Troika Tech

"REMOTE", by 37signals — ★★☆☆☆

As a remote worker myself, I nodded my head frequently at the advantages and challenges presented, so the rating’s not about a fundamental disagreement with the message or the intentions. Like the authors, I know from personal experience that commuting, facing a strict set of working hours, interruptions and living with the expectation of availability from others are some of the greatest dangers to productive work (creative work especially).

I did, however, expect more than short chapters and sparse data points. Maybe it’s the programmer in me misunderstanding the whole “business book” thing, but perhaps the arguments would hold more weight if they were more than anedoctal. They render the whole thing as an account of what works for 37signals — a very small and relatively unknown company in the greater scheme of things. I understand that relying on managers and employers to be swayed by arguments from authority is antithetical to the book (the thesis being that remote work is a rationally better decision overall), but we cannot underestimate how many small-to-medium companies manage by emulation. Maybe stronger data and clearer research could counter gut reactions better.

I think this might be good if you need just a little push to go after this, if you’re a bit on the fence and already considering/thinking this is a trend that should be studied and followed. If you want something to challenge your views with great insights, don’t bother: it’s fluffy and humane and beautifully illustrated, but you’re probably going to leave the book mostly unchallenged.