A busy office is like a food processor – it chops your day into tiny bits. – Remote
From the team that brought us Basecamp, ‘Remote’ is a timely book for an industry that is currently going through a broad debate regarding the topic of remote workers. At Jobber we currently hire all our workers out of our Edmonton office as we believe in the value of buiding a culture through the physical attributes of an office (though we do have flexible policies about working away from the office), but ‘Remote’ makes a strong argument for taking the alternative strategy.
This topic has been thrown into the mainstream with some large companies making very visible statements reverting their remote working policies. Certainly this is not a straightforward decision, so it is only appropriate for managers, founders, and workers to arm themselves with good research to help in making that decision. ‘Remote’ has timed itself well to try and be one of the resources used for such a purpose.
Firstly it’s important to go into this book with appropriate expectations. It is actually less a book with a continuous flow and narrative, and more a collection of short essays on specific topics. It has the feel of a long pamphlet that one would give to a someone to convince them of your political views. Each essay is around 300 words, with many accompanied by a cartoon very reminiscent of political cartoons from newspapers. There’s about 70 of these essays, grouped into broad topics such as ‘Dealing with Excuses’, or ‘Hiring and Keeping the Best’.
For someone familiar with much of the content that has previously been writtin in the blogosphere on this topic there won’t be too many new ideas presented. Also the short format of each essay prevents the authors from diving into any one topic much deeper than has been done through the format of blog posts. While there were a few new interesting points I hadn’t encountered previously, such as the argument that a remote office shifts focus towards the quality of work and away from politics, there weren’t many of these. There isn’t a deep dive into recent reseaarch around the topics, focusing more on references to blog posts and newspaper articles.
In the end I view this book as a tactical tool if you’re looking to try and convince a business partner, manager or team to move towards remote working. The short format points and overall shorter length makes it a quick read, with a decent collection of strong arguments in favour, and good answers to the objects against, the idea of remote workers. It also provides some good strategies for making small steps to pilot remote working in a team or company and progressively move towards broader adoption, while ensuring that a sufficient commitment is made to give the strategy a real chance at success.
As long as your expectations of what you are getting with this book are appropriate it performs it’s task well. I wouldn’t recommend this book if you’re interested in diving deeply into the theory of work or the philosophy and concepts around remote working, but I would strongly recommend it as a tool to make an argument in someone’s office for remote working, or for someone who is looking to pass it to a decision maker in their organization.