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21st Century Work Life and leading remote teams

Brought to you by Virtual not Distant, the 21st Century Work Life podcast looks at leading remote teams, online collaboration and working in distributed organisations.

Join Pilar Orti, guests & co-hosts as they shine the spotlight on the most relevant themes and news relevant to the modern knowledge worker.

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Aug 16, 2019


>Today’s episode is a solo show, as Pilar was part of two conversations she wanted to share with you straight away. And she also took the opportunity to ask the community managers at Minds@Work to tell you about their next event.

The episode was prompted by a message that Pilar received from a friend of hers. His team is currently colocated, but some of the team members would like to go remote; plus he’s realising that the business might benefit from recruiting in other geographical areas. He’s wondering whether he should turn into a hybrid team, or a fully distributed one.

The benefits of being a hybrid team, within an organisation:


  •  You have a presence in headquarters as a team.

  • Those staying in HQ can still have spontaneous interactions, which could be a point of connection for some team members. You might have a team member who acts as a connector, between remote and colocated; some people are really good at keeping everyone together, regardless.

  • A lot of communication is electronic anyway, so it might be easy to follow visible teamwork practices.

">The Drawbacks:

  • Different visibility in the organisation between team members can cause friction, as some people might be missing out on networking and promotion opportunities, and other stuff going on in the organisation.


  • Clusters might form (remote vs colocated) in an unhealthy way.

  • Feelings of inequality and isolation. People in the office could also feel isolated; if some members can go remote because they have a comfortable place at home, while others don’t, and so have no choice but to stay in HQ. And remote team members can easily feel like they’re being forgotten about.

Benefit of being fully distributed: Everyone’s in the same boat, which has lots of benefits.



  • It could be expensive if the team has different overheads than the organisation: a coworking budget, new equipment, expenses which are difficult to explain in some organisations

  • More change to manage. A hybrid team can be more organic, but a fully remote team will need a lot of adapting to.

  • Team could lose visibility in the organisation, but you can develop a strategy to avoid this.

13.50 How should you have difficult conversations in a virtual team? 

After a few Twitter interactions, here are those things you should consider when having a difficult conversation:

Do you and your team member feel comfortable with video, how do you best connect with the other person?

  • What role will emotions play? For example, is it important to see the other person’s emotions/reactions; or is the expectation that we don’t want others to see how we react?

  • What is the norm in your team? If you always use video, probably video is best. If audio is the norm, the audio might be best. Or you might want to suggest something different to elevate the importance of the conversation… (but which can make the other person more nervous…)

  • What are individual’s preference? You need to know yourself and your team members

Think about all this BEFORE you have to have a conversation. Be prepared. (Even share this episode with your team to kick off the conversation!)

If you’ve never worked remotely or managed people virtually, go carefully through the advice you read or are given, there is no one way of doing this. 

24.15 Hear about An Event about Mental Health in Remote Working

April Doty and Sarah Bingham tell us about the Minds@Work event Minds@Work LAB on Mentally Healthy Remote Working will take place in London on 17 September 2019 6.30pm BST, and online. (It looks like Pilar will be joining a virtual panel there.)

Pilar mentions a past episode on Open Space, you can find it here:

She also thanks listeners for their feedback on episode 203.

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