A year ago a read another book by Jason Fried, Rework, and it transformed my thinking about how approach my career and work. The year since reading that book has been the best year of my career by every important metric. So I decided to try another book of his called "Remote: Office Not Required".
Jason Fried is the founder of 37signals, creators of Basecamp, Ruby on Rails, and other great collaboration tools. His impact on the industry is undeniable.
In this book he lays out the argument for why Remote work is the future of work, and why businesses to fail to embrace it put themselves at a serious disadvantage.
Here are some snippets from the book that stuck with me:
If you ask people where they go to get work done, they rarely say “the office”.
Offices have become distraction factories that shred you work day into work moments.
Commuting is bad for our health and makes us miserable.
People spend an average of 400 hours per year commuting - exactly the number programmer hours it took 37 Signals to build Basecamp.
Imagine what you could do with 400 extra hours each year.
Commuting isn’t just bad for you, your family, and the environment - it’s bad for business.
The big transition with the distributed workforce is going from synchronous to asynchronous
People go to the office all the time to get remote work done. Emailing, messaging, all within the same building.
Most fears about remote work come from lack of trust. If people really want to watch videos and play video games, they can do so from their desk.
If you can’t trust your employees to do work when they’re not under your supervision, you’re a babysitter, not a manager. (Great employees want to do great work).
Learn to trust the people you work with, or find other people to work with.
Typing in chat helps people keep conversation focused and productive. What would have been a 15 minute interruption is now a brief chat exchange.
You get more done when you have less overlap with your coworkers.
The great irony about letting passionate people work from home is that they will work too much. Hard for manager to spot burnout.
Look at your progress at the end of the day and ask yourself: have I done a good day's work? If yes, feel good. If no, ask yourself the 5 why's to get to the root cause.
It feels good to be productive. If yesterday was a good day's work, chances are you’ll stay on a roll. When you’re on a roll, everything else sees to take care of itself, including overworking.
Make sure to work out and stay fit.
37 signals started as a web design agency doing work for some of the biggest companies in the world as well as small companies. Made millions of dollars, only met a few of their clients in person.
Show clients work early and often. It’s normal for them to feel anxious after sending you a deposit. Show your work and show them the fruits of their investment. Be very available.
When you’re remote clients will feel suspicious when you don’t return calls, etc. stay on top of communication and you’ll reap the benefits.
Get the client involved, share work in progress, leverage their expertise and combine it with yours.
Once you have good remote working habits, proximity is negligible.
Different city is not too deferent than different country.
Good writing skills are critical for good remote work.
The market is global, don’t be a cultural or geographical hermit.
Don’t lose good employees because life pulls them to new locations (spouse gets a dream job in another city for example), the companies who embrace remote work retain star employees for longer.
Pay big city market rates to your talent in lower paying markets and you’ll keep them.
Great remote workers are simple great workers. It’s hard to fake work as a remote worker. And with central repositories for work like basecamp, invision, slack, etc. there’s a paper trail of work.
Good hiring tactic is to hire the person to do a little work before you hire them to do a lot of work. 1-2 week mini project. (Paid)
Open source projects are a perfect example of how to work together remotely.
Be on the lookout for overwork, not underwork. Remote work lines are blurrier.
If you haven't ready Rework yet, I'd recommend reading that first. If you're already a fan of Fried's insights into work, then give Remote a try. You can buy Remote on Amazon here.