Navigating the Human Side of Remote Work with Lisette Sutherland

👤 Meet Lisette Sutherland

Lisette Sutherland is an expert in remote collaboration, not just remote work. With a rich international background, Lisette brings a unique blend of experiences to the table. She’s lived in Germany, the United States, and now calls the Netherlands home. Lisette is also the host of the Collaboration Superpowers podcast, where she explores the nuances of remote work with experts from around the globe.

🎙️ Why Listen?

  • Beyond Remote Work: Discover why Lisette focuses on remote collaboration, not just remote work.
  • Global Mindset: Learn how Lisette’s international background shapes her approach to remote work and cultural nuances in communication.
  • Human-Centric Challenges: Understand why the real challenges in remote work today are more about navigating personalities and conflicts than technology.
  • Team Dynamics: Hear real-life examples of how differing work rhythms and personalities can disrupt a team’s flow.
  • Innovative Work Models: Get insights into how companies like WordPress have eliminated email and how a German company successfully runs hybrid PI planning sessions across three time zones.
  • Practical Tips: From creating personal user manuals to team agreements, learn actionable strategies to make remote work effective.

👇 Episode Highlights

  • Lisette’s journey from Germany to the U.S. and finally to the Netherlands, enriching her understanding of cultural nuances in communication.
  • The importance of self-awareness in remote settings and how Lisette navigates her own challenges with being judgmental and defensive.
  • The role of team agreements in remote work settings and why most companies still don’t have one.
  • The issue of communication overload in remote work and how to manage it effectively.
  • Innovative work models that have successfully tackled challenges in remote work, including WordPress’s organizational blockchain and a German company’s hybrid PI planning sessions.
  • The power of intentional team-building exercises in remote settings, and how a simple game changed Lisette’s relationship with a colleague.
  • The role of face-to-face interactions in enhancing team bonds, and why it’s not strictly necessary but highly beneficial.
  • The current state of remote work: Lisette discusses how remote work is failing on a mass scale due to return-to-office mandates and declining productivity. She argues that remote work is often scapegoated for poor management practices.
  • The role of company culture: Alexis and Lisette explore how the lack of connection and engagement in remote work is not a new problem but one that has been present in traditional work settings for years.
  • Upcoming Events: Lisette shares her excitement about two new kinds of events she’s working on: an “Icebreakers Playground” to experiment with various icebreakers and their effects on group dynamics, and virtual coworking sessions using the Pomodoro technique to boost productivity.
  • Where to Follow Lisette: For those interested in diving deeper into the world of remote work, Lisette offers a Remote Working Success Kit available at

🎧 Don’t Miss Out!

Tune in to this episode to explore the intricacies of remote work and collaboration. Lisette Sutherland offers a treasure trove of insights and practical tips that could revolutionize the way you approach remote work.

👉 References

📄 Here’s the transcript

Alexis: [00:00:00] Welcome to Le Podcast on Emerging Leadership, I am Alexis Monville. Today we have a special treat for all of you who are navigating the complexities of remote work and leadership. We are joined by Lisette Sutherland. A pioneer in the realm of remote collaboration. She’s the force behind Collaboration Superpowers. a platform that equips people and companies to work together from anywhere. Lisette is also the author of the book work together anywhere. a comprehensive guide to thriving in a remote environment. And the book is now available in French, by the way. With her hands-on workshops and her own podcast, she’s been helping teams across the globe to connect and collaborate effectively no matter where they are.

Hey, Lisette, how do you introduce yourself to someone you just met?

Lisette: I try to keep it as simple as possible because nobody wants to hear a long story, so I always just say I help teams work better together remotely. I kind of leave it open and that way [00:01:00] if people wanna ask a little more, they can ask it from whatever angle they want to. And otherwise, if they look at me with dear eyes, I just kind of move on to the next subject and I and I ask about them.

Alexis: I love it.

Can you share a specific moment or experience that led you to specialize in remote work?

