Work Together Anywhere by Lisette Sutherland [Book Summary – Review]

Everything used to be on-site. The justifications for becoming remote these days are frequently reasonably practical. Technology like task-board software and video conferencing lets us do many, if not all, of the office functions while on the road.

Why then do some people still have reservations about managing a group of remote employees or working themselves remotely? While some businesses just don’t trust employees if they can’t see them, other workers express worries about lost benefits and job security.

If we can identify the skills needed for particular distant possibilities, we may concentrate on honing them and integrating them into our job and interpersonal interactions. These chapters examine how remote work may develop in the future and provide advice as well as lend a helping hand in navigating the different challenges and concerns of cooperating with others, wherever they may be.

These chapters will teach you:

  • ways to modify recommended procedures for remote work;
  • why a corporation may save money by having remote workers; and
  • how to build trust among a distant team of collaborators.

Buy this book from Amazon

Chapter 1 – Working remotely may boost productivity and participation.

Consider the moment when you were searching for your very first job. You could have desired to work in a specific industry, for a specific organization, or in a specific location. Perhaps your enthusiasm was accompanied by new business relationships, a sense of camaraderie among coworkers, or a sense of belonging to something significant and worthwhile. Then you discovered it! a position that met all the criteria.

You were eager and prepared to enter the working world. Afterward, you showed up on your first day.

Once you had your own cubicle’s keys, you had a look around. While some things were excellent, others didn’t quite fit. Nobody romanticizes being caught in traffic at rush hour. Nobody romanticizes being caught in traffic at rush hour. Nobody considers the burden of taking a full day off work since the plumber was scheduled to arrive between 8 and 8:45 a.m. and 2 p.m. Nobody considers having to decide between staying in their preferred city or relocating to a dull, alienating place because that’s where the jobs are.

Office job all too frequently serves as a barrier rather than a help in pursuing our ideal careers.

The main takeaway from this is that remote work may boost engagement and productivity.

More and more people are concluding that working remotely is preferable to the more typical office environment. This is due to several factors. In a 2017 FlexJobs study, 76% of participants indicated they would be more productive working remotely because there would be “fewer interruptions from coworkers.” Seventy-six percent also cited “fewer distractions” and “lower stress from commuting” as contributing factors to their greater productivity.

A 2014 research for the Chinese travel company Ctrip examined the productivity of both remote and on-site contact center personnel. The report was published in the Harvard Business Review. The outcomes following nine months? Remote workers placed 13.5 more calls than on-site workers. In all, this meant that employees who stayed at home worked one extra day every week.

Nicholas Bloom, one of the study’s authors, provided a few potential explanations for this. Simply put, the fact that employees’ living rooms were calmer and less distracting than the office contributed to this increase in productivity. More striking was the fact that remote workers worked during their nonexistent commuting time and took fewer and shorter breaks than their coworkers who were physically there. They also took a lot fewer sick days.

Although some people genuinely like the bustle of a conventional workplace, the majority discover that the benefits of remote work improve their career and personal life considerably more.

Chapter 2 – Providing a flexible remote alternative can result in cost savings and enduring customer loyalty.

Consider a scenario in which one of your team members asks you as a manager if you would consider allowing them to work from home two days a week. What would be your first response? Would you doubt her dedication? After all, everyone else seemed to be very content to go to work every day. Or would you attempt to see the benefits of allowing her to take a more active part in achieving the best possible work-life balance?

Despite the reasonable suspicion that employers have toward remote work, rising data points to the fact that companies that don’t provide their workers the option of remote work ultimately put their ability to compete at risk.

The takeaway is that providing a flexible remote option can lead to increased customer loyalty and lower expenses.

Think about this Typically, the cost of employing a new employee is far more than the costs associated with maintaining an existing one. After all, there are no incidentals like onboarding or training.

Now think about this: 62 percent of respondents to the 2017 FlexJobs Super Survey said they had either resigned or had considered quitting employment where flexible work arrangements were either not practicable or not offered. In addition to claiming that such agreements would increase their loyalty to their companies, 79 percent of respondents said they also thought they would develop stronger ties with their supervisors and coworkers. Offering remote work, therefore, appears like a no-brainer if you want to retain staff and save money.

