My Remote Background
I started doing remote work without realizing it until after the job was done. I was doing the brunt of writing for a small science and technology news site called Gizmocrazed. It was an English site but the founder was based in Pakistan, so all communication was done via email or What's App (my first time using it) and at odd hours of the night or morning due to the 10 hour time difference between us. All in all, it was an exciting new experience of working wherever and whenever I felt like, as long as the work got done. My previous work experience was very hands-on and location-dependent as a food, retail, and university orientation employment usually is. Sure the pay was less than mediocre but it was worth so much more because it showed me a new path of independent employment, and I could look beyond the area around my campus for a part-time job.
From there my remote work experience snowballed as I started working as a campus representative for that fruit-filled tech company over in Cupertino, which was definitely a much more official form of employment. I was classified as a remote corporate employee (complete with badge access)— I set my own hours, meetings, and whatever else was required to complete my job. It was by every definition-as found in the 37signals book-a remote job, complete with face-to-face video meetings, WebEx conference calls, and trips to corporate for some hands-on collaboration and training.
During that time, I took on another job where I was not a remote worker—instead, I aided in the remote process by setting up technical resources for a construction company's managers all around the state. Being on that side of the process made it clear just how much work goes into keeping the remote operation smooth and successful. It also made clear how terrible commuting can be when the first part of your morning is taken up lethargically moving through traffic for 45 minutes, only to experience it again after 8 hours sitting at a desk.
Even my education had a remote component to it, especially during the latter part. Attending a university with a boasted population of around 60,000 students is great for the variety in the vast community, but it also means large, packed, video-streamed classroom or soley online with no face-to-face interaction with the professor or other students. The advantage to the e-classroom environment was the ability to work from anywhere, as it is with most remote work; however, as it is with university education, it was easy to ignore the responsiblities of an online class when it wasn't a particularly intersting subject but required in order to graduate. Online education tools aren't always as cutting edge as those for the modern remote worker, which makes the task a little less convenient as well.
It's is clear that I'm no stranger to most aspects of remote working. I recognize the advantages and disadvantages of working away from the main office, although I believe there is a heavier weight to the pros side of the eternal argument. Comfort, trust, and retention are all strong attributes for a successful and productive working environment when the alternate is considered and empowered. But everything is to be taken with a grain of salt, as no one person's perfect working situation can reflect the rest of the population. So choose remote work because you can, not because it's popular or you have to.
Remote, Office Not Required — A Review
I pre-ordered Remote when the call initially went out on Twitter from Jason Fried, mostly because I enjoyed their first book - Rework - so much. I'm no stranger to waiting for a product to be fullfilled, as my Kickstarter profile can probably attest, but waiting for Remote to be released was nearly unbearable as the subject of book was becoming wildly popular and controversial.
I was such a fan of the layout of teaching Rework employed, it was great to see Jason and DHH continuing that style in Remote. The entire book reads like a collection of blog posts accompanied by unique, brilliant illustrations done by Mike Rhode. Chapters are filled with sub-chapters focused on a new aspect of their parent subject. Having numerous real-world examples and stories kept my interest and clarify how various people experience remote work in their unique way.
It is certainly a book one could easily finish in a day or two, although I took my time traversing through its contents, but it is also a resource anyone could just flip through randomly and learn something, i.e. the perfect coffee table book.
Overall, the book covers the subject of remote work pretty completely, pros and cons, and serves as a great tutorial for anyone looking to get into that style of employment. And for the holiday season, a smart gift from to your boss if you think remote work is right for your current workplace. You can pick it up on Amazon in hardback and ebook. I highly reccomend picking up a copy, even just to fill a space on your bookshelf.