Lisette: Yeah. I mean, it was a long series of small events, but really the, where it actually started was when I was living in Los Angeles almost 20 years ago, and I was working for a man who was building at that time an online project management tool. Now you have to remember, this is 20 years ago, and those tools were not available.

Basecamp had just started, you know, Zoho was still a very popular tool on the market. I mean, it was really a while ago. So there’s not that many tools out there. So the tool was interesting in and of itself because it was just interesting. But. He had us all over to his living room one day and he sat us all down.

He had like a, a pool. ’cause Los Angeles, so many [00:02:00] people have pools. So he had a swimming pool, so it was like a pool party. But he sat us all down and he started to explain his vision. And his vision was he wanted to end aging. So he wanted to stop aging. So his goal was he didn’t wanna die, so he was trying to figure out how to get longevity scientists collaborating together so that they could solve the problem of aging.

And he realized that these scientists didn’t live in the same town. And so he needed to create a tool for them to collaborate and share data and solve this problem. And so I remember sitting in his living room and. My mind was blown, right? I was just like, what a wild idea. And I thought, well, why not? You know, like, why not?

But the thing that happened was it got me thinking about what else could we do if location wasn’t an issue? So like, could we solve cancer? Could we, global warming? You know, so there’s a, there’s a bunch of things that played into it. One was [00:03:00] also that I had quit my job earlier, I worked for a, a big office and, I didn’t quite understand why I needed to quit the job.

I just knew in my body that I needed to quit, and eventually I learned later that it was because the office was so ugly. I. And I was having an allergic reaction to just the gray walls and the cubicles, you know? So all of this sort of played into me getting interested in remote work and I just started asking people how they were working remotely, what they were doing.

And you know, everything else followed in a long series of events, but it really all started with that weird conversation in that man’s living room.

Alexis: That’s very interesting, that’s more than remote work, that’s really that idea of remote collaboration.

Lisette: Exactly. I don’t care about remote work at all. For me, it’s way more exciting because what ended up happening after that conversation was my favorite band from when I was a teenager. I had met them because I’d been to so many shows, you know, but, and my favorite band called me to see if I could go on tour [00:04:00] with them now, because I was working for this man who was building an online project management tool.

I was able to work from the van with my team during the day with a mobile router stuck onto the window of the van, and at night I was tour manager and I was selling merchandise and part of the band, and I, I was on tour with them for years doing this. And so the freedom that being able to work from anywhere offered me, changed my life in that way, right?

I was all of a sudden I could work from anywhere. And so I started thinking like, what am I doing in Los Angeles? Like, I could go anywhere, like, why am I here? So, yeah, it’s yeah, it was bigger than remote work indeed.

Alexis: That’s excellent. Are, you originally from los Angeles?

Lisette: No, I have a weird history in terms of that. I grew up in Germany for the first 10 years of my life, and then went to the US for 25 years. So, consider myself American, my, my roots somehow where I grew up as American. But then 15 years ago, I moved to the Netherlands. [00:05:00] I’ve been in the Netherlands ever since.

And now I have Dutch citizenship, so I’m never going back. But but yeah, so I I’m kind of a mix.

Alexis: That’s well connected with

working from anywhere

and living from where

you, feel that your, your place, your home is. That’s, that’s really cool.

Lisette: And it opened me culturally also to understand how different cultures. So just to have an awareness of that so that that also helped

Alexis: I can totally relate with that. when you are used to work with people on only from the same country, you you start to understand really well the interactions, the way they communicate. And suddenly when there’s someone from another country that don’t have exactly the same norms in term of communication, So when you get to work with people in a lot of different countries that change your perceptions of other people.

Lisette: Yeah, indeed. And you never think it’s gonna be that big of a deal. I mean, I moved from the US to the Netherlands, so it didn’t seem like it was gonna be that huge [00:06:00] of a culture change. But it’s the little things, it’s all the details. yeah, never underestimate all the details. the


Can you recall a, a challenging remote work situation and how you navigated it?

