Office Optional (Book Review)

Author Larry English is an Ohio-based writer who tells a great story in Office Optional. His story, in part, is about how he is a co-founder and now president of Centric Consulting, a company with a focus on building an office optional approach and a mission of creating a culture of happiness for their employees and clients. Centric is now a 1,000-plus person company with offices in 12 U.S. locations and India.

Larry’s story is also about how before founding Centric, he worked in a traditional office instead of his home, putting in long hours. Feeling burned-out at the age of 25, he quit his office job and backpacked around the world with his newlywed wife. He returned home and co-founded – with like-minded friends – the office optional company of Centric. He now lives in Columbus, Ohio.

In Office Optional: How to Build a Connected Culture with Virtual Teams, English explains how companies can struggle with creating an office optional environment with an effective culture. English taps into his twenty-some years of experience developing a company where people work remotely in a culture that makes them happy while contributing to the success of the company.

English creates a fun, quick, useful, and entertaining read in Office Optional as he shares stories about managing remote teams. His goal is to explain how to build a sense of belonging and culture of trust. He notes that prioritizing people and culture is important as he lets employees set a schedule that works for them. English further states that this approach can motivate people to be even more productive than working in a traditional office.

In a thought-provoking and especially timely statement at the conclusion of Office Optional, English states that “if the predictions are correct, the coronavirus pandemic will forever change how people work in many industries, ushering in a widespread acceptance of remote work” (p. 188-189). He further believes that with the right culture, a remote setting can be “somewhere you love working” (p. 189).

Office Optional: How to Build a Connected Culture with Virtual Teams  Larry English. 2020. Centric Consulting. [EAN/UPC 9781735056722. 232 pages. US$16 (paperback).]

Reviewed by Jeanette Evans

A version of this review is scheduled to appear in Technical Communication, the scholarly journal of the STC.