Working Remotely: Succeeding Virtually With Tsedal Neeley

Virtuality was going to be the future, but no one would have ever guessed that it would be to this magnitude and scale. In this episode, Tsedal Neeley, the Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, joins Dr. Diane Hamilton in discussing this timely topic of working remotely and succeeding virtually. Tsedal and Diane also talk about the future of work and the dynamics that organizations need to consider as they transition to remote work. Finally, Tsedal digs into the preparation people need to undergo not only during this disruption but also after. Tune in and learn how to mix it up and be a leading player in this virtual remote setup.

TTL 811 | Working Remotely


I’m glad you joined us because we have Tsedal Neeley here. Tsedal is a professor at Harvard Business School and she’s the author of a great new book called Remote Work Revolution. This is going to be something that’s so timely. I can’t wait to talk to her.

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Working Remotely: Succeeding Virtually With Tsedal Neeley

I am here with Tsedal Neeley, who is a professor at Harvard Business School. She’s the author of Remote Work Revolution: Succeeding from Anywhere. It’s nice to have you here, Tsedal.

It’s great to be with you. Thank you for having me.

I was looking forward to this. What you work with is a fascinating subject because I’ve taught online and worked remotely almost my entire work career, which is unusual. I know a lot of people have not had that experience and are struggling with it. I want to get into what you write about and what you do. Can I get a backstory on you for those who don’t know you yet?

I am part of the organizational behavior faculty at the Harvard Business School. My work sits at the intersection of work, technology, and organizations. What that means is I have focused on trying to understand, advise, and consult organizations that are global, often distributed, and have many virtual groups and teams trying to be effective at their work. I came to this after several years of myself being a member of global teams before I started to work in academia. It’s interesting, decades ago, I was fully convinced that virtuality was going to be the future. Of course, no one would have ever guessed that it would be to this magnitude and scale. You’ve had experience personally with remote work and now the whole world has joined you.

TTL 811 | Working Remotely
Working Remotely: The idea that you should be having these video conferencing calls edge-to-edge all day long is an antithesis to being an effective remote worker. It’s important that you mix it up.


I remember when I interviewed people from Zoom and I saw you had Eric Yuan, the CEO of Zoom, wrote a nice thing about your book. I had interviewed somebody on the show from Zoom. I was always a big fan of all these different platforms and worked with them because I’ve taught online since 2006. Before that, I was a pharmaceutical rep where I never went into an office, except for doctor’s offices. I’ve done many things virtually that I was prepared for but a lot of people aren’t prepared and they’re catching up. Your book couldn’t be more helpful. What made you write about the book and what was your hope at the time when you’re writing it?

The book was in the making for about 2.5 to 3 years before COVID hit and I had slowed it down a bit because I was working on another book called the Digital Mindset with my co-author, Paul Leonardi. The only thing that I negotiated in the Digital Mindset contract and the thing that I cared about the most was that I could keep working on my virtual remote workbook at the same time because publishers don’t want you to work on more than one book at a time for good reason. That is the only thing I said. I want to be able to continue to cultivate this work because it’s important to me. That was a month before COVID that contract was signed.

COVID hit and the Remote Work Revolution book gets accelerated at lightning speed, so I completed the book, but the book had been much in the works. The thing that COVID has shifted and the focus of the book is to think more deeply about the sheer magnitude and scale of the number of people who would be working remotely. When people talk about the future of work, having more of a mix or a hybrid type of arrangement across organizations, this book took into account what that can look like. Also, how to make sure that people are not only prepared with the pressing factors of remote work now but also post-COVID.

[bctt tweet=”The blurring line between work and life is happening. It is up to you as leaders to ensure that people set these boundaries.” via=”no”]

As you’re saying that, I’m thinking, I had Tripp Crosby on my show and he has this great video on YouTube called A Conference Call in Real Life where they show all the things. Have you ever seen this? It’s my favorite.

I’ve seen it 28 times. It’s cool.

I was an MBA program chair at the Forbes School of Business and I’ve worked as a dean in different things, different companies, and schools. You see many conference calls in the past, and then now, it’s all Zoom calls. You see all the issues that could happen and he’s making fun of them in that video, which is the best. When I work virtually, one of the biggest things that are a benefit to me was that I didn’t have to get the full hair, full makeup, full ready kind of thing. Now, I noticed that they’re doing Zoom meetings, so you still have to get ready because there’s a camera on you all day long.

