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Work Together Anywhere A Handbook on Working Remotely—Successfully—for Individuals, Teams, and Managers | by Lisette Sutherland & K. Janene-Nelson

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“AN EXCELLENT GUIDE on how teams can effectively work together, regardless of location.”

—Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork

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ABOUT THE BOOK

In today’s modern global economy, companies and organizations in all sectors are embracing the game-changing benefits of the remote workplace. Managers benefit by saving money and resources and by having access to talent outside their zip codes, while employees enjoy greater job opportunities, productivity, independence, and work-life satisfaction. But in this new digital arena, companies need a plan for supporting efficiency and fostering streamlined, engaging teamwork.

In Work Together Anywhere, Lisette Sutherland, an international champion of virtual-team strategies, offers a complete blueprint for optimizing team success by supporting every member of every team, including:

  • Employees advocating for work-from-home options
  • Managers seeking to maximize productivity and profitability
  • Teams collaborating over complex projects and long-term goals
  • Organizations reliant on sharing confidential documents and data
  • Company owners striving to save money and attract the best brainpower

Packed with hands-on materials and actionable advice for cultivating camaraderie, agility, and collaboration, Work Together Anywhere is a thorough and inspiring must-have guide for getting ahead in today’s remote-working world.

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Published by COLLABORATION SUPERPOWERS

Paperback (September 2018): $17.95
eBook (April 2018): $9.99

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“Having thoroughly researched digital work life and virtual teamwork—and then practicing and perfecting what she’s learned—Lisette can teach you everything you need to know to be a success in the remote-work arena.”

—FROM THE FOREWORD BY Jurgen Appelo

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Lisette Sutherland

is a public speaker, workshop leader, and virtual virtuoso. She is the director of Collaboration Superpowers, a company that helps people work together from anywhere through online and in-person workshops. Her Collaboration Superpowers podcast was deemed among the Best Remote Work Podcasts by Workplaceless and one of 6 Best Productivity Podcasts for Your Team by Hive. She lives in the Netherlands and works anywhere there’s a digital connection.

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Lisette Sutherland quoted in The New York Times:

[F]or many [remote] workers, [now] separated from the interpersonal exchange of traditional offices, mobility has left them feeling disoriented. People want autonomy but, it turns out, they still crave structure and social interaction....

Newer collaboration technology, however, can enable the very feedback loops young workers are missing, said Lisette Sutherland, an expert on working remotely and the author of the book Work Together Anywhere.

“You have to make communicating with each other so easy that it’s like talking to someone right next to you,” Sutherland said. “It sounds really simple, but most multinational workers don’t even have headsets. Another big part of it is turning the video on. People don’t realize how much team building you can do just by turning on the screen.”

Sutherland said that the richer, real-time interface provided by a new wave of technological advances will help quell the isolation people feel when working at home. Robotic cameras that move through the halls of an office and pivot to look around a conference room will help remote workers feel more connected.

“What we’re trying to do is replicate the human experience as much as possible,” she said.

We All Knew Tech Would Make Work Better—Has It?,” The New York Times

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Introduction

In 2006, I lived in California and belonged to a social community interested in technology, the future, and staying healthy. Every Sunday we went hiking together. One person in the group particularly interested me because he was working on a peculiar start-up idea: he wanted to eradicate death.

I learned there are a lot of longevity devotees out there experimenting with and researching anti-aging: rocket scientists, theoretical physicists, entrepreneurs, software developers. Some practice calorie restriction. Some research cryonics. Some work on nanotechnologies. Through his networks, my death-defying hiking friend was introduced to others working toward the same goal—but no one was talking regularly or sharing data. So he dreamed of building an online project management tool to enable longevity scientists from all over the world to collaborate and solve the problem of aging.

It was an aha! experience for me. For centuries, employers have hired the most qualified workers who were able to convene at a central location. The location was by necessity the constant; the variable was the most qualified workers able to convene. That didn’t necessarily mean the team was populated by “the best and the brightest”—just the best who were nearby or willing to relocate. Of course, that’s the employer’s view. From the employees’ view, the job offers they accepted were the best they could get at the time—whether or not those jobs made them excited to get up in the morning.

But if instead we found a way to make location the variable—indeed, immaterial—then we could have the constant be the far more important concern: qualification, including enthusiasm. Employers could hire the best, the brightest, and the most dedicated—wherever those workers happen to be.

I love this concept. I’ve held a job that I took on because it was a “good job”—despite the fact that it didn’t excite me. And every day, when I arrived at what I called my gray cube (a cubicle like in a Dilbert cartoon), a part of me thought, Ugh. This is not the life I envisioned for myself. After several years, being rather young and naive, I quit my stable, good-paying job and pursued work that allowed greater self-expression, work that made me feel more alive. It wasn’t glamorous and it didn’t pay well for a long time, but I eventually found my niche and my own version of success.

