101 Things to read about Remote Working

A reading list

Richard McLean
May 20, 2018 · 6 min read

This is a post to share some reading and other materials I’ve pulled together on remote working.

To make it easier to find the stuff that is useful in a particular situation, I’ve grouped the material into sections:

  • Background: Why I’m doing this
  • Overview of different types of remote working
  • Books
  • Practical Tips & Advice
  • Case studies: Experiences from different organisations
  • I want to find more companies that support remote working!

Background: Why I’m doing this

A couple of months ago, I gave a talk to the leadership team in the House of Commons about my personal journey over the past few years from working fixed hours every day in an office to remote working.

At the same time, Janet Hughes asked the great hive mind that is twitter for examples/case studies of organisations that are *really* good at working across multiple locations:

The tweet from Janet that inspired this post

Lots of people shared examples of organisations that work this way.
I knew some of the organisations, but several I’d never heard of.
So I was properly interested.

I’ve been managing distributed teams for three and a half years.
So, whilst I’ve got some experience, I’ve still got lots to learn.
And I’m always keen to learn from the best — and then steal with pride.
(Why reinvent the wheel, right?)

Several times I’ve gone back to the twitter thread, and I’ve also wanted to share some of the examples from there with other people. But pointing people to a tweet and asking them to dig through the replies and then search around the web isn’t really realistic.

If you’re providing a service, you’ve got to do the hard work to make it simple for your users. So that’s what I’ve done in pulling together this reading list. Well, kind of. I realise that the result is basically a long list with links, a bit like a bibliography. (Many years ago, I did used to be an academic researcher…) But for now it fulfils my user need: instead of thinking “oh, where’s that thing I read about remote working?”, this post is an easy place for me to point others to, or to refer back to myself.

As well as some digging by me, this post is only possible because lots of people shared ideas on twitter: HT and thanks to @jukesie, Sameer Vasta, Sharon Dale, Ruth O’Neale, Ben Unsworth, Paul Bentham, Steve Newstead, Barrie Bremner, Mark Dalgarno and jalbertbowdenii, as well as Janet too, of course.


Overview of different types of remote working

This article is a great starting point to understand the different types of remote working. It describes remote working as a spectrum with five points along it from “not remote”to “fully distributed”. Over time, I’ve moved along the scale from 1 to 4.

There are 5 Points on the Scale of Remote Working, by Joel Gascoigne



Practical Tips & Advice

You can find links to guidance, tips and advice from organisations including Trello, Evernote, Litmus, HubStaff, Zapier, GitLab, and more at
A somewhat curated collection of guides and tips, by Nenad Maljković.

These guides are full of helpful, practical advice on everything from hiring to meetings and tools. If you want some help thinking through how to make remote working work, these are great. They vary in length and purpose.
As a starting point, I like the Trello one, which is short and easy to read.
Two other accessible short articles are: the 6 tips, by Jordan Husney at Parabol, a completely distributed and remote organization (I agree with all 6 of these tips and follow them all), and 15 mistakes to avoid when managing a remote team.
The Zapier guide is much longer and is more in-depth and comprehensive.
The GitLab handbook is designed for people who work at GitLab and covers many subjects unrelated to remote working (eg engineering and marketing).
Remote.co is a website dedicated to the subject of remote working: it contains a blog, links to remote jobs covering many sectors, Q&A with tips for companies and for individuals, and more.

Lindsay Holmwood shares lessons and anti-patterns to watch out for in a great set of slides on ‘Managing remotely, while remotely managing’.

The remote communication cheat sheet for respecting all team members’, by Ryan Sorenson, is full of tips on using chat and video.

Google have published their playbook on distributed work , with tips for employees, buddies of distributed employees, managers and leaders.

And I love this article from Rian Van Der Merwe on how not to run a remote team, which boils down to one piece of advice for remote cultures:

try trusting each other.

Case studies: Experiences from different organisations

If you want to read real life examples from people who work remotely and organisations that specialise in remote working, you can choose from this lot (mainly tech companies):

The Joys and Benefits of Working as a Distributed Team by Joel Gascogine at Buffer

After Growing to 50 People, We’re Ditching the Office Completely: Here’s Why by Courtney Seiter at Buffer

What’s it like working at mySociety?

18F’s best practices for making distributed teams work, by Melody Kramer and Michelle Hertzfeld

3 ways to manage research projects remotely, by Nicole Fenton and Jamie Albrecht at 18F

Making a distributed design team work, by Jennifer Thibault and Meghana Khandekar at 18F

Designing with Github by Steve Smith

Making Remote Work: Behind the Scenes at Stack Overflow by Jess Pardue

Distributed not disengaged, by Laura Crossley at Surevine

How we structure our work and teams at Basecamp, by Jason Fried

Building and Scaling a Distributed and Inclusive Team A half-hour talk from the LeadDeveloper conference in London 2017, by Mathias Meyer from Travis CI

How flexible should companies be with accommodating employee needs? by Jesse Sparks at Cloudreach

5 lessons from working at Mozilla remotely, by Alex Gibson

The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work by Zapier

Remote product management: challenges and opportunities, by Rian Van Der Merwe

Why company culture makes or breaks remote work, by Kieran Kilbride-Singh from D4

Effective remote design thinking: Upwork’s lessons in creative collaboration at a distance, in RealTimeBoard, drawing on the work Laïla von Alvensleben, whose blogposts, podcasts and webinars on remote working are on her website.

The Tech we use, by Ben Proctor from the Satori Lab on what they’ve learned about remote working and the tools that they have found have been helpful for them.

Working together when we’re not together, Veronica Gilrane at Google.

Go the distance: Working better with remote teams and clients, Lauren Currie has shared advice from her experience at NOBL.

Stripe’s fifth engineering hub is remote, by David Singleton.

Working remotely, 4 years in, by Julia Evans.

Lessons leading a remote engineering team, by Lawrence Mandel at Shopify

There’s also this collection of stories from people working in remote teams. These are podcast interviews by Lisette Sutherland with people working in Atlassian, Interact, the AgileOnlineSummit, Why Blu, Collabogence, Transition Network, Doghead Simulations, Making Mumpreneurs, and Distant Job. The transcripts are on the site, together with a few tips on remote working from each interviewee.

At some point, I’ll have a look at writing up the talk I gave on my own story and add it here.

I want to find more companies that support remote working!

Here’s a list of 25 companies to check out: https://zapier.com/blog/companies-hiring-remote-workers/

You can find 137 remote companies and virtual teams on https://remote.co/.

And you can find software engineering companies and teams that are remote or open to hiring remote engineers by searching on “remote-ok” at Lynne Tye’s Key Values site.

Richard McLean

Written by

Director @ElsevierConnect Technology doing strategy & performance. Mainly writing about getting from A to B, and digital stuff. Personal account.

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