Tag Archives: remote work

Nike Should Stop Blaming Working from Home for Their Innovation Struggles

GUEST POST from Robyn Bolton

“But even more importantly, our employees were working from home for two and a half years.  And in hindsight, it turns out, it’s really hard to do bold, disruptive innovation, to develop a boldly disruptive shoe on Zoom.” – John Donahoe, Nike CEO

I am so glad CNBC’s interview with Nike’s CEO didn’t hit my feed until Friday afternoon. It sent me into a rage spiral that I am just barely emerging from. Seriously, I think my neighbors heard the string of expletives I unleashed after reading that quote, and it wasn’t because it was a lovely day and the windows were open.

Blaming remote work for lack of innovation is cowardly. And factually wrong.

I’m not the only one giving Mr. Donahoe some side-eye for this comment.  “There were a whole bunch of brands who really thrived during and post-pandemic even though they were working remotely,” Matt Powell, advisor for Spurwink River and a senior advisor at BCE Consulting, told Footwear News.  “So I’m not sure that we that we can blame remote work here on Nike’s issues.”

There’s data to back that up.

In 2023, Mark (Shuai) Ma, an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh, and Yuye Ding, a PhD student at the university’s Katz Graduate School of Business, set out to empirically determine the causes and effects of a firm’s decision to mandate a return to work (RTO).  They collected RTO mandate data from over 100 firms in the S&P 500, worked backward to identify what drove the decision, and monitored and measured the firm’s results after employees returned to work.

Their findings are stark: no significant changes in financial performance for firm value after RTO mandates and significant declines in employee job satisfaction.  As Ma told Fortune, “Overall, our results do not support these mandates to increase firm values.  Instead, these findings are consistent with managers using RTO mandates to reassert control over employees and blame employees as a scapegoat for firm bad performance.”

Or to justify spending more than $1B to double the size of its Beaverton, OR campus.

When you start blaming employees, you stop being a leader.

CEOs make and approve big, impactful, complex, high-stakes decisions.  That’s why they get paid the big bucks.  It’s also why, as Harry Truman said, “The buck stops here.” 

Let’s examine some of the decisions Mr. Donahue made or supported that maybe (definitely) had a more significant impact on innovation than working from home two days a week.

Ignoring customers, consumers, and the market: Nike has a swagger that occasionally strays into arrogance.  They set trends, steer culture, and dictate the rules of the game. They also think that gives them the right to stop listening to athletes, retailers, and consumers, as evidenced by the recently revealed Team USA Track & Field uniforms, the decision to stop selling through major retailers like Macy’s and Olympia Sports, and invest more in “hype, limited releases, and old school retro drops” than the technology and community that has consumers flocking to smaller brands like Hoka and Brooks.

Laying off 2% of its workforce: Anyone who has ever been through a layoff senses it’s coming months before the announcement and the verdicts are rendered.  Psychological safety, feeling safe in your environment, is a required element for risk-taking and innovation.  It’s hard to feel safe when saying goodbye to 1500 colleagues (and wondering if/when you’ll join them).

Investing too much in the core: Speaking of safety, in uncertain times, it’s tempting to pour every resource into the core business because the ROI is “known.” Nike gave in to that temptation, and consumers and analysts noticed.  Despite recent new product announcements like the Air Max DN, Pegasus Premium, and Pegasus 41, “analysts point out these ‘new’ innovations rely too much on existing franchises.”

Innovation is a leadership problem that only leaders can solve

Being a CEO or any other senior executive is hard. The past four years have been anything but ordinary, and running a business while navigating a global pandemic, multiple societal upheavals, two wars, and an uncertain economy is almost impossible.

Bosses blame.  Leaders inspire. 

Mr. Donohue just showed us which one he is.  Which one are you?

One MORE thing

This is a losing battle, but STOP USING “DISRUPTIVE” INCORRECTLY!!!!  “Disruptive Innovation,” as defined by Clayton Christensen, who literally coined the phrase, is an innovation that appeals to non-consumers and is cheaper and often lower quality than existing competitors.

Nike is a premium brand that makes premium shoes for premium athletes.  Employees could spend 24/7/365 in the office, and Nike would never develop and launch a “boldly disruptive shoe.”

Image credit: Pixabay

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Creating Employee Connection Innovations in the HR, People & Culture Space

How a world-wide shutdown led to the biggest shift in Human Resource practices

Creating Employee Connection Innovations in the HR, People & Culture Space

GUEST POST from Chris Rollins

While the world was experiencing widespread shutdown and companies promptly shifted to remote work from home, the focus was on how companies would adapt to this new normal of the pandemic. At the same time, while many people were facing daily stress about their job stability, their financial livelihood, and their families’ health & safety, social justice issues were also at the forefront with the murder of George Floyd. In response, we’ve seen the evolution of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) departments in the workplace. For smaller companies and organizations with a less established DEI function, however, it’s HR leaders out front navigating these issues and leading the change, often with little support or guidance.

