Remote explains why offices are a thing of the past and what both companies and employees can do to thrive in a company that’s spread all across the globe with people working wherever they choose to.
In ReWork Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson explained how you can build a company without investors funding you, having millions of dollars to spend on marketing or having thousands of meetings. In Remote they expand on that, showing you how you can get people to be productive, work together and be happy, all without ever setting foot in an office.
The two turned their own company, Basecamp, into an almost entirely remotely run enterprise. They do have a headquarters in Chicago, but their 50 employees are spread across 32 cities all around the globe.
Over the years they found that remote work isn’t just great for employees – it’s great for employers too! Many companies are still scared of this concept, simply because it’s unfamiliar and requires new rules to work. That’s exactly what this book is for.
Here are 3 lessons about remote work, why it’s great and how to make it happen:
- Remote work is great for employees because it gives them more freedom.
- Remote work is great for employers because it makes employees more productive.
- The most important thing about remote work is to never forget about the people behind the email address.
Ready to go remote? After these lessons you’ll surely be tempted to try!
Lesson 1: You can have more freedom than ever by working remotely.
Let’s say you have a regular job. You have to be at the office at 8 AM every day, so every morning, you have to drop off your kid at school 15 minutes before it actually starts, to make it to work on time. You drive for another 30 minutes and you’re there. On a bad day, your son might get sick and you’ll have to pick him up at 11 AM again to take him to the doctor.
First, you have to ask your boss if it’s okay for you to go. Second you’ll have to cancel the 11:30 AM meeting. Then, after you’ve been to the doctor, you have to find someone to take care of your child as you go back to work.
If you worked remote, you could have just dropped off your kid, gone back home, started working and later pick him up without asking anyone for permission. He could stay home all day with you as you just keep doing your work from home. No meetings, no commute and no one rolling their eyes over you taking off to take care of your child.
The freedom and flexibility remote work can give you is so powerful that it’ll likely make you a LOT happier than any office benefits ever could.
What’s more, because you can work at whichever time works best for you – not everyone’s a morning person. Especially in creative jobs it’s hard to force inspiration to start working its magic at 9 AM. Most importantly though, you can use a lot of the time you gain back to really pursue your hobbies and dreams – writing your book, creating your TV show or traveling the world won’t have to wait any longer!
Lesson 2: Your employees will get a lot more done when they work from home.
One of the main reasons employers are scared of remote work is that they think people will be lazy, just watch TV all day and not do their work. This couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, people are likely to be a lot more productive than before.
Why? Because the office is a very distractive place itself. For one you’re surrounded by other people, and people are the worst distractors of all. “Have you seen this funny video?” “Did you hear the news about our competitor’s new product?” “Can you help me with this bug in my email software real quick?”
Add to that coffee breaks, chit chat and having to wait for other people’s in put so you can continue and you can easily see why most people probably spend less than half of their 8-hour-workday getting things done.
Of course there are distractions when working remotely as well. However, a lot of the worst ones aren’t. Working remotely eliminates meetings, interruptions from other people and a lot of the waiting for input and is therefore highly likely to make your employees more productive.
As a bonus, it allows managers to judge employees’ work solely based on quality, because other, distorting factors (which don’t really matter anyway), like how nice they are to their co-workers, how often they take breaks, whether they’re late a lot, etc. fall by the wayside.
Lesson 3: Never ever forget that there’s a real person behind every email address.
One thing that’s surely harder to create in a remote work environment is meaningful connections between employees. Through all the different layers of communication software it’s easy to forget that there’s a real person with real feelings and needs behind every email address, Slack profile and Trello card.
To make sure employees get quality time with each other, Fried and Hanssen created a virtual meeting & chat room where employees could hang out together during lunch break or “grab coffee together.”
Remote workers have to be extra careful about how they communicate, because when you can’t see someone’s body language it’s hard to know whether they’re joking, smiling or really upset about something.
In the end, digital communication only gets you so far, so the best thing to do is to, well, actually meet. At Basecamp there are two annual retreats each year where all employees get a chance to finally meet in person. This strengthens all relationships across the board and reminds everyone what it’s all about: having fun and working – together.
My personal take-aways
I’ve been working remotely almost exclusively for the past two years. It’s not always easy, but in my experience it’s been way better than any office job ever could have been. I highly recommend you give it some thought, whether you’re an employee or employer and this book is a good place to start learning about it.