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The biggest problem with remote work

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The biggest problem with remote work

Companies need a new kind of middle manager: The synchronizer.

The Atlantic,

5 min read
4 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Remote work can work for you if you have a “synchronizer” to address its weaknesses.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable
  • Concrete Examples


Companies must now address remote work’s weaknesses, particularly regarding teams, innovation and onboarding new employees. As bestselling author Derek Thompson reports in The Atlantic, Zoom and Slack are sound tools, but cannot provide the spontaneity and trust-building intimacy that helps people collaborate and innovate. In the 19th century, companies created the middle manager position to facilitate industrial expansion. Today, Thompson argues, the hybrid model calls for the development of its own manager, a “synchronizer,” to coordinate who should be in the office and when, and what they should do there. Thompson suggests that synchronizers will be essential to maintaining a healthy hybrid work culture – which he regards as the certain future of work.


Remote work is challenging for new workers and for building new teams.

Post-pandemic, offices remain half empty as employees continue to work remotely. This is mostly working well for “veteran” employees with a solid foundation in their companies, but it is a challenge for some other staffers, especially new employees.

New staffers who remain at their desks at home might feel they have joined a chat group, not a company. Because of their remote positions, they cannot experience and often don’t perceive a coherent or accessible corporate culture. Building trust and relationships requires spontaneous encounters, such as meeting in hallways, but that cannot happen online. Often, new employees also need mentors.

Innovation suffers when people can’t build trust; trust develops from in-person encounters.

Building new teams can be problematic. ...

About the Author

The Atlantic staff writer Derek Thompson wrote the bestseller Hit Makers: How to Succeed in an Age of Distraction and Hit Makers: How Things Become Popular.

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