What more does it offer you, the employer, when there are such clear-cut figures in favor of work flexibility? Well, there isn’t any need to pay for such a vast office space, or even one at all, if a sizable proportion of people work remotely. According to Global Workplace Analytics, each full-time remote employee saves nearly $10,000 annually on real estate costs or rent. Suddenly, those annual retreats for team-building seem a lot more doable.

Last but not least, you could discover that special talent is not all found within a single organization if you aim to construct the greatest team possible from the best pool of applicants available. The creator of NanoTecNexus, Adriana Vela, had this problem. Her remedy? embracing the remote control option. Nanotechnology specialists from the US and Canada were employed by Vela to work together remotely.

Chapter 3 – Concerns about productivity with remote workers can be reduced by concentrating on results rather than time spent.

You put forth a lot of effort, and everyone knows it. You arrive at work, sit at your desk, and remain there till lunch. You continue to work at your desk at lunch since you also eat there. Up until the timer goes off at 5 o’clock, you continue to work diligently with your head down.

Your manager is thinking, “What a hardworking, committed employee I have!” as you put on your jacket and wave farewell. Then you’re gone, blasting Fleetwood Mac on the music as you go down the highway with the wind in your hair.

With or without a few minor elements, it is a well-known tale. However, what if you’re not working the entire time? What if you’re a pro at disguising yourself? What if you were rearranging your Netflix queue while you appeared to be busy? Have you ever experienced that?

The essential takeaway is that remote workers might experience increased productivity by concentrating on results rather than time spent.

Some supervisors fear that if they can’t see their workers putting in a lot of effort at their desks, it may indicate they aren’t working at all. This sentiment intensifies when they contemplate the same individuals unaccompanied at home, shielded from management’s watchful eye. When everything is done remotely, how can both sides assure a fruitful and sincere working relationship?

When it comes to monitoring the output of remote workers, there are two primary schools of thinking. Despite the suspicion it can breed, some people find monitoring software to be an intriguing option. Keystroke tracking, screen recording, and occasionally even a real camera in the room can be used for this. However, monitoring has clear disadvantages. Businessman Bart Van Loon warns such dominating tactics might eventually provide bad outcomes and be unproductive. For instance, if a worker feels pressured to be present at work all the time, they could hurry through procedures or tasks that would benefit from more thorough consideration.

The alternative is to completely shift your organization’s goals mindset from time-oriented to results-oriented. We can track progress in real-time, prioritize activities, and assign them following our partnerships’ goals, even if they are completed at various times. 

This promotes trust and openness among coworkers as well as between managers and employees.

In essence, it doesn’t matter if you spend your afternoon debating between rom-com and sci-fi movies. Then, rather than assessing your post-lunch work ethic, the question “Are you working hard or hardly working?” is reserved for incomplete tasks.

Chapter 4 – Assess your communication abilities, work ethic, and technology background before deciding to pursue remote employment.

Consider yourself a baker whose longtime ambition is to start your bakery. Yes, you can bake, but is that all you need to be successful? You might need a place to bake and sell your products, then. You could require a few pieces of equipment in this location, such as an oven, bowls, and ingredients, which are not necessarily included when signing a new lease but were seemingly always there at the bakery where you previously worked.

When moving from a co-located office role to working from your living room, the same problems arise. The takeaway is this: Before making the jump to a remote profession, be sure you have the appropriate technology chops, work ethic, and communication skills.

Going remote is a significant decision, and although there will inevitably be unforeseen obstacles, there are also a few start-up requirements that must be waived.

First off, since you’ll be working remotely, you won’t be communicating with people in person very often, if at all. Although there are methods to set up possibilities for online small talk, most communication will take place via written forms. Therefore, you should be able to communicate effectively and attentively in emails and instant messaging programs. Additionally, it’s a good idea to evaluate your typing abilities because the hunt-and-peck method of typing will slow things down.

Next, self-sufficiency is essential for your success as a remote worker. You must be able to plan your time well and work on your assignments on your own. Teams admire dependability as well as someone prepared to accept criticism and offer helpful criticism to others.

The ability to use high-quality technology is equally as crucial as investing in it. This applies to both people and businesses who want to offer a remote alternative. Of course, you’ll also need a phone, a computer with a webcam, and access to your data. This includes a dependable internet connection for the benefit of everybody. Locating a location with less outside noise may enhance the quality of your audio and video conversations and contribute to the creation of a less distracting work environment.

