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Smart Work summary

Jo Owen

The Ultimate Handbook for Remote and Hybrid Teams

4.4 (92 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

Smart Work by Jo Owen is a guide on how to work smarter, not harder. It provides practical tips on managing time, increasing productivity, and achieving a better work-life balance.

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    Smart Work
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    The future of work is hybrid.

    The world of work is changing. It has been for a while now, too. Since the internet became commonplace some 25 years ago, change has been a constant feature of the workplace. 

    New ideas, attitudes, and technologies have transformed everything from whom we do business with around the globe to how we sit – or stand – at our desks. For lots of companies, keeping up with rapid change is the challenge of the twenty-first century. And that’s when the pandemic hit. 

    Covid-19 showed us what fast really looks like. Overnight, entire industries had to change their entire operational models as remote work became the new normal. 

    The suddenness of that sweeping change shouldn’t obscure an important point, though. Remote work was already on its way – the pandemic turbo-charged existing trends. At some point in the near future, companies would have had to make the transition anyway. If there’s one silver lining to the pandemic, it’s the fact that it forced companies to start thinking seriously about the future of work. That, in a nutshell, is the view of the author, Jo Owen. And that’s why he wrote Smart Work – to help companies navigate the challenges and opportunities of the future. 

    So what does that future look like? As we emerge from the pandemic, there’s a temptation to turn the clock back and restore the pre-Covid status quo. That, Owen thinks, would be a mistake. We can’t just uninstall Zoom and get everyone back into the office. Lots of professionals don’t want to do that, for one – they appreciate the autonomy working from home gives them. Just as importantly, remote work has distinct advantages. Some tasks, it turns out, can be better completed outside the office. That’s especially true of “thinking” work, like reading and writing reports. 

    But offices also have their unique advantages. They’re wonderful machines for building trust. Teams are often forged in chance meetings by the water cooler, and problems are often best solved during informal chats over lunch or coffee. It’s also in the office that new hires learn about a company’s values and leaders can best help team members grow and develop. 

    So there are good reasons to keep both the office and working from home. This combination of models is called hybrid work. That, Owen argues, is the future of work. 

    Adapting to this hybrid model is a challenge, though – especially for leaders. Thing is, leadership is much easier in the office. Everyone’s in the same place at the same time, so you can always see who’s struggling and who’s coasting. If there’s an issue, it’ll jump out. Usually, the solution can be worked out on the spot. Remote work, by contrast, doesn’t give leaders the same oversight. Zoom calls don't even tell you what people are wearing below the waist, let alone if someone is slacking, struggling, or striving. You can’t “accidentally” bump into people in the hallway to discuss a problem, either. And the people you need to influence aren’t sitting a few desks away – they’re on the other side of a city, country, or continent. Leading remote teams, in short, is a challenge. 

    But it’s a worthy challenge. Adapting to the hybrid workplace, Owens argues, has the potential to make you a better leader. 

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    What is Smart Work about?

    Smart Work (2022) is a handbook for leaders navigating the post-pandemic transition into a world of remote and hybrid work. These are challenging times for managers, argues author Jo Owen. What worked in the office won’t necessarily work in remote teams. But if there’s one thing Covid-19 showed us, it’s that we can adapt – fast. And change is a good thing, he insists. Why? Well, mastering these challenges isn’t just about future-proofing your job – it’ll also make you a better leader. 

    Smart Work Review

    Smart Work by Jo Owen (2015) is an enlightening book that unveils practical strategies for working smarter, not harder. Here's why you should add this book to your reading list:

    • It provides insightful frameworks and tools that can be immediately implemented to improve productivity and efficiency.
    • Backed by research and real-world examples, the book offers a comprehensive understanding of how to navigate the modern workplace.
    • The author's engaging storytelling style ensures that the book is anything but boring, making it an enjoyable and informative read.

    Who should read Smart Work?

    • Leaders and managers 
    • Team players 
    • Self-starters

    About the Author

    Jo Owen is a multi-award winning author and public speaker. He has won the CMI Gold Award four times for his books, which have been published over 100 editions globally. His previous titles include How to Lead, Tribal Business School, and Global Teams.

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    Smart Work FAQs 

    What is the main message of Smart Work?

    The main message of Smart Work is to work smarter, not harder, by applying practical strategies and techniques.

    How long does it take to read Smart Work?

    The reading time for Smart Work varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Smart Work a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Smart Work is definitely worth reading for its practical insights and actionable advice to improve productivity and work efficiency.

    Who is the author of Smart Work?

    The author of Smart Work is Jo Owen.

    What to read after Smart Work?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Smart Work, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Positively Energizing Leadership by Kim Cameron
    • Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz
    • 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do by Amy Morin
    • Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
    • Focus by Daniel Goleman
    • The Power of Discipline by Daniel Walter
    • Pillars of Wealth by David M. Greene
    • Hidden Potential by Adam Grant
    • How to Thrive in the Virtual Workplace by Robert Glazer with Mick Sloan
    • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey