do you have remote teams?


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HOW to build and maintain highly productive, remote teams



A comprehensive and proven framework that helps leaders and their teams define and improve their…

Significance to the team, the organization, and their stakeholders

Understanding of key skills, their role, and the culture

Remote IQ to perform, collaborate, and build relationships remotely

Function by defining success, managing up, and managing down

We accomplish the SURF Framework in 4 Phases:

Phase 1: Check the Swell

In the first phase, we Check the Swell, getting idea of the conditions before getting in the water. Here, you will understand the gaps between where you are and where you want to be as an organization so that we can create a customized roadmap to help you close those gaps and help your teams excel. This phase will be completed prior to the start of the program with the Leadership Gap Analysis Workshop.

Deliverables include:

  • Completed Gaps Workbook
  • Prioritization Matrix
  • Implementation Recommendations
Phase 2: Paddle Out

Next, we Paddle Out past the breakers. In this phase, we will create a customized road map to success so that we can be sure to address identified issues based on the organization’s priorities. You will learn how to develop a custom change continuum so that you can measure and drive the right behaviors.

Deliverables include:

  • Customize change continuum to guide journey
  • Change Networks of key stakeholders
  • Success Scorecard and Dashboard
  • Message Map for teams and leadership
Phase 3: Surf the Wave

In this phase, we create structures that reinforce desired behaviors without needing deliberate effort. You will learn how to align leadership, strategic goals, metrics, and employees so that everyone is paddling in the same direction. Mastering this phase means you will avoid the continuous struggle to manage relationships, productivity, culture, and leadership. Instead, it will be embedded into the fabric of the organization.

Deliverables include:

  • Metric Audit Report & Recommendations
  • Tech Audit Report & Recommendations
  • Structural Change Audit Report & Recommendations
  • Focus Group Data Report
Phase 4: Practice

Surfing the Wave once will not make you a master of anything. In this phase, we focus on continuous improvement in productive virtual teaming. Through ongoing coaching and support, we monitor progress and adjust where needed. We amplify what works and adjust the things that aren’t making the impact we had hoped for. This is the phase where all of the advantages and possible benefits of a remote or dispersed workforce can start to be seen in the numbers.

Deliverables include:

  • Monthly pulse check surveys and report
  • Quarterly Dashboards with recommendations for leadership
  • Regular coaching and support

About Mary
Hi! I’m Dr. Mary Barnes and I’m the Founder and CEO at EVOLVE

I didn’t just create this framework in a vacuum. Among other things, I am a qualitative researcher who always gets to the “why” in the organization. And, I have spent a large part of the last eight years of my life studying all aspects of transforming organizations from traditional work environments into open and remote work environments. I have helped organizations make the wholesale change all at once. I have also helped individual teams figure out how to increase their productivity before, during, and after making the transition to remote work.I even focused on this organizational transformation as part of receiving my doctorate in Human and Organizational Learning.

In addition to focusing on the specific transformation of moving to a remote work environment, I also have focused on all sorts of change and organizational development topics to help organizations perform at their maximum potential. I literally “wrote the book” on change, working with colleagues to write/edit the most popular academic book on change (Palgrave Handbook of Great Organizational Change Thinkers with over 230,000 copies sold).

I have worked with executives of all kinds – executives in charge of a region, executives in change of entire business lines and portfolios of business lines, senior executives in the C-suite, basically any executive who owns a P&L and is looking to improve their numbers by focusing on the people. I have helped these executives to work with their teams, rebuild trust, and increase engagement to rave reviews (see case studies and testimonials).

I have a track record of success for both major and minor organizational change, including business model change, culture change, and mergers and acquisitions (when the industry success rate is as low as 30%, 10% when you include M&A).

In 2014, when teleworking was just starting to hit the mainstream, I was a featured speaker at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conference, talking to a standing-room only crowd about how to implement a telework policy in their own organizations. I’ve also delivered various research-based papers on this same remote transformation, as well as other organizational transformations, at other conferences, including: Academy of Human Resource Development (AHRD), Academy of Management (AOM), Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP), and more. My paper delivered at the AOM conference even received a “Best Paper” award for the conference.

Besides the fact that my academic and professional life has led me to this moment, I can also understand your issues on a more visceral level because I’ve been in your shoes…

I’ve taken over teams that needed a total overhaul in terms of culture, engagement, and productivity – in one organization, I transformed the culture from a fear-based one to a collaborative one and volunteer attrition went from 85% a year to 15% a year (industry average was 50%) and I received accolades from the local regulatory organization for my work.