Make sure you are tech-savvy enough to perform some simple troubleshooting when everything is set up. Do you have a microphone? Why does your video not work? Gaining familiarity with these tools entails understanding what to check if something is wrong and who to ask for assistance from if you are truly stuck.

Chapter 5 – Keep your team’s needs in mind and stay focused when working remotely.

Maybe you truly are a workaholic, and starting a new job is harder for you than stopping one. Each morning you heat the leftover coffee from the day before and navigate your bed-to-desk travel with ease.

Day-old coffee isn’t always a bad thing, but neglecting to develop a more structured pattern might result in overworking. Additionally, it could cause more distractions. People you live with, for instance, might not be aware of your working and non-working hours. Even though there are some superheroes, most people find it more difficult to focus while their two-year-old is running around the room.

The main takeaway from this is to stay focused and remember to communicate openly with your team when working remotely.

The primary goal of a study carried out by Stanford University researchers was to identify the source of multitaskers’ productivity. What source does it have? Surprisingly, the findings revealed that multitaskers performed worse than those who could pay attention entirely to the subject at hand. The authors of the study claim that individuals who were multitasking found it difficult to focus on the specifics of their activity and became distracted. To put it another way, multitasking hinders productivity. You must concentrate. Yet how?

Making ensuring that all unneeded email and phone alerts are switched off is one straightforward option. While certain things must be done right away, other warnings may wait. You may establish some ground rules with your team members to aid manage this, such as answering emails or inquiries once per hour or so.

The second benefit of limiting your chores to three at a time is that you may concentrate on delivering high-quality outcomes rather than racing to complete a long list of this week’s tasks. Finding your optimum working hours and locations and incorporating them into your plan is another suggestion. Do you feel your best in the morning? Schedule your challenge duties for then. More of a slow starter? Save these for just after your power snooze at noon.

Working out loud is a useful technique for collaborating with others. Everyone can see when a job has been finished if your team utilizes a collaborative application like Trello, for instance. This can promote mutual motivation among coworkers and foster trust. To answer emails in a manner that is similarly structured, make each argument or query evident by using numbers or bullet points.

If you follow these steps, you’ll be well on your way to being a successful remote worker.

Chapter 6 – Introducing a remote alternative for your team should be done in small, manageable phases.

You as a manager might be concerned about what might occur if you let your team work independently. In fact, in a poll, 70% of managers stated that productivity, responsibility, and reachability were their top concerns when it came to managing remote workers. The same managers, however, noted that communication turned out to be the most challenging aspect of remote managing after putting it into reality. In the end, productivity turned out to be far less of an issue than anticipated.

What can we infer from this? It implies that leading a remote team could not go as well as expected. Therefore, it’s crucial to introduce remote work gradually to your staff. 

The main takeaway from this is that implementing a remote option for your team should be done in small, manageable phases.

There is a good probability that this procedure will entail more than simply verifying that everyone’s webcams are functional if some or all of your team is transitioning from fully co-located to remote work. Therefore, a gradual transition is advantageous to all parties. Make sure to assess the results of each stage. For instance, you may start with one or two employees and assess what worked and what didn’t before implementing remote work for everyone at once. Make sure to speak with the internal staff to find out their opinions about the procedure. This gives you the chance to optimize procedures, rules, and technology before hiring more staff or expanding the number of days the initial two may work remotely.

Some organizations could decide against making the change at all and instead create a “remote-first configuration” for situations where workers must work from home due to travel, inclement weather, or other unforeseen issues. You may ensure in advance that an employee can continue to work productively from home or abroad, for instance, if her car won’t start or she needs to travel for a week to attend a conference.

Properly implementing a remote alternative gives the chance to assess if your employee possesses the necessary organizational abilities to thrive in this setting. In other words, you have the opportunity to sort out the bugs or decide against the option completely before committing to something more radical if you see them struggle to express some thoughts in writing or struggle to get as much done on remote days as on in-office ones.

Chapter 7 – advises creating a successful onboarding process after employing remote employees and testing their pertinent abilities in the interview.

What sort of questions would you ask a violinist during an interview if you were looking to hire her for a tour with a prestigious orchestra? Do you play the violin?” is probably going to get a prompt “Yes.” But you’d ask her to show off her abilities just to be certain. Since the role is performance-based, if she can play, she can play.

