Distributed software development is here to stay and it is growing rapidly. Companies of all shapes and sizes are embracing new ways of working in order to attract the best talent. Historically there has been a lack of great resources available to help companies get started. However, that appears to be changing. In 2014 the Lean Startup team held the inaugural conference for distributed teams called Office Optional. Lullabot has begun hosting an annual invitation-only conference for fully distributed companies called Yonder. Additionally there are some prominent blogs that consistently publish great content for remote developers such as Remotive, Buffer, and Zapier. And there is a growing list of job boards that are focused exclusively on remote positions.
But what about books? With every great movement there seems to be a book that helps to be the catalyst to pave the way. I don’t know if such a book has been written yet, but I would say the closest one would be the first book in my list below.
Remote by Jason Fried and DHH of Basecamp
Remote was released in the Fall of 2013 after being announced earlier in the year. I was anticipating the book for months. Remote makes a great case for rethinking the traditional office centric model. It is a very quick and easy read, which makes it a great resource to pass along to leaders and key team members who are still on the fence. From my experience, the leadership team must be completely committed to building a great distributed culture in order to make it work.
The Year Without Pants by Scott Berkun
Scott spent a year working for Automattic as a Team Lead building new features for WordPress.com. Automattic has played a crucial role in demonstrating how to build a fully distributed company. A Year Without Pants is a light-hearted but insightful read that reveals the inner workings of Automattic, a rapidly growing and fully distributed company.
The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work by Wade Foster and the Zapier team
This ebook began as a compilation of blog posts by the team at Zapier. Zapier has been a fully distributed company since they launched in 2011. This is a very practical and helpful guide written by a team that has experimented with a lot of techniques and tools. If you are looking for advice on building a great culture, hiring, running effective meetings, organizing company retreats or other very practical topics, then you will find this little book to be very helpful. You can also download it for free on your Kindle here.
The Remote Worker’s Guide to Excellence by Eryck Dzotsi
The first two books essentially make the case for remote working, which is crucial. What I love about this book is it provides some practical guidance for the remote worker to become excellent at working remotely. Let’s face it, this really is a new paradigm, and it is worth the investment to take some time upfront to set yourself up for success. There certainly are some traps that must be avoided if you hope to be able to enjoy the benefits of working from home.
I hope these recommendations have been helpful. I would love to hear from you. What books have you read that you would recommend to someone considering remote work?
Josh Roley is the founder of HomeCoders. He has been a vocal advocate for remote work for over twelve years. He and his wife and 8 children live in the beautiful foothills of North Carolina.