I’ve built three organizations (within a larger organization) from scratch, building highly productive teams that were always eagerly recruited from and I always had people wanting to come work for me.

I overhauled an entire organization, moving them from traditional office space to hoteling and increased telework. We reduced the square footage by 50% and saved more than $25M in lease costs per year. We also managed the change in such a way that our customer satisfaction and promoter scores did not decrease, even amid a total internal cultural change.

I’ve been a member of a senior leadership team and understand the impact and constraints of measures and larger strategic goals on how you operate… and also how to speak up to make those constraints work better for you and your peers.

I’ve also lived through and survived bad bosses and bad employees, so I know what works in terms of managing up and down… and what doesn’t.


Here’s what others are saying
You don’t have to take my word for it. I’ve been working with teams for over two decades to perfect this framework. Check out some of the testimonials below.

the surf School group program

The SURF School Group Program is a six-week live program to give leaders and program managers all of the knowledge and tools they will need to implement the SURF Framework within your organization and achieve increased productivity.

This is a guided course with support and coaching every step of the way.

This is not another toolkit pack with no support to actually implement and see results. This is not an online course with pre-recorded classes that people can take at their own pace.

This is a collaborative, live-led six-week workshop. During the six weeks, you will:

  • Create a customized change continuum to define the behavior change throughout the process
  • Create a success scorecard that looks at all elements of success and define key performance indicators for each area that is important to you
  • Learn about the SURF Framework in depth so that you can lead the organization through the process of putting all of the SURF elements into practice
  • Create a customized implementation plan for your organization based on the EVOLVE methodology
  • Conduct an audit on your organization’s metrics to see which metrics serve your ideal, and which do not
  • Attend two group video calls per week, to learn the next step and next concept and to get your questions answered (all calls will be recorded and provided to you)
  • Create facilitator guides and other templates as needed to support your organization’s specific needs


surf school curriculum

Prior to Week 1

Leadership Gap Analysis Workshop into Action

We will conduct the workshop with leadership and deliver the initial deliverables prior to the start of the SURF School so that the participants have leadership’s input for their work

Week 1

Translating the Leadership Gap Analysis Workshop into Action

Helping employees with Significance

Cascading Goals

Team Norm Workshops

Week 2

Helping Employees with Understanding

Capability Assessment

Role Clarity

Culture Assessment/Organizational Learning

Helping employees with Remote IQ

Remote IQ assessment

Tech audit/ Remote summits

Week 3

Action Learning

Experiential Learning

Helping employees with Function

Success scorecard

Managing up remotely

Managing down remotely

Week 4

Finalizing the customized change continuum

Putting it all together into an implementation plan

EVOLVE change methodology

Week 5

Communicating your initiatives

Message map

Getting employee buy in

Creating feedback loops

Creating & Leveraging Change Networks

Week 6

Evaluate and Adjust

Leadership Briefings

Employee Pulse Checks

This is how you’ll build and maintain productive remote teams

  • Develop a clear strategy to increase team independence and productivity while making your team more accountable, more motivated, and even more excited to collaborate and achieve shared outcomes.
  • Define and develop tools to communicate each individual employee’s significance to the team, the organization, and their key stakeholders so that employees willingly choose to devote discretionary effort to their work.
  • Enable leaders to increase employee understanding of key skills, gain role clarity, and reinforce the organizational culture and values to maximize the value of every individual employee to the organization.
  • Increase the Remote IQ for the entire workforce using key experiential and action learning principles to remove remote work as an obstacle to optimal productivity.
  • Empower the workforce and leadership by clearly defining their success in a balanced and individualized way.
  • Define norms for leaders to collaboratively manage their teams in a remote environment and for employees to manage up so that open communication and accountability is the norm.
  • Attract better talent to your teams (and retain those you have) as you build a positive, flexible, and motivating environment people want to be a part of.
  • There’s no guesswork. We’ve done all of the research and testing for you. Follow the proven framework and methodology and watch productivity, collaboration, and Remote IQ rise.

surf school details


Starts on:
11 January 2021

Ends on:
19 February 202


Live video calls every Monday and Thursday

11 AM – 1 PM ET

(replay will be available)


With at least one registration per organization, leadership will be able to schedule the Leadership Workshop anytime between now and January.

