Audio Book Review: Remote – Office Not Required (2014)

I’ve recently finished this audiobook called “Remote: Office Not Required” by 37signals. Its about remote working. I highly recommend it as its how we work at Native Tongue Apps. I shared this email with my team and thought I would post it on my blog too for my readers.

As its an audio book, you can listen to it in the background while you do work, walking or travelling on train/bus/plane. Its 3 hours. Very easy to consume and listen to. I also listened to “Rework” by 37signals whilst on the plane and highly recommend that too.

Remote: Office not required by 37 signals

Some good tips I got out of it

1. Remote doesn’t necessarily mean working from home. You can be in a cafe, co-working space, or travelling somewhere to also give you a fresh perspective.

2. Have a 4 hour overlap between overseas offices. You need some kind of overlap to ensure remote workers can communicate and not have to wait a day.

3. Virtual water cooler: we can do this. I have been looking into using slack.com to facilitate exchange of ideas, collaboration and just general office chat.

4. Have a routine and an area where you do work which is like a home office. I have this, but also occasionally work from my room as well. I need to get better at sticking to work hours (9am – 5pm) and then after hours where necessary.

5. Communication methods
a. Email can suffice the majority of time so people don’t get interrupted (80% of questions can be answered via email)
b. Then instant chat like Skype chat or gtalk – most people are concise using chat (15%)
c. phone call if urgent or needs further clarification (5%)

6. There are large companies like amazon.com, IBM, McKinsey, etc.. also embracing remote working.

There’s a lot of things in this book we are already doing at my company, and many more that we can learn from them.

I give the book 7.5/10.

The future of work

I believe the future of work is working remotely. There are obvious advantages of working in the office where you can have serendipitous moments. But you can do that remotely too. For example, in our team we also have times where we hangout together online on google hangout to exchange ideas & brainstorm. We’re in constant communication using google hangout, skype, email, phone and our project management tool.

I’ve met many startups where they hire remote workers. Post a task on Odesk, Fiverr, 99designs, etc.. Someone will pick up the task, you relay instructions, and you work with them over the internet, then you pick up the finished task. The web is like an interface where you can work with anyone, anywhere in the world. You can access talent from anywhere, and the best talent as well. In the past week, I’ve worked with people from Melbourne, Florida (USA), Norfolk (UK), and Philippines. I’ve also blogged about it here in “A Plug & Play World“.

I roughly spend about 50% of my time working from home, 30% at Fishburners co-working space, and 20% on the road. On the road working from another office, meeting a client, travelling or at an event.

What are your thoughts on working remotely? Any tips you’d like to share?

I’m out like working in an office,

Matt Ho

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