Lisette: In the early days, all the remote situations were challenging in that it was unusual. It, the internet connection wasn’t good everywhere and so, You know, I say like I was working from the van, but it was quite painful to try to really interact with the teams. For me, the most challenging remote work situations now, now that the tech is better, comes in the personalities of the people that I’m working with on teams.

Right. So it’s the conflict, it’s the trying to understand somebody else that I think is where . Where it’s super challenging now, even for me at this time, is just really trying to navigate personalities and figuring out why people are the way that they are. Cause [00:07:00] I tend to be very judgmental and defensive, which are not good qualities and, and so it’s extra hard work when something happens to not have that knee jerk reaction.

Of like, what the heck is going, you know, what the heck? You know, I, I really have to force myself into curiosity mode. So I think for me, that is the most challenging situation. I know it’s not a specific one, but I wrestle with it weekly,

Alexis: I, like that you are self-aware enough to be able , to catch yourself,

Lisette: sometimes .

I’m not, I’m no angel. I’ll admit. I am no angel, but I am working on it,

Alexis: do you have a real life example where poor communication led to a problem in, in the remote setting?

Lisette: Yeah, for sure. I’m thinking back when I was on the Management 3.0 team and there there, the team changed quite a lot, people coming in and out. But there’s one a couple people on the [00:08:00] team, actually, there’s one person where they worked at a different rhythm. Than the rest of the team.

Like they were just so much faster. I don’t know what happened. They were like on, on, I don’t know what it was. They were just like moving at a on freight train speed and the rhythm really threw everybody off and we were having a hard time communicating about it because you don’t wanna tell somebody to slow down like that doesn’t seem, you know, you’re like, you know, you’re too good.

Because he was kind of taking every pieces of everybody’s jobs because he was just getting ’em all done, and everybody kind of felt like they’re, they’re getting stepped on. So that was a very challenging situation because we all wanted to applaud his enthusiasm, and yet we were all really annoyed by how like many things he was trying to take care of.

So that was a difficult conversation. And then there was another one where the personalities just didn’t gel. And in that case, It prompted us to create a new section in our team agreement about [00:09:00] how we were gonna handle conflict as a team. Like when it comes up, what steps are we gonna take? Because what ended up happening was everybody was talking behind everybody’s back, and it’s online.

So you’re just in all these private chats all day, you know, like whispering to everybody back and forth about what’s going on, and it just wasn’t helpful. And so eventually what we ended up doing is one, we brought in an outside facilitator to help facilitate the conversation because everybody was too close to it.

And the other thing that was odd in that situation was we had a very flat structure. There was no boss, like there was no one in charge. And so when a situation like that arose, there was no manager to make decision. the We just had disagreements and nobody to make the, the top decision on like which way to go.

And so we brought in an outside facilitator that just had no skin in the game, you know, they were just there to facilitate the conversation and that really helped. And from there we built our processes for the future. [00:10:00] But I have to be honest, we never ended up getting along. We just never liked each other, but I also learned that you don’t have to like each other to work well together.

You can still work well together and not be friends That’s also okay.

Alexis: But that’s a, good one about building your team agreements and, evolving your team agreements and maybe sometimes you need That’s okay. ,

And I like your second point about,

you don’t need to be friends.

It’s a, it’s, it’s an interesting one about what are your expectations on, being on the team.

And for some, people that’s definitely, befriending everybody, and it’s not necessarily helping them or helping the team. So it’s an interesting challenge.

Lisette: Yeah. Yeah, it’s, it is weird because you have to be professional, but not, I mean, it’s great when you become friends. Some of my closest friends are people that I work with. Like, you know, forever, you know, Canadian Dave, I have worked with him since I was 22 years old and, you know, we’re still friends to this day and yeah.

But I, I did learn you have to be professional, but you don’t have to be friends. It’s great [00:11:00] when it happens, but it’s not a requirement.


Alexis: That’s cool. Okay. so tell me, have you consulted for a company that’s successfully transitioned from the traditional setting to remote work?

Lisette: I have never consulted really. So I’m not a consultant and I’ve made the distinction early on and I’m wrestling with it now because I’m wondering like maybe I should consult with people. What I have always done is give workshops . so I, what I have done is I go into a company and I give a workshop and we create a super action plan.

Then usually in the companies that I work with, they’ve got an agile coach, or a Scrum master, somebody on their team that’s helping them integrate these new practices into their everyday work. Because I think with remote work, what it actually is in the end is a change management program, and so, I specialize in giving the workshops and seeding the information.

And then there’s an agile coach usually, or a consultant already at [00:12:00] company that takes over, the or one of my facilitators, they also do consulting. So anytime a company wants me, to take them through the process, I hand them over to the experts of change management,, or the agile leadership sort of method.

I don’t specialize in that, but I have interviewed and I have given workshops for hundreds of companies now, well, I wouldn’t say hundreds that have transferred from in-person to remote. That is a more recent phenomenon, but definitely dozens of companies now that have transitioned.

Alexis: What are the things, the typical things that need to go through or they need to already understand, so it can work.

Lisette: Yeah. One is I always start people off by saying you really need to start with yourself and creating for yourself a personal user manual for what it is that you need in order to be productive. Get really clear on that so that if you need to be around people, Make sure that you build that into your day or if you really, you know, if you’re not getting enough movement or [00:13:00] whatever your why is that you’re trying to work in this way, really be clear.

From there, then I always, say, you’ve gotta build a team agreement, and everybody knows this. I’ve been saying it for since the beginning one, one of my first interviews was about creating team agreements and I was like, oh yeah, that seems like an obvious one, and I’ve been teaching it ever since. And yet I would say 85, 90% of all companies that come to my workshops have no team agreement in place. So creating a team agreement is the next thing. And then the other biggest thing that people are running into is communication overload. Too many meetings, too many emails, just the bombardment of information coming in, it’s not slowing down. is the problem, right? We’ve tried filters, we’ve tried flags, we’ve been priori, you know, priorities on the emails, the, the channels. it doesn’t stop the information from coming. And so that is, I would say that is the biggest challenge or one of the biggest challenges that people are struggling with now is when you’re together in the office, [00:14:00] you can kind of manage that information overload by proximity because you’re all together.

But when you go hybrid especially, or just let’s just say remote flexible first. Let’s say flexible first. So however you’re working, that information overload with everybody in various locations has to be managed differently than we’re doing it now.

Alexis: Have you observed, an innovative work model, recently that solved those kind of issues?

Lisette: Yeah, indeed. And, the gold standard for this is WordPress because they’ve been working with their, they created a system, a blogging system called P two years ago and have actually eliminated email from the company pretty much. 15 years ago. And what essentially what they’ve done is every time a decision needs to get made, you know it ha it goes into sort of a sort of blog.

Sort of post where others can add information to it. Maybe you want a loom video or a link or outside information, right? And everything sort of gets documented. [00:15:00] And over time what it’s done is it’s created an organizational blockchain of all their decisions that get made. And so instead of all these emails going back and forth or a meeting about why is this thing blue?

They have a record of their organization and all their decisions that they can go back to so that they don’t have to reinvent the wheel all the time. So I find that a really innovative way because they found a way to document things in a, in a way that is useful. Otherwise, you know, it’s just information everywhere.

So you’ve really gotta organize it. And then another innovative work model that I’ve seen is just a company that actually has, this is one that has recently transitioned from in-person to remote. A company in Germany, and they’re a huge company with thousands of people, and they have started to run hybrid PI planning sessions.

So for those, I think I know your, your audience is very agile, so you’ll know the PI planning sessions, but these are basically [00:16:00] very large meetings of like a a hundred people. Are planning the next, let’s say two to three months, I think it’s maybe six, seven weeks. I’m not sure how many sprints they’re planning for, but they’re planning for like the next two to three months and they’re doing that all together.