I found that a lot of men will go, “Let’s hop on a quick Zoom call,” and you’ve got your hair on top of your head. They’re bald and they go, “Hair’s ready.” It’s not fair and I don’t know men even think about it that we’re going, “Thank God, I don’t have to do anything. Our blow-dry is not on the books right now,” or whatever. Of course, it’s not that bad. If you think about it, you go, “Who cares? It’s just my colleagues.” People could take print screens. There are things that men don’t think about that women are thinking about. I’ve had a lot of people bring this up to me. I wonder if you even dealt with that at all.

I’m laughing because of the way you framed it. I would have so much fun hanging out with you. I can tell already. We would just laugh. Here’s the thing, this idea of tech exhaustion. Forget about having to be on and making sure that we’re put together to be on video conferencing but the idea that we should be having these video conferencing calls edge-to-edge all day long is an antithesis to being an effective remote worker. It’s important that we mix it up. In fact, there’s a study that came out from Stanford University that provides evidence why it’s exhausting to be on a video call every day with the cognitive load, cameras on you, you being hyper-vigilant, and also looking at ourselves all day long. All those things are draining.

Here’s the thing. I devote an entire chapter to digital tools. Digital tools, meaning all the enabling media that we use in order to collaborate with others. There’s a plethora of them, but they could be categorized across a couple of dimensions. One is synchronous versus asynchronous. Meaning, real-time. We’re spending way too much time in synchronous communication when it’s way too much. When in fact, we need to be conducting work asynchronously as well.

Everybody’s got a different line. I don’t know if you have circadian rhythm or whatever it is. For me, if anybody wants to work, when I’m thinking about it, they want to shoot me because I’m up at 5:00 AM at the peak of my game. You’re getting people going, “Let’s meet at 6:00 or 7:00 at night.” I’m toast by that time.

I’m a morning person, too, by the way. By 7:00, my brain is half asleep, but another dimension that’s important here, too, is to think of continua that talks about lean technologies versus rich technologies. Meaning, rich would be video conferencing and email would be lean. Google Docs would be on the lean side. Sometimes, we need lean technology in order to communicate. We don’t need to be using the rich ones to engage one another. Making thoughtful and deliberate choices with our digital tools is important in order to sustain this. It’s unsustainable the way it’s going now.

We always have been teaching asynchronously to people in online education because people want things when they want things. I’ve seen many people losing their drive to work because they’re going, “I’ve got to get out of this call because I got another one.” There are no bathroom breaks and no lunch breaks. You’ve got your dogs and your kids. There are many things going on. The work-life balance is words that we heard in the past that’s so blurred. Everything is constantly blended. I don’t think that this is, probably at least for me, when I saw a book on remote work in the past, what it’s turned into. Do you think this is what you’ve envisioned when you’re writing this book or has it changed because COVID has rewritten the book in some ways?

TTL 811 | Working Remotely
Working Remotely: Gone are the days where we take many things for granted. There are things that you need to rethink not only for yourself but by understanding others.


What’s been happening, frankly, is that people have been surviving, finding, and managing ways to engage one another, and oftentimes, trying to replicate their communication and their behaviors that they used to have at the workplace into a remote or virtual environment. That’s a huge mistake. Part of it is the blurring between work and life is absolutely happening and it is up to us as individuals and as leaders to ensure that people set these boundaries because at the end of the day, what’s happening? People are getting burned out and are losing motivation.

Another phenomenon that’s happened is this issue of hyper-productivity. People have been concerned about whether or not productivity could be maintained in a virtual environment where people don’t see each other. It could be easily out of touch, out of sync, and out of mind, so that paranoia has driven people to work longer. The average is 6.8 hours more per week. Think about that, seven hours longer every week.

People have not only been more productive with remote work, which the research dating back many years would have predicted it. What’s happening is they’re working to the point where they are burning out and getting dissatisfied with various aspects of their jobs. Scaling back and thinking about well-being is so important. Just because we can, it does not mean you should work incessantly. Good leadership and good management need to change that.

