On the Yonder Bookshelf: Influencing Virtual Teams by Hassan Osman

By: Kelly Schuknecht

“Virtual teams have trouble understanding social cues, such as gestures, facial expressions, and tone of voice. You have to be precise and direct with them, be very specific about your expectations, and avoid sarcasm and nonverbal communication.”


Welcome to the “Yonder Bookshelf,” which is our team’s anthology of great books that we read to enhance our distributed management strategies and inspire our remote work.

Our pick of the month for September was Influencing Virtual Teams by Hassan Osman, which is a brief guide for managers of remote teams.

We chose this book because it was recommended by Esteban Cervi, Founder of Neolo, on Twitter. By the way, we love getting recommendations from our community, and we encourage you to read along with us each month.

Influencing Virtual Teams is an intentionally short book—just  71 pages.  The author, Hassan Osman, purposely wanted to leave out the fluff and focus on 17 simple tactics for managers to increase the productivity of their virtual teams. Osman instructs readers on how the use of a single word can increase compliance by 33%, the importance of trust, and best practices for email communication and meetings.


Important Bullet Points:

  • Deadlines can help hold team members accountable.

  • Meetings are often scheduled too frequently and are unproductive.

  • Where everyone’s responsible, no one’s responsible.

  • Trust is vital to the success of virtual teams.

  • Nobody reads long emails.


Action Items:

  1. Set deadlines with your team member, even for seemingly small tasks. Deadlines help set expectations, determine priorities, and provide a sense of accomplishment for team members.

  2. Take a look at your schedule and make sure the meetings you have scheduled are necessary.  Set agendas for your meetings that you can send out ahead of time. Follow up after your meetings (in writing) with a summary of action items.

  3. Use email wisely.  Draft your subject lines, so they accurately summarize the content in the email. Make sure your emails are brief and that call-to-action statements are clear and highlighted.


Our favorite chapter was the one on trust—Tactic #6: The Secret Formula for Establishing Trust. At Yonder, we believe that building trust is one of the most important things remote managers need to do in order for their teams to be successful and productive. According to Osman, “Creating a high degree of trust in a virtual environment is vital to the success of the team because individuals who trust each other produce more...Moreover, a low degree of trust results in a lack of commitment, poor team performance, and negative energy among the team.”

Influencing Virtual Teams is a quick read for managers, and it is chock full of practical tips that you can apply immediately.  

What about you? Have you seen success in implementing the action items listed above? Or maybe you have a new book recommendation? We would love to hear about them! Tweet us @yonder_io or comment on our Facebook Page.

If you would like to read along with us, October’s pick is The Year Without Pants by Scott Berkun. We chose this book because it’s an infamous book in the remote work community and we wanted to learn about Berkun’s experiences working in the successful distributed company, Automattic.  


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