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The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work

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3.83  ·  Rating details ·  2,310 ratings  ·  240 reviews
A behind-the-scenes look at the firm behind WordPress.com and the unique work culture that contributes to its phenomenal success50 million websites, or twenty percent of the entire web, use WordPress software. The force behind WordPress.com is a convention-defying company called Automattic, Inc., whose 120 employees work from anywhere in the world they wish, barely use ema ...more
Hardcover, 258 pages
Published September 10th 2013 by Jossey-Bass
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Lloyd
Sep 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, own, business
Wow, is it weird to read a book about your company. I was employee 10, worked at Automattic for 5 years, and left Automattic about six months before Berkun left.

I wish I had this book to read while I was at Automattic! It would have shaped my thinking!

Of course, this is going to be my favorite Berkun book, but I need to withhold two stars because of my bias. Berkun earns back the two stars because of the pithy prose, but I'll again dock a star for the awkwardness of it all -- are there other bus
...more
Gail
Nov 23, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
I generally can't stand reviews posted by folks who didn't finish the book, but this is one of them. I struggled through the first fifty pages and simply could not engage (even though I can count on one hand the number of books I've failed to finish). The book felt like a decently (but not well) written journal about one person's work experience with a bunch of ho-hum colleagues. No interesting characters, no exciting insight into the company. I wasn't planning to post a review, but I recently s ...more
Andrea
Jul 17, 2015 rated it liked it
It's interesting that a book about the author's experience working for a company with a distributed work model focuses so much on his time spent with his team during in person meet-ups.
Mirek Jasinski
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Exciting it was not, but informative. I got what I wanted, ie. a description of the work model in the company behind wordpress.com. Is it the "Future of Work" as described in the subtitle? Probably not. Will have to check what has changed at automatic over the past decade. Any pointers where to look?
aimee
Sep 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If sometimes you wonder whether everything possible hasn't already been written about startups, business, software startups, software businesses and so on (ad nauseum), you wouldn't be alone.

Certainly, the industry which examines this seems pretty healthily active. Books, lectures, blawgs, twits, you name it, the space is pretty full.

And so it might seem strange that I'm about to recommend a book on this very subject.

But I am, wholeheartedly. I'm endorsing this, yo :)

Scott Berkun's fifth and lat
...more
Mark Polino
Aug 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'm pretty stingy with five star reviews. To get five stars a book needs to be something that I think I will come back to. It has to have the potential to become an old friend. The Year Without Pants fits that perfectly. In the book Scott Berkun trades his speaking, writing and consulting life for some time working at Automattic, the creators of blogging platform Wordpress. I've done the consulting, industry, consulting dance and it's both fun and scary to be responsible for what you recommend. ...more
Azzaz
Apr 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Taking about the team who developed wordpress.
Brooke Barnhardt
Aug 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm very happy that this book exists as proof that remote working really does work. I hope that other companies and leaders will be inspired by it to experiment with different work models. I thought it was inspiring that Wordpress agreed to hire Scott Berkun in the first place since he wasn't like their past team leaders (not from a development background). They also don't use emails, but instead blogs called P2s. Wordpress doesn't really have deadlines or set schedules which definitely has pros ...more
Femina Ernest
Aug 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
"The Year Without Pants" by Scott Berkun, one of the good book which insists " a culture which gives freedom for an employee without compromising company's productive". When Matt Mullenweg, Founder of Wordpress explains about "Participatory Journalism" auto-smile mode of mine :) turned ON. He explains Wordpress's Work culture, growth, falls and transitions from an initial. Some facts like, 15th most popular website, powers 20% of entire websites etc... shows WordPress's power of today. I am not ...more
Andra
Nov 26, 2017 rated it liked it
The first half of this book is very good, with high-level observations on workflows, team interactions, processes and questions that can help tackle the real issues behind the challenges of a new way to work (distributed, with fewer processes and friction and a lot more empowerment and personal responsibility).

The second part is a bit more descriptive, going into details of how things worked on a daily basis at Automattic, but also during complex projects.

I had a lot to learn from it and it's
...more
Tadhg Maccarthy
Sep 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: work-related, adapt
Good to get an insight into a major web distributed company - and how it operates. Maybe too much detail on the projects and gettogethers. Would have been good to have the perspective of other employees. Well written.
Jon
Nov 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Strongly recommend this to any non-technical dev team leads, and of course, anyone looking into remote working. Some great insight - I took a lot from it.
Franco Prontera
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great book who wants to break free of the thought of how we conventionally think about work. Berkun sketches a great picture of how Wordpress has built its organization with the corresponding benefits and pitfalls.

5 things I learned from this book:

1. A mistake we often make is how we confuse supporting roles like legal, HR, MGMT and IT, with product creation roles like design and development. Product creators are the true talent of an organization and we should support these at all costs.
2. The
...more
Eric
Jan 18, 2016 added it
Scott Berkun details his year of working at Automattic, the makers of the ubiquitous WordPress platform. Having come from the relatively staid Microsoft, Berkun evidently found many aspects of the culture at Automattic intriguing. In particular, Automattic's distributed workforce (all its employees work remotely) was a big adjustment (and lent the book its tongue-in-cheek title).