It’s funny you said that because I was in a meeting where they were talking about, “We normally work probably 70 hours a week, but we’re going to have to ramp that up.” I said, “I teach classes that you should not do this and I can’t be part of that.” I saw a lot of that mentality in pharmaceutical sales. We have one person calling this doctor like, “Two would be better.” “No, four would be better.” “No, eight would be better.” There’s a point where it’s not better. I’ve had so many great people in the show who you know from Francesca Gino to Amy Edmondson.

They’re all my friends.

As I’m talking to them, of course, I asked them about curiosity because that’s what I study. I had to ask that to Francesca. It’s the spark for me to innovate, engagement, and motivation. How do you think we can use curiosity to get people more engaged in working virtually? Have you studied anything to do with what leads to motivation in remote working?

It is incumbent upon leaders of organizations and individuals within organizations to begin developing remote work competencies. There are actual skills anywhere from what we talked about with the selection and use of digital tools, down to how you set boundaries and how you lead virtually in order to motivate your workforce. Promote social connection that is not organically available anymore both formal and informal. Meaning, the watercooler conversations, the cappuccino conversations, or the tea kettle conversations are no longer available.

How do you make sure that you are engaged with people informally in a way that helps with the social lubrication? Enter curiosity. Curiosity is incredibly important because, on an interpersonal level, group level, and leadership level, it’s incredibly important to understand people’s preferences in terms of how they want to communicate, whether it’s a video or not. How are their lives playing out with remote work? How they can get to know their group or their organization in new ways and engage with people in new ways. The only way you’re going to learn that is through profound curiosity about others in this particular format.

One of the things that you will learn is one size does not fit all and some people need flextime. Other people love remote work. Others absolutely hate it. Extroverts want more. Understanding all of those things through a new lens, accommodating them, and helping people thrive in this environment is the way that I see curiosity work. Gone are the days where we take many things for granted, including the check-ins that we need to do as leaders or sending messages that we may not want to send through, our behaviors, like sending emails late at night or on weekends. There all sorts of things that we need to rethink not only for ourselves but by understanding others. Building empathy becomes incredibly important.

I wrote my dissertation on emotional intelligence. When I had Daniel Goleman on the show, I was excited to talk to him about that. As you’re talking about preferences and finding out people’s preferences, that’s developing empathy through asking questions, learning, and putting yourself in somebody else’s position. In addition to studying curiosity, I studied perception. We have a problem with understanding the parts that go into perception because we all see it from our lens. Some of the people I’ve had on the show are talking about some of the things that our perception ties into engagement and so much more.

I’ve had Doug Conant and Kotter on the show. You name them, I’ve had them on who you study in business colleges. It’s fun to talk to these people about how we look at the business setting. You go by text sometimes. Sometimes, it’s theory. This is a real test situation to see how we’re going to do and, in many ways, we’re failing because we’ve not been prepared for this. I can’t think of a better time for a book like this. People need to understand, “How does this work? What steps do I take? What tools do I need?” What do you get them in the book that gives them those kinds of things?

In the book, I cover some of the most pressing questions or areas in remote work.

Let’s talk about a couple of them.

Let’s talk about trust. If you go back to the remote work literature, so to speak, I’m talking about years of people trying to grapple with how people can use enabling technologies and work in a distributed fashion effectively. One of the most studied topics is trust. Why is that? How do I give full confidence to someone else that I never see or hardly ever see to know that they’re reliable, dependable, and together, we’re going to perform as we should?

Trust, therefore, is such an important thing that shows up. When people are unhappy with others, what do they say? “I don’t trust them.” When people are feeling good about their collaborators or their teams, “I trust so and so.” I devote a great deal of time and space to this because I have talked to thousands of people over the years who work in distributed environments. It turns out that in the remote work environment, trust always comes up and trust is also studied.

We frame the issue of trust as not something that you need to answer, “Do I trust that person? Yes or no.” You need to answer the question, “How much do I need to trust that person in order for us to proceed with this task, this project, or whatever we may need?” There are two types of trust that are important in remote work. One is cognitive trust, which is, “I can tell that you’re reliable and that you’re competent through observation and reputation.” I have cognitive trust towards someone.

