I recently added a new book to my shelf. Remote. If this sounds familiar, you are quite right. A few months back I wrote about Rework another book in the same genre, written by the same guys from 37signals.
Synopsis: As an employer, restricting your hiring to a small geographic region means you’re not getting the best people you can. As an employee, restricting your job search to companies within a reasonable commute means you’re not working for the best company you can. REMOTE, the new book by 37signals, shows both employers and employees how they can work together, remotely, from any desk, in any space, in any place, anytime, anywhere.
Remote, the art of working somewhere else
As much as rework was focussing on new ways of working far away from all the bureaucratic annoyances, Remote focusses on working away from offices. More than just an idealization of the working-from-home phenomenon, Remote tries to explain argument after argument that in some situations, working remotely is / should be the way to go.
I might actually be completely biased for writing a review of such a book. Nevertheless, being myself a strong defender of the remote-work cause, I can through my past work experiences in offices very well imagine the walls faced by many employees which are looking for remote work possibilities in order to get things done.
Remote, Office not required
Does your day look like that (more less)?
Why would you spend nearly a third of your day commuting, putting up with your co-workers noise/interruptions + never-ending meetings if you could be walking into your home office with a cup of coffee, listen to some music and tune into that meeting with imaginary Jeff over Skype at 4?
Our work culture is formatted by these organizational standards that tend to insist on the fact that good work can only be accomplished behind an office desk “at the office”. But this is wrong.
It is true that for some situations, a physical meeting is worth more than any e-discussion and that for some specific jobs, working remotely can simply not be considered. But for most of our working habits (strictly aiming at traditional office jobs here) there is no need for such thing – at all.
What detractors say?
To begin with, the authors start by bringing up all the arguments heard from managers, directors and business owners that argue against remote work.
“How should I check that they are doing work and not browsing YouTube all day?” is probably in everyones minds when talking about remote work.
Others argue that remote work acts against more intangible things such as company culture and team cohesion. But what is really the issue with remote work? Here is a quick list:
- Magic only happens we are all in the same room
- If I can’t see then, how do I know if they are working?
- Peoples home are full of detractions
- Only the office can be secure (IT managers love that one)
- Who will answer the phone?
- The big guys don’t do it, so why should we?
- Others (co-workers) will get jealous
- What about culture?
- I need an answer now!
- But I’ll lose control (says the manager)
- We paid a lot for this office
- That wouldn’t work for our size / and industry
Why they are wrong
- Set a minimum of 4h timeline overlap (with your colleagues if in different timezones)
- Say and share everything – be open! (avoid isolation)
- Have a virtual water cooler (some sort of chatroom)
- Share what you’ve worked on this week (be engaging and engage with your co-workers work)
- Work is what matters, keep track of your tasks, does and done’s (log it)
- Be ready for emergency scenarios (security, workflow, procedures)
- Remove roadblocks, get rid of all the useless bureaucracy (see rework?)
- Don’t overwork (keep it to 40h max) (avoid blurry lines between home and work)
Should you read this book?
Nevertheless, I personally truly enjoyed reading this second book by 37signals. A great read.