Release year: 2022

Author: Gustavo Razzetti

Link to my handwritten notes

The 2020 pandemic has shaken the business world like seemingly never before. It seems evident to me that we are currently observing a massive shift from an office-first mentality to a more and more hybrid and remote-first reality. This new world feels alien to most leaders.

This book offers many suggestions on how to conduct a remote-first company without having to compromise on building a strong company culture. Indeed, as I am now deeply convinced, culture is of the utmost importance when running a company and should be designed as intently as a flagship product.

The book gave me a reality check with these two quotes: “The office is the new offsite” (p. 43) and “The people who are more supportive of fully returning to the physical office are those who were successful in that environment” (p. 196). That was a hard pill to swallow for me, as a firm believer of the potential an office provides for building culture.

The truth is, what works for me might not work for others. If I’m part of a minority of people who can reach their peak productivity at the office, I have to accept it and be willing to better understand what allows my peers to be productive from home. This is a big shift for leaders because it forces them to choose between the old habits that gave them their current success, and embracing a new uncomfortable reality that in theory will get them to the next level. Which one would you choose? As the author brilliantly puts it, “Are you open to maximizing the benefits of a remote environment even if it means your role feels less important?”

If you’re interested in new ideas for leadership, you’ll find plenty in this book. The six work modes for distributed teams (p. 201), the pros and cons of synchronous vs asynchronous communication (p. 212) and the seven decision-making methods (p. 269) in particular seem to have a lot of potential for impact.

In summary, if you’re leading a remotely distributed team, you’ll probably find it useful to compare your current strategies with what other players of the industry are doing. If you’re leading an office-first team, this book will give you a glimpse of the inescapable future we all seem to be headed towards.

Félix Rating: 👍

Top 15 quotes that stuck out to me:

  1. When fearful CEOs talk about workplace culture, they’re really talking about workplace control. (p. 39)
  2. The office is the new offsite. (p. 43)
  3. A crisis is a spotlight. It’s a moment to demonstrate your values and lead by example. (p. 69)
  4. Your culture is the behavior you reward and punish. (p. 81)
  5. What you ignore, disregard, turn a blind eye to, or sweep under a carpet becomes the things you implicitly endorse. (p. 86)
  6. In the new reality, leaders need to recreate “How did X activity help the teams in the old reality” rather than the activity itself. Avoid blindly copy-pasting past practices. (p. 107)
  7. Trust is built between two people. Psychological safety is created by the team. (p. 108)
  8. Break the Golden Rule: don’t treat people how you want to be treated. Instead, follow their “washing instructions.” (p. 119)
  9. Rather than assuming that people agree when they stay silent, infer that they don’t. (p. 128)
  10. Sometimes, the best help you can offer is your silence. Don’t rush to provide a solution. Just listen. (p. 151)
  11. If you’re always in work mode, the time you’re supposed to use to unwind ends up contributing to more burnout. (p. 194)
  12. The people who are more supportive of fully returning to the physical office are those who were successful in that environment. (p. 196)
  13. Anything that requires more than 50 minutes should be treated as a workshop, not a meeting. (p. 218)
  14. Transparency is not about sharing everything, but about not hiding what people need to know (p. 289)
  15. The biggest mistake companies make is defining their hybrid work model based on the pains, not the gains, of remote work. (p. 296)