Remote: Office Not Required

Reviewed by Deane Barker tags: workplace

I don’t really know what to do with this book. I have trouble even categorizing it. It’s about working remotely, but it’s not a how-to manual, or even something with the solution to practical problems. It’s more of a…polemic, basically. It’s a call to arms; an encouragement for everyone to try remote work.

It’s written by two of the principals at 37 Signals, the Basecamp company (I think they’re just “Basecamp” now). They’re basically saying what worked for them. The chapters are short, and they’re grouped into sections with a theme. Each chapter tries to get across a single point – some benefit of working remotely, or reason why it’s not the problem you might think it is.

The book is a mile wide and an inch deep. One of the problems is that they’re approaching this from an extremely Internet-esque perspective. 37 Signals is one of those hip companies that broke all the rules, full of people who are completely natural with this sort of thing (I know this – I was in their office once, when they rented from Coudal Partners). Not every company is like this. Other verticals and industries might struggle.

One of the biggest problems my company has with remote working is that the mass of the company is local, and we might just have a few outliers that would be remote. This is the particular dynamic I was looking for coverage on, but I didn’t see a lot of it.

Finally, I got the same feeling in reading this that I did when I read “Rework” a couple years ago. The entire book just drips with “Hey, we’re awesome. Just be like us.” I don’t want to call it arrogance, but perhaps naivety? I think the authors exist in a very narrow frame of experience which they think clearly should extrapolate to everyone, and they’re oblivious to the idea that it might not.

Book Info

David Heinemeier Hansson

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