Some good #books about #managing remote workers and #virtualteams (part 6 of “culture” series)

Below are a couple of good reads I’ve found on the subject of managing remote teams.  I got these a decade+ ago, and there wasn’t alot published yet on the subject.  But these are pretty good.  All of them have something to add to this subject.

You may notice that only two of the books above are specifically about remote workers or virtual teams.  If you’ve seen the rest of this series, you’ll know that’s exactly my point.

In a future post, I’ll comment on technologies that can help.  Many companies seem to still struggle with how to use the different enabling technologies well.  So, more to come on that.



Motivation and Working Remotely (part 4 in “#culture” series)

There’s some useful thinking on approaching remote working arrangements strategically.  Start at slide 15.

UntitledA few of the points that resonated strongly with my experience:

  • Heavily leverage instant messaging/chat, file sharing tools, web conferencing etc.  (My $0.02:  People, please pick some good tools.  The vast majority of text-based chat these days is cr*p.  I’ll repost some of my old IM Roadmap articles, but here are two tips:  Make sure it supports persistent groups, and on-screen white-space is evil.  The default mode should be small fonts, high-information density, etc.  Otherwise, what’s the point?)
  • The “workplace” should now be viewed as a 24/7 thing.  Everyone should be encouraged to work when and where they want. (My $0.02: In trade for that flexibility the employees need to anticipate and accommodate odd-hour work.  I don’t buy into the growing narrative that it’s bad to have people responding to email at 9pm or 5am.  Ignore those lazy people.  Why discourage passionate and productive colleagues?)
  • Virtual teams expand your available talent pool.
  • Use video conferencing every day.
  • Meet as a team face-to-face when possible.   (My $0.02:  Don’t forget about Tuckman’s stages of group development.  After “norming”, you’ll actually need in-person interaction WAY less than you think you do.)

via How to Keep People Motivated When Working Remotely.

@StanfordCPD webinar : Making Distance Teams Work

Coming up 22 April, 12pm Pacific, free.  Register after the jump.

Making Distance Teams Work: Opportunities for Success

Virtual and remote teams are becoming increasingly more common. Many do not succeed because they fail to recognize the practices that fuel collaboration, build relationships, and create an effective long-distance team.

In this webinar, you will learn how language differences, culture and power all come into play when working at a distance from supervisors, employees, co-workers and customers.

via XAPM002 Advanced Project Management (Free Webinar Series) | Stanford Center for Professional Development.


As Office Space Shrinks, So Does Privacy for Workers #culture

Right.    My thoughts on this:

  1. This confirms that the move to open office designs is motivated, above all else, by cost savings.
  2. Those who do say they like it are either lying or acutely un-self-aware.  There’s no way all that dense humanity is good for concentration or productivity.  It may be “fun”, as suggested by one commentator, but in my experience it just leads to high levels of interruption, distraction, and off-task activity.

via As Office Space Shrinks, So Does Privacy for Workers –

How to Manage Remote Direct Reports & #virtualteams (relevant for #culture too)

This is probably the best distillation of how to manage remote teams I’ve yet found.  It resonates strongly with my personal experience, and captures a lot of the best practices we used when I was with UBS. 


  • Get to know your remote reports on a personal level by reserving a few minutes during meetings and calls for casual workplace conversations
  • Establish a schedule of communication both between you and your remote employee and between the remote employee and the rest of the team
  • Use video technology to spark spontaneous interactions among your team members


  • Evaluate the job performance of remote workers differently from the way you assess co-located colleagues — apply the same metrics across your team
  • Worry too much about setting up constant in-person meetings with your remote workers — predictable visits are more important than frequent ones
  • Forget to acknowledge the work of remote workers so their efforts don’t go unnoticed

via How to Manage Remote Direct Reports – HBR.

via How to Manage Remote Direct Reports – HBR.

Instant Messaging Increased in the U.S. Northeast During the Blizzard

People use chat and IM more when working from home.  I’d call that a blinding glimpse of the obvious.  HBR is, of course, right.  They’re also very late to the party.  I blogged about these effects and benefits almost 10 years ago.  Check out old postings in “IM Roadmap” (See “Other Blogs” above.)


via Instant Messaging Increased in the U.S. Northeast During the Blizzard – HBR.