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Why We Don't Need A Traditional Office

Remote: Office Not Required by David Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Marketing Podcast with Jason Fried

You know, work would be great if you could actually get work done there. That’s the fallacy of the traditional office – you collect a bunch of people and the proximity makes it easier to collaborate.

The reality is that close proximity simply makes it easier to meet, ask for help, and push work back to someone else.

I know that when I have serious writing to do or a presentation to craft I’m better off locking myself away somewhere other than the office.

This week, Duct Tape Marketing moved main offices, which gave me a chance to revisit my conversation with Jason Fried, founder and CEO of Basecamp, one of the largest virtual workforce managers, and co-author of Getting Real, REMOTE and New York Times Bestseller REWORK. We talk about remote workers and how to manage a virtual workforce.

Questions I ask Jason:

  • Why is it so much harder to get work done at work?
  • What is the #1 benefit to remote employers?
  • What is the main drawback to remote workforces?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • How the remote working community has grown and changed over the years
  • How to develop a remote workforce
  • Some instances of large companies that have shifted to remote workforces

8 Office Not Required

Marketing podcast with Jason Fried

Remote office

photo credit: Michael W. May via photopin cc

My youngest daughter works for a tech start-up based in San Francisco. Only thing is, she’s never been to San Francisco. She lives in Spokane Washington and arrived home for Christmas this year to spend a full three weeks hanging out with her parents. Oh, and she’s busy working for that San Francisco start-up right now in the other room.

That’s the new world of work we live in and I for one think it’s an amazing time.

My dad still gives me a puzzling look when I quip that my office is anywhere I can get an Internet connection, but the reality is major, major businesses are being build on the backs of a remote workforce.

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Jason Fried, co-founder of 37 Signals (makers of Basecamp) and author of Remote: Office Not Required.

Fried and his business partner David Heinemeier Hansson have built a wildly successful company with offices in Chicago, but workers strewn about several continents. According to Fried work doesn’t happen at work in the traditional office setting and far too often organizations constrained by geographical hiring must compromise on the talent they can attract.

It’s pretty funny to see people who trek to coffee shops and libraries to get “real” work done because the interruption of meetings and availability in the office make it impossible to actually think about a project of any scope.

Of course, remote work requires a shift in culture, a new set of tools and more than anything, sharp focus.

You’ve got to work harder at staying connected with remote workers. You’ve got to work harder at reinforcing the culture of remote work and remote productivity. Fried talks about developing the ability to pick up when something isn’t quite right with a staff member from the tone of email.

Buffer, a social media start-up with a number of remote workers, posted this great advice on tools for remote work. Zapier, an API integration provider, also with a mostly remote workforce, chronicled their best practices for managing remote teams here.

The office of today just might not be an office at all. I for one would be fine with that little cabin in the Colorado foothills!

4 REWORK Podcast with Jason Fried

Marketing podcast with Jason Fried (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes

Jason Fried37 Signals is a company that most online service providers would love to be like. From day one the creators of Basecamp, Backpack, Highrise and Campfire, made money, built a rabid word of mouth fan base, and perhaps more importantly, built the business they wanted to work in without taking outside funding. Along the way they became media darlings and a frequently cited use case for how to do it right.

But just how did Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson do it? The often unconventional approach taken by 37Signals is on display in the Fried and Hannson’s book REWORK. REWORK is a collection of essays that I think could best be described as a combination of business, self-help and wellness, and technical mentoring advice, but the collective impact is very powerful.

This is one of those books that you can pick up and read from any point and find yourself immediately engrossed . The tone of the book is such that you feel as though you are having a conversation with the authors in a style that matches the laid back, this is how we do it here, vibe that is 37Signals.

I spent a few minutes discussing REWORK with Jason Fried for this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast and I can tell you that this book is going to show up on a lot of “best books of 2010” lists.

A few nuggets from REWORK

  • Ignore the Real World – The real world is telling too many small businesses that their idea won’t work.
  • Why Grow? – Everyone seems enamored with the idea of rapid growth. Maybe that’s not the right approach for you.
  • Outside Money Is Plan Z – Hang on and build it organically or it won’t be your company.

Image credit: Randy Stewart