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Book Review – Remote Work Revolution by Tsedal Neeley

Book Review – Remote Work Revolution by Tsedal Neeley

Author:  Florian Puschmann, PMP

Florian PuschmannJPG

I still remember vividly when we set up a workshop with a customer in a special video conferencing room a good five years ago. A couple of specialists were involved to hook up the two companies and their special rooms to make it happen. 

As you are reading this now, you are probably asking yourself why this is a big deal. That is precisely the point. Remote collaboration and hybrid work arrangements are becoming the norm in many industries to manage the interconnected global economy. Many of us, including myself, forget what this looked like just a few years back. While the fast global digitalization in the last two years accelerated this development, the remote work trend already started in the 90's.

The question now is no longer if dispersed remote teams work but rather how to make them work. 

Hence, now is an excellent time to take a moment, reflect, upskill and adjust to this new working style. 

Therefore, I was excited when I came across the recent book “Remote Work Revolution” by Harvard Business School Professor Tsedal Neeley. 

In her book, Tsedal offers background knowledge and hands-on strategies. I especially enjoyed that the content is backed by a good 50 years’ worth of solid research. Further, her book includes an extensive action guide that provides lots of ideas for direct experimentation and implementation in your daily work.

After a brief introduction to why remote work is not only much better than its reputation but also here to stay, the book dives into various areas of the topic.

As a basis, a framework is presented to “relaunch” your remote team for the most effective collaboration. The key elements of shared goals, understanding, and norms are almost too obvious. What is highly interesting though are the tools and techniques that are provided to achieve this outcome. Next, Tsedal takes her readers on a tour de force of the various dimensions to consider. 

Different elements of trust are covered. More importantly, she shows how to build trust to create resilient teams with high psychological safety.  

One of the key current topics is how to avoid digital exhaustion in remote teams. This topic is addressed with a general framework that allows avoiding digital exhaustion and how to use these tools to maximize productivity.

What fascinated me was the chapter that focused on the contrast of what it means to lead virtually. Different leadership techniques and skills are needed to promote a common purpose and harness productive conflict for the best overall outcomes. This holds especially true because the leader is never “in the room”. 

As a project manager, I was further intrigued by the chapter on how a traditional in-person agile team transitioned to a highly effective virtual team. This transition was not entirely deliberate, as the team fell apart at first when the pandemic sent everyone into a remote setting.  Tsedal presents this case study providing hands-on tweaks on making the methodology work that was initially designed for in-person interaction.

I hope this little review made you curious to explore this new “remote work handbook” to not only make remote work “work” but thrive!

Florian Puschmann, PhD, PMP

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