A. J. Cameron

You get what’s advertised on the tin

A. J. Cameron’s Productive Remote Working: Strategies for Success promises a short, concise introduction to strategies the reader can employ to achieve a successful career working from home. And this is indeed what you’ll find between the covers: how to achieve the right mindset, build a functional workspace, manage your time, make use of technology, and balance your work and personal life. The book concludes with some details regarding remote work research and case studies.

Cameron’s writing style is light, if a little dry, but with the odd joke sneaking in to brighten the mood. Interspersed with its claims are a few anecdotes of what the author did in order to achieve success working from home.

Still, I would have appreciated some time devoted to what not to do, how not to work from home. Describing successful strategies is useful; discussing how to implement those strategies is helpful; but more emphasis on how things can go wrong, about how to the author made mistakes that the reader should avoid, would have been a fine compliment to the book, without padding its length too much.

The cover of Productive Remote Working is a bit misleading: a woman sitting cross-legged on the floor living room, a laptop in her lap and a cup of tea in her hand. This does not reflect the content of the book, where the importance of a productive work space, deliberately separated from the rest of one’s home, is emphasized. Still, the image could be meant to reflect the feeling of comfort in working from one’s home. And, I suppose, a spartan desk facing a closed door, with a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the other side would not be so appealing…

In general, I appreciated the concise, structured, and point-by-point approach to Productive Remote Working. If you are about to start working from home, plan or hope to be, or in fact are currently doing so, but looking for ways to improve how remote work fits into your career, this book might help you achieve it.

More Bad News for Artificial Intelligence

I must confess, as I read Cameron’s book, I could not help but feel it could have been written by AI software. The structure of the book reads very much like a constructed set of essays put together by a high-school student looking for a good grade. It is kind of flavourless, and only when I noticed some grammatical errors did I feel I was reading the work of a human being.

And then I thought: if I was going to have AI write me a non-fiction book about a subject, I would have it deliberately add in some errors with the grammar or punctuation. Not enough to tweak the nose of an editor, but a few even so, to make the work seem more human.

Falling Down is Hard, When You’re Not Real

This is why I wish Cameron had taken the time to describe what did not work in their remote work experience. We can learn by good examples, but even more valuable is seeing where people have failed, so we can avoid doing the same. AI has never done anything, let alone tried something and find itself failing at it. I expect, after much frustrating prompting, the end result would be some hilarious AI-generated anecdotes about doing too much LSD in college.

But I digress. Unlike our artificial friends can do. For now, at least.