Rating: 4/5 stars
Time to read: 1 week
Why should I read it?
A) For those of you wanting to work remotely, equip yourself with some solid reasons to convince your boss to give it a go.
B) For those of you interested in efficient working, business culture, better work life balance and the new co-working trend.
Sound up your street, then read on.
I’ve been meaning to write up a review of this book for some time. Since 2014 actually! During the first DPMUK conference Paul Boag referenced ‘Remote’ by 37 signals and as a PM at International b2b agency at the time this seemed to raise some interesting issues around remote working.
Now don’t get me wrong of course there’s an agenda to the book, as after all it’s written by 37 signals (the company behind Basecamp) who are advocates of working remotely.
If you’re wanting to put forward the business case to your boss on bringing in remote working then I’d recommend this book as it covers a wide range of examples of how and why working remotely will bring benefits to the team and business. In order to really see the results though it’s recommended to run a trial for at least 3 months, 2 days a week with a team so as to avoid one team member suffering from lone outpost symptom. Even trying a set-up where the team work remotely in the morning and from the office in the afternoon can be a good place to start.
Though I have to honestly say that the book raises some really interesting counter arguments for the pro remote working camp.
Of course there’s the typical arguments which include:
1. Time saving – say you spent 30 minutes driving in rush hour every morning and 15 mins getting into the car and office. That’s 1.5 hours a day 7.5 hours a week or around 300-400 hours per year give or take holidays. That alone is a compelling case of the time that could have been spent starting work that bit earlier.
2. Productivity – Work doesn’t happen at work, the book aptly states that offices have become interruption factories, which I think we can all agree with, as it can be hard to get long stretches of time to focus on meaningful work. Especially in the tech industry where we need developers to be fully focused on the task at hand.
Though there we’re also some interesting benefits to remote working which I hadn’t thought of these included:
1. Talent preservation – We all see how hard it is to find and keep good people. If an employee wants to move location this shouldn’t have to mean you lose the employee. After all if they’re doing great work and get along with the team why wouldn’t you consider this as an option?
2. Strips out road blockers – working remotely helps to root out unproductive practices as in order for remote working to work you need to empower team members to make their own decisions and be autonomous employees. It can shine a light on middle managers who when faced with no immediate employees to micromanage actually have little else to do. Though most importantly it flags who the gatekeepers are . In this era of ‘lean’ startups and business practices what better way to see how
3. Builds transparency – Another argument against remote working is the fear of not seeing the work being done, though this is just symptomatic of a lack of trust. As for some employees coming into the office just means they have to put pants on. Just because you’re in the office doesn’t guarantee of productivity. (Think hungover in work!) When you’re not physically in the office the quality and quantity of your work will soon become apparent.
The book is only 256 pages long and is £8 on Kindle. I read it in just over a week so it’s a nice short read (in fact you could read cover to cover in the time you currently spend commuting) which is satisfying to know it won’t become yet another unfinished book!
In a world where we have the technology to work anywhere (just look at Branson running his Virgin Empire from Necker Island) then it’s time for the business community to start thinking of smarter ways to work beyond a bricks and mortar 9-5pm.