The Human Resources space went into crisis mode at the onset of COVID and was forced to innovate incredibly quickly as every facet of our work was impacted. HR leaders have more responsibility than ever and increased influence at the C-Suite level, especially as they implement changes to their people practices in order to keep up with what employees want and need from their employers today. HR professionals, in close partnership with the CEO, had to create covid policies, work-from-home guidelines and return-to-work plans, all in an extremely short time frame, which required innovative thinking and presented an opportunity to leverage technology to better support their employees. We also saw the rise of many HR communities, including niche groups like QueeHR, to create space for HR leaders to connect and support each other during these times.

Proactive employee mental health benefits

Another major difference between HR pre-pandemic is that although there was already a focus on employees’ mental health and wellbeing, it was being handled reactively. Now, Human Resource teams are taking note of employees’ experiences and emotional health, as well as developing skills to detect problems early and to step in to provide help. This sounds like an easy process once implemented, but with today’s massive shift towards hybrid or remote work, it’s challenging for HR professionals to constantly stay up to date with each and every employee’s experience. Creating space for more consistent coaching conversations and 1:1 meetings with managers is imperative to staying connected. Having “difficult conversations” at work used to look like a 1:1 in the boss’ office, and now has shifted to video or phone calls where body language is hard to distinguish. HR professionals must also train leaders how to be great coaches and to bring a healthy dose of empathy into the virtual environment.

The experience of LGBTQ+ employees

A common topic of conversation in the HR community is the experience of underrepresented employees. Ensuring that diversity, equity and inclusion efforts include individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) is essential for business success. Although many companies offer health benefits and other policies that support LGBTQ+ workers, a company’s culture plays a key role in whether employees feel safe bringing their whole selves to work. While many LGBTQ+ workers have the skills to be great leaders, a strong sense of belonging is crucial in order to establish their leadership voice and style at work.

For companies, there is a high cost to not creating an inclusive culture where underrepresented employees feel they belong. One of the common challenges for LGBTQ+ workers is trying to do their job and lead their teams while spending valuable mental energy figuring out if or how they fit in. A lot of wasted energy goes into assessing the level of safety and comfort. Considering this impact at scale across an organization, that’s a lot of lost productivity, and puts LGBTQ+ at a disadvantage in the context of performance, promotions and career growth.

While figuring out the right approach to these challenges is not “one size fits all”, the impact and positive benefits of a more diverse workforce with a focus on employee wellness is huge. HR leaders are adopting a “people-first” approach to leading their organizations, and getting more specific with employees to understand their unique needs. Each company, industry, and workforce is entirely different, but by taking a look at the overall workforce and gathering data from employees about their experience, companies can design programs that will actually move the needle and positively impact employee experience.

Employee resource groups/ERGs emerge as a trend

ERGs, or employee resource groups, are voluntary, employee-led groups whose aim is to foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with the organizations they serve. Although they have been around since the 1960s, they are becoming increasingly relevant today as questions of personal identity and politics are creating difficult conversations in the workplace. Typically, ERGs are more common in companies with a minimum of 500 employees, but they are continuing to increase in prevalence.

ERGs are creating a ton of innovation and impact in the workplace, as many companies are increasingly establishing employee resource groups for various identity groups – like LGBTQ+, POC, LatinX, Women, etc. Those spaces are creating and helping build community among like-minded folks, while also creating opportunities for allyship. The groups truly serve to inform the business about things they could be doing as a whole to create more inclusive practices. For example, the LGBTQ+ resource group could make it clear that the benefit policies are not inclusive, and don’t offer gender affirming care benefits. The LGBTQ+ ERG can raise it as a group to enact real change for the company, which then has ripple effects for how they recruit new people, communicate their employer brand, etc.

Can ERG’s eventually become a paid role?

Currently, employee resource groups are 100% volunteer, but companies such as LinkedIn are starting to pay their ERG leaders to show their appreciation for these extra hours of work. Many ERG chairs are working overtime to host meetings, plan events, and gather information to present to the C-suite, but the positive side of this extra time are the leadership capabilities these team members learn. ERGs create a whole new opportunity for employees at any level of the organization to take on leadership roles and build their skills. It’s another way to develop talent in the organization and create opportunities for innovation across the business.

With LinkedIn being a standup example of paying their ERG leaders an additional $10,000 per year, there are infinite benefits to adding these types of leadership resources to the team. ERG leaders are getting hands-on training on how to be great leaders through leadership development programs. By encouraging and supporting employee resource groups at a corporate level, employers are truly communicating the importance of investing in their own employees, as well as considering the impact this type of experience will have on their career.

Image Credit: Unsplash

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Managing Cross-Cultural Remote Teams

Closing the Virtual and Cultural Gap

Managing Cross-Cultural Remote Teams

GUEST POST from Douglas Ferguson

Learning to connect a culturally diverse virtual workforce is an essential part of managing cross cultural remote teams. Faced with the challenge of virtual team building, remote team managers also have to unite their virtual teams across any cultural differences, time zones, and other unique elements.