[bctt tweet=”Scaling back and thinking about well-being is so essential. Just because we can do not mean we should work incessantly.” via=”no”]

The second form of trust is emotional trust and it is grounded in the belief that others care about you and they are concerned about your well-being. Emotional trust is harder to gain, but it’s important as time goes on. Managers have to gain emotional trust with their teams. Whereas cognitive trust can almost be conferred immediately. There’s a type of cognitive trust called swift trust. Believe it or not, it’s one of the most recognized remote work type trust is that you nearly confer trust right away without having full evidence that someone is trustworthy.

The work of, “Do I need to trust them or not? Do I need to spend more time with them?” All of that goes away. You confer swift trust and then you adjust as you go along. Particularly when it has to do with completing a task and all you need is someone who’s competent and reliable. Two things you need to understand. We spent a lot of time talking about trust and how to break down trust in a way that’s useful and not stressful as we would imagine. That’s one of the chapters in the book. Of course, productivity is a chapter in the book. There’s no doubt about it. Productivity with remote work typically goes up and not down. That’s news to a lot of people who are even seeing themselves in this hyper-productive environment. The data on this is robust and clear provided certain conditions are met.

How do they do that if they’re on a constant Zoom meeting?

It’s interesting because productivity is measured in a number of ways. One is results. Is the output as expected? The second thing is team cohesion or group cohesion, which is important. Are we operating as one unit? The third way you measure productivity is whether or not individuals feel like they’re learning, growing, and have job satisfaction while in this remote environment. Giving people the clear measures that are important when it comes to productivity is a place we start but then, you talk about why would we see productivity not working for people? One is home conditions are not conducive to work well. This could be the workspace.

Millennials are struggling with remote work, especially those that might not have great space to work like you’re sharing limited space. Wi-Fi may be great or maybe not. Your daily existence is quite undermined because of the home conditions. In other scenarios, home conditions could be levels of noise if you have a large family, intergenerational, or even you have a family and children.

The noise factor is huge. In other scenarios, broadband access could encumber someone’s ability to do well and perform well. During the hours of 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM, there’s such competition for broadband because we’re not set up as societies to do this well. Of course, there are geographical differences, cultural differences, and national differences that also feed into this. If the home conditions or the various conditions are working for you, fabulous. If not, there’s no way you can perform well at the job. None of it is because of Netflix, by the way. This paranoia, “When people work from home, they’re going to be goofing off,” is absolutely not the case. People are even more concerned about doing the right thing and working harder than ever before.

I always have worked way better when I’m at home. In fact, it’s amazing how I lose motivation and drive when I’m in an office setting. I don’t know, but that’s just me and some people like to be. Even though I come out on the extrovert scale, that’s probably part of the problem. I want to talk to everybody around me, and then I don’t get anything done.

You’re processing all day with others. That’s great.

It’s a problem for me. When I’m at home, I don’t feel like I’m working. Unless I’m on a Zoom meeting, then I do. If I’m doing my work and I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, it energizes me. I could sit for ten hours and I’ll go, “I didn’t move.” If I’m in an office for fifteen minutes, I’m like, “I’ve got to get out of here.” Everybody’s got their different level of what they like and how they like to work. I can imagine if you had a bad workspace, how hard it would be. I’m seeing people who say they like to work at home and they dread going back to the office, but then others tell me that they don’t have the same drive they used to have. Imagine if their engagement is any lower than what Gallup is showing already. It’ll be interesting to see the next Gallup survey, or afraid to.

This is across surveys from Gartner to McKinsey and others. What I’m sharing with you is meta-analysis. When people are surveyed and asked, “Do you want to continue to work from home?” About 70% say, “We want some form of remote work in our work arrangements. It could be two days a week. It could be three days a week. We want to retain a portion of this.” About 19% say, “No way. I don’t want it. I can’t wait to go back to work. Not for me.” The rest can go either way. These numbers, believe it or not, hold internationally. The same survey holds in Japan and other places. It’s not for everyone to this extent, but my guess is people have begun their routines at home.

