Skip to content

Remote – Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

I saw this tweet yesterday, and If you know me, you know I will not pass on an opportunity for a free book!

But more seriously, I have known Jason Fried and DHH for some time now. From their blog, their Twitter and multiple different podcasts. They have built their company around very clear and levelheaded thinking. So I wanted to read this anyway, and not just because it was free.

Enter COVID-19

Because of the Corona virus outbreak our 100 person company is on the verge of moving from a dedicated office to fully remote.

This Monday.


So I am in dire need of some pointers. As a CTO and as rookie remote worker myself. And this book offers advice for both roles.

Remote – Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson (2013) – 256 pages

To my surprise most of the ideas in the book were already familiar to me. I had heard them in one form or another in a podcast, blog or tweet. Nonetheless I love that it is all in one place!

The book is one of the quickest reads ever, and the structure and clear writing have everything to do with that. It is set up as a collection of themes around the topic of remote work. Every theme is 2 or 3 pages long and to the point! The chapters could be blog posts. And each one hammers one concept down.

Most of the value for me was near the end, the chapters about forward motion culture (good times), leveling the playing field and removing roadblocks (those are the chapter names) specifically stood out.


Key takeaways — or reminders for myself — in order as they appear in the book. Some need extra context, but most speak for themselves I assume.

  • Trust: of course, this is absolutely key to almost anything. If you don’t trust your coworkers to do their work remote, then you probably don’t trust them when they are in the office I assume? And your job is not to babysit, but to manage. And management starts with trust!
  • Most people want to work as long as it’s stimulating and rewarding.
  • Culture is the spoken and unspoken values and actions of a company. Action speaks louder than words.
  • Remote work == work. Remote worker == worker. This is an important mindset. There is nothing less about it.
  • To instill a sense of company cohesion and to share forward motion everyone needs to feel that they’re in the loop.
  • Progress is a joy best shared with a coworker.
  • Meetings should be like salt — sprinkled carefully to enhance a dish, not poured recklessly over every forkful.
  • What a manager needs to establish is a culture of reasonable expectations.
  • Doing great work with great people is one of the most durable sources of happiness we humans can tap into.
  • The best ballast you can have is as many folks in your boat as possible with a thoroughly optimistic outlook.
  • Equal pay for equal work.
  • Great workers exhibit two great qualities: Smart and Get Things Done.
  • You should read, read and read some more.
  • Whatever it is, make it meaningful.
  • The job of a manager is not to herd cats, but to lead and verify the work.
  • Intrinsic motivation, open communication and meeting occasionally are the factors that make opensource projects successful and they apply just as much to successful remote work.
  • The goal is really just to keep a consistent, open line of communication.
  • The real dangers are the small (personal) things, that built up over time. Keep an eye out as for those as a manager (e.g. with one-on-one meetings).
  • It’s overwork, not underwork that is the real enemy in a successful remote-working environment.
  • Demarcate the difference between work and play. So, so important! Keep a separate room, separate computer, separate everything (as much as possible) for work.
  • The presence of other people (even if you don’t know them) can trick your mind into thinking that being productive is the only thing to do. So a coffeeshop might work for you!
  • The only reliable way to muster motivation is by encouraging people to work on the stuff they like, and care about, with people they like and care about.

Work == Remote work

Maybe you’re thinking that a lot of the items on the above list have little to do with remote work per se. Congratulations! You get it! This is sort of the point. There are of course differences, but the principles stay the same, it’s just that the needles moves a bit — as what to focus on or be mindful of — when it involves remote work. And this book provides clear and practical pointers for that.

This book is already from 2013, but Jason and DHH were clearly right when they saw remote work as the future of work. It makes a lot of sense. And not just because of a virus outbreak.

1 thought on “Remote – Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson”

  1. Pingback: Remote by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson – Remarks « Raul Barral Tamayo's Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *