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Are you working remotely now? Have you in the past? Tell us about the challenges and opportunities presented by remote work and how you’ve made an impact.

As companies reopen physical offices, the experiences of knowledge workers are more varied than ever: many employees can now choose to work in the office, from home, or in a hybrid combination of the two. Some workers are embracing the increased flexibility and convenience of remote work; others worry about the remaining unknowns of this shifting workplace reality, harboring concerns that in combination and hybrid work environments, remote workers may be paid less, skipped for big assignments, or overlooked for promotions. It is vital that employees find ways to work with impact, regardless of where they’re working from.  

The work-from-home revolution may have begun with the COVID-19 pandemic, but it will not end there. In 2019, fewer than 6 percent of U.S. employees worked from home, according to Census Bureau data. By September 2021, 45 percent of full-time U.S. employees were working partly or fully remotely, per a Gallup poll. Further, 90 percent of those remote workers said that even once their office reopened and the pandemic waned, they wanted to maintain some degree of remote work. And while many professionals have begun returning to offices, experts agree: remote work is here to stay. What was a necessary adaptation to a temporary circumstance has become a chosen feature of the future of work. 

Over the last two years, many individuals and organizations around the world have participated (albeit involuntarily) in an experiment testing the boundaries of work environments. Together, we’ve learned about remote work and experienced its benefits and challenges. However, much of the innovation and adaptation of this two-year experiment focused on surviving remote work. As we accept the new reality of work location flexibility, we must also explore how remote and hybrid workers can not just survive but thrive. Employees want to have purpose and provide real value at work; individuals and organizations must evolve to ensure that all contributors, regardless of their working location, have an opportunity to work with impact. 

In Impact Players, Liz Wiseman explores what the most influential players in the workplace do differently and why their work lands with impact, securing wins for themselves and for their entire teams. The book examines attitudes and behaviors of top contributors and provides a framework for contributors to follow in their quest for impact. Let’s take a look at how these behaviors play out in the world of remote work.

Do the Job that’s Needed

When messy problems arise, Impact Players do the job that’s needed. They readily venture out from their defined roles to be of service and work on what’s most important.. They understand the priorities of their leaders, work wherever they are needed, and work with passion at whatever they do. If you’re not physically present in the workplace, you can’t just look around or overhear conversations in the hall, so it can be harder to know what’s on your leader’s agenda or be aware of a problem’s complexity. This can make it hard to see the big picture and easy to work only within your own job boundaries and personal interests.


In a remote work environment… Try this See also
It can be hard to see the big picture and understand what is most needed for the organization.

Don’t expect to be spoon-fed organizational priorities or your boss’s agenda; use your check-ins with your boss to explicitly ask your leader what matters most to them right now. Try asking  questions like:

  What’s taking most of your energy right now?

  What are your top three priorities?

“Habit 1: Learn the Game,”      pg. 40

“Find the double W.I.N.,” pg. 59

“Stay connected and drop pins,” pg. 61

It’s easy to stay exclusively within the boundaries of your job description. Examine the agenda. What strategic priorities does your assigned work feed into? Once you’ve identified them, make those priorities your focus. What needs to be done to achieve those priorities? Thinking of yourself as part of a strategic effort, rather than as an owner of specific tasks, will help you see and pursue the work that needs to be done.  

“Habit 2: Play Where They Are Needed,” pg. 46

“Are You Working on the Agenda?” pg. 50

“Call to Duty,” pg. 54

“Get in on the W.I.N.,” pg. 59

“Take out a permit,” pg. 61

It’s tempting to focus on what you’re passionate about (and it can be hard to work passionately if you’re feeling burnt out).   Celebrate your successes, even if you’re celebrating alone. Whenever you notice that your work makes an impact, record it and review those notes whenever you need a reminder of why the work you’re doing matters.

“Habit 3: Play with Passion,” pg. 50

“Pursuit of Passion,” pg. 55

“Practice the naïve yes,” pg. 61


Step Up, then Step Back

When roles aren’t clear, Impact Players step up, then step back. They take charge without requiring formal authority, allowing them to provide flexible, needs-based leadership. Working remotely makes ambient problems harder to spot and easier to ignore by finding personal workarounds or suffering through repeated inconvenience rather than taking charge and creating a permanent fix for the whole team. Furthermore, working remotely from colleagues can make it difficult or daunting to enroll others to your cause and garner the collective support your initiative needs to succeed.

