350 episodes

Brought to you by Virtual not Distant, the 21st Century Work Life podcast looks at leading and managing remote teams, online collaboration and working in distributed organisations.

Join Pilar Orti, guests & co-hosts as they shine the spotlight on the most relevant themes and news relevant to the modern knowledge worker.

21st Century Work Life and leading remote teams Pilar Orti

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 18 Ratings

Brought to you by Virtual not Distant, the 21st Century Work Life podcast looks at leading and managing remote teams, online collaboration and working in distributed organisations.

Join Pilar Orti, guests & co-hosts as they shine the spotlight on the most relevant themes and news relevant to the modern knowledge worker.

    WLP308 The Challenges of Building Digital Communities in Organisations

    WLP308 The Challenges of Building Digital Communities in Organisations

    In today’s episode, Pilar talks to Rachel Happe, who is a consultant helping leaders in organisations to boost engagement. They talk about the mindset leadership needs to build digital communities in the workplace, and all the things that get in the way. 
    For the full show notes, check out
    If you want to continue exploring this topic, check out Rachel’s blog post Building a Hybrid Workplace: How Communities Transform Work. https://engagedorgs.com/building-a-hybrid-workplace-how-communities-transform-work/ 
    You can connect with Rachel on Twitter @rhappe, or if you prefer a work-related series of tweets follow the Engaged Orgs account: @engagedorgs
    You can also connect with Rachel Happe on LinkedIn. https://www.linkedin.com/in/rhappe/

    • 53 min
    WLP307 The Role of Values and Async Communication in a Remote Organisation

    WLP307 The Role of Values and Async Communication in a Remote Organisation

    In today’s episode, Pilar talks to Niklas Dorn, co-founder and CEO of Filestage about how they recruit in the company, the role of values in the day-day and what async communication looks like in the company.

    For more detailed show notes, visit https://www.virtualnotdistant.com/podcasts/async-feedback 

    • 51 min
    WLP306 Developing a Team Habit of Sitting Less

    WLP306 Developing a Team Habit of Sitting Less

    Today’s guest Stefan Zavalin goes into detail about how he works with teams in organisations to sit less. There is plenty here for you to incorporate into your team. Plus, the conversation is also relevant to those involved in introducing change.

    You can find out more about Stefan go to stefanzavalin.com and check out his book “Sit Less: Evolve Your Work and Life Without Compromising Your Health”.

    For the full show notes, visit www.virtualnotdistant.com/podcasts/sit-less

    • 49 min
    WLP305 What’s Going On: The 4-Day Week, Good Audio and Introvert Stereotypes

    WLP305 What’s Going On: The 4-Day Week, Good Audio and Introvert Stereotypes

    In this episode, Maya and Pilar discuss the the recent developments around the 4-day week experiments in the UK and Spain, they reflect on whether audio quality might give rise to a new kind of unconscious bias and they have a go at introvert/extrovert stereotypes. Plus, bits and pieces around collaboration tech and news from our network.
    The approach to the 4-Day Week has many parallels with remote work. Organisations need to have the appropriate culture, and it will look differently in different companies. A chip shop featured in The Guardian’s article Thousands of UK workers begin world’s biggest trial of four-day week is a prime example of this, where they’ve implemented a whole new set of shifts, to make sure that customers still get the same level of service.
    18.05 MINS
    Pilar, who pays unusual attention to audio, has noticed that her first impressions of people online, specially those featured in events, is affected by the quality of their audio. If remote workers want to show up as their best in meetings and presentations, it’s worth organisations, or individuals, investing in external microphones. (We recommend a YETI microphone.)
    29:40 MINS
    There are still many misconceptions of what introverts are, thinking that they are always shy. There are some introverts who are shy, but there are also shy extroverts. It’s all about how energy is managed, and what energises us.
    A short and fun one to end with: are we in danger of “slack-splaining”? We discuss this article which talks about how so many people are overthinking their written messages (on Slack, etc) and the stress it’s causing.

    Full show notes here https://www.virtualnotdistant.com/podcasts/4day-week 

    • 58 min
    WLP304 Transitioning to a Hybrid Workplace

    WLP304 Transitioning to a Hybrid Workplace

    David Stoddard is COO and Partner at Barnett Waddingham, a leading independent UK professional services consultancy at the forefront of risk, pensions, investment and insurance, with almost 1,500 employees in 9 offices. 
    (By the way, Pilar was very impressed by their website, have a look.)
    David is the Chief Operating Officer, one of 100 partners, and he leads the non-client facing areas of the business, including the transformation across the business - Work Smart. The company has 9 offices across the UK.

    Pre-pandemic, the office was at the centre of the work and the hub of connection.

    David and his team surveyed the employees through a regular pulse check throughout the pandemic, as they were concerned that people felt disconnected and were going through difficult times. They surveyed how people were feeling, what was working well, what wasn’t working well, etc.

