Business-themed reality TV shows are fun to watch and can even offer tips—think Undercover Boss, Shark Tank, The Profit. But since there are no rollicking shows about the adventures of remote work (hello, TV execs, we have some ideas!), you’ll have to crack the books to gain insight and learn pointers.
We’ve compiled a list of seven essential books about remote work written by a variety of authors, from managers of distributed teams to startup founders. Book titles are linked to Amazon listings so you can see reviews, but we encourage you to support independent bookstores online through sites like Bookshop.
Scott Berkun’s narrative about Automattic, the creators of WordPress.com, includes his own experience working at the company for a year (under the terms that he’d write a book). Berkun outlines aspects of Automattic’s remote workforce in action, from the project-driven hiring process to the bonds built among employees who communicate through instant messaging.
The cofounders of Basecamp, maker of project management software, share their insights about managing remote teams. Authors Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson provide straightforward, practical guidance on remote collaborations, establishing routines, and other facets of virtual management. They also give compelling reasons why their remote workforce is such an asset to Basecamp, one of which is the firm’s ability to find and hire outstanding talent from around the globe.
This quick but valuable read includes a collection of articles with added reflections from the women behind the Virtual not Distant blog, Pilar Orti and Maya Middlemiss. The book shares thoughtful analysis and advice on areas like building remote company culture and how to deal with work stress.
How do founders build a successful virtual culture when their workforce is scattered across continents? Bryan Miles, cofounder of Belay, a company that provides business owners with virtual assistants, bookkeepers, and other remote help, found that giving employees autonomy rather than virtual micromanaging helps create a stronger culture.
If you need clear, easy-to-understand guidance on how best to manage remote teams, this book is for you. It includes 17 tactics that help you work with your distributed workforce, from managing meetings more effectively to building trust with your team.
“Think about leadership first, location second” is one of many helpful rules listed in this book geared toward leaders of remote teams. The book notes that leading a distributed workforce may require making adjustments, like communicating based on what works best for your team rather than one manager’s preference.
Anyone can benefit from this book’s lessons on overcoming the downsides of multitasking, which particularly plagues remote workers, often because they have to grapple with a higher volume of emails, Slack notifications, and video calls. The advice in this book can help you become a more productive, focused worker.
So turn off the TV, fire up that reading lamp, and dive in to improve your efficiency and effectiveness as a remote worker or manager. Whether you’re new to managing a remote team and need tips or you’re a comfortable remote worker but want to step up your game, these firsthand accounts will give you insight, ideas, and tools to make remote work productive and fulfilling.