Recent studies show that 62% of virtual teams are comprised of workers from three or more cultures. Surprisingly, only 15% of team leaders have successfully led cross cultural remote teams. Such statistics show the dire need for improving cross cultural remote teams management.

In the following article, we’ll discuss managing cross cultural remote teams as we cover topics such as:

  • What Are Cross Cultural Remote Teams?
  • The Challenges of Cross Culture Remote Work
  • Closing the Virtual Gap for Culturally Diverse Teams
  • Essential Skills for Managing Cross Cultural Remote Teams
  • Improving Cross Cultural Leadership Skills

What Are Cross Cultural Remote Teams?

With the rise of remote work, it comes as no surprise that cross culture remote teams are the reality of today’s working world. Cross culture remote teams are teams made up of the global talent pool. Whether a company pulls freelancers from various parts of the world or hires remote team members within the same country, effectively working together requires a strategic approach to managing such a diverse group of workers.

Remote work experts suggest that culture is defined as the social expectations, customs, and achievements unique to a nation or region. One’s idea of culture frames the way they approach work, life events, and communication. While distributed teams composed of members from various cultures are an effective way to diversify the workforce, the difference in cultures and time zones can lead to collaborative and communication challenges.

The Challenges of Cross Culture Remote Work

Managing cross cultural remote teams come with unique benefits and challenges. Being able to fill your team with the world’s greatest minds is an incredibly powerful way to shore up your company’s talent pool. However, each team member will have their practices, preferences, and ideas of company culture, and as a result, may have trouble gelling with the rest of the team.

Moreover, team managers will experience the challenges of building a team in the virtual world. Without the face-to-face interaction of a shared workplace, cross-culture remote teams are more vulnerable to conflict and communication problems.

Remote team leaders face unique challenges such as:

1. Work Style

When managing cross cultural remote teams, be sure to address the individual work style of your team members. When working with team members from different cultures, it’s essential to acknowledge each person’s work style. This is especially true for team members that are of vastly different cultures. For example, certain work cultures prioritize individual opinions while others expect to follow a leader’s course of action.

2. Information Gaps

In the virtual world, information gaps are a huge threat when managing cross cultural remote teams. Any information gaps can negatively affect processes and data flows. All team members need access to the most appropriate resources to successfully collaborate.

3. Motivation Factors

Team leaders should do their best to analyze how each person’s culture may affect their motivations to better manage their team. Motivation factors for cross culture remote teams are vastly different than that of a traditional company. For example, while some team members may be motivated by a range of tangible benefits like bonuses, others focus on intangible benefits like encouragement and job satisfaction.

4. Influences

When managing cross cultural remote teams. Managers face the challenges of certain factions attempting to influence the rest of the group. If part of the team has the same cultural identity, they may use that to dominate a conversation or outcome, leading to conflict and contentious work environments.

Closing the Virtual Gap for Culturally Diverse Teams

Navigating virtual cross-cultural teams starts with first addressing virtual team building. While your team’s cultural background may play a role in the unique challenges you face, everything comes back to your ability to work together as a team. Level the playing field with an effective strategy to close the gaps and facilitate stronger personal relationships among team members.

By making an effort to strengthen connections between your team members, you’ll be able to bridge initial gaps created by remote work. Moreover, team members that share a common bond will be able to better navigate any cross-cultural challenges that may arise. Consider using intentionally designed games and activities like icebreakers to help strengthen connections between team members.

Essential Skills for Managing Cross Cultural Remote Teams

In the virtual world, company culture is constantly changing. To effectively run a diverse group of remote workers, team leaders must be open to learning the most appropriate skills to bring the best out of their team.

Lead your remote team to success by honing skills such as:

1. Adaptability

Cross cultural management hinges upon the leader’s ability to understand each team member’s work style and make the necessary adjustments. While you shouldn’t completely abandon your leadership style, you will need to integrate other behaviors, worldviews, commonalities, and perspectives to find more relatable ways to manage your team.

2. Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is a key skill for leaders of cross-culture teams. Conflicts can arise quickly in a virtual workspace, so it’s important for you to regularly monitor and manage your own biases as you exercise patience and grace in your communications. Make an effort to frequently challenge your perspective and take a step back in your interactions with team members. This will help you navigate complex cultural challenges as you take note of where your perspective and behavior may require adjustment.

3. Articulation

When working with a virtual team from different cultural backgrounds, clear communication is essential. By prioritizing articulation and careful and deliberate conversation, team leaders will be better able to ensure that every member of their team understands what they’re saying. Similarly, if other team members tend to speak too quickly, don’t hesitate to ask them to repeat themselves or speak at a slower pace.

