Dr Jennifer Long: Vision@WORK+play: How to work more effectively from home

Man working from home

Working from home and remote work has been thrust upon us this year by COVID-19. It’s been a steep learning curve for many organisations unaccustomed to this mode of work. For those who have already adopted remote working, there is always something new to learn, particularly when it comes to the use of technology.

If you’re planning to catch up on some reading over the festive season, then The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work by Wade Foster (published by Zapier.com, April 2019) might be worth adding to your reading list.


E-book review: The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work

The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work was recommended to me when I attended a webinar on the topic of Future Work Trends. The publisher (Zapier) is a company that works entirely remotely (they don’t have a head office) and which provides technology support to businesses. The 15 chapters were originally blogs published on the Zapier website, but later reworked and compiled for this e-book. Topics include how to run a remote team, build culture in a remote team, boost productivity, work in different time zones, and avoid burnout.

As a business owner who frequently works remotely with teams of people in Australia and internationally, this e-book resonated with me. The book includes many wise words, and I could identify with many of the practical examples of what to do and what to avoid when working remotely. It would have been great to have read this e-book years ago!

There are also myriad suggestions for technology apps that can streamline work. This emphasis makes sense because it is Zapier’s expertise, but it highlighted for me the pace and breadth of technology change. The key takeaway message I have from reading this e-book is that IT support is no longer only about major hardware and software infrastructure, but also extends to the use of apps and the way apps integrate with each other.

If there is a flaw in this book, it is that it glosses over the variety of ways people work from home. The chapter “This is what a remote office looks like” includes a series of photographs of home office workstations with the message that a work arrangement for one person won’t necessarily be suitable for everyone. This is true, but I think the authors missed an opportunity to also include commentary about what each worker liked about the home office workstation depicted in the photograph. Nevertheless, Foster has done well to address the topic of setting up a home office to improve comfort and productivity in a later section (“Set up your best environment”) and in another Zapier blog that was not included in the e-book (but included as a hyperlink).

It’s not essential to read “The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work” cover-to-cover, but I think it is useful to start with the first few chapters to understand the context in which it has been written. I originally intended to selectively read the chapters that appealed to me, but the easy-to-read style captured my attention – before too long I discovered that I had read the entire e-book. With 183 very short pages, I read it in approximately 2 hours.

If you need to quickly get up to speed on work and productivity issues related to remote work, then this e-book is a great starting point. The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work is also a good read for the well-seasoned remote worker, offering a wealth of ideas for improving the remote work experience.


Review by Jennifer Long

Jennifer Long is a visual ergonomics consultant based in Sydney, Australia, www.visualergonomics.com.au