writing and editing without giving them the right hardware and software.

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