Book Review: Remote

I’m a big fan of the 37 Signals guys. I’ve followed David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried for several years. I’ve read their SVN blog and their previous book Rework. In Rework they gave a voice to the legion of workers, on and off the internet, who wanted to follow a different work script. Their writing flows from their day to day running of their business.

The Book

In “Remote: Office Not Required” Hansson and Fried continue sharing their work world view. Remote used to mean “work from home”, but the authors define remote as “anywhere you can connect to the internet.” Their company grew from being a remote work company with no central office. At first this meant people worked from all around the Chicago area, and it turned into people working and collaborating from all over the world.

They share how this setup didn’t limit productivity as many straight tie managers would have us believe. The authors believe the opposite. Remote work, in their opinion, removes the soul crushing parts of modern work (commute, meeting, interruptions) and allows workers to be results oriented and get more done in less time. They believe that working remote is the future of work.

The book is broken into sections making the case for remote work, fighting the common reasons not to allow remote work, and the practical aspects of how to work remotely. Like the previous book a master illustrator was hired to produce insightful and witty original images to reinforce the ideas in the book.

My Reaction

I read the book over the holiday so had long blocks of time to read and I finished it quickly. Finishing it quickly was more of a function of me skimming rather than it being easy to read (which it was). I’ve worked remotely for six years now. I’ve worked remotely with a team for the past 15 months. The book turned into a long session of preaching to the choir and hearing a case laid out for things I already know to be true.

Instead of nodding in agreement to new ideas that were expressions of my feeling, I was thinking of my own experience and thinking that I had better methods of doing things. The WooThemes Chief Happiness Officer Michael Krapf and I were talking about the book and he stated that our team would have more than a few chapters to write on this topic! Getting a remote team to work is no simple feat, but when it is done right it’s the only way to work.

Should You Read It?

I think the book is useful for someone who currently works in an office and wants to make the jump to working remotely either with their current company or working for themselves. I was never able to convince my former manager to allow me to work remotely so my only path to remote was to resign. Things are probably different now, and the techniques for convincing bosses of the virtue of remote work may actually work.

If you already work remotely then you can probably skip it. You will have already experienced most of what the book covers, and already have settled into your own productive flow.

Have you read the book? Are you already working remotely or wanting to work remotely?