James J Griffin

Investor. Writer. Philosopher. Social Entrepreneur.

5 Must Read Books for Remote Work

Come on… you know the dream of every work environment is the remote work opportunity.

Remote Working is living the dream.

Remote Working is living the dream.

With the advent of the Internet and constant communication, it really doesn’t matter where you are working to get work done. The time honored tradition of showing up to the office at 9am and punching out at 5pm is slowly dying. Emphasis on slowly. Remote work is becoming more of a reality, though getting employer buy in to the philosophy itself takes a thorough understanding of the benefits.

These are my 5 favorite books to help dispel many of the negative assumptions most employers (and employees) have about remote work.

5.   ReFrame – Mona Patel

I love the philosophy behind Mona’s writing in Re Frame. The first step to getting buy in at your place of business or in your own business is to understand what’s wrong with the current system. As the adage goes, the first step in solving a problem is recognizing that there is one.

Mona’s writing goes through the different personality types that you’ll find in a common office environment and explains in succinct detail how they’re derailing productivity in the workplace.

What I really like about this idea when it comes to millennials is that, as a generation, we aren’t yet tainted by the corporate structure that came before. We aren’t necessarily indoctrinated to know that just because processes have been done a certain way doesn’t mean they can’t be changed. That’s going to be a common theme in this list, but Mona has framed the issue quite well in Re Frame.

4. ReWork – Jason Freid

If you haven’t been following the work that Jason and his crew at 37 Signals, now Basecamp, have done then you’re missing out on a group that has taken this new way of doing business and really ran with it. 37 Signals is a bootstrapped start up who employs the best employees in their field from around the world. Collaboration is done online and meetings in the Chicago home office are rare.

I fell in love with this notion in 2009 when this book first came out. Since then I have lived this experience and I have lived quite the opposite, commuting three days a week by plane to live and work next to my employer. I can say without hyperbole that Jason and his group got remote work done right.

3. Lynchpin – Seth Godin

If you’re indispensable to the operation then you’ve got yourself a bit of leverage in negotiating a flexible schedule and some real remote work possibilities. I suggest combining the indispensable nature of Lynchpin with the missions statement buy in of ReWork and the other books listed here.

The central tenant to making this work is that the future remote worker has to live and breathe the purpose of the company. That mentality becomes even easier to sell when the future remote worker has the leverage to negotiate.

2. Art of Work – Jeff Goins

Central to the concept of remote work is the idea that each employee has to be a “manager of one.” This is laid out in great detail in ReWork above. If employees don’t buy in to the work the company is doing, the mission and the purpose, then honestly, the employer shouldn’t buy into the concept of remote work. That is to say, if the employee is just phoning it in, then it’s much more likely they are going to require a more traditional management structure.

Goins goes to great length in this book about just how important it is to find the work that the individual was meant to do. I love that idea. At the heart of the Busyness Manifesto is the notion that wasting the precious commodity of time on work that isn’t important, or a work schedule that is needlessly cumbersome is anathema to the millennial generation. We aren’t going to waste what little time we have on this planet on stuff that just doesn’t matter.

Moving beyond the basic concept of everyone needs an existential purpose, Goins helps the reader redefine work so that if it doesn’t have an intrinsic purpose, then maybe an extrinsic reason can be applied.

1. Remote – Jason Freid

My affinity for Jason’s work again shines through. They took the initial philosophy of remote work espoused in ReWork and expanded upon it with concrete details in Remote – No Office Required.

Not unlike ReWork, the book is short and to the point. Short essays of a page or two dominate the writing so that nothing is dense and everything is, for the most part, actionable. It’s a great primer on beginning to really get that flexible schedule that’s at the heart of the new work environment.

Be sure to check out the other posts on this blog along with signing up for the periodic updates by joining the list. There are practical skills being dispensed for reducing workplace stress and building a meaningful, remote, career.

About James

James is an investor, itinerant philosopher, startup entrepreneur and writer living in San Diego. You can follow him on twitter @jamesjgriffin or on Google Plus +JamesJGriffin. He is also the founder of DesignYourJoy.co, a community focused on self-development and self-actualization. James lives with his wife Kate and giant beagle, Libby.

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  1. Thanks for these suggestions. Adding them to the reading list now.

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