Book: Remote

71oKgphAjyL“Remote: Office Not Required” by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

  • “Meaningful work, creative work, thoughtful work, important work—this type of effort takes stretches of uninterrupted time to get into the zone. But in the modern office such long stretches just can’t be found. Instead, it’s just one interruption after another.”
  • “Through its telework strategy, since 1995, IBM has reduced office space by a total of 78 million square feet. Of that, 58 million square feet was sold at a gain of $1.9B. And sublease income for leased space not needed exceeded $1B. In the U.S., continuing annual savings amounts to $100M, and at least that much in Europe. With 386,000 employees, 40 percent of whom telework, the ratio of office space to employee is now 8:1 with some facilities as high as 15:1.”
  • “Cutting back on commuting also means huge savings for the environment. That same IBM study showed how remote work saved the company five million gallons of fuel in 2007, preventing more than 450,000 tons of CO2 emissions to the atmosphere in the United States alone.”
  • “That’s just it—if you can’t let your employees work from home out of fear they’ll slack off without your supervision, you’re a babysitter, not a manager. “
  • “As Sir Richard Branson commented in his ode to working remotely: ‘To successfully work with other people, you have to trust each other. A big part of this is trusting people to get their work done wherever they are, without supervision.'”
  • “When you can’t see someone all day long, the only thing you have to evaluate is the work. A lot of the petty evaluation stats just melt away. Criteria like ‘was she here at 9?’ or ‘did she take too many breaks today?’ or ‘man, every time I walk by his desk he’s got Facebook up’ aren’t even possible to tally. Talk about a blessing in disguise!”
  • “In systems design there’s the notion of a Single Point of Failure, or SPoF.”
  • “Forcing everyone into the office every day is an organizational SPoF. If the office loses power or Internet or air conditioning, it’s no longer functional as a place to do work.”
  • “American Fidelity Assurance (AFA) cited the ability to continue helping customers even during disasters as a key reason they’re sticking with remote work.”
  • “Meetings should be like salt—sprinkled carefully to enhance a dish, not poured recklessly over every forkful. Too much salt destroys a dish. Too many meetings can destroy morale and motivation.”
  • “The old adage still applies: No assholes allowed. But for remote work, you need to extend it to no asshole-y behavior allowed, no drama allowed, no bad vibes allowed.”
  • “Here are a few books to start with if you’re serious about becoming a better writer:
    On Writing Well by William Zinsser
    The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E. B. White
    Revising Prose by Richard Lanham”
  • “The best way we’ve found to accurately judge work is to hire the person to do a little work before we take the plunge and hire them to do a lot of work. Call it “pre-hiring.” Pre-hiring takes the form of a one- or two-week mini-project. We usually pay around $1,500 for the mini-project. We never ask people to work for free.”
  • “If the candidate is unemployed, they get a week. If they currently have a job, they get two weeks, since they usually have to carve out time at night or on the weekends to do the project.”
  • “At 37signals, we meet up at least twice a year for four to five days. Part of the reason is to talk shop, present the latest projects, and decide the future direction of the company. But the bigger deal is to put moving faces with screen names, and to do it with enough regularity that we don’t forget each other’s in-person personalities.”
  • “The fact is, it’s just easier to work remotely with people you’ve met in so-called ‘real life’—folks you’ve shared laughs and meals with.”
  • “working on exciting problems you’re personally interested in means you don’t need a manager breathing down your neck and constantly looking over your shoulder.”
  • “At 37signals we’ve created a number of ways to eradicate roadblocks. First, everyone gets a company credit card and is told to “spend wisely.” There’s no begging to spend money on needed equipment to get the work done, and there are no expense reports to fill out (just forward all receipts to an internal email address in case of an audit).”
  • “Second, workers at 37signals needn’t ask permission to go on vacation or specify how much time they’ll take. We tell them: just be reasonable, put it on the calendar, and coordinate with your coworkers.”
  • “In reality, it’s overwork, not underwork, that’s the real enemy in a successful remote-working environment.”
  • “The scarcity of such face time in remote working situations makes it seem that much more valuable. And as a result, something interesting happens: people don’t waste the time. An awareness of scarcity makes them use it wisely.”
  • “Rather, the only reliable way to muster motivation is by encouraging people to work on the stuff they like and care about, with people they like and care about. There are no shortcuts.”
  • “If you’re working remotely and find yourself taking a week to do a day’s work, that’s a flashing red light and it should be heeded.”
  • “There are two fundamental ways not to be ignored at work. One is to make noise. The other is to make progress, to do exceptional work. Fortunately for remote workers, ‘the work’ is the measure that matters.”

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