Remote by David Heinemeier Hansson [Book Summary – Review]

You probably picture an office when you think about employment. Behind each desk is a person working on a computer. meets in the conference room in the afternoon to talk about current initiatives: water cooler chitchat and a take-out meal in a paper bag.

However, the way we see work has radically altered as a result of contemporary technologies. It is no longer required to work from 9 to 5 in an office because of new means of information sharing.

Employers profit from this new kind of working arrangement just as much as employees do when they work more and more outside of the main office.

However, as more businesses start to give their employees greater freedom, both staff members and management have found that working remotely has some difficulties. However, businesses may gain a lot from remote work if they adopt the correct mindset and follow a few basic guidelines.

In the following chapters you’ll learn:

  • how office workers may watch YouTube for as long as they work;
  • why giving employees a day off in lovely weather is a smart idea; why
  • why a business only has to hold two meetings per year for its remote workers?

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Chapter 1 – Companies can maintain their finest and brightest employees by allowing remote work.

Workers no longer have to spend their days confined to workplace cubicles thanks to recent technological advancements. Now, employees have the option of working remotely, or outside of an office.

Both workers’ employers and their employees are huge fans of remote work. Employers have access to a wider talent pool when they hire remote workers, which helps them locate the best candidate for a particular position.

If you consider employing employees who live elsewhere and provide them the option to work from home, you can still access top talent even if you don’t reside in a big metropolitan region. Working with someone on the opposite side of the world is now easy because of technology. For instance, you may videoconference with coworkers wherever they are using a simple (and free) Skype account.

What about the workers you already have, though? Should they also conduct remote work?

Allowing your top workers to work remotely can help you retain them since people frequently change jobs for personal reasons.

Even workaholic people have a life outside of work; an employee may need to relocate due to the demands of their family, friends, or other hobbies.

Employers can give the choice to work remotely rather than just terminating employees who need to relocate. After all, it’s preferable to have a skilled worker on staff than to have to supervise a new hire who requires lengthy training and time to catch up.

When a talented employee had to transfer to another state with his spouse, the media production business Jellyvision looked into remote work possibilities. To keep him, the firm offered him a remote role. Since then, they have made this choice available to all employees.

Chapter 2 – Employees who work remotely have the freedom to lead productive lives away from the office.

Remote employment benefits both employers and employees, as well as their quality of life.

An employee who works remotely has the freedom to fulfill daily tasks and remain productive. Workers may plan their time however they choose, ensuring that they have time for both work and other activities like cleaning or family time.

For those that need more flexibility in their schedules, this kind of setup is ideal.

For instance, if you work in an office where your day is governed by the schedule and you need permission to leave work for two hours to pick up your kids, cancel events, and, other things. However, if you had a remote job, you could easily pause what you’re doing and address the situation.

Aside from that, not everyone operates effectively at the same time. Some people are more productive in the morning, while others prefer to work later in the day or even at night. Working remotely frees you from the constraints of regular office hours and lets you work when you’re at your most efficient.

This is crucial for those working on creative tasks in particular. Just because the “formal” workday has started doesn’t mean you can’t be inspired! It’s impossible to predict if your muse will be available exactly between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. if you’re attempting to find a cure for cancer. 

Finally, you may begin pursuing your ambition right away thanks to the freedom of remote employment. Due to the daily grind, which includes a long commute and time spent at the job, many people put their aspirations on waiting until retirement.

However, working remotely allows you to find additional time without having to pick between your interest and your profession.

For instance, if you’ve always wanted to travel the world, you don’t need to wait since you can still work full-time while on the road as long as you have a laptop.

Chapter 3 – Working remotely enhances productivity by removing frequent office distractions.

Employers may be reluctant to implement remote work because they may believe that enabling workers to work from home will incentivize laziness.

Rethink that! In actuality, working remotely may sometimes be far more fruitful than working in an office.

People are all around you while you work in an office. Distractions are everywhere; take a coffee break here, have a quick talk there, and before you know it, half your workday has already been lost.

Furthermore, a large portion of your labor is dependent on the effort of others. This might result in your coworkers pestering you with inquiries that could wait, distracting you, and bombarding you with information.

Of course, there will also be interruptions and diversions if you operate remotely from home or a coffee shop. The distinction is that you have better control over these interruptions.

