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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.

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Jun 16, 2022

Roberta Sawatsky is a “research storyteller”.   As well as running her own consultancy, SAM is Remote, she is a business professor at Okanagan School of Business, Canada with a focus on HR and management. She blogs at Probe and Ponder… learning from life and travels. 

Below are some brief show notes. For a longer summary, check out:

Roberta’s research is around remote work/hybrid work/work from anywhere.

“You have to be willing to take the responsibility, if you’re asking for the flexibility.”


 Roberta has had an interest in and has been involved in leadership her whole adult life, leading teams, or in a volunteer capacity. Whenever people are in a position of leadership or something less formal, leading by relationship, they have a responsibility to take it seriously, as they are influencing people. 


Roberta’s recent research started in 2019, looking at the core competencies of remote workers.  She then decided to build on that research, but focus on leaders, so she extended her study leave. 

“Never underestimate the impact of culture shock.”
Check out Roberta’s post

16.00 MINS

The research into leading hybrid teams

Proximity equity:  the unconscious treatment to give preferential treatment to those in our vicinity. 

Hybrid:  Some people are colocated in the same physical space, or in the same town but not working in the office, while there are other members of the team working in other parts of the world.  

Robert Greenleaf’s concept of servant leadership encourages questions like “Do those served grow as persons?” “Do they become healthier when being served”? 

26.30 MINS

In the end, the philosophy behind what we do is important. What is a leader’s philosophy of leadership becomes important because of their impact over others’ lives, so Roberta started to ask questions around that. She mentions the book “Humankind by Rutger Bregman”.

“Autonomy in the workplace is not about passively letting employees be independent, it’s also not about working in isolation or doing work without guidance, boundaries, supervision or collaboration. What it is, is about allowing people to work the way that is most conducive to their own best performance.” 

42.24 MINS

After covering the actions that leaders can take to nurture their teams and team members, Roberta turns to the leadership competencies. 

Someone leading a team can grow these competencies and be aware of what they are already good at. 

Link to Competencies for Successful Hybrid Leadership by Roberta Sawatzky 

Roberta hopes that this research will reach leaders and will be incorporating this into her classes in September, as well as her consultancy and coaching work.  

Connect with Roberta on LinkedIn and check out her research and company, Sam is Remote.