It’s Time to Read Working Virtually if You Haven’t Already

It’s official – Working Virtually: Transforming the Mobile Workplace is a Best-Of Book!

One of Technical Communication‘s Best Books reviewed.

If you’ve already read Working Virtually, I’d sure love it if you’d post a review on Amazon! Thank you!!!

Book Review: Working Virtually: Transforming the Mobile Workforce. Volume 65, Number 2, May 2018 l Technical Communication 225

In Working Virtually, Hoefling laments that business and industry are failing to prepare employees for adapting to a new workplace evolution and that employee engagement (the finesse required to win hearts and minds) continues to erode. In her new edition, she stresses the radical changes inherent in our technologically driven workplace—including increasingly specialized project work that will demand contingent and contract workers who rotate on and off teams with regularity. Working Virtually: Transforming the Mobile Workplace is organized into 19 chapters and six parts, each averaging three chapters, and each introduced with relevant quotes by novelists, athletes, presidents, poets, and philosophers.

Hoefling writes with figurative language that make her message both relatable and inspiring, particularly when she refers to workers who grapple with “information anorexia or obesity” (p. 189). She borrows the central theme in her book from a Buddhist metaphor, an approach to virtual teaming she calls the “Threefold Path for high-performing teams” (p. 6). Embarking on this path begins after assembling a team with the requisite knowledge, skills, and aptitude.

The hard work begins with guiding the team toward negotiating shared values, norms, and structure that establish and maintain trust, which is essential for a virtual team to thrive. The second half of Hoefling’s book covers the richest information, including optimizing technology for communication and outlining recommendations for getting the best out of team members. Meeting project timelines and producing deliverables, particularly on a virtual team, requires relationships and bonds that afford a sense of camaraderie. High-performing teams celebrate and champion finding solutions to problems and overcoming obstacles. Hoefling points to the spiritual nature of collective effort at its best, and devotes several paragraphs to the notion of the “sacred (virtual) space” of a high-performing team (p. 207).

She gives attention to generational differences and their effects on virtual teams, crediting millennials with the aptitudes and proclivities for this new way of working. Hoefling also touches upon diversity in virtual teams, including the traits of introversion and extroversion, but she doesn’t address gender, racial, ethnic, cultural, political, or ideological differences common among global virtual teams. Themes that recur in each chapter, including communication protocols, trust, and structure, make some of the content seem redundant at times, but the redundancy keeps these nuances of team dynamics central to the book’s message and purpose.

Hoefling offers supplemental materials on her website, including a free bonus chapter on virtual meetings. Her book chapters include checklists, assessments, and criteria to help with the more practical aspects of virtual teaming. The book, however, could benefit from more examples from Hoefling’s experiences and case studies that would have made the material more concrete for readers.

Whether you are part of a co-located, distributed, or virtual team, Working Virtually will help you increase productivity, improve employee engagement, and reap both the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards of the working on high-performing virtual teams.

Allen Brown

Allen Brown is managing director of operations for the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities. He holds an M.S. in Technical Communication Management from Mercer University.

Want Higher Results When Working Remotely?

Wanting to know about the impact of remote work and the strategic role of HR in expanding virtual work into the operation and culture of organizations? Click through to hear my tip-filled interview as a guest on i2i Workforce‘s podcast blog, Higher Results.

Hoefling speaks to Remote Work & HR on Higher Results podcast May 8


Engaging Online Learners: 5 Lessons From an Early Adopter

Enthusiastic Learner Engagement

Online teaching and facilitation is more than knowing the technology tools – and much simpler. Here’s a link to an article I wrote for It’s for all educators and L&D professionals who help people learn online.

Source: Engaging Online Learners: 5 Lessons From an Early Adopter – Training Industry

Are you going to World at Work’s Total Compensation HR conference in Dallas next month? I will be co-presenting a live session on Early Adopters in HR Lessons Learned, along with Kathy Kacher of Career/Life Alliance Services and co-founder (with me) of The SMART Workplace and Virtual Workplace University.
Better yet, join me at Rebel+Connect’s Remote Work Summit 2018.

Who Are the Top Mobile Workplace Thought Leaders and Influencers?

Do you know what today’s dream job is?
One that is set up for flexible and mobile work. I’m proud to be a virtual company expert who contributed to this article. It launches a new program on called @Work.

Trina Hoefling is #7 in the current list of top remote work influencers. I have great company, too!

Are You a Bad Manager?