In a remote work environment…  Try this See also
Personal workarounds may look more attractive than a broad, permanent solution; ambient problems are hard to spot and easy to ignore. Make a conscious effort to look for ambient problems—the low-grade, persistent problems where the status quo is suboptimal but tolerable – not just for you, but for others as well. When you find yourself employing a personal workaround or pushing through an inconvenience, consider that inconvenience in the aggregate: How many people across your organization are experiencing this problem? How many people would benefit from a permanent fix?

“An Opportunity to Add Value,” pg. 8

“Signs of Ambient Problems,” pg. 69

“Listen for white noise,” pg. 93


Inviting yourself into a room can be hard if you aren’t in the building to begin with.  

It can be difficult for remote attendees to meaningfully contribute to meetings that are being held primarily in-person. If you’re inviting yourself to a meeting, when possible, look for all-virtual meeting opportunities or, if you’re a hybrid worker, plan a trip to the office.

If you have no choice but to attend the meeting virtually while others attend in-person, prepare in advance: map out succinct bullet points of what you plan to say, and ensure you have an in-person champion who can help you to be heard.

“Invite Yourself,” pg. 78

“Invite yourself to the party,” pg. 94


Enrolling others can be difficult if you’re not together. Begin with the end in mind: send an email or Slack message to share your vision for how everyone could benefit from the fix or improvement, then work to establish a common view of the problem. Keep in mind that colleagues in different work situations may have different experiences with the issue, and be willing to listen.

“Habit 2: Enroll Others,” pg. 84

“Act the part,” pg. 94


Finish Stronger

When unforeseen obstacles arise, Impact Players finish stronger. In spite of adversity, they complete the whole job, maintaining ownership until the job is finished and anticipating potential challenges. The rapid increase in the prevalence of remote work was caused by an unforeseen obstacle of global proportions, the COVID-19 pandemic, and employers and employees should expect to encounter a wide variety of new and unknown challenges as they navigate returns to offices, hybrid work models, and the new world of work; these circumstances emphasize the universal need for contributors who can meet challenges and finish stronger. However, remote work can also make this more difficult. When you don’t regularly see your colleagues or leaders, it can be easier to drop the ball on a responsibility; when others’ workloads are less readily visible to you, it can be more tempting to hand a problematic project off to a colleague or escalate an issue to a supervisor—out of sight, out of mind.

In a remote work environment…  Try this See also
Escalating an issue or handing off a problem may be more tempting. Flex your empathy muscles: remind yourself that your leaders and colleagues are also human contributors with their own sets of challenges, constraints, and good intentions. When you encounter challenging obstacles, maintain ownership until the project is done. If you need to call in reinforcements, reach out to leaders with a specific bid for assistance rather than a request that they take it from here.

“The Choice: Sound the Alarm or Sort it Out?”          pg. 101

“Habit 2: Maintain Ownership,” pg. 112

“Empathize Upward,” pg. 42

“Know when to let go,”          pg. 127

It can be harder to remember responsibilities and commitments without the physical and social reminders of the workplace. Managers particularly value contributors who get the job done every time without reminders. Co-working in an office provides ambient reminders—you pass your boss in the hall or overhear a conversation and remember to glance over that report. If you’re working remotely, you’ll need your own foolproof system for managing to-do lists and scheduling. Consider adopting an approach like the one touch method or the inbox zero system, or use a software solution like Asana or Monday.

“Consider It Done,” pg. 111

“Draft a Statement of Work (SOW),” pg. 126

You may encounter more unforeseen obstacles, from new variants to technological failures to inconvenient interruptions.

You may work remotely due to unexpected challenges; you may encounter unexpected challenges due to remote work. Whatever the situation or the challenge du jour, remote workers will benefit from a proclivity to view obstacles as opportunities rather than threats. When you’re struggling to see the opportunity in the challenge, try thinking of it as one of the following:

  An intellectual puzzle begging for a solution

  A character test requiring patience or humility

  A physical challenge requiring pacing and endurance

“Impact Players Wear Opportunity Goggles,” pg. 7

“The Mental Game,” pg. 105

“Reframe obstacles as challenges,” pg. 127


Ask & Adjust

Faced with moving targets, Impact Players ask and adjust. They seek out and accept guidance, then adapt and learn faster than their peers. In addition, they report back to their leaders and mentors, closing the feedback loop in ways that encourage leaders to further invest in their development. When you’re working remotely, it can be more difficult to get mentorship or clear feedback on your work performance—you may miss out on casual hallway conversation after the meeting or have a hard time discerning your boss’s tone or facial expressions when connecting virtually. In addition, it can be harder to show your boss that you’re implementing their feedback if they’re not physically present to see you work.