COST: $2500 per participant

($2000 discount for the third participant on, for a group with the same business email)

don’t wait too long…

Why should you act now? Well… this isn’t an informercial and I’m not going to create false scarcity. But, I do want to make sure everyone who is interested gets a spot.

This is a high-touch course. We want to keep the group fairly small to enable all of the coaching and support we will be offering.

Spots will be filled on a first come, first served basis. The program was created in response to several people asking for a group program to address the urgent need of figuring out productive remote teams.

To take full advantage of the program, you will want to complete the Leadership Gap Analysis Workshop prior to starting the program. The input from leadership will be a key element in the program. We need to make sure we have time to get that workshop completed between now and January 11, including the various holidays.

one more thing…

This is a 100% risk-free purchase.

We are confident that you and your teams will get all of the benefits I’ve outlined above from the course. We know that the participants will complete the program with all of the tools and knowledge they need to see dramatic impact in the organization’s productivity.

But, we also know that sometimes EVOLVE’s collaborative, people-first value structure, or Mary’s facilitation style, is not a fit for every organization.

This is where the Leadership Gap Analysis Workshop comes in. If, after completing the workshop with your leadership team and seeing the deliverables out of that workshop, you do not think that the course and it’s framework is right for your organization, you can cancel the course registration, receive a full refund (no questions asked), and keep all of the deliverables (a $2,500 value).

That guarantee is good for 7 business days after you receive the deliverables from the Leadership Gap Analysis Workshop (which should be completed prior to the start of SURF School).

Once SURF School starts, refunds are not available, but the spot can be transferred to another person in the organization.

are you ready?

Are you ready for an organization filled with productive, flexible remote teams and happy, engaged, and empowered employees who devote their discretionary effort to help the organization achieve its mission?

Now is the time to take some action and get a jump on the competition as we all try to figure out what the “new normal” looks like moving forward.

After going through this program, you will have all of the tools and information you need to achieve the productivity you need for success. And, you’ll have a repeatable process, framework, and templates to use year after year.

When you click the “Yes! I Want This” button below, you will go to a checkout page where you can provide payment information. Once you have registered, check your email for details on how to schedule the Leadership Workshop and for extra bonuses between now and the start of the program in January.

Yes! I want this

frequently asked questions


Who is this for?

This program is for any leader and organization who is currently faced with the challenge of building and maintaining highly productive remote teams. Whether as part of a strategy to gain competitive advantage or in response to the pandemic (or both), this program will help your organization increase productivity and implement changes that maintain that productivity over the long-term.

Why do I need this?

If you want to increase productivity while also improving employee engagement and morale… If you want leaders to trust the workforce and vice versa… If you want to make decisions and plans about the future, knowing that you’re workforce can stay productive in any situation… this program will help you accomplish all of those things and more.

I have a unique situation. How do I know this is for my team/ organization?

Every organization has unique situations. That is why this program is designed to customize the framework for every organization in real-time throughout the six weeks. If you still aren’t sure, feel free to reach out to Mary directly at and ask. She can address any questions or concerns you might have via email or hop on a quick call.

What is the basis for the SURF Framework?

The SURF Framework was developed by Dr. Mary Barnes, Founder and CEO at EVOLVE. It was influenced by a combination of her academic research, best practices in team and human dynamics, and her extensive experience building and growing productive teams (remote and otherwise) over the past 20+ years.

I’m already so busy, how will I make this work?

There are two answers to this. First, can you really afford NOT to invest in a program that will help you work ON the business instead of IN the business? You need to take the time for this type of strategic work in order to make all of the tactical things that fill the day lead to the results you want. Second, this program can be completed by anyone who will have the power to design, develop, and implement the needed changes. If you have a leader in charge of organizational development and change, or someone in change of talent and development, they might be the perfect participant for this program, as long as they will have the authority to actually take action in the organization in order to impact productivity in a large way.

Can more than one employee register for the program?

Absolutely! In fact, the ideal would be to nominate a small cohort of change agents who can work together on the assignments throughout the six weeks and then head up the change team during the implementation phase. We strongly believe in collaboration and this program is no exception. If you have more than two people you would like to enroll, please email Mary directly at for a group discount code.

Is there a face-to-face option for SURF School?

No. We at EVOLVE believe in action and experiential learning and the best way to learn how to create productive remote teams is to be a part of one. But, don’t worry… this will not be a dry, talking head experience. You will be an active participant and we will be there to help you, every step of the way.