Think about the whole home gym market. People are setting up their routines, not only professionally but also in terms of how to remain healthy. They’re getting the various equipment or whatever it may be for them like Peloton weights, TRX suspension training, or whatever it may be. Those have been exploding because people are creating a conducive environment where they’re working, exercising, etc. This is going to stick for many people in terms of trying to retain a little bit of remote work in their schedules. Companies, in fact, are working on policies and guidelines on what’s going to happen post-COVID.

Imagine being in the shoe market. Is anybody wearing shoes? Nobody’s wearing pants. Imagine shoes.

TTL 811 | Working Remotely
Remote Work Revolution: Succeeding from Anywhere

I’m quite active when I teach. I cannot even imagine putting my teaching shoes back on to run around. I haven’t thought about my little teaching shoes.

I have slippers on as we’re speaking. They’re good. It’s different clothing. I don’t know if you saw The Wall Street Journal dressing from the waist-up stuff. Everything fancy stuff around their necks and their heads. It’s fun from a business perspective to see what the next thing is, but it’s changing the whole landscape of everything. How is it going to impact companies who are saying, “We don’t need all this space? If we’re going to let people stay at home, we only need them to get together once a year for this meeting or twice a year for this thing.” What’s it going to do to the real estate market?

We’re seeing hints of this in many places. Think about the high real estate markets. I’m talking about New York, San Francisco, and Boston. The idea of retaining premium real estate is going to decline a bit. We’re seeing it with some organizations already declaring that they’re going to enforce remote work for a portion of their organizations. Some Silicon Valley company is saying, “We don’t need to have space in San Francisco because remote work is working for us.” In the tech sector, there are many companies that are coming out saying, “We’re going to be a virtual-first or remote-first company.”

It’s interesting because my son-in-law works for Apple and they live in Sunnyvale because it’s right there in Cupertino, where Apple’s headquartered. If they lived in San Francisco, they would bus people from San Francisco, and then their time in their buses would count towards their workday and things like this. Now they’re starting to see people are working at home. I’m wondering for security reasons how they’re handling it because when I went to Apple, all the windows were barred closed. You couldn’t see through them because they didn’t want drones looking in from the competition, but people are at home now. There are windows in your house. I wonder what the protocol is. I got to ask him about that. Everything’s got to change. Nobody was prepared for this. Is it going to go back? If you don’t have to live in Silicon Valley and buy a 100 square foot house for $1 million.

I know the Bay Area well. What about the Bay Area traffic? I talked to two people from the Silicon Valley area who are saying the no commute piece of this has been life-changing. In fact, one of them said, “I could have dinner with my family.”

I get annoyed that I have spent an hour getting ready. Imagine if you had to spend two hours driving back and forth on top of getting ready. You get used to certain things when you’re young or whatever. Now that you don’t have to have it, it’s easy to get over it real quick. It’s going to be fascinating. As they were talking about Uber and things taking over when people wouldn’t have cars, you start thinking about what home designs would be. Would they even need garages anymore if you don’t need your car? If you think of the impact that all this will have if you’re not needing cars as much to go to work. There is the domino effect. You guys have in Harvard though the best. What are you investing in? Give me a tip.

I definitely can’t touch that and can’t even speak to that. There’s no doubt in my mind that the virtualization of work and education accelerated by COVID in March 2020 is not going back. You seem like you’ve always been at the forefront of things like online learning and remote work. You are there and everyone else is rushing to catch up to this. The virtualization of education, virtualization of work, and access to talent in all parts of the world without being encumbered by physical location have arrived.

I don’t think it’s going to go back, which is why the type of work that I’m doing nowadays, even developing online courses or even my book is going to be increasingly looking at the factors that people need to thrive in this environment that. I don’t think we’re going to go back to our old existence once we’ve seen all of the virtues with this extreme experiment that we’ve all been going through. Talking to several CEOs of large companies, every last one of them has said, “I never imagined this could work. I never think we’re going to have a travel budget in the way that we’ve had before. We are going to incorporate this in our future.” There’s no one who’s saying, “We’re going to go back to all-person.”