4. Writing Proficiency

In virtual meetings, calls, or voice notes, words can easily get lost in translation. Team leaders should develop the habit of communicating in writing to make sure all their team members have access to a document they can refer to at a later point in time.

Improving Cross-Cultural Leadership Skills

Remote work opens a world of possibilities in the way of team leadership. As your team expands to include a more culturally-diverse group, your leadership skills should improve as well. At Voltage Control, we offer facilitation courses, remote collaboration resources, and team-building workshops to help you navigate the pitfalls of managing remote teams and connecting culturally diverse groups.

Work with our team of expert facilitators to learn more about managing cross cultural remote teams. With the help of workshops and resources, you’ll learn to expertly lead a virtual session, unite a distributed team, and appreciate and highlight the cultural differences that make your team a well-oiled virtual machine. Contact us to learn more about our custom programs for leadership development, master facilitation certification, and change management.

Article originally posted at VoltageControl.com

Image Credit: Pexels

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How to Effectively Manage Remotely

How to Effectively Manage Remotely

GUEST POST from Douglas Ferguson

Consider five best practices for managing remotely.

Remote work was once associated with poor accountability, incohesive teamwork, and confusing communication practices. Fortunately, that’s now easily preventable. With the right management practices and tools, remote management should feel empowering, productive, and streamlined. Consider these five best practices for managing remotely.

Hybrid and remote work is something to embrace.

Managing remote teams takes a focused and thoughtful approach. The role of a manager is to guide, support, and connect the team. Approach the responsibility with a proper strategy, and hybrid or remote work becomes an asset to both the employees and the employer.

As the benefits of remote work become apparent, it’s safe to say that remote and hybrid work are here to stay. There’s plenty of existing research for remote work. According to a Forbes study, “Teleworkers are an average of 35-40% more productive than their office counterparts, and have measured an output increase of at least 4.4%.” Below are a few more positive consequences of remote work.

  1. Employees have location independence, and employers have the option to recruit top talent worldwide.
  2. Employees can be more productive, in turn reflecting on the company’s performance.
  3. Employee engagement tends to rise.
  4. Both sides tend to save money, enhancing profitability for the company.

With an effective manager, confidence and trust become apparent on a team. Build best practices into place, and you can expect game-changing results.

Effectively Managing a Remote Team

How can you effectively manage a remote team?

It takes practice and the right mindset to master effective management. We recommend practicing the steps below, and considering our Workshop Design course to build lasting results.

1. Embrace technology and tools.

Technology is on your side. There are countless tools made specifically to improve, and manage remote work, especially remote management. Make the most of the tools you have, and use them consistently. Focus on empowering your team to value available resources. Here are a few tools that we recommend.

Make sure each person understands how to use the tools in place. A chain is as strong as its weakest link. If your team depends on a project management tool to share and develop work, everyone should know or be taught how to use it effectively. It’s your job to oversee processes and enable people to work efficiently.

Define clear communication practices. Everyone benefits from guidelines for communication, and technology is on your side. Clarify when and where to share certain messages. For example, urgent messages should be shared via Slack or another instant messaging tool, while they should use email for higher level communication about projects.

Technology should enable you, as a manager, to manage less. Redundant tasks are easily minimized with the right tools. If your team is confident in how to use them, you can focus on more important tasks.

2. Implement boundaries and state expectations.

Boundaries are especially important with hybrid and remote work. They’re a sign of respect for employees. Working from wherever should not equate to always available. People work from different time zones and schedules, so align on a work schedule and respect those hours. Constant notifications outside of work hours often have a negative impact on engagement and morale.

Stating expectations clearly defines how to respect the team. Outline expectations for work hours, available hours, assignments and deadlines, email turnaround time, meeting timeliness, and communication practices. If you’re following a hybrid model, be sure to clarify when and how often in-office work is expected.

Individual Remote Work

3. Check in on individuals.

Remember the value of face-to-face interaction and use tools to continue it. This is especially important to newly remote teams. As an employee, it’s affirming to know that leadership values your work and recognizes your productivity.

As an employee, it’s affirming to know that leadership values your work and recognizes your productivity.

One-on-one check-ins offer space for connection. Having a regular check-in on the calendar is motivating, especially when the work is acknowledged and rewarded. While it will take practice to know the right cadence, it’s important to start with something on the calendar. Try weekly check-ins to start. If you have the option, schedule those for while you’re both in the office.

Clean up before hanging up. Outline current projects and align priorities before the next check-in. Looking to improve the structure of your current meetings? Look to our expert facilitators for guidance through a meeting systems workshop. We’re here to help.

4. Check in on them, not just their work.

Understand that people are working from a variety of environments. Some may work in solitude, others in a coffee shop or at home with young children. It’s important to provide opportunities to connect.

Countless benefits can arise from open conversation and listening. Working remotely means working with differing experiences and viewpoints. It also means that acknowledging shared stress of work goes a long way. Your employees sense the emotions you convey. Focus on conveying calm and empathy when it’s appropriate. When people sense space for sharing their experiences, camaraderie is built and they feel invested in.

