Remote: Office Not Required by Fried and Hansson


The day before yesterday I finished listening to Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried the co-founder of Basecamp (formerly known as 37signals) and David Heinemeier Hansson. With COVID-19, a lot of us had to embrace remote work and by now have learned the benefits. This book is a primer for understanding the concept of how technology facilitates remote working, although you may find it a bit missing on that considering it was published in 2013. I was looking for more advice on the implementation of remote processes like onboarding new hires, team building, and general tips which I couldn’t find here. But still it’s a good short read.

Here are the reasons in favor of working remotely –

  • Saves a good chunk of time from your daily commute
  • A bigger pool of talents as you get rid of the geographical restrictions to work under the same roof
  • Allows for better quality work
  • Saves employees from constant interruptions in the office and thus allows for better quality work
  • Saves operational and office space expenses for employers

Here are the arguments against remote work, for which, the authors also gave counter-arguments or remediations –

  • People cannot be trusted to be productive at home
  • Innovation only happens through the magic of face-to-face contact
  • Interruptions at home or in a coffee shop
  • Not all types of work can be done remotely. For example, you can’t do surgery as a doctor remotely. I personally find brainstorming system design in whiteboards a lot more effective than what we do in google jamboard or google drawings.
  • The effect on the company culture 

Some recommendations from the book –

  • Trust your employees as a manager, don’t be a baby sitter
  • What a manager needs to establish is a culture of reasonable expectations
  • Have at least 4 hours of overlap in working hours within the teams
  • Let the team members hang around together in chat rooms
  • You may start as partial remote first before embracing the full remote culture
  • When meetings are scarce you will value the time together as a team

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