There are two parts to that. The good thing is I wrote my first book on how to be an online student a long time ago. I was much into online education and I’ve written MOOCs in different things. I was excited when Harvard started offering MOOCs and all that. Now that I do speaking, consulting, and other things, I’m watching those people suffering because everybody is still having events, even though they’re virtual. Since they’re virtual, they think they don’t have to pay for them to have speakers. Many of these people were making their living traveling and not being virtual in some ways, how does that transform that industry?

Virtual events have been explosive. I sit on the board of a company called Brightcove, which is a streaming video SaaS company where they can accommodate up to 600,000 people all at once virtually. When Zoom is interested in a 600,000-person type of streaming, they come to Brightcove. They come to us. We have seen not only through the Zooms of the world but the Brightcoves of the world that there’s been an actual explosion in virtual events and people are finding that you can have audiences from all over.

People are attending, but the people holding them aren’t necessarily paying the speakers is what I’m seeing.

I don’t think that’s always true.

I would love to know what you’ve heard in that respect because that’s one thing I have a lot of speakers coming on complaining about.

That’s not what I’m seeing. Speakers are getting paid and budgets are present. That hasn’t been the data that I can point to. That’s not true.

[bctt tweet=”The virtualization of work and education accelerated by COVID-19 in March 2020 is not going back.” via=”no”]

Maybe the ones that I’m hearing from are being invited to lesser events. Everybody is having events. A lot of people are trying to get away with not paying for some of this stuff in the events because it’s maybe not a big event, they’re trying to get known, and they’re establishing themselves. That’s happening a lot. I did a lot of speaking, flying, and doing a lot of that stuff. Even the events in big companies for which I speak, we’re cutting back on the amounts that they were paying because everybody is making less with COVID, so it’s going to be interesting. This is another industry that is impacted in one way or another, whether we’ll have more of these events.

I don’t know if you’ve seen these Quest 2 virtual reality headsets that you download this Oculus software. That is the most realistic thing I’ve ever tried. I teach at a university. It’s all tech students. I teach ethics, technology, and all these different courses there. I always ask them because they’re all super smart students, “What’s the coolest tech?” I always find out cool stuff from them. I got one of these for Christmas. It is the coolest thing. If they could make our events in the software half the time when you put this thing on, you feel like you’re on the planet or Star Trek: Enterprise, or in this tropical paradise.

It is so realistic. Of course, who wants to walk around with his big headset on? That gets rid of worrying about getting your hair and makeup done. I’m all for the guy who fixes Quest 2. You’ve got all the smart students at Harvard. Can you get somebody to work on that, please? It would be the coolest thing. We’re getting into the Surrogates world a little bit, the Bruce Willis movie, where you’re home in your bedroom with the headset on and a person’s out walking around for you.

I can’t wait to learn more about this Quest 2.

I had my interior decorator who was here and I’m like, “You’ve got to see this thing.” I put it on her head and she was blown away. You’re like hologram Star Trek in it. It is the coolest thing. I thought, “If I could sit here and feel like a guy’s talking to me on the top of Mount Everest, why shouldn’t the guy on Leadercast or wherever I want to go?”

Going back to the book that I started that was replaced with Remote Work Revolution, the Digital Mindset, what are we learning? We’re learning that this is an era, especially with the virtualization of most things, work, business, market, etc. This is the era of scale. The way that you’re going to see the economics returned to where it was and even exceed where it is through scale, nonlinear growth, and thinking differently about pricing structures and organization models. Also, not putting together something for 3,000 people, but for 30,000, 40,000, or 50,000 people. That’s where things will change.

Before I left as MBA program chair at Forbes, I created a brand publishing course for them, and it was for all the CMOs who were trying to create content to send out during their marketing channels. They wanted to scale but make their message individualized. That was what their biggest challenge was. You have all these people, you’re trying to reach, and you want to grow, but how do you make that individual message? Maybe some retargeting software like FetchBack and that type of thing does a great job of figuring out what you like, looking at your cookies, and spying on your stuff. Do you think that you can scale and still get personalized?

Data, AI, and machine learning are built to this. This idea of customization and personalization in extraordinary ways is where it comes in. Diane, have you not had Amazon send you a link? They know when I am relaxed. They know that I love innovative, fun, and aesthetically different packaging. I’m sitting minding my own business on a Saturday and I get a link for all these mascaras that are innovative and totally fit my interest. Before I know it, I buy six of them. I know if they sent that to me on Tuesday at 2:00 PM, I promise you, I wouldn’t even open that link. This is where AI has to come in for data analytics and extracting intelligence from data. This personalization and customization is the era that we’re in. Either we move in this direction or we get left behind.