It just thrills me to think that technology could make it so that everyone can engage in work that jazzes them. So I started talking to others who were thinking this way too, and I found a lot of people to talk to. I’ve interviewed directors and managers from more than eighty companies whose business models depend on successfully bridging distance—companies that, for example, provide consulting services, outsource work, and offer training courses. In addition I’ve talked with hundreds of people—from software developers to HR directors to neuroscientists. Everyone had a lot to say about how they make working remotely work for them or their teams. Some things I already knew or had guessed, like the need for regular contact and team building. Some things really surprised me, like how much connection can be created just by turning on the video camera, as well as how reluctant we all can be to try new things.

One of the biggest takeaways I got from all those conversations is that there is no “one solution fits all” for remote working, no single formula to follow. Each person, each company, will need to experiment with various tools and processes to find what makes him, her, or them most productive. But what are the tools available? What processes are effective for different kinds of remote teams? I rustled the virtual bushes to learn everything I could about how to make working remotely not just workable, but undeniably productive—and, in some cases, even preferable. All that and more has been collected in these pages.

To best help you navigate this terrain, this book is divided into parts and chapters suited to different kinds of readers at different stages in the going-remote process. If all this is completely new to you, start with Part I, which offers a bird’s-eye view of the current landscape of remote working, detailing some of the who, what, where, and why of it all. Part II is for individuals, whether you’re considering going remote or you’re ready to start out (chapter 3), or you’re perfecting your game (chapter 4). Parts III and IV are for team leaders and managers/owners: those transitioning to the remote option (chapter 5), those hiring remote workers (chapter 6), and those looking to perfect their game (chapters 7 through 10). Following the chapters in each part are Part EXTRAS: additional resources particularly applicable to that group. After Part IV is the RESOURCES section, which includes additions applicable to many—especially “Technology & Tools.” And for those who would benefit from more personalized guidance, you’ll also find information about the Work Together Anywhere Workshop, which is available both online and in person.

Be sure not to miss the conclusion, where I wax poetic about how people from all corners of the globe have figured out how to flourish working remotely—and how in so doing have achieved marvels previously thought impossible. And, finally, I want to give a shout-out to the remote-working experts I interviewed for the Collaboration Superpowers podcasts—which as of this writing has aired its 175th unique episode. In the “Interviewees” section I share a bit of what each professional has to offer—as well as information on how to further your acquaintance should you wish to learn more.

ONE of the premises of this book is that to be better informed is to be better prepared. So I strongly recommend that you at least skim the portions written for those you’ll be interacting with. The more you understand their perspective, and they yours, the better you’ll be able to forge something undeniably productive together. This broader perspective magnifies everyone’s understanding of how to make it all work well.

For those who haven’t yet made the leap, the prospect of going remote can feel daunting—but it doesn’t have to. Whether you’re an individual, a manager, or an owner, in the pages that follow you’ll find all you need not just to get started but also to get ahead. The information collected here paints a bright picture of the possibilities available to us today. Plus, given that businesses are constantly adapting, and the technology of remote collaboration is always improving, the future looks even more promising.

As I continue to interview people who work remotely, I meet ever more people from all over the world who actively pursue work they love. When I think back to my gray days in that cubicle, I think about all the people who currently view their work equally dimly. But they don’t have to—the technology exists to bridge distance between a dedicated worker and a job worth getting up for in the morning. In the pages to come, I’ll share how to do just that.

By the end of our journey, it’s unlikely we’ll have eradicated death, as my ambitious colleague aspires to do. But with the tips, tools, and to-do lists that follow, I hope to open your eyes to the possibilities that exist right now for working remotely—and to inspire you to do great things too. Just think of what we could accomplish when we get the right people working together!

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“If I could reach back through time and hand my early-millennial self a copy of Work Together Anywhere, it would have been a priceless gift…. It’s a really comprehensive manual of checklists, considerations and questions … a book to dip in and out of regularly, taking pride of place on any workspace bookshelf—wherever it is.”

—Maya Middlemiss: “Universal Collaboration: A Review of Work Together Anywhere by Lisette Sutherland,” LinkedIn Pulse

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“Lisette is a virtual virtuoso, and Work Together Anywhere is a tour de force and a labor of love. An important contribution to this new way of working.”

—Howard Esbin, social entrepreneur, Playprelude.com

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“This book covers remote working from lots of perspectives. It also covers a lot of ground:

starting from the idea of remote working, why an organisation might adopt it, basics for successful remote working, and on to the techniques used by more experienced remote workers.

