“Remote – Office not required”: about a book and a lifestyle

I have been working on the web from 2010 and almost from the beginning I worked remotely. This doesn’t mean I hadn’t anyway various office work experiences. The last one I had was full time. Thinking back, I hated almost everything, every minute I passed between those walls: I hated to be interrupted, I hated that my desk was positioned in a manner that anyone, passing by, could arrive at my back (let’s talk clear, just in case you are thinking bad: I work a lot on social media, so my problem isn’t that the boss is finding me on Facebook, but since I’m a perfectionist, the fact of someone “spying” my draft before I correct it unsettles me), the fixed times for having a pause, the lack of concentration beacuse of the chaos around…and the terrible monday morning meetings.

Let’s not forget the office times to follow day after day, that for me always have been an aberration: why have I to arrive before a certain time when then I have to wait maybe two hours to be operative, and go out of the office before I ended my job or maybe three hours later I completed it? And so, if I have a brilliant idea on Sunday, I have to postpone it to Monday morning? Once I even worked in a place I was hating so much that I renamed it “Mordor”: it was an industrial area completely lacking recreation zones, in an office without windows, made of cement, not far from where I live but anyway difficult to reach for someone, like me, not moving with a car. That place was depressing me so much that often I was preferring to eat my lunch at the desk working.

one-does-not-simply-walk-into-mordor_1394963912Therefore, if there are people who, for an average salary, don’t think twice to adapt to this kind of routine for the rest of their lives, I couldn’t make it. The ideal solution for me has been to go out of the office to do my job properly and to live it better. I’ve been lucky because I had the possibility to do it, and I’d not go back for anything in the world.

The book I’ll talk about today, “Remote – Office not required”, says even this: once you work remote, you have so many advantages that you don’t want to go back anymore.

Saying this and rattling off the positive aspects (and even the negative ones, which are not missing) of the job out of the office are no less than Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, founders of the agency 37signals, now called Basecamp, as the famous project it developed. Agency which, before growing and becoming important as it is today, started from a little office and remote collaborations (even between different continents!). No one better than them therefore can support the cause of who, like me, decides to oppose to the office life.

The book is an analysis of the actual state of remote work and it touches upon a lot of useful topics for those who made of this method their lifestyle, numbering the pros of it, talking about the big hurdle of its acceptation by companies (in a large number not seeing it favourably), arriving to the tips for employers and workers who are approaching to this world.

What will you find, exactly, in “Remote – Office not required”?

The book is composed by seven main sections, divided in many sub-sections illustrated by the ironic cartoons by Mike Rohde: this makes the reading very fast and light, so much that when you close the book you would never think you just read 183 pages.

The first chapter, “The time is right for remote work”, recites the motivations which make remote work convenient, and the second one, “Dealing with excuses”, answers to all the objections that usually are used by companies to say no to this method. The two following chapters explain how to set up a remote collaboration and which are the factors you should to pay attention to because they are easily becoming critical issues (from loneliness to mantain a healty lifestyle, from the furnishing of the spaces to the risk of working 24 on 24, 7 on 7). In the two further chapters, “Hiring and keeping the best” and “Managing remote workers”, there are different tips on how to choose and hire collaborators who are maybe living on the other part of the world, and how to organize and manage this kind of team. The book ends with the chapter “Life as a remote worker”, which I found very interesting and useful because it contains many advices for remote workers like me. And I can say from my own experience, they are good considerations, maybe already used by those working remotely from some time, but truly useful for those who are about to start. At the very end the authors list some web tools you can’t miss to put in operation a remote collaboration.

How did I feel while I was reading it? I’m not joking as I say: comforted. Above all about the various issues I met and that sometimes made me feel as the crazy one babbling of some kind of workers’ paradise: starting from the lack of trust from companies (the big question: if you don’t trust me, so why are we working together?), to the loneliness matter, the interruptions by the family members while you work, the risk of working too much and become burn out. On the other hand, I know exactly how Jeremy, 37signals’ collaborator who lived in seven different places while working with them, feels: in last years I had the luck to work from three different houses in my city, Genoa, and then from Milan, Savona, Rome, from an apartment in Belfast’s centre, from different houses and hotels in Derry/Londonderry, from the ocean-view hall of Downhill Hostel, even from the internet point of Balla Coi Cinghiali Festival in Bardineto…and the list could go on still a bit 😉

2014-01-08 13.07
Typical “office lunch break” 😉

Every time someone says to me “you are like in a holiday” or I hear a company doubting about the work times of a worker just only because he’s not inside an office, I tell a story of just few months ago:

at the beginning of 2014 I was in Northern Ireland and I organized with my boyfriend a three days trip to Downhill Demesne in Castlerock, where you can find the famous Mussenden Temple (I’ll talk soon about it); during this little break we stayed in a simply marvellous place, the Downhill Hostel (don’t be tricked by the fact it is called hostel!). I don’t know how many “in a holiday” would have been awake in the hostel’s hall on the Atlantic Ocean shore at 9 in the morning (which in Northern Ireland time are 8) to say good morning on Skype to the company for which they work, that is based in Milan and exactly that day was reopening the offices after Christmas holidays 😉

Anyway, probably, you are right: yes, I often have a good time. But it is because I love my job and the freedom it gives me. You want to have good time too? Just try to dream the job you like, when and where you’d like it, and then start to do a little step to your goal. And, if a great part of this dream is out of the office’s walls, read “Remote – Office not required” 😉

Buy it on Amazon at this link (so you help me buying more books 🙂 ). Thank you ♡

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