Rethinking Remote Work: From the Desk of Lenovo Software’s CMO

If the thought of enabling your team to work remotely still gives you anxiety, I want to encourage you to take another look at this method of team leadership. Countless studies have shown how working remotely can improve employee engagement and productivity.

Skeptical? I know what you’re probably thinking: It’s too risky. Allow employees to work from home, and it’s only a matter of time before they become distracted and disconnected.

I know, because I used to feel the same way.

Back when I was working in New York City, I had a much different vision of what it meant to be productive.

I’d soldier through two miles of buses, subways, and shoulder-to-shoulder pedestrian traffic before wedging myself into a cramped elevator to ride up to the 21st floor. There, I’d settle into my beloved 5X5 cubicle — a midtown oasis filled with doodles from my young daughter and pictures of weekend getaways.

And there I’d sit for 10-plus hours. Every day. For nearly 20 years.

This is what being productive at work looks like, right?   

So maaaaybe I was wrong ...

Why Remote Work Actually Works

Turns out, my preconceived notions about telecommunicating had long been proven wrong. Every time I heard of colleagues joining the growing ranks of telecommuters, I’d laugh. How could they possibly be as productive as I was? Where would their creative juices come from? There was so much they’d miss out on.

Little did I know that the opposite was true.

In one early remote work study, work-from-home employees got through 13% more customer calls than their in-office counterparts. Since then, additional research has shown how people who work off-site several days a week are more engaged with their work than those who don’t, and how the typical business can save $11,000 per person, per year — simply by allowing employees to work from home 50% of the time.

I experienced all of this firsthand when my family decided to leave New York City and move to the mountains. Around the same time, I heard from an old mentor and boss: Would I be interested in a chief marketing officer position at Lenovo Software? I didn’t hesitate. The job excited me, the people inspired me and the timing was right for me.

There was just one catch. My team would be in North Carolina. I’d be in Colorado.

And just like that, I became a remote CMO.

Sabr Willner

It was the best career decision I’ve ever made. My only regret is that it took me so long to recognize the need for everyone to have the option of choosing where and how they work.

How Lenovo Software Approaches Remote Work

One big lesson I’ve learned from working remotely is that collaboration is a mindset — not a location. The rest of my team all may be in the same geographic region, but that doesn’t make the benefits of remote work any less relevant. There are still congested commutes to wrestle, open office noises to drown out and daily distractions to contend with.

Those problems are prominent and persistent. But thankfully, the fix was easy.

Today, the marketing team at Lenovo Software can be found walking the halls of headquarters on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The other three workdays are 100% flexible: Employees have the option of working from home, heading to a coffee shop, visiting a coworking space or working from whichever place they find to be most inspiring, productive and convenient.

Lenovo Software marketing

And you know what? It works really, really well. Here’s just a small sampling of the feedback I’ve received:

“I work for longer periods of time uninterrupted. Most of my meetings are scheduled for days that I am in the office, so this allows for larger chunks of time to be spent on strategic projects and assignments … instead of just checking items off a list.”

— Sarah O’Malley, Communications and Sales Liaison

“Working remotely has definitely improved my work-life balance, and I’m far less stressed because I’m spending time producing — and not sitting in traffic.”

— Jordan Chavis, Digital Marketing Specialist

“I have more time to work because I’m spending less time commuting. Work time is also more productive because there are far fewer distractions and interruptions…. and I’m being less of a distraction to co-workers since I’m making fewer calls from my desk at the office.”

— Allison Howard, AirClass Specialist

In-office days are much more focused, with highly-intentional meetings that keep projects moving forward. And as an added bonus, my employees are finding that they have more time for activities that improve brain function — things like exercise, preparing healthy lunches and spending far less time sitting in traffic.

So yes, you can call me a convert. I now know that remote work truly has the power to help people take back their time at work, and I feel more connected to my team than ever before.

Still not sure if remote work is the best solution for your team? I highly recommend giving this post a quick read: Can Working Remotely Improve Creativity?These 5 Ideas Prove It Can.

Did you know? Lenovo Software’s digital solutions are designed to make it easier than ever for employees to work where, when and how they want. Learn more at

Picture of Sabra Willner

Written by Sabra Willner

As Chief Marketing Officer, Sabra joins the leadership team to drive the introduction of Lenovo Software to education, mid-market and enterprise corporations. Sabra strives to build a culture where marketing initiatives not only deliver significant business growth but also contribute positively to the whole community. Sabra has cultivated a career around the full end-to-end marketing experience. Developing expertise in account and project management, brand development, customer experience, digital media strategy, channel marketing, and partner enablement, Sabra’s dedication is unparalleled. Since her start in the agency world, she understands the value of a brand and attributes her success to working with great brands, alongside abundant talent and mentors who are nationally and globally recognized for their excellence. A recent transplant from New York City to Boulder, Colorado, Sabra appreciates family time with her young daughter and husband, exploring new experiences, and enjoying the outdoors.

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