Provide opportunities for connection whenever possible, including in-person. Consider monthly happy hours outside of work.

Communicate Priorities and Manage Your Team

5. Communicate priorities and values to manage your team.

Proactive communication lends itself useful. Communicate values from the start. Aligning on values gives individuals a tool for navigating decisions and managers’ confidence in employees. Values serve as the first resort for help.

Keeping the team aligned on priorities is also essential. Focus on goals and outcomes rather than how people are accomplishing their work. It minimizes micromanaging and enables employees to settle into their own style of work. Different people work differently.

Make sure that you’re finding ways to lead the team, not just manage it. Constantly tracking progress is a waste of time on both ends. Communicate tasks that need to be accomplished, but don’t use that as an excuse to check in on their work more often than is necessary. Trust communication practices you put into place, and use your time for accomplishing work.

Explaining the “why” behind priorities and deadlines is also important. Employees have a greater sense of purpose when they understand the reason for a project.

How should I go about implementing these five strategies?

Practice. Practice in our workshops and with our library of tools. Practice with other leaders and with your team. We want you to see a lasting impact from your work, and we’ve seen it many times over with our toolkit.

This article originally appeared at VoltageControl.com

Voltage Control offers workshops and courses for a forward-looking workplace. Managing teams remotely effectively takes practice with an advanced toolkit. Just like you should exit a meeting with a plan for action, you’ll complete our Workshop Design course with experience and valuable feedback for how you specifically can effectively manage a remote team. Please reach out to us at hello@voltagecontrol.com to discuss what we offer.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Role of Technology in Facilitating Remote Work Effectively

Role of Technology in Facilitating Remote Work Effectively

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced organizations around the world to quickly adapt to remote work in order to ensure the safety of their employees. Technology has played a crucial role in this transition, enabling teams to collaborate and communicate effectively despite physical distance. In this article, we will explore the key ways in which technology has facilitated remote work and highlight two case studies of organizations that have successfully implemented remote work strategies.

One of the most important aspects of remote work is the ability for employees to stay connected with their colleagues and managers. Communication tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom have become essential for enabling virtual meetings, instant messaging, and video conferencing. These platforms have allowed teams to maintain a sense of community and collaboration, even when working from different locations.

Another critical component of remote work is the ability for teams to collaborate on projects and share information in real-time. Cloud-based collaboration tools such as Google Workspace, Microsoft SharePoint, and Trello have made it easy for employees to work together on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations from anywhere in the world. These tools ensure that team members can access the latest information and updates, leading to more efficient and effective work processes.

Case Study 1: Shopify

One organization that has successfully embraced remote work is Shopify, a leading e-commerce platform. In response to the pandemic, Shopify quickly transitioned its entire workforce to remote work, leveraging technology to ensure seamless communication and collaboration. The company used tools such as Slack and Google Workspace to keep employees connected and engaged, while also implementing daily virtual stand-up meetings to promote team collaboration. As a result of these efforts, Shopify was able to maintain high levels of productivity and employee satisfaction during the transition to remote work.

Case Study 2: Twitter

Another organization that has embraced remote work is Twitter, a global social media company. Prior to the pandemic, Twitter had already implemented a flexible work policy that allowed employees to work remotely part-time. When the pandemic hit, the company quickly expanded its remote work options and provided employees with the necessary technology and resources to work effectively from home. Twitter also implemented regular virtual town hall meetings and a virtual social events calendar to ensure that employees remained connected and engaged. As a result, Twitter saw a significant increase in employee satisfaction and productivity levels.


Technology has played a crucial role in facilitating remote work effectively during the COVID-19 pandemic. By leveraging communication tools, collaboration platforms, and virtual meeting solutions, organizations can ensure that their employees remain connected and productive while working remotely. The case studies of Shopify and Twitter demonstrate how organizations can successfully implement remote work strategies with the right technology and support in place. As we continue to navigate the challenges of remote work, it is clear that technology will be a key enabler for organizations looking to maintain productivity and employee engagement in a virtual work environment.

SPECIAL BONUS: The very best change planners use a visual, collaborative approach to create their deliverables. A methodology and tools like those in Change Planning Toolkit™ can empower anyone to become great change planners themselves.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Resolving Team Conflicts in the Remote Work Era

Resolving Team Conflicts in the Remote Work Era

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

The rapid transition to remote work brought on by the global pandemic has presented numerous challenges for organizations worldwide. One of the most significant hurdles has been managing team conflicts in this new remote work era. As a human-centered design professional, I firmly believe that addressing team conflicts promptly and effectively is essential for maintaining harmony, productivity, and employee satisfaction. In this thought leadership article, we will explore two compelling case studies showcasing successful conflict resolution strategies tailored to remote work environments.

