I’m delighted that the 2nd edition of my book “Distributed Teams: The Art and Practice of Working Together While Physically Apart” is now officially published. It’s already available on Amazon (in paperback and Kindle formats), Barnes&Noble nook and over the coming days will soon be available in physical bookstores, libraries, Apple Books and Chapter’s kobo.
I have plenty of half-read management books, so wrote this edition (like the previous one) for people who need practical answers to hard questions – and don’t have time to read a weighty management book. Each chapter is short with takeaways – most are ~8-10 pages. Each chapter is standalone, so you can jump in to solve a current need, then put it down and come back to read another chapter later. The book is written using only short words – no management speak – so it’s easy to read when tired or in a rush. The book is:
- one third practical mechanics (video etiquette, group chat, handling email, meeting etiquette, etc)
- one third human topics (hiring, firing, team culture, dealing with conflict, trust, etc) and
- one third wider social topics (diversity, urban planning, environment, disaster resilience, economic development, etc).
So, in case you already have the 1st edition, whats new in this 2nd edition? Lots! Here are some highlights:
1) Team Culture, Isolation and Burnout: Many best practices from the 1st edition still apply, but I’ve also added a bunch of new-during-covid tips for mental sanity, keeping work/life balance and avoiding burnout. Also tips for fostering team culture and holding virtual group gatherings when “inperson team offsites” are not possible.
2) Offices: Should you ever go back to an office? As people start thinking about “life after COVID-19”, this question comes up often. The last ~10 months of working from home during pandemics, economic disruption, office closures and school closures have obviously been stressful, so the appeal of “going back to the office” makes sense. It is at least in part about humans wanting social interaction with coworkers and going back to “life before COVID-19”. I outline the various pros/cons I’ve been advising company and government agency leaders on. Teaser: most are surprised by how this decision impacts their ability to hire a diverse workforce.
3) Climate: I’ve been helping the State of California with their new telework policy. Instead of the usual short-term, limited-approval-to-use telework policy, this is a long-term, widespread, telework policy. This has important consequences for workforce diversity as well as long-term disaster-planning. As part of this work, we created an automated public dashboard to measure telework rates as well as the carbon-reduction impact of this telework policy. This is the first automated dashboard (not a manual annual report) tracking telework in government that I know of, so I describe how we did it and why thats strategically important.
4) Economic Development: I helped write Vermont’s Remote Worker law (2018) which was signed into law just before the 1st edition of my book was published. This economic development initiative was an out-of-the-park success, so now other jurisdictions are starting to follow this model. I describe the important parts that make Distributed Economic Development long term successful – not just as a short-term fad during COVID-19. (This is also something I’d love to see others do, so if you are interested in doing this for your jurisdiction, email me.)
5) And of course, in context of COVID-19, I also did small nip-and-tuck edits across literally every chapter.
I hope you find this book practical and immediately useful. Please let me know what you think!