You are safe from bothering coworkers, you may ignore non-urgent emails until you finish your own job, and you can let your spouse know that you won’t be available until noon.

In this sense, working from home can help you concentrate more effectively than if you were working in an office.

Additionally, remote employment makes it easier for companies to discern an employee’s genuine job quality from the background noise of trivial minutiae of the workday.

Many managers base their evaluation of an employee’s worth on ancillary considerations, such as how frequently a worker takes breaks, how frequently he is late, how polite they are to other employees, etc.

When an employee works remotely, the employer may judge him or her only on the caliber of his or her output. Consider this: If someone begins their workday 30 minutes later and submits flawless work on time, what difference does it make?

Chapter 4 – Productivity is not a function of “face time” or desk time. Give working from home a try!

The advantages of working remotely have been demonstrated. However, if remote work benefits employers and employees, why do so many businesses still oppose it?

One common criticism of remote work is that it is more challenging to establish a business culture when people are dispersed across the country. However, this viewpoint conflates “team building” with “business culture.”

Company culture is more about how your employees represent your company’s beliefs than it is about ensuring that everyone has the same lifestyle and lunch break.

Building an enduring corporate culture depends on factors including a proactive approach to client demands and long-term production targets. To comprehend and apply such culture, however, regular face-to-face contact between coworkers is not required.

Companies also object to remote work because they think creativity can only occur when individuals work together in person. Even if this is the case, businesses still have trouble putting ideas that have previously been established through such in-person discussions into practice.

Employees can only gather every day if the fresh concept from each day can be put into practice.

Furthermore, a lot of managers believe that productivity is comparable to a body in a chair in an office. In other words, you are not productive if you are not at work. A manager doesn’t necessarily have more authority over an employee just because she works across the hall, though. A manager is just deceiving himself into thinking of anything. 

Think about this Watching YouTube videos uses about 30% of the internet bandwidth at J.C. Penney’s corporate headquarters. Is that beneficial? No, not at all.

Many businesses outright refuse remote employment. These businesses carelessly assert that while remote employment may be acceptable for certain businesses, it just would not work for them.

However, businesses of all sizes and across all sectors have successfully adopted remote work, even ones you would consider too established or large to alter, such as AT&T, Aetna, Intel, and even the US government!

It would be unwise to just reject remote employment without giving it a try.

You’re now persuaded, and you want to attempt remote work at your organization. How to create this is covered in the following blinks.

Chapter 5 – To determine whether remote work is truly beneficial to your business, test the waters and go slowly at first.

Some businesses think they are too committed to office work to successfully transition to remote employment.

You can always integrate remote work into your regular workflow, regardless of whether you oversee staff at a start-up or a multimillion-dollar established firm.

Going remote simply means that your staff members aren’t tethered to their workstations at the corporate headquarters every day. It does not imply that they cannot be present at all.

Working from home doesn’t need complete dedication. Offering a few workers the chance to work remotely for a few days each week, for instance, might be a good way to test the waters initially.

Before enabling additional people to work remotely for a longer amount of time, you may use this method to test the viability of remote work for your business and determine what needs special attention.

But whatever you do, hold off on making a choice. Don’t base your final decision on one person who has only worked remotely for one week if you wish to introduce remote work.

Instead, to better understand whether the idea would benefit both you and your staff, have a whole team work remotely for a few days each week over a few months.

It’s interesting to note that you probably already utilize remote work without even realizing it. It’s fairly typical for businesses to contract with other parties, such as attorneys, accountants, advertising agencies, etc., to complete certain responsibilities. Enabling people to work from home is considerably less risky than this!

It shouldn’t be too difficult to envisage letting your staff work outside of the company headquarters given how many businesses currently delegate work to specialists outside the organization.

Chapter 6 – Make sure that productive teamwork among staff and with clients is fostered.

Most professional initiatives entail some kind of teamwork. Designers must communicate with web programmers, and project managers must approach clients. So how can you ensure that workers who collaborate remotely do so effectively?

You must in some way make sure that your teams can communicate with one another. There must be some effective and reliable information flow between distant workers and the main office, even if these channels of communication are not always available.

Regardless of where they are in the world, make sure that your team can work together concurrently for at least some of the time so that members may address pressing issues.

