Learning in a distributed team: Books

Published 2018-01-22 by geewiz

I recently found the article “The Benefits of an Office Library” and was surprised to read that company libraries were far from standard in other fields than law practices. That just doesn’t make any sense to me.

I love reading. I started before grade school and I’ve read many hundred books since. To me, reading is the best way to transform someone’s thoughts into my own. It’s a wonderful process, even (especially!) if they’re not identical in the end. I can’t quantify how much I’ve learned via reading, but it benefitted all areas of my life.

Maybe it’s because of this joy of reading that, when I started to grow my team at freistil IT, it was clear to me that we needed a company library. And since we’re a distributed team, we made it a virtual one. Together with their company laptop, every new employee gets a Kindle ebook reader. We manage a sorted list of all the available books in Asana. Not only can employees select from this list, they can also request new books and we add them, no questions asked. Every month, our library grows in size, and, as the screenshot below indicates, also in topics:

Maintaining a central library is a great way to encourage learning in a company. As the Teamwork.com article mentioned above states, it sets a standard “that accurate, informed, and educated employees are respected and supported. This, in turn, sets the tone for projects to carry that same standard of excellence.”

The centralised approach also saves money. IT literature can rack up quite a bill quickly, and it needs to be updated frequently. When you maintain a central library, you won’t have to buy a copy for every team member who needs a certain book. With ebooks, a single copy might suffice, and most of them are less expensive than their paper version.

Getting everyone on the same page — literally — is also much easier because of this sharing. When you reference or cite from a book, everyone will be able to look it up.

“A practical budget-conscious approach to shared knowledge and resource management”

For us, having a central library really pays off. There simply is no downside — or at least we haven’t met it yet.

By the way, did you know that books can be both fiction and non-fiction at the same time? Two of my favourite business books are: One is “The Phoenix Project”; it might have saved my company. The other one, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”, taught me that being a leader requires much more than just being followed. Both “business novels” are available in our company library, of course.