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Remote: Office Not Required Hardcover – October 29, 2013
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“The authors review the pros and cons of telecommuting, suggest ideas to enhance efficiency, and tools to optimize output and build a collaborative spirit….easy to digest [and] useful ideas that are worth checking out.”
“Presents powerful arguments…the book is an eye opener to the endless benefits that come with remote work...a worthwhile investment of your times and money.”
"Remote is the book that 21st century business leaders have been waiting for: a paradigm-smashing, compulsively readable case for a radically remote workplace. If you're intrigued by extreme teleworking, but have your doubts, Remote is the place to address them. Not a day goes by that I don't think about, talk about, and actually apply the insights in this game-changing book."
--Susan Cain, New York Times bestselling author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
"What you'll find in Remote is profound advice from guys who've succeeded in the virtual workforce arena. This is a manifesto for discarding stifling location- and time-based organizational habits in favor of best work practices for our brave new virtual and global world. If your organization entrusts you with the responsibility to get things done, this is a must-read.”
--David Allen, internationally best-selling author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
“Remote is the way I work and live. Now I know why. If you work in an office, you need to read this remarkable book, and change your life.”
--Richard Florida, author of the national bestseller The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It’s Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life
“In the near future, everyone will work remotely, including those sitting across from you. You'll need this farsighted book to prepare for this inversion.”
--Kevin Kelly, Senior Maverick for Wired Magazine and author of What Technology Wants
“Leave your office at the office. Lose the soul-sapping commutes. Jettison the workplace veal chambers and banish cookie-cutter corporate culture. Smart, convincing and prescriptive, Remote offers a radically more productive and satisfying office-less future, better for all (well, except commercial landlords).”
--Adam L. Penenberg, author of Viral Loop: From Facebook to Twitter, How Today’s Smartest Businesses Grow Themselves
“Fried and Hansson show how remote working sets people free--free from drudgery and free to unleash unprecedented creativity and productivity. This workday disruption is necessary if we want to use our new digital tools to full effect. The first gift copy I buy will be for my boss!”
--James McQuivey, PhD, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, and author of Digital Disruption: Unleashing the Next Wave of Innovation
"Just like we couldn't imagine a cell phone smaller than a toaster in the 1970’s, some companies still believe that they can't get great performance from their employees unless they show up at an office. Virtual work is the wave of the future, and Jason and David do a brilliant job of teaching best practices for both employees and employers."
--Pamela Slim, author of Escape from Cubicle Nation
“Jason and David convincingly argue the merits of remote work, both from the perspective of manager and of worker. For the former, working remotely means more productive teams. For the latter, there is the ultimate luxury: control over one’s environment. Remote work gives you the power to craft your own life, and this book is a roadmap to get that.”
--Penelope Trunk, author of Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success
"The decentralization of the workplace is no longer fodder for futurists, it's an everyday reality. Remote is an insight-packed playbook for thriving in the coming decade and beyond."
--Todd Henry, author of The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice
“Remote shows you how to remove the final barrier to doing the work you were meant to do, with the people you were meant to do it with, in the most rewarding and profitable way possible--this book is your ticket to real freedom!”
--John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide
About the Author
JASON FRIED and DAVID HEINEMEIER HANSSON are the founders of 37signals, a trailblazing software company. They have been profiled in such publications as Time, Newsweek, and Wired. They're also contributors to Signals v. Noise, one the of Web's most popular blogs.
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Top Customer Reviews
While there were 1 or 2 minor tidbits of useful information, the vast majority of the book is aimed at why non-remote companies should become remote, and how employees can convince their bosses to become remote.
There is very little useful information for someone who is already convinced a remote company is the way to go, and is looking for strategies for managing a remote company effectively.
This book shares practical experience about working remotely, taken from 37Signals and some other companies. The authors spend a lot of time explaining the benefits of remote work, the resistance one may encounter against it, and the most common excuses for not allowing remote work. That is, prejudices like that innovation happens only face-to-face, or that people can't be trusted to be productive at home, or that company culture would wither away if remote work is allowed...