Some people don’t like it. I like it. I like to have ads that I don’t have to wade through all the stuff I don’t care about. “That is a dress I would want to buy.” Some people don’t have Echo devices in their houses that are worried about things, deleting the cookies, and tracking. How do you feel about all that? Are you finding that students like that or don’t like that? Is that a generational difference between what we want to have tracked? What are you seeing?

Do you mean in terms of the digital exhaust?


An integral part of all of this AI, data, algorithms, and the extracting intelligence from our data has to be coupled with data security, data privacy, our sober, and alert reactions to these requests to collect our data. For better or for worse, I’m not concerned about them because what happens is any data that’s collected that I, myself, have consented to has to go through aggregation. The aggregate data that once pooled becomes metadata for use. I don’t think that the data for Tsedal Neeley in all of this specificity is what’s going to be of use to anyone once that data has been collected. The metadata then ultimately dictates what others do.

For this reason, I am less concerned, but at the same time, cybersecurity and security have to be incredibly important for us to consider in all that we do, including when we are working from home. We have to make sure that we’re using secure VPN systems when you’re accessing important and confidential documents or using file transfer tools that will ensure that there’s privacy. That is incumbent upon us and our organizations to take not only defensive but also offensive positions when it comes to cybersecurity. There’s no doubt about it.

FERPA was always such a huge thing for me. In education, we had to be trained all the time about securing data for students. When I was a pharmaceutical rep and I was working for AstraZeneca for twenty years, you had to worry about everything with HIPAA. Every industry has its things. It’s never been a bigger time to be into cybersecurity like the tech students I was talking about. When I ask them stuff, it terrifies me. What things they talk about, people are able to access what they’re doing in terms of getting it and holding your data hostage more than anything.

That happens a lot in the medical field. They take all your patient records. There are many areas of work. We think about just general business, but doctors are businesses and all these different things are businesses. There’s a lot to consider with remote business. From working with doctors as a pharmaceutical rep, I know a lot of them aren’t super business thinkers. They’re thinking in terms of the medical area. There’s a lot of different industries like that where they want to do what they want to do, but there’s a lot more to think about now. You touched on many important things in this book and everybody’s going to want to read this. I was excited to have you on the show. A lot of people are going to want to follow you and get your book, Remote Work Revolution: Succeeding from Anywhere. How can they find you and how can they find it?

First of all, thank you for your kind and encouraging words. It means a lot. I’m quite easy to follow because my first name drives just about anything. It’s @Tsedal on Twitter. My website is and on LinkedIn, Tsedal Neeley. If you can spell my first name, I always say, you can always find me. It’s easy to find in that way. I appreciate this time with you. I enjoyed it so much. Thank you for having me.

You’re welcome. Thanks, Francis, for introducing us. This was a great time to chat and I hope we get a chance in the future.

I’d like to thank Tsedal for being my guest. We get so many great guests on the show. I’ve enjoyed all the professors I’ve had on from Harvard. Each one is so fascinating and there are so many of them on my site. There are so many guests that there’s no way you could keep up with them all. We’re in the thousands now of people who’ve been on the show who have amazing insight into many different areas. Tsedal is timely with what she’s writing about with her book because remote working is such a challenge. I hope everybody takes some time to explore her work.

There are tweetable moments. We’d love to hear from you. Please tweet anything you’re interested in sharing. There’s information on the site about curiosity and perception. You can take the assessments there. The Perception Power Index and Curiosity Code Index are there. You can get free chapters of my book on curiosity and the book on perception. There are all kinds of great information. Take some time to explore. If you don’t see it at the top drop-down, there are more menus at the bottom for testimonials and so much more, so I hope you take some time to explore it. I hope you enjoyed this episode and I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead radio.

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About Tsedal Neeley

TTL 811 | Working RemotelyTsedal Neeley is a Professor at Harvard Business School. She is the author of Remote Work Revolution: Succeeding from Anywhere.





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