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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 18, 2016

Pilar and Lisette have plenty of thoughts and advice on how best to make the transition from office-based to virtual, in organisations and teams.


Pilar's homage to Federico García Lorca, in case you like this Spanish playwright.

Grab the PDF with questions to help you identify the tools and processes you might want to keep while making the transition to virtual here:

Mentoring Group starts 14th Sept. More details here:
Flipping the Online Classroom

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Virtual Coffee with Lisette: From Office-Based to Virtual Team

Pilar recommends The Fizzle Show

Should you read emails while you’re on holiday?
When should you stop making up stuff for yourself to do?

Virtual teams as the excuse to create a new form of team, that operates differently.

Virtual gives us an excuse for change.

Being clear and honest about why we’re making the transition is really important and it will inform how the change is brought about. Is it because the company needs to cut costs or is it because the employees are asking for it?

Are we seeing that pockets in the org are already doing and do we want more of that and help them do it better?

Different parts of the organisation will need to come together to collaborate to make this work.

Should the transition be fast, so that we just get on with it?

Or do we want to take more time to make the transition so that it’s less painful?

See what tech you’re already using and evaluate whether you want to ditch, change or sustain.

26:00 mins

How do you share information?
How do people find out about company news?
How do you share availability?


How do you review your team process?
When do you feel most connected?
When and how do you gather together?


How do you make decisions as individuals?
How do you make decisions as a team?
What do you need to make decisions?

How do you solve problems?


When do people talk honestly to each other?
How is work delegated / taken on?
How do we share our values?


How do you receive feedback?
How do people learn from each other?
How do people learn from their experiments (or “trying things out”)?


How do you show appreciation?

How do you celebrate?
How do people know they’re contributing to the team?

When do you innovate?
When do people take the initiative?
How is change introduced?

Set up the home office and put processes in place – don’t make a big, elaborate plan but you need to set some targets.

Start small with small experiments.

Get people go equipment – a webcam, noise cancelling head set, pay for a coworking space.

Do an assessment of where things are now and what will people need.

How do you want your people to feel about the transition if it’s been made for them? Do you want them to feel supported or made to work in unsuitable conditions from home?

These are not “work from home days” when you work at home in order to focus and have some quiet time. You need to think of working from home but still communicating with colleagues.

People are thinking You’re giving me unsuitable conditions and You’re disconnecting me from my colleagues – even before we’ve made the change, let’s take a day when we work from home, but when we do need to be working together and see how it feels. Do it little by little before you have to go full on?

Even try from the office itself using laptops.

Breaking the psychological contract. You are changing what people expect from them employers.

Turn this into an obvious opportunity to make things better.

How much choice can we give people within those restrictions? Sense of autonomy – we don’t like to feel like someone else is being in charge of our destiny.

People might feel like they have to do the same amount of work but in worst circumstances.

The separation between home and work life. This might be difficult to do for people when they’re working from home. You’re asking people to stop that split.

Beware that when you start working like this, you need to define your working hours and space differently.

(Rant about coworking spaces and real estate…) Use coworking spaces, they can help to make the transition!

Online communication. Pilar mentions The Open Organization

Different platforms / email lists depending on the complexity of the conversation.

  • Will you need some form of quick, immediate communication? (like Instant Messaging)
  • What should you do if you can’t get hold of someone? (telephone, email?)
  • Will you need to have conversations real-time, that others can access later? (eg video conferencing with recording available)
  • How will you have short, sharp conversations as a group? (maybe through a collaboration platform)
  • How will you have in-depth conversations one to many? (does the collaboration platform allow for blog post type postings/)
  • How will you have one-one in depth conversations?

It’s not about the technology it’s about the right technology thoughtfully applied.

Are you restricted by the IT department? How should you involve them in the decision to go virtual? How should the IT dept and other staff be communicating?

Should you push back so that the old infrastructures get changed? Make sure they understand why you want to introduce those tools?

Yes, we know it has been done for ages without using all these new techs, but do we want to continue operating in that way when we can now make it easier?

Involve everyone in the process and have transparency. It will show that you care if you involve everyone in making the decision.

Start small and start now!