Explore the Work-from-Home Phenomenon in Remote
Office not required
37signals founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson point to the surging trend of employees working from home (and anywhere else) and explain the challenges and unexpected benefits. Most important, they show why – with a few controversial exceptions such as Yahoo — more businesses will want to promote this new model of getting things done. Read an excerpt below:
The future is already here—it’s just not evenly distributed. —WILLIAM GIBSON
Millions of workers and thousands of companies have already discovered the joys and benefits of working re- motely. In companies of all sizes, representing virtually every industry, remote work has seen steady growth year after year. Yet unlike, say, the rush to embrace the fax machine, adoption of remote work has not been nearly as universal or commonsensical as many would have thought.
The technology is here; it’s never been easier to com- municate and collaborate with people anywhere, any time. But that still leaves a fundamental people problem. The missing upgrade is for the human mind.
This book aims to provide that upgrade. We’ll il- luminate the many benefits of remote work, including access to the best talent, freedom from soul-crushing commutes, and increased productivity outside the tra- ditional office. And we’ll tackle all the excuses floating around—for example, that innovation only happens face-to-face, that people can’t be trusted to be productive at home, that company culture would wither away.
Above all, this book will teach you how to become an expert in remote work. It will provide an overview of the tools and techniques that will help you get the most out of it, as well as the pitfalls and constraints that can bring you down. (Nothing is without trade-offs.)
Our discussion will be practical, because our knowl- edge comes from actually practicing remote work—not just theorizing about it. Over the past decade, we’ve grown a successful software company, 37signals, from the seeds of remote work. We got started with one partner in Copenhagen and the other in Chicago. Since then we’ve expanded to thirty-six people spread out all over the globe, serving millions of users in just about every country in the world.
We’ll draw on this rich experience to show how re- mote work has opened the door to a new era of freedom and luxury. A brave new world beyond the industrial- age belief in The Office. A world where we leave behind the dusty old notion of outsourcing as a way to increase work output at the lowest cost and replace it with a new ideal—one in which remote work increases both quality of work and job satisfaction.
“Office not required” isn’t just the future—it’s the present. Now is your chance to catch up.
Why work doesn’t happen at work
If you ask people where they go when they really need to get work done, very few will respond “the office.” If they do say the office, they’ll include a qualifier such as “super early in the morning before anyone gets in” or “I stay late at night after everyone’s left” or “I sneak in on the weekend.”
What they’re trying to tell you is that they can’t get work done at work. The office during the day has be- come the last place people want to be when they really want to get work done.
That’s because offices have become interruption fac- tories. A busy office is like a food processor—it chops your day into tiny bits. Fifteen minutes here, ten minutes there, twenty here, five there. Each segment is filled with a conference call, a meeting, another meeting, or some other institutionalized unnecessary interruption.
It’s incredibly hard to get meaningful work done when your workday has been shredded into work mo- ments.
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 mod- ern office such long stretches just can’t be found. Instead, it’s just one interruption after another.
The ability to be alone with your thoughts is, in fact, one of the key advantages of working remotely. When you work on your own, far away from the buzzing swarm at headquarters, you can settle into your own productive zone. You can actually get work done—the same work that you couldn’t get done at work!
Yes, working outside the office has its own set of challenges. And interruptions can come from different places, multiple angles. If you’re at home, maybe it’s the TV. If you’re at the local coffee shop, maybe it’s someone talking loudly a few tables away. But here’s the thing: those interruptions are things you can control. They’re passive. They don’t handcuff you. You can find a space that fits your work style. You can toss on some head- phones and not be worried about a coworker loitering by your desk and tapping you on the shoulder. Neither do you have to be worried about being called into yet another unnecessary meeting. Your place, your zone, is yours alone.
Don’t believe us? Ask around. Or ask yourself: Where do you go when you really have to get work done? Your answer won’t be “the office in the afternoon.”