A much belated Happy 2018 to everyone! I’ve been on an unplanned and unintentional hiatus from blogging. Unexpected client work, scheduled vacations, holidays, and life has distracted me. I’ll be back soon, though!
In the meantime, I run across excellent blog posts and short articles every day. Here’s a repost that has 12 excellent and easy-to-identify warning signs that you MAY be a bad manager.

What Employees are Grateful for This Thanksgiving

More organizations are looking at their employee’s workplace experience and asking how they can do better. The ability to attract the best and the brightest is becoming even more challenging as the economy grows and the labor market shrinks. Now is the time for companies to look beyond the traditional benefits strategy and ask what people really want today to be successful in both their professional and their personal lives.

Source: What Employees are Grateful for This Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from Trina and Kathy at The SMART Workplace!

Lesson #3 from Early Adopters about the Future of Work – The Network is the New Workplace

The future of work is a reversal of a 350-year trend. Work and home are coming back together, like the farm. Only it’s better because we can work anywhere. People don’t have to go to a place to be connected. Today’s organizations are literally built around the interconnectivity of human and virtual networks, not a physical workplace.

Today it is no longer necessary to go to a place to perform basic functions—buy, sell, train, collaborate, or recruit. LinkedIn is an excellent example of how we are adapting to the network as the new workplace. It has completely changed how we market ourselves and how organizations find us.

Because of the network organizations can distribute training fast through virtual knowledge-sharing and online learning platforms. Networked organizations leverage intellectual capital, making it available through virtual collaboration. The network also gives organizations the agility to increase speed, expand expertise, and access strategic opportunities to better meet customer demands—with less expense.

Technology has transformed intranets to be more than a place to store our data and files; we collaborate there. IT leads the restructuring of the organization into a network of connected virtual teams. Virtual work is no longer a last resort to keep a good employee; it’s not a compromise when people can’t meet in person. It is not an overlay, replication, or poor substitute. It is our way of working.

Imagine your work place. Which picture is closer to what you imagine?

How we think defines what we see and how well we bring our best selves to the job. If you imagined the work place as more like the office, you have a lot of company. And yet, don’t you perform basic functions digitally—buy, sell, learn, collaborate, communicate? You may still go to an office, but you function on the network.

I work digitally most of the time, sometimes taking time to be with people in person for various reasons. I work from my home office most of the time, though I frequently work from a hotel room, train station, client site… Where I am located changes, but my primary workplace is The Network.

And What Is the Network?

You can find the answer in my book: Working Virtually: Transforming the Mobile Workplace:

“It’s the culmination of basic virtual work processes and systems, and the people. It is the road, the car, and the map. Think of the network as how:

Work is done.

Teams are built.

Knowledge is shared.

Complexity is managed.

Relationships are developed.

Agreements are solidified and trust is maintained.

The network is the workplace and where the team connects.”

The organization is literally built around the interconnectivity of virtual, human, and electronic networks, not a physical workplace. We are hyper connected already; we can watch television on broadcast media, smart devices, and the Internet, all available 24/7. Why not leverage that hyper connectivity at work? Why add 20% to the average person’s workweek in commute time? Whether Samantha drives 10 miles to an office or walks down the hallway at home, she will be logging into the network, checking e-mail, handling correspondence, and responding to people—probably without talking to anyone. She is a virtual worker, regardless of whether she telecommutes.

Where do you work?

Open your mind to seeing the network as the anchor “place” where people get work done, and how people stay connected throughout the organization and beyond. Let the digital workplace change what you see.

The next SMART Workplace blog post is the 4th in our series of 5 Lessons Learned from Early Adopters of Flex/Virtual Work. Kathy Kacher will talk about Lesson #4: How Technology is the Enabler, but People are the Key. She’ll talk about how to leverage the digital network to connect people and resources in ways that align with how work really gets done. In this post, I’ve said that the network is the main thoroughfare of business communication and information sharing. The 4th Lesson Learned focuses on how people navigate that thoroughfare because work gets done through people – work is social, even more so on high-performance virtual teams.

If you’re in DC attending the TRaD Forum coming up, be sure to say hello. Kathy is a panelist on Selecting and Optimizing Digital Work Tools & Platforms, sharing the platform with experienced experts from Xerox, Cisco, and SHRM. My panel is on The Power of Transparency, Open Communication and Accountability in a TRaD Workforce. I met my fellow panelists and moderator last week, so I know we will be awesome. I’ll be sharing the platform with Amy Gallow (HBR), Claire Lew (Know Your Company), and moderator Aliah Wright (SHRM). Come hear what we have to say about the (now) future of work.