Top Books on Remote Teams
by Chris Dyer
This year, 2021, may well go down as the year that all those books on working remotely hit the shelves. A quick search on your preferred bookseller’s site should turn up dozens of recently published ones, as well as some good pre-COVID entries. Which one is best for you and your company? I won’t even try to answer that here, since it would depend on a variety of factors. However, here is a brief overview of some of the remote work books, both old and new, that I have found valuable.
My co-author Kim Shepherd and I referred to many of these books in our own work, Remote Work: Redesign Processes, Practices and Strategies to Engage a Remote Workforce, which also came out in 2021. If it sounds like I’m tooting my own horn, I am — the book is a great place to start. Complete bibliographic information for all the books appears at the end of this post.
Top Books On Remote Work (Not Written By Me)
Remote: Office Not Required, by Jason Fried and David H. Hansson, came out in 2013 and has been a great resource to me as I continue refining the remote model at PeopleG2. I took the company remote in 2009, and when I read reviews using terms like “revolutionary” and “paradigm-smashing,” I had to check it out. A lot has changed since then, but the book still contains great insights on promoting productivity, a positive culture and more for your home-officing teams.
Work Together Anywhere: A Handbook on Working Remotely—Successfully—for Individuals, Teams, and Managers, by Lisette Sutherland and Kirsten Janene-Nelson is a 2018 publication. The authors provide a comprehensive approach to building a remote model that delivers a win-win for all stakeholders, including employees, managers and senior leaders. Topics include productivity, profitability, collaboration, talent attraction and retention, and others.
ROCK STAR: Magnify Your Greatness in Times of Change was published by Sarah McVanel in 2020, just months into the COVID pandemic. Backed by 15 years of experience in hospital leadership, McVanel wrote this guide to support leaders of complex organizations in making tough decisions during times of stress. The title refers first to the four leadership behaviors that enable one to be the ROCK needed in these situations: Recognize, Organize, Communicate and Kindness. Second, it refers to how you can use these behaviors to help your people deliver STAR results: Satisfaction, Teamwork, Accomplishment, and Retention.
Remote Work Revolution: Succeeding from Anywhere, is a 2021 offering from Tsedal Neeley, the Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. As you might expect from an academic, the book includes evidence-based advice for dealing with the isolation and disconnection that remote employees may feel. It also includes practical action-oriented tips for managers to motivate their teams. Neeley focuses on building trust and connections.
Leading from Anywhere: The Essential Guide to Managing Remote Teams comes from Dave Burkus, a highly respected thought leader in the business world. The book is eminently practical and includes plenty of real-world examples. He walks you through the process of establishing your remote model and addresses topics that are front-on-mind for remote leaders. These include hiring and engaging talent, performance management and effective communication, along with work-life balance.
The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work: How to Grow, Manage, and Work with Remote Teams, came out in 2019, from Wade Foster and a whole committee of authors. In fact, the work is based on a series of blogs from Zapier’s website (they’ve been remote from the beginning, in 2011). That makes it a collection of real-world advice, including what works and what doesn’t. One of the most valuable pieces of advice I embraced from this book is “Hire people you can trust and trust the people you hire.” This trust is essential to promoting the autonomy necessary in a remote model. Additional Great Remote Work Books While these books aren’t necessarily focused on remote or hybrid teams, they are must-have resources for success factors essential to managing remote teams.
Culture can make or break a company, whether it is an onsite or remote setup. My book, The Power of Company Culture, describes the seven pillars of culture and how you can leverage each one to drive success and employee satisfaction (same horn, different toot).
Emotional intelligence has always been important for leaders, but it is especially relevant in times of change and stress. Justin Bariso’s EQ applied: The Real-World Guide to emotional intelligence helps clarify a “fuzzy” topic and provides practical ways to support teams with EQ. His advice extends beyond the workplace, too.
Employee engagement has been demonstrated to impact company performance, so it makes sense to do it well. In RESPECT: Delivering results by giving employees what they really want, Dr. Jack Wiley builds on 30 years of research to help leaders develop a culture that promotes discretionary effort — above and beyond the job description — on a consistent basis.
Knowing yourself and your people sets you up to optimize performance and engagement. What I like about Strengths Finder 2.0, by Tom Rath, is that it helps you focus and build on strengths rather than cataloging weaknesses. Not only can you use these insights to ensure you have the right people on the right projects, but you also can adjust your communication style to get the best results.
Purpose is the bedrock of motivation, and Simon Sinek is the guru of purpose. The title of his book Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team pretty much says it all. I believe each of your employees, at whatever level of the organization, should be able to tell you why they do what they do and how it supports the overall company mission. Sinek’s book helps your employees define that. Happy reading! References Bariso, J (2018) EQ applied: The real-world guide to emotional intelligence. Borough Hall, New York. Burkus, D. (2021) Leading from Anywhere: the essential guide to managing remote teams. Mariner Books, Boston. Dyer, C. (2018) The Power of Company Culture: How any business can build a culture that improves productivity, performance and profits. Kogan Page, London Dyer, C and Shepherd, K (2021) Remote Work: Redesign processes, practices and strategies to engage a remote workforce. Kogan Page, London. Foster, W, Schreiber, D, Groves, A, et al. (2019) The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work: How to Grow, Manage, and Work with Remote Teams. Zapier, Inc., Sunnyvale California. Fried, J & Hansson, D H (2013) Remote: Office not required. Currency, New York, New York. McVanel, S (2020) ROCK STAR: Magnify your greatness in times of change. GO Publishing Neeley, T (2021) Remote Work Revolution: succeeding from anywhere. Harvard Business School, Boston. Rath, T (2007) StrengthsFinder 2.0. Gallup Press, Washington DC. Sinek, S (2017) Find Your Why: A practical guide for discovering purpose for you and your team. Portfolio, New York Sutherland, L & Janene-Nelson, K (2018) Work Together Anywhere: A Handbook on Working Remotely—Successfully—for Individuals, Teams, and Managers, Collaboration Superpowers. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey. Wiley, J & Kowske, B (2011) RESPECT: Delivering results by giving employees what they really want. Pfeiffer, Hoboken, New Jersey CHRIS DYER Chris Dyer is the founder and CEO of PeopleG2, where he manages 30 full-time remote employees and 3,000 independent contractors. PeopleG2 is routinely ranked as one of the best places to work and has been listed as one of Inc.’s 5000 Fastest-Growing Companies. Having made the transition to remote during the recession in 2009 with stunning success, Chris Dyer is now a world-renowned expert on remote leadership and productive company culture. How to Maximize Remote Productivity
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