Reading List: Remote

Have you ever considered hiring a remote employee? Or allowing your employees to work remotely?

Remote: Office Not Required is a book ahead of the curve. Released a few years ago, it speaks to the questions and problems presented across our increasingly remote work culture. When you’re starting your own business, it’s always important to know the ground rules, the pitfalls, the surprise benefits, and the best path toward success. If remote working is a new or even failed ciceot in your business, this book will help.

Remote answers questions before you might even think of them.

“Between soap operas, PlayStation, cold beers in the fridge, and all the laundry that needs doing, how can you possibly get anything done at home? Simple: because you've got a job to do and you're a responsible adult.”

The authors provide advice as straightforward as it can be.

The book is loaded with wisdom from people who have actually succeeded in the virtual/remote working world. It can’t be emphasized enough how that direct experience translates to practical, actionable advice on the page.

Along with guidance on working through the pragmatic concerns, the authors reach for headier territory, getting at the philosophy behind what makes all of this work. Remote will have you thinking about systemizing your own business and making things more efficient. A good business owner should I be able to make their I own job obsolete.

Beyond laying out a roadmap and ticking off all the obstacles along the way, Remote makes a great case for why this type of work is the best way to grow your business. As the book reminds us,

“Remote work pulls back the curtain and exposes what was always the case, but not always appreciated or apparent: great remote workers are simply great workers.”

This and many other sections of the book reveal a simple philosophical underpinning, an infectious confidence and optimism in the remote future.

The authors, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, run the successful business website Basecamp while helping others through their work. This includes The Distance, a podcast focusing on longevity in business, highlighting those that have been successful for 25 years or more. This focus on long term success reflects a deep understanding of how the business world works today.

Some favorite quotes from the book:

Dealing with excuses

“Either learn to trust the people you're working with or find some other people to work with.”

We paid a lot of money for this office

“Sunk cost means that the money spent on the office is already spent. Whoever paid for it is not getting it back whether it's being used or not. So, rationally, the only thing that matters regarding where to work is whether the office is a more productive place or not. That's it.”

How to collaborate remotely

“It's also a lot harder to bulls**t your peers than your boss. In talking to a project manager without tech chops, programmers can make a thirty-minute job sound like a week-long polar expedition, but if their tall tale is out in the open for other programmers to see, it won't pass the smell test.”

The work is what matters

“One of the secret benefits of hiring remote workers is that the work itself becomes the yardstick to judge someone's performance.”

Disaster Ready

“In systems design there's the notion of a Single Point of Failure, or SPoF. Much of the work required to achieve high reliability goes into finding and removing SPoFs. Everything eventually breaks, so if you don't have a backup system, it means you'll be out of commission.”

Working with clients

“There isn't a secret. But we do have some tips. First, when pitching businesses, let the prospective client know up front that you don't live where they live. You want to begin building trust right at the beginning. You don't want to drop the line “Oh yeah, we won't be able to regularly meet with you face-to-face every week cause we're in Chicago and you're in Los Angeles” right before you sign the contract.”

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