Several months back, Scott Berkun's publisher sent me an advanced copy of "The Year Without Pants" to read; it is a pretty silly title and as you can see, the cover is pretty wild too (I love it). Scott's last book, Confessions of a Public Speaker, was just splendid, so I thought I would take a look. I was hooked immediately, as Scott offers a compelling story of the year he spent at Wordpress.com, a fast growing and wildly unconventional company where employees work from wherever they wish, there are few meetings and rules, and many of the conventional trappings are removed. At the same time, because Scott is such a compelling writer and so honest about things, he doesn't whitewash things, he describes the ups and downs and the tensions.
And if you read this book, you will also learn that some of the beliefs that people have about the future of work likely won't come true. Yes, people had enormous freedom and were massively creative -- but at the same time -- they couldn't escape the constraints of being in an organization.They still needed some hierarchy (Scott was a team leader and he had some bosses too), there were agreements about standard ways to do -- and not do -- things, and everyone wasn't always delighted with how things unfolded. His team was unusually functional and creative, the descriptions are wonderful, and the book also is filled with great pictures and other graphics that show the real people and the places they worked, and the kind of work they produced.
I read, or more accurately, start to read, several business books each week. Most aren't very good, to tell you the truth. This is the best book I have read since Adam Grant's Give and Take. If you read this book and Tracy Kidder's classic Soul of a New Machine, you can learn a lot about how work is changing (at least in some places), but also, about how it is still the same too. The technology certainly changes how and where we work, but we are still humans, we are social creatures, we strive for meaning and creativity, and we are all limited (and propelled) by our personal quirks and the attribuites of our species.
P.S. The Year Without Pants comes out in a few weeks, but I suggest that you preorder it, both because you will want it and because preorders will help this book get the attention it deserves. I am going to preorder my copy right now.