From the moment I saw this book I knew I was going to love it. REMOTE: Office Not Required by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson argues for remote working.
The back of the book reads
“The most talented people in the world don’t all live in one place. The best place to live depends on who are you and what you like. The modern office has become an interruption factory. Going remote allows the most talented people to produce the best work regardless of their location. Get on board”.
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes! I was hooked!
The first argument for remote working is that “work doesn’t happen at work…because offices have become interruption factories.” I totally agree. If it isn’t an email popping in your inbox, it is the phone calling or a colleague asking a question. The working day is full of interruptions with a few meetings slammed in. This allows for some work to happen, but not ‘meaningful work, creative work, thoughtful work, important work’. Well I am sure most employers want their employees to be able to carry out all of the important work, so an alternative is needed.
Next, they argue that is stops you from “commuting your life away”. Yes! As someone who spends over 2 hours a day commuting it definitely makes sense to offer your employees a chance to decrease their commute. They actually state that “long commutes make you fat, stressed, and miserable”. If that wasn’t bad enough it is also “associated with an increased risk of obesity, insomnia, stress, neck and back pain, high blood pressure, and other stress-related ills such as heart attacks and depression”. Well, clearly we all need to stop commuting tomorrow.
Remote working can also allows employees to escaping the “9am – 5pm”. This allows, where possible, for employees to manage their work schedule around their life schedule, and around their most productive times to work. The night owl can work into the night happily, whilst the early bird will be typing away before the sun is even up.
Remote working also would mean an “end to city monopoly”. As Remote states “The city is the original talent hub”. However, now lots of people are fleeing big cities. How can you keep great talent as they run away for a better quality of life? It is simple, let them work remote.
The majority of companies see remote working as a benefit for employees rather than employers. However, there are considerable savings to be made. An obvious one is that less office space is needed, which in major cities is expensive.
After presenting the arguments for why remote working is great for business it explains how to collaborate remotely, managing remote workers and life as a remote worker
So it is clear that the book is pro remote working, but it isn’t saying you have to change everything about how you currently operate. “Embracing remote work doesn’t mean you can’t have an office, just that its’s not required”. The most important thing is “Remote work is about setting your team free to be the best it can be, wherever it might be”. Surely that is what every employer wants. They want the team to perform to the best of their abilities. Sometimes that is in the office, sometimes at home, sometimes outdoors and sometimes on location.
As they say “People go to the office all the time and act as though they’re working remotely: emailing, instant messaging, secluding themselves to get work done”. True, but true. You go to an open plan office and see how many people have their headphones in.
There are lots of people against remote working and they argue that “a lot of the arguments against working remotely are based on the fear of losing control”. Managers argue how can they manage people if they can’t see them. The fact is without them being just there, you have to put in the proper process to ensure they managed. Also,”One of the secret benefits of hiring remote workers is that the work itself becomes the yardstick to judge someone’s performance”. When it is stated it seems so obviously, but I definitely think it is overlooked.
If you haven’t sensed it, I really enjoyed Remote. I am definitely pro remote working, so I expected to like the book, but it exceeded my expectations. I loved the way it listed the benefits, but also spoke about issues companies would worry about and was open about the pros and cons. I absolutely loved the sound of 37Signals (remote working, summer working hours and sabbaticals) and would have been contacting them in a second if I had the right skills. So for now I will carry on with the 9-5 and dream of remote working.