Usually you wanna do it in the same room with like a big whiteboard with sticky notes and everybody’s there together, but they’re doing it across three time zones, Malaysia, Canada, and Europe. So it’s like 12 hour difference. They’re doing it in a hybrid way, and so I’ve found that just the focus and the attention that they’re putting on that to make it happen, I find it very modern and refreshing.

It’s not ideal and it’s very hard, but it’s a reality for many teams, right? Of course, you’d wanna do PI planning in the same room together. Of course you would want that, but the reality is you can’t. So then what? And so that’s the innovation there. I’m

really enjoying

Alexis: that’s very impressive. [00:17:00] How many people are there, are involved in those hybrid PI plannings.

Lisette: 100.

Alexis: Okay That’s quite a lot. Okay. I.

Lisette: It’s quite a lot. And the, and the guy that did it, he really experimented with it in the beginning. What he did is he actually ran practice sessions with all of the teams before they did an actual PI planning session. And they just did it to get used to, how do you behave on the whiteboard? How is it gonna be used?

How are we gonna communicate with each other as it’s happening? You know, like, let’s run through a demo together. So they did that. Then they actually ran the session and it’s working. I mean, it’s still painful, but the reality is that they can’t get everybody together.

It’s just

Alexis: Yeah, Okay. that’s a, that’s confronting the Brutal reality

it’s, it’s usually a good idea. But yeah, those big room

plannings are, when they are in person are, when they are in person and well facilitated, are usually really good. but [00:18:00] when you cannot do it. You need to find another big room and an online one can work.

It’s interesting. I love the idea of the practice session,

number of time when you start something and you make the assumption. Don’t ever make assumptions that everybody will be able to use the tools. I. And then you realize that they’re not able to connect, or they are, they don’t understand how to even create a sticky note, and you spend the first half hour to try to explain to people, while others are really frustrated by those people, that’s not really a good start.

Lisette: Totally yeah, a dress rehearsal is, it was brilliant. It was really brilliant and you know, it took him so much time. , like he really spent a lot of time on this, however, now, they can now do PI planning sessions on a regular basis. You know, anybody new that comes in will be helped by the collective of people that are already working on this.

And so what he did is he, you [00:19:00] know, he spent a considerable amount of time upfront to get them up and running, but now they’re up and running and they’re only gonna get better from here. Right? So the superpower that this company has now developed, I think was well worth any investment that they made into that.

Alexis: could you share with us, an anecdote about a remote team building exercise that had really a significant impact?

Lisette: Yeah, this is interesting. So this one was a hybrid experience that I had, but so I was working with the these people in person and remote, so it was a hybrid situation, but I was the only woman on an all male team, and. I don’t, I, you know, it never, it didn’t even occur to me. It wasn’t a thing, but it was just that I was the only one and it was so o like I was the, you know, so obvious.

And I was the only American on a team of all Dutch men. So, there’s a lot of differences already and I haven’t naturally enthusiastic personality, and I don’t know whether that’s because I lived in America or it’s just, Who I was [00:20:00] from the start, I don’t know. But I was really trying to tone it down and keep a professional distance with everybody and, you know, just being sort of very professional and not letting my enthusiasm or sort of my natural humor come out.

Also, my humor doesn’t come across as other Sometimes in languages know, I can really express myself better in English, I . So But I played moving motivators with one of the people at the office. I think he had seen it on my desk or he knew that I was, it was just in the beginning when I was first starting, to work with Jurgen and all of these things.

And he saw moving motivators and we actually played a game of moving motivators together. And what happened from the game is it turned out that his primary motivator was relatedness, meaning that. He needed to be friends with the people that he worked with. That was really important to him, much more than anything that he was working on.

And he had been trying to be friends with me and I was like shutting him down. And when I saw that [00:21:00] his big thing was relatedness, it was like this aha moment. And so it allowed me to let the guard down a bit. And we became friends and we’re still friends to this day. And I really, I think I owe it to that game because I didn’t realize he was trying to reach out.