I skimmed the first sections to find the hard-won experience of others. And it has that: the contents are drawn from conversations and interviews (quotes and anecdote galore). The common themes and tips pulled together in the text, and as checklist reminders at the end of chapters and the last section of the book.

It all rang true. What resonated for me was the ideas of ‘working out loud’ and ‘assume positive intent.’

I suspect anyone reading the book will find their own ‘Oh, that’s an interesting idea’ moments to try out. There’s plenty of advice around meetings, time zones, team agreements. The parts I found extra useful were around dealing with conflict.

It’s all about people, of course: communicate well and often, take care of people, improve continuously, be intentional in what you do. Useful reminders, regardless of being remote or not.” ****

—Richard Dallaway, 4-star GoodReads review, 4 August 2018

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“The interviews shed light on the realities of what it takes to work remotely, and the author’s authentic voice pulls you in and takes you on her journey with her.... I highly recommend [this book] for anyone who cares about remote working and doing it well.”

—5 star Amazon review, 29 April 2018

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“Remote work is complicated. Here are the details you need to make the right decision for you.

You can find all kinds of info about remote work online, but it’s hard to break past the bite-sized tips to learn what it really takes to succeed when you and your team don’t share an office. Lisette’s done a fabulous job getting past the sound bites and into the full-color realities. The stories from her interviews are revealing, and the backing research data [is] absolutely invaluable for anyone wrestling with the task of making remote work successful.” *****

—Elise Keith, 5-star Amazon review, 2 August 2018

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“A Must-Read For Anyone Who Is or Wants to Go Remote

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. I have been working remotely for a long time, and with distributed teams (even when I was in an office). So it was a big surprise how in-depth this book went with its tips and information. This book is jam-packed with hugely helpful information and actionable tips, whether you are someone looking to work remotely, already work remotely and want to get better at it, or a company investigating allowing more remote work. There is something for everyone in here. Bravo!” *****

—Heidi, 5-star Amazon review, 11 June 2018

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“Wherever you work you’ll want to have this with you!

Amazingly comprehensive.” *****

—Teri O, 5-star Amazon review, 18 September 2018

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“A Must-Read Both if You Do Believe or Don’t Believe In Remote Work

60 percent of the people within Engineering at Red Hat are working remotely. Furthermore, they are distributed all over the world. I am saying that to tell you that I should know quite a lot of things about making remote work effective, and still, I learned a lot from Lisette’s book. Reflecting on my reading, I also realized that a lot of the practices highlighted in the book could be beneficial to manager and teams even if they are collocated.” ****

—Alexis Monville, 4-star GoodReads review, 5 September 2018

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Contents

  • How to Use This Book
  • Foreword by Jurgen Appelo
  • Introduction

Part I—Setting the Scene: Some of the Who, What, Where, and Why of Remote Working

  • Chapter 1. Setting the Scene: Why Are Individuals Going Remote? Workplace Flexibility
  • Chapter 2. How Remote Working Benefits Employers

PART I Extras

  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • At a Glance: How to Replicate Online the Benefits of Working On-Site

Part II—How Individuals Can Work Remotely Successfully

  • Chapter 3. Remote Working 101—Getting Started
  • Chapter 4. Remote Working 201—Perfecting Your Game

PART II Extras

  • Questionnaire for Individuals: Are You Ready to Work Remotely?
  • Convincing Your Boss (or Team)
  • Seeking Remote Employment
  • FlexJobs List: 100 Top Companies with Remote Jobs in 2018

Part III—Successful Remote Teams 101: Hiring and Transitioning

  • Chapter 5. Hiring Remote Workers and Teams
  • Chapter 6. Transitioning Toward the Remote Option

PART III Extras

  • Cheat Sheet: What to Look for When Interviewing a Remote Worker—Plus Sample Questions for Assessing a Candidate
  • Remote-Only Manifesto

Part IV—Successful Remote Teams 201: Managing

  • Chapter 7. Commit and Lead, Trust and Succeed
  • Chapter 8. Facilitate Their Success with Leadership, Alignment, and a Full Arsenal
  • Chapter 9. Tune Your Team with a Working Agreement
  • Chapter 10. Bring It All Together

PART IV Extras

  • Manager’s Action Plan
  • Remote Team Agreement: Instructions & Template
  • Tips for Online Meetings: Facilitators
  • Tips for Online Meetings: Participants

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Created By
K. Janene-Nelson | the-editrice.com
Appreciate

Credits:

Book cover design by Erin Seaward-Hiatt. Additional graphics by Marja Hautala. CS logo by Alfred Boland.

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