Remote by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

This is another quick read from the founders of 37 Signals and creators of Ruby on Rails.  Nadine West has been working remotely from the beginning and there isn’t anything in the book to disagree with.

ADVANTAGES TO REMOTE TEAMS

  • Fewer interruptions than at the office
  • No commuting
  • Technology makes it possible
  • Flexible work hours
  • No need to live in a city or suburb
  • Freedom to travel while working
  • Bigger pool of talent to choose from
  • Save money on office, overhead
  • Pay your employees more compared to local rates (except for the coasts)
  • The work itself becomes the only yardstick to judge someone’s performance
  • When people manage themselves, managers must have other skills to be useful
  • When an employee moves to another city, it has zero impact on their employment, so less turnover
  • Parents can spend more time with family

EXCUSES AGAINST REMOTE TEAMS

  • Less structure and regimen: establish your own daily routine
  • Fewer serendipitous moments of brilliance: not really needed all the time
  • Drop in productivity: only hire people you trust
  • Too many distractions at home: vary your routine, do more interesting work
  • Data security: use standard tools
  • Big businesses don’t do it: big business are usually very inefficient anyways
  • Impact on company culture: demonstrate your culture through your work
  • Communication suffers: require some overlap, use collaborative tools
  • Collaboration suffers: give everyone access to everything by default
  • Social interaction suffers: have a group chat room, talk online a lot

REAL DRAWBACKS TO REMOTE TEAMS

  • Cabin fever: remember to get out of the house, schedule checkin calls, cowork
  • Burnout: working too much is more of a concern than too little, establish work-life boundaries
  • Health: encourage exercise, get ergonomic furniture

HOW TO HIRE/MANAGE REMOTE TEAMS

  • Never hire anyone with a bad attitude.  It’s toxic.
  • Pay your team more than local markets (except coasts).
  • Develop your team’s writing skills.
  • Hire someone for a small task before hiring full-time.
  • Try to meet in person a couple of times a year.
  • Over-communicate to keep everyone engaged.
  • Check-in with people regularly.
  • Watch out for drops in motivation and counsel if needed.

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