One of the fastest ways to level up your game in either business or life is to read books. That’s right. Good old books. They’ve been around forever, but they represent the fast lane to learning.
Distributed teams and remote work is a bona fide trend, but our knowledge of how to excel at running businesses this way is still at the very earliest of stages.
So today we decided to help you build and grow your distributed team with 9 books. All offering thought-provoking and practical advice that will help your team.
Written by two of the pioneers of distributed team-building, 37 Signals co-founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. Remote is a short read but big on impact. A powerful collection of competitive advantages that remote work provides, based on their experience in building 37 Signals.
“Meaningful work, creative work, thoughtful work, important work—this type of effort takes stretches of uninterrupted time to get into the zone. But in the modern office such long stretches just can’t be found. Instead, it’s just one interruption after another.”
Like 37 Signals, Automattic and the team behind WordPress have also challenged assumptions about remote work by building a phenomenal company. The Year Without Pants is an inside account from Scott Berkun on how the business worked.
“Most people doubt online meetings can work, but they somehow overlook that most in-person meetings don’t work either.”
A hugely impactful framework that distributed teams can abide by. In the absence of an office and those face-to-face moments, it is even more important for a team to understand where breakdowns occur. Awareness of the five dysfunctions will allow you to spot small problems before they become huge.
“Great teams do not hold back with one another. They are unafraid to air their dirty laundry. They admit their mistakes, their weaknesses, and their concerns without fear of reprisal.”
Imagine a world where organizations are not defined by hierarchies and titles, but by roles and contributions. That is the world of Holacracy. Its a radical shift from how companies are traditionally run but Tony Hsieh and Zappos are one such organization making it work.
“The more forward-thinking leaders in contemporary corporate culture are all too aware of the problems with the top-down, predict-and-control paradigm. They see its limitations and feel it’s unhealthy consequences.”
Like Holocracy, Reinventing Organizations is a look forward at what is possible for the organizations of the future. Heavily researched and supported by some amazing examples of these companies at work, Frederic Laloux does an excellent job of highlighting a perhaps unstoppable trend.
“Extraordinary things begin to happen when we dare to bring all of who we are to work.”
Remote team members face the very real challenge of loneliness. But even working online it is possible to inject a sense of joy into a team’s culture. That’s why Joy At Work from Dennis Bakke is a great read for distributed teams. A reminder that fun and high performance can co-exist.
“A joy-filled workplace gives people the freedom to use their talents and skills for the benefit of society, without being crushed or controlled by autocratic supervisors.”
A common trait of modern and distributed teams are that they are nimble. Typically, they are aware of the latest technologies, and committed to constantly learning and growing. Exponential Organizations lays down the framework for streamlining performance and shows exactly how the best companies are already doing it.
“It is our opinion that in the future, the defining metric for organizations won’t be ROI (Return on Investment), but ROL (Return on Learning).”
Remote work is often accompanied by the mantra of “it doesn’t matter when you work, as long as the work gets done and done at a high level“. If a traditional office environment is sacrificed for greater meaning and happiness for team members, then full engagement is what will create the high performance that makes it all worthwhile.
“To be fully engaged, we must be physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused and spiritually aligned with a purpose beyond our immediate self-interest.”
Although not strictly a book, The Ultimate Guide To Remote Work is the next best thing. From the team at Zapier, a fast growing SaaS startup that have gone on to claim as much remote fame as the likes of 37 Signals and Automattic. It breaks down everything you need to know about distributed teams. From how to run them, how to hire for them, how to have remote meetings, how to build culture remotely, and much more.
“With a distributed team you know going in that culture will be really hard to build. As a remote team you don’t delude yourself thinking that culture will magically happen. You go in eyes wide open. If a strong culture doesn’t develop it’s not because you didn’t try, it’s usually due to another reason.”