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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.

Join Pilar Orti, guests & co-hosts as they shine the spotlight on the most relevant themes and news relevant to the modern knowledge worker.

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Dec 20, 2018

Our final podcast of 2018 – Pilar and Maya reflect on trends and changes through the year, and what we’re looking forward to in the months ahead, at

2018 has been a year of many changes in the workplace and in this podcast too, as we moved to the successful new magazine-style format in May.

And the year has brought many other changes, including in workplace culture - we discussed this article: which reminds us that organisational change has to be driven from the top, with a clear vision and championing.

We’ve looked at flexible schedule experiments around the world in previous episodes (such as ep 179 ), and it’s good to see change happening. Even in Spain (where Maya lives and Pilar originates from… long overdue a bit of flexibility! Follow for more). Approaching work differently has so many benefits, from wellbeing to the environment – so long may this trend continue.

We also talked about coworking trends which have continued to evolve through this year, and discussed this post - yes, coworking is not just for groovy young startup types, and the diversity of spaces emerging in our cities reflects the way different people need different things (in terms of social contact, light, space) to do their best work – work which ranges from art to tech to the public sector. Flexibility is for everyone, and the space itself may even be impermanent

Pilar and Maya have both extended their own thinking and practice about virtual working through 2018 too, and some unexpected advantages of remote collaboration tools – such as automatic digitisation of conversations and decisions made on chat platforms. We talked about trustlessness, a thing Maya has been looking at a lot with her blockchain hat on – remote teamwork relies on trust, but, you can create systems and tools to minimise dependence on unproven trust, by baking-in visibility and openness. Perhaps we’ll come back to this in 2019!

Certainly visibility and working out loud will continue as a theme, and we’ll keep sharing ideas to make this richer and more interesting (ie not completely text-dependent). Pilar likes sketching, and a picture can convey such a lot – without any need for huge artistry, it just abstracts the thinking to a different level.

We’re really distilling our thinking for office-optional team leadership, is to promote this 3-pronged model: deliberate communications, working out loud, and planned spontaneity. Look out for more on this in the new year!

As well as ecosystem and tools for remote working – Maya thinks of it as a software or app stack, (hopefully not in a top-heavy, Jenga-like pile!), and balancing innovation with her self-confessed shinything addiction. She talks about the very 21st century approach of connecting tools via APIs and getting developers to build bespoke integrations too.

Of course some software providers are more flexible than others, and we know that larger organisations and teams within them may have less discretion over their choices… At the very least the space is both expanding and converging at the same time, which is definitely interesting.

And another trend we’re seeing as larger organisations move to office-optional working, is a greater need for wellbeing and other kinds of support – for homeworkers who are not self-employed entrepreneurs, but people used to a more structured environment, to whom there are both moral and legal duties of care due from an employer. From ergonomic seating to mental health, all these things will need to be better engaged with in 2019.

What do YOU think will be the important issues for the new year, in office-optional working? Apart from Maya and Pilar’s new book of course, Thinking Remote: Inspiration for leaders of distributed teams

Let us know what you think, we’re @Virtualteamw0rk on twitter, to keep the conversation going… Flexibly, of course.

And for now, our warmest greetings for the season, and happiest wishes