The writers mandated a four-hour gap between staff working on the same project at 37signals. This gave each employee a half-day to work whatever they pleased and at least four hours to address issues that the entire team found important.

Making firm information, excluding company secrets, transparent and available online or in a common place may help facilitate cooperation. 37signals does this in part by setting up a shared calendar so that everyone is aware of who is available and when.

It’s crucial that you and your staff must be accessible to clients, who might feel nervous working with remote workers. It makes sense since it’s harder to establish trust when a client can’t shake your hand or drop by your office to observe your progress in person.

Therefore, from the beginning, you should be open and transparent about your remote working arrangement. Pay close attention to your clients and provide them with many chances to participate in initiatives, no matter where they may be on the globe!

In this manner, they will be able to witness firsthand the results of their investment.

Chapter 7 – Remember that person behind that email address—personal connections should be fostered.

As individuals work together over time, colleagues can develop into close friends or at the very least, likable acquaintances. But how does this operate if workers never interact in person?

No one, and remote workers, in particular, can work nonstop without engaging in some type of social connection. All of us occasionally need to decompress, and it’s great when workers can do so with other coworkers to foster and preserve a feeling of team spirit.

Of course, if remote employees are feeling pressured, they may just go for a stroll. However, it’s crucial that coworkers develop a more personal relationships.

To do this, 37signals developed an online chat room where remote workers could unwind during breaks, exactly like an office team would in the break room or lunch area.

Additionally, companies and remote employees must be aware of the potential negative effects that working remotely may have on personal relationships. For instance, it might be simply misread only the other person’s words when you can’t see their grin or body language across the table. Negative connections may result from this.

Therefore, remote employees need to take additional caution in how they interact with one another. To foster a nice environment, managers must also pay special attention to the communications of their staff.

Finally, you must acknowledge that virtual interactions can never fully replace in-person ones. You must ensure that there is social interaction in the “real world” as well.

Even if innumerable technologies enable virtual cooperation, at some point, individuals still need to put a face to an online identity. Although it doesn’t have to occur daily, weekly, or even monthly for relationships to develop into ones of trust and loyalty, it must ultimately.

37signals does this by requesting a meeting of the whole organization twice a year, regardless of whether there is a specific project to discuss. Employee engagement increases as a result, and the organization as a whole becomes more cohesive.

Chapter 8 – Some remote employees may fall victim to the temptation of overworking themselves and eventually burn out.

The flexibility of remote work makes it possible for people to have quite distinct workdays. Therefore, bear in mind that they have requirements.

Remote employees first incur the danger of becoming lost in their tasks. Although some people think that these individuals don’t put in as much labor as others who work in offices, there is a genuine risk that remote workers could put in too much.

Remote workers may feel enticed to perform a little more work here and there since they aren’t restricted to regular office hours. As a result, they may ultimately burn out.

Be especially careful not to promote this sort of conduct. After all, you are unable to see burnout symptoms in your employee as you would if they were a coworker.

You may think about giving remote employees an extra day off between May and October so that they can take advantage of the weather and resist the temptation to work excessively. This will help them prevent burnout.

In order to guarantee that your staff members are content and productive, you don’t want them to work from home all day. If a worker lacks the social interactions that come with working in an office, they may put off exercising, meeting new people, and other leisure activities.

Therefore, managers must encourage remote workers to have diversified and healthy lives. For instance, remote workers at 37signals get assistance with the cost of fitness club dues as well as additional cash to spend on fresh produce to prepare better meals.

Firm Christmas presents, for instance, assist pay for travel, are just one example of how the company supports its employees in their pursuit of interests outside of the workplace.

Finally, since they aren’t a part of the regular office dynamics, remote workers may start to feel like “second-class workers” if they don’t make up the bulk of your staff. To help them feel involved, be sure to inquire about their requirements. Alternatively, it would be good to have a manager complete some remote work themselves to get a sense of what it’s like to be one.

Remote: Office Not Required by David Heinemeier Hansson, Jason Fried Book Review,

Employers and workers alike may profit from remote work thanks to modern technologies. To maintain everyone’s happiness and productivity, managers must reconsider how they manage remote workers since the dynamics produced by remote work are different from those seen in the typical office environment.

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Savaş Ateş

I'm a software engineer. I like reading books and writing summaries. I like to play soccer too :) Good Reads Profile:

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