You may remember Rework which we reviewed and enjoyed, so it was with interest that we looked at Basecamp founder Jason Fried, and his next offering. This time making the case for why Remote working will be the future for many of us (hopefully)!
Review of Remote, 2013 by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
Another good book by them. Quick read, nicely illustrated. A good antidote to Marissa Meyer from Yahoo’s, anti remote working comments. Fried and Hansson commented that at first they were worried about the impact of her comments so close to the time of their book being published. However they walk through each of her points and consider whether they actually hold weight in relation to their own experience at Basecamp.
It can be argued by CEO’s of large companies like Meyer, that Basecamp’s experience is not applicable to larger companies. However it’s clear to see that all companies, large and small are competing in the same talent pool. In this context to hold onto your best workers, it may still be wise to consider working to ensure the happiness of ‘the talent’. As Remote points out, for wider life reasons, workers need to move, partners going to different colleges, getting different jobs. As more and more of what we do is done through the medium of a computer screen, it does seem to become unnecessary to physically have your staff in five days a week, 9 to 5. It’s true that many companies still expect this of their staff, but it doesn’t mean it is necessarily the most effective way to get the job done.
Fried & Hansson recognise that you still need to manage the work, and ensure targets are achieved, and work is completed.
Working remotely makes you focus on the work itself
One interesting idea was the fact that when you work with someone remotely, the main focus of your exchange is the quality of the work itself. Everything else becomes stripped out of the equation. This can be a good thing, in terms of not getting distracted by superficial issues, such as how often they go for coffee, or if they have their social media accounts open too.
But you still need some face to face time
For Basecamp, even though many of their staff do not work in Chicago, or even the US, face to face time is still important. Interviews involved seeing people in person, and there are monthly, quarterly or yearly meetups depending on location.
Make sure working from remotely is only working from home
This book, also highlighted the value of working remotely not just from home. It is an interesting change to be out doors, somewhere different, bouncing off other ideas, and stimulus.
So, is it the future of work?
Fried and his coauthor Hansson are quick to stress that this is only what has worked for their company. However, as the book clearly outlines, there are numerous reasons why it could work for many other companies too. All of which focus around quality of life and retention of good staff. Even with their remote approach they still aim to have face to face contact on regular basis, actually in the same room, as well as through skype.
As more and more of what we create is generated around using a device of some sort, mixed in with some human interaction, it does seem appealing to not need to always be somewhere for 9 am on a Monday morning, simply to be seen to be using a particular chair. As more and more work becomes doable from anywhere in the world, hopefully this enables more and more people to get at least some of their work done from anywhere where they are able to be productive.
This book was published in 2013, and already things have moved in this direction. The question will be whether it is an option for everyone, and to what degree employers of large multinational companies are willing or able to accommodate it.