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How A/Synchronous & Distributed, Digitalized Work is Optimized

January 28, 2022



How A/Synchronous & Distributed, Digitalized Work is Optimized

How A/Synchronous & Distributed, Digitalized Work is Optimized

Neil Miller, host of The Digital Workplace podcast, has been working remotely almost all his working life. Early years working overseas fostered his understanding of different work approaches and habits. Neil has significant expertise leading distributed teams, utilizing digital tools, and incorporating effective asynchronous work methods and practices, especially to reduce the number and length of meetings in order to improve performance.


[03:24] Neil explores different life and work options at the beginning of his career.

[03:57] Neil shares his early work experiences—challenges, observations, and learnings.

[05:29] How you ask “why?” more working in a different cultural environment.

[06:42] Neil discusses the realities of direct and indirect communication and power dynamics in different cultures.

[09:17] What it was like for Neil working remotely as his first work experience in the US.

[11:56] As the only remote worker to begin with, Neil felt he always had to be the one making the compromises working with in-person teams and how that motivated him.

[13:07] How Neil could sense when in-person visits were needed to reconnect with colleagues.

[14:05] Reactions to pandemic-related remote-working and desires to transition back to the office.

[15:44] In-person meetings were the over-used catch-all tool for collaboration.

[16:33] Digital work offers benefits of new workflow options, not replicating office-based work.

[17:26] How should we be thinking about meetings if we optimize with digital tools?

[19:05] Understanding asynchronous working, its benefits, and how to do it.

[21:56] If you could “hire” a meeting what would it’s functionality and objective be?

[22:56] Opportunities and challenges for digital leaders: aligning channels, content, and timing.

[25:49] Top benefits of meetings working with distributed/hybrid teams.

[27:48] Neil shares his tips for collaboration and intentional serendipity.

[29:08] How employees with different personality types show up in meetings.

[29:55] The beneficial results from starting a collaboration and ending it 24 hours later.

[31:25] Using empathy to be an effective leader of a distributed team.

[32:48] How Neil is adjusting his work preferences while onboarding a new team member.

[34:31] Neil offers advice on how to bring a new employee up to speed on culture.

[35:46] Onboarding a new hire offers an opportunity to make, re-evaluate, and communicate promises to the team as well as share an updated operating guide.

[37:45] Neil recommends when low and high fidelity communications are best used by leaders.

[41:51] Neil has an assessment tool on his website that helps gauge your digital workplace score.

[42:54] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: Look at the next meeting on your calendar and ask yourself “what part of the meeting could be done asynchronously or another way?”


“When you’re in an office, the meeting is the catch-all tool for collaboration. We use it for all sorts of different purposes. When we transitioned to digital work, we carry that reliance on meetings over with us.”

“Now I have eight ways that I can collaborate instead of just one, instead of just meetings.”

“It’s going to require a lot of digital fluency, a lot of intelligence about picking the right mediums.”

“Think of a meeting like it's something you hire. So if I'm going to hire a meeting, what is it that I really want it to do? If I'm going to hire a meeting, I'm going hire it to build connection with people because a meeting's going do that much better than a text message going back and forth.”

“Look at your schedule tomorrow, what part of that meeting do you think could be done asynchronously or could be done in another way? It just opens up a lot of good questions.”

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