At first, Berkun feared his greatest strength as a leader, his ability to get to the bottom of an issue in a face-to-f
...more
Marisa Eikenberry
Dec 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
As a WordPress developer, I picked up this book hoping I would be able to learn more about WordPress, how it came to be, and even more about remote companies. This book gave me all of that and more.

Scott Berkun talks about how he was hired onto Team Social at WordPress as a project manager and how WordPress/Automattic operates compared to other technology and remote companies like it. One of the most interesting things I learned in the first half of the book was that every employee at WordPress
...more
Tadas Talaikis
Aug 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
"Thousand tickets closed over the same period." Right, haha, from my own experience, when you get an idiotic answer from tech support, you simply ditch it. It is rare thing to find a business with professional technical support. Last great one was from Stripe: a simple frontend issue, but they quickly gathered the team (!) of three people on weekend (!) and solved it. I was amazed, no one works on weekends! Usually there sits some idiot from distant country who knows nothing about the industry o ...more
Daniel Rodic
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Helder
Sep 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
When I read a book, I typically take a few good ideas from it and move on. Now, imagine a book where you feel directly inside the story, told from the first person perspective, where you actually feel you are there, sharing with the author and laughing with him. Imagine a book where you not only feel inspired but you actually want to take action, not after having finished to read but during the process. For me, Scott Berkun's "The Year Without Pants" is such a book. I read many business related ...more
Wendy
Oct 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm still trying to corral my thoughts about this book as I just finished it last night, but what's top of mind is that the book seemed to straddle two identities: a business book with the requisite take-aways and applications for other business people to learn from and a biographical sketch or first-person profile of Automattic and WordPress.com. It leans more heavily in my opinion on the latter.

I think the book would have been stronger had it focused on one or the other, but I found it an inte
...more
Meera Sapra
Nov 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books that I've read about work. The book is an excellent account of what it feels like to work remotely and with teams spread across geographical boundaries and timezones. Since I work remotely too, I could relate to this a lot. There's so much that businesses can learn about creating the right work culture, team-work, making work a part of our lives and shipping stuff real-time. Also, the fact that work can happen (often in a better way) even if people are not in an off ...more
Lance Willett
Sep 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book provides an insider's look at the fascinating adventure of working at a tech company running a very popular web platform. Even more interesting since I was on the inside during the author's tenure. For "laypeople" I love how the book provides a clear view of the history and culture behind Automattic and WordPress. I'll be giving copies to my family. I loved the clear treatment of remote work and distributed companies, and I think it'll have an impact on how people think about their wor ...more
Brandon
Jan 09, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
The narrative ends up reading, ironically, like a blog about working at WordPress. Berkun is a bit all over the place, and while he touches on some unique topics like the culture of WP, I couldn't help feeling that the picture is so very incomplete. He ran team Social, and yet the presence of any non team members is noticeable. As if there was no collective social personality of the company. Perhaps this is a net result of the distributed workplace. It's a quick read.
James S
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
A well written and entertaining book. You wouldn't think a story about a guy working at a software company for a year would be this entertaining.

There's good advice in here. But much of it depends, I think, on how closely your organization matches Berkun's. This is one vision of how "work could work." But if you're not a brand new company, born into this mode of remote work, having never known anything else, and all the employees are young...well, your mileage may vary.
Niko Gamulin
Nov 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Good description of goal-oriented company and the way the meaningful things with global impact are completed. What matters are the results and not the ammount of time killed in the office. According to its success Wordpress is a proof that physical spaces, job titles, and rules are irrelevant for idea-driven people.
Brad Feld
Solid insights

I'm a huge WordPress fan and user. I also was an early investor in Intense Debate before WordPress acquired them. The stories in the book were great and Scott did a nice job of both telling stories and then generalizing insights from them. It dragged in a few places, but overall painted an interesting picture of a fascinating company.
Natalie
Jul 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this story of Wordpress / Automatic and their work environment as experienced and shared by the author. As a remote worker myself, I liked the honest reflection on adjusting to work from home / work from anywhere vs in person. I think the book does a good job of illustrating the value of both remote and in person connections and how they're different.
Robert Fayle
Aug 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A great book on what it is to work remotely and/or lead a geographically distributed team. Scott's first person narrative makes this an easy read and makes you feel as though this is a personal conversation over dinner with the author.
André Gomes
Sep 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audible
Fantastic! Lots of good experiences and stories... Berkun shares his adventures working as a leader of a remote team in a an extraordinarily different kind of company. Love the way they collaborate using P2s and other tools.
Jowanza Joseph
Nov 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
A great look at the culture at Automattic and into distributed work environments. I learned a ton about myself and how I can work better. I also learned that If I ever start a company I hope to make it such that I can hire workers in a distributed fashion.
Jose Papo
Sep 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book about Berkun experiences working as a leader in Wordpress.com. The three chapters about the future of Work are pure Gold!
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Scott Berkun is the author of four popular books, Making Things Happen, The Myths of Innovation, Confessions of a Public Speaker and Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds. His work as a writer and speaker have appeared in the The Washington Post, the New York Times, Wired, the Economist, Fast Company, Forbes, CNBC, MSNBC, CNN, National Public Radio and other media. His many popular essays and ente ...more

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