Roy Gilbert

Leading Remotely

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Make the most of your distributed workforce. Download the Collection Image courtesy of Ken Orvidas/ Editor’s note: This article is part of a new MIT SMR series about how leadership is evolving in a digital world.

Shortly after the turn of the century, I left Wall Street to work from home.

My husband had finished his Ph.D., and his best job opportunity was in Boston, not New York City. Well established in my career as an investment analyst, with an Institutional Investor ranking, I wanted to continue to work for Merrill Lynch and was able to persuade my boss to let me work from our new home in Boston.

This doesn’t sound especially exotic today, but it definitely was then. Relatively few people were working remotely; fewer still were working for large, fast-paced, team-collaborative companies that way. The technology was available, of course, but compared with the tools of today, it was primitive. A tech specialist from Merrill Lynch had to come to my home and spend a full day getting me set up.

These days, the organizational challenges are more difficult than the technical ones. And now that I run my own company, with employees in more than five states and the possibility of expanding internationally, I’m thinking about these issues not just as an individual contributor but also as a manager.

For my firm, home base is Lexington, Virginia, but only 15% of us are colocated, so most of our work is done remotely. We’re certainly not alone. A 2018 study […]

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