Case Study 1: Leveraging Technology for Collaborative Conflict Resolution


A tech firm with a distributed workforce experienced an increase in team conflicts due to remote work. The lack of face-to-face interactions, reduced communication avenues, and misunderstandings caused tensions among team members.


1. Conducted Surveys: The human resources team conducted anonymous surveys to gauge the frequency and severity of remote work conflicts. This allowed them to identify recurring patterns and specific areas needing intervention.

2. Implement Technology Solutions: Leveraging digital tools, the organization implemented a team collaboration platform that included real-time messaging, video conferencing, and project management capabilities. This tool centralizes communication, allowing teams to organize tasks, collaborate, and address conflicts more efficiently.

3. Training and Workshops: The HR team provided remote conflict resolution training and workshops to equip team members with communication and conflict management skills suitable for remote work environments. They emphasized the importance of active listening, empathy, and mediating virtual meetings effectively.


By emphasizing effective communication methods and providing robust technology solutions, the organization witnessed a significant reduction in team conflicts within six months. The team collaboration platform helped bridge communication gaps, encouraging open dialogue, and fostering a more positive work environment.

Case Study 2: Emphasizing Emotional Intelligence for Conflict Mitigation


A marketing agency predominantly working remotely experienced a surge in team conflicts primarily due to miscommunication and intra-team rivalries. These conflicts often resulted in missed deadlines, reduced creativity, and decreased team morale.


1. Conflict Resolution Training: The agency invested in providing conflict resolution training sessions specifically tailored to remote work dynamics. The sessions focused on developing emotional intelligence, emphasizing empathy, active listening, and effective communication in virtual settings.

2. Individual Coaching and Support: Recognizing that some team members needed personalized guidance, the agency initiated one-on-one coaching sessions to address specific conflicts and provide a safe space for employees to express concerns. Coaches helped team members understand their emotions better and encouraged them to find common ground through genuine conversation.


Following the conflict resolution training and personalized coaching sessions, the marketing agency observed a remarkable improvement in team dynamics. Team members reported reduced conflicts, enhanced collaboration, and heightened creativity. The emphasis on emotional intelligence enabled them to address conflicts proactively and find mutually beneficial solutions that allowed the team to move forward cohesively.


Resolving team conflicts has always been crucial for organizational success, and the remote work era presents its unique set of challenges. By leveraging technology, fostering effective communication, and prioritizing emotional intelligence, organizations can successfully mitigate conflicts in remote work environments. As human-centered design professionals, understanding the intricacies of remote work dynamics enables us to develop tailored conflict resolution strategies that empower teams, enhance productivity, and cultivate a positive work culture even in decentralized settings.

SPECIAL BONUS: The very best change planners use a visual, collaborative approach to create their deliverables. A methodology and tools like those in Change Planning Toolkit™ can empower anyone to become great change planners themselves.

Image credit: Pixabay

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The Future of Work – Automation, Gig Economy, and Remote Work

The Future of Work - Automation, Gig Economy, and Remote Work

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

As we stand on the precipice of a transformative era, it’s compelling to envision what the future holds for work. Driven by exponential technological advancements and shifting societal norms, the landscape of work is evolving in unprecedented ways. Key drivers—automation, the gig economy, and remote work—are not just buzzwords but fundamental pillars shaping the future. Let’s delve into how these elements are redefining the labor market, referencing exemplary case studies, and exploring strategies for companies and individuals to thrive in this brave new world.

Automation: Friend or Foe?

Automation is, arguably, the most contentious aspect of the future of work conversation. Concerns about job displacement are legitimate, but the story is nuanced. Automation promises efficiency, cost-saving, and the potential to elevate human roles to more intellectually stimulating tasks.

Case Study: Amazon Robotics

Amazon’s use of robotics in their fulfillment centers serves as an illuminating example. Initially, there was palpable anxiety over massive layoffs due to the introduction of robots. However, Amazon managed to create a symbiotic relationship between man and machine. In these centers, robots handle repetitive and strenuous tasks like picking and sorting, while human associates are reallocated to roles that require decision-making, problem-solving, and technical maintenance.

Through effective re-skilling programs and an emphasis on human-robot collaboration, Amazon didn’t just retain its workforce but expanded it. The company opened new job avenues in robot maintenance, software development, and quality control, showcasing an exemplary model for the coexistence of automation and human labor.

The Gig Economy: Flexibility at a Cost?

The gig economy offers unparalleled flexibility and democratizes access to work by connecting freelancers with global opportunities. Platforms like Uber, Airbnb, and Upwork have unlocked new avenues for income generation, empowering people to tailor work around their lifestyles. However, this model raises critical questions about job security, benefits, and work-life balance.

Case Study: Upwork

Upwork, a leading freelancing platform, has revolutionized how companies source talent and freelancers find work. For freelancers, it offers the ability to choose projects that align with their skills and interests, often allowing them to command higher rates than traditional employment might offer. Yet, the challenge remains: freelancers face the volatility of inconsistent paychecks and the absence of employer-provided benefits.