And so one of the, I guess to bring it back to remote one of the things that I think the context that we sometimes miss when we’re remote is is what people need in order to feel connected on a team. So I think that’s the thing that I learned from that is you really have to ask people what they need in order to feel connected.

He needed friendship and I was just trying to fit in . So yeah, that, yeah, that was a, that was a mindblower, it was a game changer for me because now I think

in those terms.

Alexis: Yeah, I will put links, for the listeners.

Jurgen is Jurgen Appelo

moving motivators is one of the

management 3. 0 [00:22:00] tools.

So a few things that,

I will put links to because. Those are really amazing things, and you are absolutely right that that connectedness, that sometimes we are able to build in person more easily, but not always, because you still need to be intentional about it, online, it’ll, you definitely need to be intentional. So using those kind of games, understand the motivations of others. That’s fantastic!

you are also the host of a podcast I love.

That’s collaboration superpowers.

Lisette: Yeah.

Alexis: Yeah.

can you tell me about a story that on one of your podcasts that had really a significant impact on your understanding of remote work, remote collaboration.

Lisette: I mean, there’s been so many. I do the podcasts in order to learn myself. That’s what I mean. I’ve never, I look back and I see how people use their podcast as a sales [00:23:00] tool, and I’m a little bit ashamed ’cause I’ve never even thought about it. Like, for me, the podcast was always a way of networking with people that I wanted to talk to.

So I’m like looking back, like, how could I use this for, as like a, a sales funnel? But I, I just, it never even occurred to me, which is so silly. So you know, from the beginning I spoke with . These are all things I knew, but they were really reinforced ’cause I was speaking with experts in their field. So there was one Teo Haren, he’s a creativity expert from Sweden, and he wrote a book about why it’s important to change your place when you work.

And I remember him saying like, if the best place for you to work is at the office, then you need to work at the office. He has yet to meet a hundred, you know, one person that says a hundred percent of the time all year round. The office is the best place to work. So he really solidified for me that it was important for people to change their place just for the sake of creativity and innovation.

Right? Sitting in that same great cubicle every day was not innovative. So yeah, so that was a mindblower. [00:24:00] When I spoke with Phil Montero, I mentioned this earlier, Phil Montero was one of the leaders in this field way back in the day, and he was just too early. He was like way, way ahead of his time. But he’s the one that came up with the team agreement and in fact, I took it with his permission and ran with it.

But he’s the one that said to me, you must have a team agreement. And this was reinforced recently by when I spoke with astronaut Paul Richards in January. I wanted to interview him about . Extreme remote collaboration, like remote, like what are, you know, they’re working from space, you know, we’re just talking about time zones between like here in New Zealand, right?

Like space is different. And what he really said is astronauts train to have the right information at the right place at the right time. And a good example of this is in Houston at headquarters, all the channels are open. Everybody’s listening in on all the channels, right? So it’s just madness. It’s just you can hear and see everything.

So it’s like having Microsoft Teams and Slacks and everything [00:25:00] open all at the same time, right? Madness. But they all have specific protocols about if you need to get attention in a particular place, or if you need to show somebody something in particular, that there is a protocol that you use and then all of a sudden that person is dialed in, right?

And so it occurred to me that that is similar to what we need on remote teams. Or hybrid teams, I, I use them interchangeably is that we need intentional working is the superpower. That is the key to making it all work is, you know, there’s no one right method. There’s no one right tool. It’s all about being intentional about how you work together.

That is the only way, if the astronauts left it to chance, it would be madness. And it’s the same for remote, you can’t leave it to chance.

Alexis: that’s Very interesting. Once again, the intention is really key. So we spoke a lot about remote and hybrid. how important is face-to-face interaction in that age of hybrid remote work?

Lisette: I think it’s really important, but I don’t say it’s [00:26:00] critical. I don’t say, I mean, it’s not necessary. You can do team building online. It’s possible. We’ve seen evidence of it in many different places. I have my own anecdotal e evidence that I can share. But face-to-face sure does. It sure does make things faster and it enhances it.

