43: Maximizing Your Effectiveness in a Remote Role with David Burkus

We are delighted to be speaking with David Burkus today. David is an amazing human being with a great mind, and he is full of very concrete ideas that you can apply to your business. He has just released a book called Leading From Anywhere, the Essential Guide to Managing Remote Teams.

In this episode, David talks to us about adapting to what the future has in store. He discusses the idea of working flexibly and remotely and explains how to do that easily, effectively, and successfully.

We are sure you’re going to enjoy today’s conversation!

David Burkus’ bio:

One of the world’s leading business thinkers, David Burkus’ forward-thinking ideas and bestselling books are helping leaders and teams do their best work ever. He is the best-selling author of four books about business and leadership. His books have won multiple awards and have been translated into dozens of languages. His insights on leadership and teamwork have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, USAToday, Fast Company, the Financial Times, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, CNN, the BBC, NPR, and CBS This Morning. Since 2017, Burkus has been ranked as one of the world’s top business thought leaders by Thinkers50. As a sought-after international speaker, his TED Talk has been viewed over 2 million times. He’s worked with leaders from organizations across all industries including Google, Stryker, Fidelity, Viacom, and even the US Naval Academy. A former business school professor, Burkus holds a master’s degree in organizational psychology from the University of Oklahoma and a doctorate in strategic leadership from Regent University.

A project with Audible

At the beginning of 2020, David released a project that he did with Audible called Pick a Fight. It was all about how organizations can phrase their purpose in a more meaningful way. Unfortunately, coming out with an audio-only project in 2020 turned out not to be the best idea.

The process of writing his latest book

David Burkus started talking about writing his latest book in May of 2020. He saw a hole in the marketplace of literature because the world came to an end, and most of the knowledge workers in the world suddenly became remote, and events got canceled.

The pandemic accelerated something

Around April of 2020, a flood of different types of literature came out. Some of it was old voices that had for more than a decade been advocating for working remotely.

The pandemic

The pandemic accelerated something that had already been going on. David felt that people needed help to know what to do when they suddenly got forced to manage a team remotely over a protracted period. So that was what he decided to write about.


Because of the broader remote work movement, there was a lot of research already out there.

David Burkus’ challenge

For David Burkus, the challenge in writing the book lay in translating what was already known about boundaryless, virtual, remote-work teams, and the research that had been done on fully distributed companies. That then needed to be distilled down to something directly applicable and actionable.

Flexible work

By June, it became obvious to David that the future of working from anywhere would require a level of flexibility that we have never seen before.

Results-only work environment

David sees us having to move to a results-only work environment going forward. That means that each company will have to create its own set of rules for when people need to be physically present at meetings and when virtual attendance will suffice. Each company will have to become more flexible than ever before.

A stigma

Working from home used to be associated with not working at all or with being inefficient or unproductive, even though the data suggested the opposite.

The optimal level of engagement

A study published by Gallup showed that the optimal level of engagement happened for employees who were at the office two to three days a week.

David Burkus’ thoughts on where we are headed

We are headed to a situation where people will spend forty to sixty percent of their time at the office and the remainder anywhere, not just at home, according to David Burkus.

Building culture

When building a remote team, you immediately need to take deliberate steps to create three pieces of team culture. They are shared understanding, shared identity, and a sense of psychological safety.

A monitor

The team leader could appoint someone trustworthy to monitor all the virtual meetings and notice any instances where someone’s psychological safety could inadvertently be compromised by another team member. After the meeting, they could share their feedback.

Top talent

Top performers get to call the shots. Because as David points out, top talent has needed organizations less than organizations have needed top talent. So, you need to start making positive changes straight away if you would like to attract the top talent into your organization.

Building bonds remotely

One of the best ways to build bonds remotely is to start a meeting five minutes early and leave it open for fifteen minutes on the backend to allow people to chit chat as they would at a physical staff meeting. Conversely, you can schedule regular meetings over lunch.

The future of work

To best prepare yourself for the future of work, you need to have adaptability as your core skill.

Connect with David

On Website

On LinkedIn

Connect with Eric: On LinkedIn | On Facebook | On Instagram | Website

If you’d rather watch the video of this interview, subscribe on YouTube


Eric Rozenberg

Leave a Reply