Gustavo Razzetti, founder and CEO of Fearless Culture, author, and corporate consultant specializing in digital strategy, offers a way into the future after the global Covid pandemic. His business book, Remote, Not Distant, provides actionable steps toward a thriving institutional culture in the “new normal” in the post-pandemic world. Razzetti’s premise states that the book “will help you build an anywhere/anytime culture to adapt and succeed in a hybrid workplace.” The book contains five clear steps toward establishing a corporate culture that embraces the new reality. Some changes are choices to be made or declined. Other changes happen and only offer the choice to adapt. Razzetti puts the current day into the latter category and then goes about the work of helpful strategy toward success.
Razzetti begins his book with the warning, “The culture that got you here won’t get you there.” The pandemic accelerated cultural changes that will not revert to pre-pandemic ways. In a webinar about his book, Razzetti articulates five key takeaways, one for each step of his process of adapting to the current corporate cultural reality:
- Hybrid is here to stay
- Belonging is a never-ending job
- Psychological safety is vital to promote courageous conversations
- People want autonomy and schedule flexibility
- Start small: test & iterate
Information proves helpful, but wise leaders will take action that benefits the organization they lead.
An appreciated aspect of this easy-to-read book centers on the topically themed steps. Step 1 calls for a reset of culture, including five mindset shifts. Step 2 challenges the normative understanding of alignment to include team members in the process of vision development. Step 3 speaks to the need to create a safe and inclusive workplace. Step 4 details different options for modes of collaboration. Step 5 tackles the need for organizations to be nimble, quick to pivot, and make rapid decisions in a fast-paced world. The clarity of content stands out as a great strength of the book.
While Razzetti writes about the business world, his points transfer to the local church context. Each bullet point above existed prior to the pandemic, but they accelerated rapidly in the last three years in my context.
One poignant section came in Step 3 and the theme of belonging. This section, reminiscent of Kegan and Leahey’s An Everyone Culture, also elucidated three ways I can improve in that role with my team. The first comes from Razzetti’s statement: “Leaders tend to underestimate the power of belonging. However, we know that strong personal connections build healthy teams.” As I age toward the older end of the staffing spectrum, Millennials and Gen Z folks join our staff. The truth of the quote, if anything, is understated. As I reflect on my journey, belonging emerged from the team’s accomplishment of goals and vision. While that still applies, the desire for a deeper personal connection with the team proves true daily. When I began in ministry, I would never have approached the Lead Pastor to pastor me. That desire gets expressed to me quite a bit recently. What surprised me in the book is this: “Fortunately, belonging doesn’t require physical proximity, just a different mindset.” Razzetti cautions against trying to make virtual connections the same as the in-person versions. Virtual connection is different but as powerful as being in the same room.
Second, the section on psychological safety clarified a rising trend I have personally experienced with younger staff members. The first rung on the ladder of psychological safety includes being “okay to talk about health issues and burnout.” I would add the freedom to share mental health challenges as part of the new day. Unlike my earlier days, emerging generations are comfortable discussing mental health issues openly. What used to be a personal issue can now occupy the team dialogue. A growth area for me is allowing appropriate discussion about personal issues when someone wants to do so. I view this comfort with sharing personal challenges as a strength of the younger generations and a need for growth in those uncomfortable with it.
Something not explicitly mentioned by the book, I would add a third need as I read between the lines and compare my experience. Razzetti often uses the word “belonging” and calls it “a critical element for constructing high-performing teams.” As a senior leader, the responsibility to cast a compelling vision occupies an important role. I see a growing need for leaders to also cast a personal vision for those on their team. By this, I mean a way to envision an individual’s future within the organization. As recently as last week, a staff member asked me, “What is the potential for my professional growth here in the next few years?” Belonging sounds like a present tense dynamic, but one desired for the future also.
One of the cries during and after the pandemic voiced, “We have never been here before!” There is no season to offer a comparison about how to proceed. Leading thinkers like Razzetti provide essential voices for a way forward. In his conclusion, the author states, “Your workplace is a collection of choices.” Wise leaders will lean into those setting the pace in this cultural moment, enabling better decisions.
 Gustavo Razzetti, Remote, Not Distant: Design a Company Culture That Will Help You Thrive in a Hybrid Workplace (Highland Park, IL: Liberationist Press, 2022), 3.
 Ibid., 1.
 Gustavo Rezzetti, “Remote Not Distant,” Soundview Live, YouTube Video, 39:14, August 30, 2022, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X789mt4_uMY.
 Razzetti, Remote, Not Distant, 103.
 Ibid., 107.
 Ibid., 112.
 Ibid., 113.
 Ibid., 296.