Such screening methods, however, might all too frequently be disregarded when employing new staff at a less musical organization, especially for remote workers. The fundamental minimum competencies necessary to be a successful remote worker are frequently claimed by the candidate but not verified during the interviews, just as an applicant who lists Microsoft Excel under “Computer Skills” on his résumé might not be able to use spreadsheets in a meaningful way.

Here’s the takeaway: When employing remote workers, assess their applicable talents during the interview before creating a smooth onboarding procedure.

When the website asked 85 employers how they conducted remote job interviews, 84 of them said they utilized a video conference instead of in-person interviews.

The alternative is better.

The inventor of the freelance translation service Zingword, Robert Rogge, sees the interview as a chance to evaluate a candidate’s competence in both technical and communicative terms. Include the many tools she will frequently utilize in the interview process if it is for remote employment. Then, you can determine how at ease she is utilizing team-specific tools, video conferencing, and email. Some of your inquiries may even be about the experience of working remotely, and her responses may reveal a lot about her style of operation.

The next stage is to turn your expectations of a new hire into a detailed, practical strategy to assist her in getting started. This is one possible example of an onboarding strategy. Give her a hearty welcome, introduce her to the other members of the team, and then give her the resources she needs to get started. For instance, at NASA, where internal staff members work remotely with astronauts on the International Space Station, they pair up each new scientist with a personal buddy, in this case, a member of the support staff who is available to help her as she gets the hang of things.

Overall, it’s surprising that many businesses fail to develop a thorough plan to onboard new hires, whether they are remote or in-house, given the costs associated with hiring, even though it may seem obvious. 

Chapter 8 – The majority of on-site advantages may be converted into online benefits with ease.

What would you do if you were working on a report at your desk and had a question about it? If your coworker’s desk is in the same building as yours, you may just walk over and ask him. However, what if you are in various cities, nations, or even time zones? Sounds like a significant issue. But it’s not. It just calls for regular contact using the available channels, including phone, email, video call, and applications like Slack.

When compared to their co-located counterparts, remote employees are frequently more accessible, and part of working remotely is being open with colleagues about when and how they will be available. 

The main takeaway from this is that most in-person advantages can be converted into online benefits with ease.

It’s even conceivable that distant team members spend more actual face time together. One research examined how frequently Genentech employees were observed sitting in their seats. It was out that during the typical business hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Genentech employees were absent 80% of the time. You could now wonder who planned such a huge musical chairs event. However, a more interesting topic would be how anybody could find anyone else if there were so many individuals who were missing during the day.

Naturally, building a connection with coworkers online takes time, and there is always a chance that a text message might be misinterpreted. Even more, motivation to set up frequent video conferences via the internet so that team members may regularly communicate and share ideas.

Holding time stand-ups, which are typical in co-located office spaces, is one such example. Team members alternately share what they did yesterday, what they are working on today and any problems they have encountered during these stand-up meetings, whether they are virtual or in person. Anyone who is otherwise occupied during a stand-up may catch up on what she missed afterward and even participate as they can be filmed.

Holding retrospectives, which zoom out from the specific daily duties to get an idea of how the entire team is doing generally, is another technique to bring people together. These meetings can be held every week or every other week. Retrospectives are intended to be feedback sessions, thus this is the appropriate time to discuss any disputes that need to be resolved in a positive setting.

Work Together Anywhere: A Handbook on Working Remotely—Successfully—for Individuals, Teams, and Managers by Lisette Sutherland, Kirsten Janene-Nelson Book Review

Few people can choose to work remotely anymore, so businesses that want to keep up with the changes would be well to embrace the option and consider how it aligns with their mission and goals. For those who aren’t quite ready to make the switch, keep in mind that many of the jobs carried out in a typical office environment these days are truly remote tasks as well, despite being performed on-site.

Regular feedback offers benefits that are both short-term and long-term.

Together with your team, decide on the formats for frequently planned feedback loops. In a communicative setting, coworkers will be able to evaluate the progress accomplished, provide feedback, and pose inquiries. This helps the team members’ interactions and is vital to make sure the work at hand produces a high-quality result. The team you have moving ahead will be better as a result of how well-adjusted each individual is working and communicating with the others.

Buy this book from Amazon

Download Pdf

Download Epub


Savaş Ateş

I'm a software engineer. I like reading books and writing summaries. I like to play soccer too :) Good Reads Profile:

Recent Posts