So it sort of acts as, oh, I’m gonna forget the word. I wanna say enzyme, but it’s not an enzyme. It’s something, it’s, it makes things go faster. It it speeds it up. I can’t think of the word right now. So what I would say is, I mean, my experience with the Management 3.0 team was we worked together for four or five years before we ever got together in person because I was insistent that if anybody could build a remote team, I could do it.

Right. Like what kind of what? What sad confidence that was. And then we got together in person and it changed the whole thing. Like we got an Airbnb in Portugal in Lisbon and the team went out one night and we just got . I mean, alcohol was [00:27:00] involved. We were very drunk and dancing in the streets of Lisbon and having the best time.

And it changed the dynamic of the team. We were like a very close, tight-knit team after that, we had really shared something special with that and we’d laugh the whole night and the rest of the weekend. It was great. And from then on we met every six months and it only enhanced the bonds of the team. We were close before, but we were, we were different after.

I must say it was really different, so now I really recommend that people do it. The thing is, is that I know you can build a a bond without it because I also worked with a woman for nine years. She was in California and I was in the Netherlands. We virtually coworked together for nine years and she was one of my closest friends.

And so we did finally meet in person right before the pandemic for the first time. And it was fun because I knew, I knew her whole apartment because I’d worked with her for nine years. So I’d like had breakfast with her in the morning. I’d been to the bathroom when she put on her makeup. You know, like, you know, I’d seen, I’d been on [00:28:00] all the dates that she’s been on and the, I didn’t go on the dates with her, but you know, like I got to hear about all the dates that she’d been on.

So I’d like seen her clothes and helped her pick out outfits and things, you know, like we had a real friendship as if we were hanging out together. it’s possible, it just takes a long time.

Alexis: it’s very, very interesting to see the difference. the Airbnb aspect of it. I was on, That team, we had a Airbnb too. Cooking the meal together is making you close.

That’s probably an experience that people need to live from time to time.

Lisette: Yeah. Yeah. And it’s, you know, there’s just nothing like sharing a big pile of nachos together. and just hanging. It’s, there’s just nothing like that online yet. And yeah, I don’t believe in replacing that either. I think people were naturally like that

Alexis: So, everything rosy, but do you have a, a real life experience when remote work, remote [00:29:00] collaboration fail?

Lisette: We see it everywhere. It’s failing now, right? There’s all the return to office mandates that are happening now. So I would say we’re actually seeing remote failing on a mass scale at the moment because leaders are saying that productivity is down, people are disappearing, and culture is suffering.

Alexis: Mm-hmm.

Lisette: People feel less connected to the company now, and I, I can’t dispute that. I mean, the data shows that productivity is a bit down. You’re hearing stories of shenanigans, but that’s ’cause those are the fun stories to hear, right? The people that have two to three jobs, the, the people that are just, you know, they’ve got like a robot moving the key, the mouse so that it looks like they’re active.

And I mean, I think we’re just seeing remote work fails everywhere in the moment. And because it’s not for everybody and if you wanna do it, you really have to set yourself up to do it well.

Alexis: Hmm.

Lisette: So, I mean, [00:30:00] yeah, I, I can’t dispute the data. People are, one is people are less connected to the companies, but I also think, you know, that’s somewhat the company’s responsibility also because we need to figure out like, what do people need in order to feel connected to the company?

Alexis: Yeah, I have the, the feeling that it’s, We are blaming remote work for that lack of connection and lack of engagement. at the same time, when I look at the, the Gallup survey that they are doing for more than 20 years now, engagement was already low for a lot of companies. For a really long time. So,

yes, we can blame remote work I’m not completely sure the, the, the reason is, is there, and the mandate to be back to the office will really help with that. So, i would encourage people to, to dig a little bit deeper than.

Lisette: I totally agree. I’ve been saying, and I shouldn’t say that, I shouldn’t say this on a podcast, but Okay. I think that remote work is being used as a scapegoat for [00:31:00] poor management.

