Klaus Breyer Tech Leadership, Product Delivery & Startup Strategy.

Effective Remote Work, James Stanier, 2022

I had the pleasure of hearing James Stanier speak at a conference, and his insights on remote work stuck with me.

He introduces the concept of asynchronous work methodologies as a potential solution for effective remote work. He suggests that by embracing tools such as documents, diagrams, designs, and video recordings, teams can circumvent the limitations of their physical environments to achieve greater focus and productivity.

Central to Stanier’s thesis is the idea that the design of our workspaces—including the now ubiquitous home offices—should be intentional and reflective of three core elements: focus, privacy, and ergonomics, as illustrated in his Home Office Venn Diagram. These elements are not just crucial for comfort but are vital for sustaining productivity in a remote setting.

Onboarding in remote environments receives significant attention in Stanier’s guide. He views effective onboarding as a continual process that benefits not only new staff but also existing teams, who must regularly adapt to new projects, teams, frameworks, products, and ideas. The faster and more efficiently this onboarding can occur, the quicker an organization can move. His detailed exploration of the “Contributing Curve” underscores the importance of experienced staff members spending significant time accelerating newcomers, thereby enhancing overall organizational agility.

In terms of practical applications, Stanier lays out a comprehensive onboarding framework that integrates technical, managerial, and cultural dimensions. Each dimension is designed to support new hires in achieving autonomy, mastery, and a sense of purpose—critical factors that influence an employee’s ability to contribute effectively and find satisfaction in their roles.

The book closes by circling back to the initial dilemma of the open-plan office. By fully embracing asynchronous work methods and thoughtful onboarding practices, organizations can not only optimize their spatial designs but also their temporal and interactional architectures. This shift not only promises enhanced productivity but also a more inclusive and adaptable work culture.

Through a detailed examination of remote work challenges and solutions, Stanier’s Effective Remote Work offers a compelling blueprint for organizations navigating the complexities of modern work environments.

(It is focused on engineers, but my wife also took a lot out of it for their job to digitally transform government work.)