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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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Jun 28, 2018

A shorter number of longer sections for today, including an extended featured interview looking at some of the difficulties behind the kind of working we love best. Don't forget to tell us what YOU love best, by tweeting @VirtualTeamW0rk, or visiting 

04.28 The Voice Behind The Blog : Gant Laborde

Today’s “voice” is Gant Laborde, author of an article entitled  5 Things that Suck about Remote Work - The Pitfalls of Remote Work + Proposed Solutions

We often celebrate all that we love about remote and flexible working, but it’s important to reflect on the challenges. Some of them come from other people and their attitudes and expectations…  and their lack of respect for your boundaries, especially when you’re first transitioning and figuring things out. Gant has some good suggestions for tackling this, and for talking about how you work to those who don’t get it.

Other challenges come from ‘office only’ things you might miss out on, because everyone else’s grass is greener sometimes. Our interview discusses some ways of bringing the sociability of working life back into remote working, and dealing with temporal disconnects – which don’t only come from being in different time-zones, but have cultural and lifestyle roots as well, and bring additional challenges to internal and external meetings.

An ‘open source’ mindset, with an eye on the future and evergreen value, really helps in making effective communications – and the extra effort of this additional thinking and planning adds compounded value down the line. 

The same goes for using tools smartly, combining different modes of communication, and mixing up synchronous and asynchronous messaging… But we need to remember that written words can be misinterpreted when removed from their non-verbal context. Humour can be misjudged… and what is that silence supposed to mean..?

Try an emoji or two, to put that emotion back in, and close the loop. And don’t forget to find ways to celebrate the ‘wins’ as well  - large and the small. Every remote team needs to think about this, create the right channels and opportunities –you can’t leave it to chance (as we keep saying).

There’s an interesting backstory to the branding of Gant’s business and blog too; enjoy the interview. @gantlaborde


39.25 Recommended Tool: Retrium

A tool for retrospectives or review sessions, Retrium is also useful for idea generation – we talked to one of the co-founders of Retrium back in episode 129:

Pilar uses it in retro-style meetings, as it’s purpose-built to take you through the phases – starting with individual idea generation, (with others ideas masked), then ‘big reveal’, where you see everyone else’s contributions and start to collaborate together.


43.14 Wellbeing: Communications addiction

Alerts and notifications are cleverly designed to feed our deep psychological needs - we all crave that little rush of dopamine when someone ‘likes’ your content or sends you a message.  It’s creeping from the social space into the workplace though, and we need to be aware of its addictive potential. Remember you can control your notifications, rather than having them control you. Have a listen to:

ReWork podcast , and also our own blog post

And to think people worry about lack of social contact, when they transition to remote!