    Some of the things they found when they surveyed their people confirmed their expectations, like people seeing a benefit of working together, and the benefit of having more time to work in a focused way, and the work life balance that the pandemic had provided. It was also very clear that everyone’s experience was personal, and had different views on what the best ways of working were.

    The team also found a few surprises amongst the survey replies, like the fact that some people had adopted pets during the pandemic and so were concerned about having to leave them in order to go to the office.

    The organisation is now adopting the Work Smart framework, but with the knowledge that each part of the business is very different, eg some dispersed team which are client-facing, some teams where individuals benefit from focus solo time etc.

    Clients shared much of the feedback with what they’d had from their colleagues. Clients also find the benefit of getting together in person, for example every three months, or at the beginning of the relationship. However, when there is already trust within a relationship, this is not as important, and meetings can take place online. In fact, throughout this process, they have been able to share some of their learnings with their clients, as they were also adapting to different ways of working.


    The intention of the Work Smart framework is to create a framework that’s best for clients, colleagues and culture. Underpinning it is the belief that some activities at Barnett Waddingham are done best face to face, for example being immersed in a call when you have just joined the company. Apprentices and graduates can learn by osmosis by being in the same physical space. 
    At the same time there are some activities which are best done in quiet spaces, and for some people that will be the home - but some people will prefer to do these activities in the office.

    Being conscious of what you’re doing and why during these experiments is important. Asking people to come back to the office needs to be more deliberate and the benefits of people being physically together need to be made explicit.

    The “contract” with work has changed from the default being to go into the office, to consciously choosing to do so, or request so.

    Leaders in the organisation also need to change how they work, as working with an office-based team is different to learning a hybrid team.


    There is a risk of “cultural drift” happening over time, if you don’t deliberately work to sustain the culture of the organisation. People tend to be members of different teams, so there is the question of where do you form the greatest sense of connection or belonging? Probably with your immediate team, but then how do you connect to the broader culture? Social events are one example of bringing people together from different parts of the organisation.

    There will be a period of adjustment as people discover what it’s like to be in the office now, as opposed to in the past.  Meanwhile, David and his colleagues are

    • 36 min
    WLP303 Succesful Hybrid Leadership

    WLP303 Succesful Hybrid Leadership

    Roberta Sawatsky is a “research storyteller”.   As well as running her own consultancy, SAM is Remote, she is a business professor at Okanagan School of Business, Canada with a focus on HR and management. She blogs at Probe and Ponder… learning from life and travels.  Below are some brief show notes. For a longer summary, check out:

    Roberta’s research is around remote work/hybrid work/work from anywhere.
    “You have to be willing to take the responsibility, if you’re asking for the flexibility.”
     Roberta has had an interest in and has been involved in leadership her whole adult life, leading teams, or in a volunteer capacity. Whenever people are in a position of leadership or something less formal, leading by relationship, they have a responsibility to take it seriously, as they are influencing people. 
    Roberta’s recent research started in 2019, looking at the core competencies of remote workers.  She then decided to build on that research, but focus on leaders, so she extended her study leave. 
    “Never underestimate the impact of culture shock.”
    Check out Roberta’s post. 
    16.00 MINS
    The research into leading hybrid teams
    Proximity equity:  the unconscious treatment to give preferential treatment to those in our vicinity. 

    Hybrid:  Some people are colocated in the same physical space, or in the same town but not working in the office, while there are other members of the team working in other parts of the world.  
    Robert Greenleaf’s concept of servant leadership encourages questions like “Do those served grow as persons?” “Do they become healthier when being served”? 
    26.30 MINS
    In the end, the philosophy behind what we do is important. What is a leader’s philosophy of leadership becomes important because of their impact over others’ lives, so Roberta started to ask questions around that. She mentions the book “Humankind by Rutger Bregman”.
    “Autonomy in the workplace is not about passively letting employees be independent, it’s also not about working in isolation or doing work without guidance, boundaries, supervision or collaboration. What it is, is about allowing people to work the way that is most conducive to their own best performance.” 
    42.24 MINS
    After covering the actions that leaders can take to nurture their teams and team members, Roberta turns to the leadership competencies. 
    Someone leading a team can grow these competencies and be aware of what they are already good at. 
    Link to Competencies for Successful Hybrid Leadership by Roberta Sawatzky 
    Roberta hopes that this research will reach leaders and will be incorporating this into her classes in September, as well as her consultancy and coaching work.  
    Connect with Roberta on LinkedIn and check out her research and company, Sam is Remote.

    • 56 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
18 Ratings

18 Ratings

Mark Colgan ,

Great source!

Awesome source for remote teams! Keep up the great work!

Composer 1853 ,

200 Episodes of Great Listens!

I can't believe Pilar has raeched 200 episodes! Such a great and feel good listen.

Saoirse Sky ,


For anyone who's looking for inspiration, turn to this podcast. I find that I am always much more motivated after listening to an episode of this show. It wants me to improve in all aspects of my life.

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