Some companies, recognizing these pitfalls, have begun to offer hybrid gig arrangements. One such organization is Toptal, which selectively connects top freelancers with elite clients while providing a supportive ecosystem. Toptal offers benefits such as healthcare options and financial consulting, mitigating some of the traditional downsides of gig work and pointing towards a more sustainable gig economy model.

Remote Work: A Paradigm Shift

The COVID-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst for widespread adoption of remote work, underscoring its feasibility and benefits. Beyond the immediate advantages of reduced commuting and flexible hours, remote work has profound implications for global talent acquisition, company culture, and office infrastructure.

Case Study: GitLab

GitLab, a fully remote company, provides a compelling blueprint for zero-office operations. With employees distributed across the globe, GitLab has mastered the art of remote collaboration. Key to their success are meticulously designed processes and tools, such as asynchronous communication channels, transparent project management systems, and a strong emphasis on documentation.

This approach has enabled GitLab to tap into a diverse talent pool unrestricted by geographic boundaries, bolstering innovation and inclusivity. Furthermore, cost savings on physical office spaces are redirected towards employee welfare and advanced technologies, enhancing overall productivity and satisfaction.

Preparing for the Future: Strategic Implications

For organizations and individuals, navigating the future of work demands a proactive stance. Companies must reimagine their operational frameworks, from integrating advanced automation technologies and nurturing remote cultures to offering equitable gig arrangements.

For Organizations:

  1. Invest in Re-skilling: Automation necessitates new skills. Continuous learning and development programs are crucial to prepare the workforce for evolving roles.
  2. Foster a Remote Culture: Embrace tools and practices that facilitate remote work, ensuring inclusivity and engagement.
  3. Adopt Ethical Gig Practices: Establish policies that ensure fair compensation, benefits, and security for gig workers.

For Individuals:

  1. Embrace Lifelong Learning: Stay adaptable by continuously updating skill sets to remain relevant in an automated landscape.
  2. Build a Personal Brand: For gig workers, a strong personal brand and diverse portfolio are key to standing out in a competitive market.
  3. Prioritize Well-being: In a flexible yet demanding work environment, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is essential.


The future of work, characterized by the triad of automation, the gig economy, and remote work, holds immense promise and challenges. By harnessing the potential of these elements thoughtfully, we can craft a more equitable, dynamic, and innovative world of work. As we move forward, collaborative efforts between organizations, workers, and policymakers will be vital to ensuring that this future is not just technologically advanced but also inclusive and humane. The journey has just begun, and the possibilities are boundless.

SPECIAL BONUS: The very best change planners use a visual, collaborative approach to create their deliverables. A methodology and tools like those in Change Planning Toolkit™ can empower anyone to become great change planners themselves.

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Managing Remote Teams

Insights from Successful Remote Leaders

Managing Remote Teams: Insights from Successful Remote Leaders

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

In today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving working world, remote teams have become increasingly common. With advances in technology and shifting employee preferences, organizations are embracing the idea of distributed teams to enhance flexibility and access to a global talent pool. However, managing remote teams comes with its own set of challenges, necessitating strong leadership and effective communication strategies.

To shed light on this topic, we have gathered insights from successful remote leaders who have navigated the complexities of managing teams across geographical boundaries. Through their experiences, we can garner valuable lessons on how to optimize the performance and cohesion of remote teams.

Case Study 1: Sarah Mitchell, CEO of a Tech Startup

Sarah Mitchell, the CEO of a tech startup, oversees a team of developers and marketers spread across different time zones. Despite the physical distance, Sarah has been able to create a cohesive and high-performing team through clear communication and fostering a culture of trust. She emphasizes the importance of setting clear expectations, leveraging technology for seamless collaboration, and establishing regular check-ins to ensure everyone is on the same page. By prioritizing transparency and open dialogue, Sarah has fostered a sense of belonging among team members, leading to increased engagement and productivity.

Case Study 2: David Thompson, Director of Operations at a Global Corporation

David Thompson, the Director of Operations at a global corporation, manages a remote team of project managers and sales representatives located in various countries. To ensure effective communication and collaboration, David has implemented regular team meetings, virtual training sessions, and project management tools to streamline workflows. He emphasizes the importance of building relationships with team members through one-on-one meetings and recognizing individual achievements to boost morale and motivation. By promoting a culture of inclusivity and support, David has built a high-performing team that excels in meeting targets and driving business growth.


Managing remote teams requires a combination of strong leadership, effective communication, and a culture of trust and collaboration. By learning from successful remote leaders like Sarah Mitchell and David Thompson, organizations can unlock the full potential of their distributed teams and drive success in today’s interconnected world. Embracing innovative technologies and fostering a sense of community among team members are key ingredients to creating a thriving remote team that delivers exceptional results.