What technology is required?

We don’t ask for a lot. You will need a quiet place where you can talk and listen without disturbing others (no coffee shops). We will be using web cameras and you will either need a microphone or headphones. You will also need an internet connection and the ability to open Zoom and Google documents. That’s it.

How much time per week should we expect to spend? Is there homework?

There are four hours of live video calls per week that can be either experienced live or watched on replay. SURF School is designed to help you step-by-step develop a customized implementation plan for your organization. In order to get the maximum value out of the program, you should plan on 10-15 hours per week, between live classes and work to complete on your own. However, you will have lifetime access to the program so if your organization needs to go a little more slowly, you will still be able to learn all of the material and be ready when they are.

Is EVOLVE available after the program to help with implementation?

EVOLVE does provide implementation coaching for this and other change initiatives on a monthly retainer basis. If your organization does not have a leader you can spare to head up the charge, this is a good option. EVOLVE combines the collaboration, people-first value by engaging the workforce in the process and creating a change network. And, EVOLVE can support the network and advise leadership with a combination of coaching and consulting. The model works very well and is much less expensive and more effective than having an entire consulting team swoop in to make a change and then leave. If this is something you are interested in, contact Mary directly at and set up some time to discuss options.

How much impact can there really be in a 90-minute leadership workshop?

You would be surprised. The SURF Framework guides the discussion and reflection and the way we have designed the workshop does the rest so that you are sure to get value out of those 90-minutes that will help guide the rest of the program.

Does the entire leadership team need to attend the workshop?

It is ideal to have the entire leadership team present. Typically, each member of the senior leadership team focuses on a specific element of the business and having every one there provides and important diversity of thought and perspective. That being said, we know first hand how hard it is to get everyone’s schedule to agree. If a member of the leadership team needs to be absent, we can either provide the template so s/he can input his/her perspective prior to the workshop or just move forward without the input, whatever you think is best.

May I have more than one Leadership Gap Analysis Workshop if we pay for more than one slot?

It is possible. The intent for this program is to do the strategy at the highest organizational level where every senior leader would be involved in the workshop. However, it is possible that only one or two C-suite executives have teams that can be remote and so they want to create specific plans for each function. For instance, if the CFO and the CMO both want to implement the SURF Framework in their chain of command but the larger organization will not be participating, EVOLVE would be happy to conduct Leadership Gap Analysis Workshops for both leadership teams. However, if a large portion of the overall organization is participating, it is important to do the gap analysis from the highest levels.

Can I get a Leadership Gap Analysis Workshop without signing anyone up for SURF School?

Yes. The Leadership Gap Analysis Workshop is the first step to the SURF Framework – Check the Swell. We will be happy to provide organizations who are interested in working with EVOLVE to improve the productivity of their remote teams with a free workshop with one catch. If you are happy with our work, you will sit down with us to talk about paid engagements moving forward. SURF school is the least expensive way to implement phase 2 (Paddle Out) and parts of Phase 3 (Surf the Wave). But, there are other options where EVOLVE does more of the work for you that we can discuss. To schedule a workshop without signing up for SURF School, email Mary directly at

Is the Leadership Gap Analysis Workshop virtual?

Yes! We at EVOLVE believe in action and experiential learning. The best way to get better at collaborating and engaging productively while remote is to do it. But, don’t worry. We will be there every step of the way and I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how easy and fun it can be.

I have another question…

We love questions! If you have a question that is not covered here, or you just want to talk to a real, live person, email Mary directly at and ask to set up some time to chat (or ask your question via email). If you have that question, chances are someone else does too. We will add questions and answers as they come in and it is relevant. Thanks!


time to take action…

Now is the time to take some action and get a jump on the competition as we all try to figure out what the “new normal” looks like moving forward.

Make sure you get your spot(s) before the program fills up – we want to make sure we can provide one-on-one support and feedback for each participant, so we will be keeping the group fairly small.

There really isn’t any reason to delay. At the very least, you can schedule the Leadership Gap Analysis Workshop, see EVOLVE in action, and get a valuable gap analysis for your own strategic planning process.

When you click the “Yes! I Want This” button below, you will go to a checkout page where you can provide payment information. Once you have registered, check your email for details on how to schedule the Leadership Workshop and for extra bonuses between now and the start of the program in January.

Yes! I want this