In a remote work environment…  Try this See also
It may be more difficult to get mentorship. As a remote or hybrid worker, you’re less likely to bump into a potential mentor in the hallway or the elevator, so look for opportunities to collaborate with colleagues and leaders you admire.

“Habit 1: Ask for Guidance,” pg. 142

“Ask for guidance, not feedback,” pg. 162

It is more difficult to get quick, easy, clear feedback and harder to discern tone. Ask for feedback up front. When sharing written work, include questions to prompt feedback; when presenting work, plan questions to solicit feedback in advance. Make your questions brief, specific, and focused on your work; clear asks make it more likely you’ll receive clear answers.

“Getting Feedback While Working Remotely,”        pg. 145

“Get in Tune,” pg. 143

It can be harder to show your boss that you are implementing their feedback. When you’ve received feedback or guidance on your work, circle back to show the giver what you’ve done with it. Briefly recount what guidance they gave you, how you acted upon it, how the situation played out, and what you plan to do next.

“Habit 3: Close the loop,” pg. 155

“Circle back,” pg. 163

“Publicize your progress,” pg. 164

“Add a surprise,” pg. 127


Make Work Light

Amid unrelenting demands, Impact Players make work light. They create a positive and productive work environment for everyone on the team by helping their colleagues and being easy and enjoyable to work with. When you work remotely, you’re likely to have less frequent communication and connection with coworkers, making it harder to lighten their loads in meaningful ways. Studies show that remote workers work more hours each week, are more likely to work in the evenings, are less likely to call in sick, and work more hours of unpaid overtime—all of which can lead to higher burnout and lower morale. Remote workers are more likely to feel isolated or left out, making it hard to feel connected to colleagues. Furthermore, research suggests that women, parents, and people of color are among those most likely to opt for remote or hybrid work, meaning that in many workplaces, those working remotely are also those carrying heavy offline loads—and those phantom workloads make it difficult to spend time or energy making work light for others.

In a remote work environment…  Try this See also
Employees may experience higher burnout and lower morale. Remember that burnout isn’t necessarily the result of too much work—it can also be the result of too little impact. Reduce your work-related stress by steering clear of workplace drama or politics and make your interactions with colleagues as frictionless as possible. Then, look for opportunities to increase the level of challenge in your work without increasing the sheer amount of work.

“Is Your Burnout From Too Much Work or Too Little Impact?”  

“Habit 1: Be Low Maintenance,” pg. 178

“Get to the Point,” pg. 196

It is harder to feel connected to colleagues and leaders.

You don’t have to be the life of the party or the comedian if you don’t naturally play those roles—just be human. Make a little time for connection with colleagues, for example:

  Set aside regular time to express gratitude to colleagues or leaders; even a quick email makes a difference.

  Look for lightweight ways to help colleagues by lending them your native genius—the talents and skills that are natural to you, but may not be to them.

“Be Human,” pg. 188

“Recognize Others,” pg. 187

“Habit 2: Lighten the Load,” pg. 102

“Look for What Is Native,” Multipliers, Revised and Updated: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, pg. 47

Workers may be carrying heavy offline workloads. Whether it’s a global pandemic, caring for a newborn baby or an aging parent, problematic workplace cultures, or something else entirely, difficult and demanding life circumstances may factor into an individual’s decision to work remotely. When joking around or chatting before a meeting, it’s always important to read the room—and when a meeting is pulling together many people in many rooms, it’s extra important to lead with empathy and sensitivity. Furthermore, speak up for yourself and others: lighten the load by advocating for practices and policies that include and benefit those whose voices aren’t being heard.  

“Be Human,” pg. 188

“Speak Up,” pg. 190



You don’t have to work in the office for your work to have an impact; the unprecedented shift to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic has proved that impact can be made from anywhere. Remote and hybrid work can present challenges for those who strive to be top contributors, but it can help too—for example, studies suggest that workers tend to be more productive when working remotely. As a significant portion of the global workforce is faced with a wealth of choices regarding work location flexibility, wise employees will factor their strengths and goals for impact into their decisions. But regardless of where you work, your path to impact must account for the unique characteristics of your work situation.

Tell us more!

If you are currently working remotely or have worked remotely in the past, we’d love to hear more about the challenges and opportunities presented by remote work and how you’ve made an impact while working from afar. Click here to tell us more about your experience.

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