Bottom line: The Change Planning Toolkit™ is grounded in extensive research and proven methodologies, providing users with a reliable and evidence-based approach to change management. The toolkit offers a comprehensive set of tools and resources that guide users through each stage of the change planning process, enabling them to develop effective strategies and navigate potential obstacles with confidence.

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Up-skilling and Re-skilling for Remote Work

Navigating the Digital Transformation

Up-skilling and Re-skilling for Remote Work

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

The shift to remote work has become a dominant trend in the digital age, accelerated by the global pandemic. As businesses strive to adapt to this new working environment, the need for up-skilling and re-skilling has never been more crucial. Navigating the digital transformation requires individuals to continuously learn and upgrade their skills to stay relevant in the ever-evolving job market.

Case Study 1: Sarah’s Journey to Up-skilling

Sarah, a marketing manager for a traditional brick-and-mortar retail store, found herself facing uncertainty as the pandemic forced the closure of physical stores. With the company transitioning to an online platform, Sarah realized the importance of enhancing her digital marketing skills to meet the demands of remote work. She enrolled in online courses on social media marketing, search engine optimization, and content creation, equipping herself with the tools needed to thrive in the digital realm. By up-skilling, Sarah not only secured her position within the company but also opened up new opportunities for career advancement in the digital marketing field.

Case Study 2: John’s Re-skilling Success Story

John, a sales executive for a manufacturing company, was faced with the challenge of transitioning to remote work as in-person sales meetings became impossible due to travel restrictions. Recognizing the need to reskill in order to adapt to the new sales landscape, John took initiative in learning about virtual selling techniques, e-commerce platforms, and customer relationship management systems. By embracing the digital transformation and developing his skills in online sales strategies, John was able to successfully pivot his approach and continue to drive sales for the company despite the limitations of remote work.

As the examples of Sarah and John illustrate, up-skilling and re-skilling are essential components of navigating the digital transformation in the remote work era. To thrive in this new environment, individuals must be proactive in expanding their skill sets and embracing technology to stay competitive in the job market. Whether through online courses, workshops, or mentorship programs, continuous learning is key to adapting to the changing landscape of work.


Up-skilling and re-skilling are not just buzzwords, but critical strategies for success in the digital age. By investing in continuous learning and development, individuals can future-proof their careers and seize opportunities in the remote work environment. Embracing the digital transformation through up-skilling and re-skilling is not only a necessity but a pathway to personal and professional growth in an increasingly digital world.

Bottom line: Futurology is not fortune telling. Futurists use a scientific approach to create their deliverables, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to engage in futurology themselves.

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Navigating the Challenges of Leading Change in a Remote Work Environment

Navigating the Challenges of Leading Change in a Remote Work Environment

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

In today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving world, remote work has become more prevalent than ever before. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, organizations worldwide have been forced to embrace remote work as the primary mode of operations. However, leading change in a remote work environment can bring forth a unique set of challenges. In this article, we will explore these challenges and provide insights from two case studies to help leaders navigate this shift successfully.

Case Study 1: Company X – Introducing a New Project Management Software

Company X, a medium-sized marketing agency, decided to implement a new project management software to enhance collaboration and streamline workflows. However, they faced significant challenges in making this transition in a remote work environment.

Communication was a major hurdle for Company X, as employees were used to in-person interactions. To overcome this obstacle, the company implemented regular virtual meetings to keep everyone informed about the software’s functionalities and benefits. They also encouraged open communication channels and used several digital tools to facilitate real-time discussions.

Another challenge was ensuring that all employees were equipped with the necessary tools and skills to use the new software effectively. Company X provided comprehensive training sessions and created a repository of resources accessible to all employees. Additionally, they designated internal champions who could provide assistance and guidance to their colleagues during the transition.

By effectively addressing the communication gap and providing adequate support, Company X successfully led the change and now enjoys improved project management and collaboration in their remote work environment.

Case Study 2: Company Y – Restructuring Teams

Company Y, a global technology company, decided to restructure their teams to align with their evolving business goals. This shift required employees to switch teams, work with new colleagues, and adapt to different roles. Such changes can be particularly challenging in a remote work environment where employees have limited face-to-face interactions.

To navigate this transition successfully, Company Y organized virtual team-building activities to foster connections and build rapport among team members. They also encouraged social interactions through digital platforms and created informal spaces for employees to share ideas and experiences.

To ensure a smooth transition, Company Y provided extensive training and resources to equip employees with the necessary knowledge and skills required for their new roles. Regular feedback and performance evaluations were conducted, helping employees feel supported and valued throughout the change process.

Thanks to these initiatives, Company Y successfully led the restructuring process, creating stronger, more agile teams that thrive in the remote work environment.


Leading change in a remote work environment poses unique challenges that require a thoughtful and proactive approach. By addressing communication gaps, providing training and resources, and fostering a sense of community and support, organizations like Company X and Company Y have successfully navigated these challenges. As remote work continues to shape our professional landscape, embracing change and effectively leading teams through such transitions will be crucial for long-term success.

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