As a consultant I rely on remote work a lot. I think that a mix of remote work of some kind is in the future of many positions. But I have to say that I was disappointed by this book, specially after the expectations raised by the authors in the Introduction:
"Above all, this book will teach you how to become an expert in remote work. It will provide an overview of the tools and techniques that will help you get the most of it, as well as the pitfalls and constraints that can bring you down.
This book will give you insights on remote work, but won't help you become an expert, or give you much in tools and techniques."
The ideas that the authors share are not new. You don't need to read this book to realize that interruptions are bad for your concentration and productivity1. The examples given of companies and their use of remote work are poor. The examples are real, but they barely descend to any detail about the implementation, or the problems encountered. More important, there is no mention of the impact of remote work on things like work climate, productivity, meeting deadlines, client satisfaction, or the bottom line. From a more conceptual point of view, a question one would expect to be answered by the book is what are the key factors for a position to be considered for remote work?
The authors often use 37signals as a self-reference for remote working practice. For example, at one point the authors mention than Jason (Fried) usually starts working at home at 7:30 a.m. and arrives at the office at 11 .a.m. Great, but Jason is the CEO of his own company, and as most CEOs do, he organizes his time as he sees fit. But how does this apply to a second-level manager of a big company? Or to a sales supervisor?
Many of the ideas mentioned, in my opinion, depend more on the company's culture that on allowing remote work or not. 37Signals grew up being remote from the start, and has managed to remain a small workforce of great talented people. But established companies with years of operation and an established culture need more than good reasons to implement such changes, at least company wide.
Don't get me wrong - it's a good read and it can be of value to many people. But I think the suggestions and solutions don't go nearly as far as they could go. And, as mentioned by others, it does lack in practical advice on how to set up things in your remote business.
Essentially, it's promoting remote work concepts that could be implemented in existing businesses. However, in many areas the structure described in the book is still very rigid. People have fairly fixed working hours allotted per week and it is expected that they do put in about 40 hours. Why? What for? How is 40 hours better than 30 hours or 50 hours?
I can't shake off a feeling that it's written for somebody who wants to loosen up existing corporations - but just a bit.
I speak from a position of somebody who has been completely remote for the last 3 years, working with clients and a team of my partners on several continents. With most of them I've never even met face to face. Yet, we do complex marketing, design and web projects, we liaise with manufacturers in other countries (if need be) and designers 10,000km away from them.
The concept of hourly work is, to me, completely out-dated, unless you're doing very time-bound activities, like customer support.
For others there is simply one requirement - requirement of quality delivered by a specific dead line. How many hours of work you put in is irrelevant - it's the result that matters. And this approach creates completely new opportunities for remote work, because once you put stress on deliverables, not time, you don't have to supervise anybody. It's their job to do it within a time frame agreed.
You don't pay per time spent, but per value delivered. That's the gateway to productivity increase - and growth in worker's happiness, because they are free to do whatever they want, wherever and whenever they want it, as long as they get things done.
Remote doesn't even touch on these, focusing instead of making your existing enterprise a little bit more bearable for people. But many people are already way ahead of that.
What I liked about this book is that it gave me new ideas for how remote working could function well from a number of perspectives:
- as an employee
- as an employer
- in a client/agency role
I thought it was a good balance of the why and the how, and appreciated that it also talked about some of the downsides.
This book helped me see why remote working didn't work in some of the environments I've worked in, and is helping me figure out how I can make it work in my current situation where I have clients in other cities that would like to work with me.
The most practical part of this book for me were the chapters on "How to Collaborate Remotely", "Hiring and Keeping the Best" and "Managing Remote Workers". I like the idea of the virtual watercooler and the Campfire rooms for different topics.
The illustrations were cool, too.