Remote, the latest book by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hanson, is primarily acclaimed as a messenger of the work-at-home culture. I wasn't much enthusiastic about reading it at first: I thought it would hardly have anything new to say. With so many blogs on working remotely, it seems there's no need to go over its pros and cons again and again. Still, I decided to give it a try, and I'm glad I did. Even more, I'd recommend this book to anyone who has the same expectations about the book, that I used to have.
Indeed, in "Remote" they thoroughly explain how office is not required for doing good work. One can only admire the ability of 37 signals to stay bootstrapped, profitable and proud through many years. However, there's more in this book than pitching the advantages of remote work. It looks to me like a first-hand account on how attention to subtle things can be converted to big time success. The philosophy of 37 signals, that they share in all their books, is based on the common sense approach to their company as a delicate ecosystem of talented individuals.
It reminds me of extensive and intensive agriculture. With extensive farming, they need to cultivate more and more new land to get more in return. This approach works if land is not a scarce resource. They do intensive agriculture if there's no way to cultivate new territories. The goal is to get the optimal output from this one field, so, like it or not, farmers have to nurture what they have. Now, look at how IT companies stick to the habit of extensive *cultivation*, as it goes about new hires. The competition for alpha geeks is fierce, especially in the hub venues such as Silicon Valley, but when there's a need to ramp up, the last thing they think about is maximizing on the current setup. The well-trodden track is to take part in the race, hunting for new heads. In the world we live in, a wiser approach would be to master the skill of "intensive business farming". Extensive head hunting is a luxury only too few can afford. Prior to joining the hunting race for more heads (which is costly), it's worth to think very hard on how to get the desired results with the current employees, or at least how to maximize their work-delivery ratio with simple common sense moves. "Remote" provides the building blocks for that philosophy. The productive flow of individuals is the core ingredient, and it needs a special care. The founders of 37 signals generously share their bits of practical wisdom in this guide for running an intensive IT company that cares for individuals, and that's what makes "Remote" such an indispensable reference.
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