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Lessons Learned from the Book 'Effective Remote Work'

Posted on Aug 25, 2022. Updated on Jan 3, 2023

I enjoyed reading “Effective Remote Work” by James Stanier. I wrote down my lessons learned and posted them on Twitter and LinkedIn. Surprisingly, the response was very positive which make me very happy. So I made a blog post out of the content to make it persist and easier to find later.

Lessons Learned from the Book 'Effective Remote Work'

Lessons Learned

  1. The most fundamental principle is to treat everyone as remote. Period. Once again: Treat everyone as remote. That affects everything: tools, meeting setup, information exchange, communication, documentation, and opportunities.
  2. A key ingredient is to rely on asynchronous communication and to produce artifacts. Ideally, those artifacts should be developed collaboratively and shared with everyone. Every meeting should create an artifact (ideally, a shared document or at least a record).
  3. On the importance of connecting as humans in a remote setup: We are all human beings and need social interaction to not feel isolated and to enjoy the feel-good aspects of work. So you should break the asynchronous-communication-rule occasionally, have face-time, and make room for socializing.
    • “When leaders make time for fun, it gives permission for others too”.
    • And a little ‘How are you feeling?' goes a long way.
  4. On onboardings: Have a dedicated “Contracting Session” where the manager and the new report answer questions about how they like their relationship.
  5. I also like the idea of archiving e-mails instead of just marking them as read. “Empty inbox, empty mind, pure bliss”. I will give that a try!
  6. I also want to try out the proposed daily journaling. Close each day with a short reflection and write down your findings. Research has shown that this improves your performance.
  7. Inspirational: James explains why you should be brave and put boundaries between your work time and your personal time. I like the notion of strengthening your muscle of stepping away by “just doing it”. Step. Go!
  8. As a manager, you should over-communicate. Why? Because repetition makes your message stick, and your message will be missed by someone at some time anyway.
  9. James proposes a “Remote Working Test” similar to the Joel test. A couple of questions to find out if a company is remote-friendly. One question stuck in my head: Are the members of the executive team remote workers? If yes, they will improve the remote experience for all.
  10. I also like the idea of writing a team handbook. In our last team, we created something similar, and I wrote a blog post about it. I believe every guild/CoP should produce artifacts to avoid becoming a chit-chat round. GitLab’s Handbook is an excellent reference for that kind of handbook. They also wrote a lot about remote work.
  11. I appreciate that James creates awareness of the negative impact remote work can have on our physical and mental health, like a bad diet, lack of movement, overwork, stress, social isolation, and burnout. This is real.

That’s it! I really enjoyed James’ book, learned a lot, and got many new impulses from it.

Further Reading