Alexis: Yeah.

Lisette: I think they’re blaming remote work, but actually it’s, it’s the way that we’re, it’s the way that we’re working. That’s not, that’s not working and it’s, but it has nothing to do with remote.

It’s just that it’s highlighted by remote. You hide it can’t with remote weirdly enough.

Alexis: I like that. so, can you tell us about an upcoming workshop or event you are particularly excited about?

Lisette: Well, I’m experimenting with two new kinds of events, so we all, you know, we have the workshops about remote working. We’ve got one on hybrid and leadership and the work together anywhere is our flagship workshop. And those are all standard well-oiled machines at this point. Like we’ve given them thousands of times, like we know the, the right, the right stuff.

It’s good. I’m experimenting now with something called an icebreakers playground. The point of this is to just play around with various icebreakers and various tools to understand their effect on group dynamics. [00:32:00] So for example, if you’re trying to get a group to get together and have, have big ideas, you want ’em to think outside the box, right?

And do something new. Are there exercises that you can do remotely to warm a group up in that way

Alexis: Mm-hmm.

Lisette: Or, you know, like maybe it’s a new tool. And so I, I’ve called it the icebreakers playground because one, it’s experimental for me. I don’t know what’s gonna happen. And so, you know, in my designed workshop, I know exactly what’s happen.

It’s been designed that way, but in the playground it’s really experimental. And so I’m very uncomfortable with the, the improv of it all because it never goes as planned. And yeah, it’s always a bit scary as a facilitator ’cause it never goes as planned. But it’s really fun to play around with all these different activities and exercises for just how to get to know each other and how to create a specific group dynamic.

And then the second event that I’m working on is virtual coworking sessions. And what these sessions are, are basically[00:33:00] we use the Pomodoro technique. People show up, they say, what are you, what are you gonna get done over the next two hours? And then we, and we do like a quick icebreaker, what are you gonna get done?

That just lasts less than 10 minutes. And then we do 30 minutes of focused work. We have the camera on and the sound off. Then we take a five minute break, we come back, do 30 more minutes, another five minute break, and then a third 30 minute session. And then we end by checking in with each other for what did you get done?

How’s it going? And we do a little celebration and then we move on with our day. And they’re just, it’s amazing how much you get done with three 30 fo with 30 minute focus sessions. And it’s amazing how much more you focused when watching other people are there you. Sometimes I’m, you know, like my mind is, I have like monkey brain, right?

It’s all over the place. And so I’m like, oh yeah, I could. I’m like, no, no, no. I, I’m doing this task. I’m focused here with this person. Oh, no, no, you know, no, no, I’m doing this task. [00:34:00] So it’s, it’s, and it’s really fun. They’re free you know, we’re just playing around with them just to get stuff done and see what it’s like to virtually co-work with each other, what comes up.

So those are two events I am really enjoying.

Alexis: That’s fantastic excited about it.

I know that there’s some tasks that I really want to do. As soon as I start to work on it, I’m already procrastinating and I’m already finding new things to do or things to fix or, or let me do and then, and an hour pass. So I believe, I will go to, in one of the coworking session.

Lisette: Good. Yeah, that’s exactly what these sessions are for. Like, if you’re at home alone, you know you need to do it. You don’t really have to do it though, right? Like if you don’t get it done, it’s not gonna hurt anything. But it’s, it’s exactly for tasks like that. So yeah, join us. Join us and have some accountability.

It’s super fun.

Alexis: That’s very cool. So where can our listeners follow you to get more real world tips on remote work or remote collaboration?

Lisette: Well, what I’ve done [00:35:00] is I’ve put together I call it a super kit. It’s a remote working success kit and it has a guide for creating your personal user manual, how to set up a team agreement some time zone tips, and it’s got also the super cards, right? So if you’ve got like a PDF where you can print most popular. And you can get that at

Alexis: Excellent. Thank you very much, Lizette, for having joined the the podcast.

Lisette: Was my honor. Thank ​you!