Posts tagged ‘remote teams’

Fun or Business?

Corporate implementations of Social Networking  in house seem to raise lots of questions through the planning and development.  As a business analyst I love the questions, I love trying to help figure out the answers with others on the team and love it when the answers and solutions begin to come together.  One question that always surprises me (but almost always gets raised) is “what if our employees don’t use this for just business, but use it for fun?”  These are usually the same people that create policy and recruitment statements like “We are a fun place to work” or “we want our employees to have fun here” but say the “f” word linked to social networking and people get flat upset and try to figure out strategies to keep that from happenning.  I contend that work and fun need to mix.  The places that retain employess and have great moral are fun.  I remember visiting AOL years ago and the place was like camp!  People at that time were loving life and their job.  Google is another example and you could go on and on.  It is funny that if I am laughing about something at dinner last night with a fellow worker and then another joins in the conversation and we take a few minutes out and laugh and someone else shares a story that is okay.  I think our daily lives are a mix of moments like that at work mixed in with alot of hours when we are completing tasks, working on projects, selling something, etc.  And the fun stuff along with the feeling of accomplishment and contribution are the things that will keep us from looking elsewhere or going home in a really bad mood!  Social networking is the same–it is just that we will use it much of the time to find a resource, information or someone that can fill that hole for us on something we are working on.  BUT guess what there will be those moments everyday when we will share on a movie, a funny (not inapporpriate) website or youtube or a laugh over something we saw on the game last night or in the news.  There is a difference in connecting, getting to know one another and acting inappropriately.  The “f” word is not inappropriate; in fact it is much needed just like kids need recess at school.  You have employees you say you respect and trust and you say you want it to be a fun place to work.  So, let’s trust our staff’s judgement to tell the difference between fun and not appropriate for the workplace.  Most will rise to the occasion and for those that don’t—well they were probably acting inappropriately before social networking; now you just know it so handle it as you would any other personel issue.  BUT let your responsible, adult staff have a little fun and really make your place “a fun place to work!”  Happy and FUN collaborating today!

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February 6, 2009 at 11:42 am Leave a comment

Penny for your thoughts…

Betsy blogged on an article she read on the social effects of sharing “tidbits” of information via collaborative tools like Facebook, Twitter, etc.  I love the blog and the content from the article in the NY Times that she refers to by Clive Thompson.  I have previously blogged on the importance of allowing this type of information exchange and display.  Remote teams need to feel connected and need to know something about each other to feel loyal to one another and to begin to truly collaborate.  You probably chat with people you see day to day in the office, why not have some repor with those that are across the country and around the globe.  The summary is what I love; it states in conclusion that:

Clive Thompson’s article illustrates that ambient awareness can be achieved by frequent electronic contact, and can have positive effects on relationships.  This is especially relevant to virtual teams, who often struggle to enable personal contact among members.  But that contact is crucial for team building, trust, and cohesion.  We suggest moving away from the matter-of-fact, directive email that may be the typical communication between team members.  See if your team can gain a better, deeper connection among team members by developing communication in this new way.

Thanks to Betsy for the blog and thanks to Michael Sampson for directing me to this blog from his blog today!  Happy Collaborating

September 19, 2008 at 8:48 pm Leave a comment

Is your company using Social Networking?

The more that I meet with clients and network, the more I realize the vastness of the implementation efforts of Social Networking that are out there.  Some have never heard of this (or think they have never heard of it until you probe a little more), some want to but don’t know where to start, some have the tools at their company but no one uses them at all or correctly, some have implemented with a bang and then fizzled and some are in there, doing it and doing it well.  I learn more and more every day on this journey!  Today, I want to ask for your comments and I would love to hear on specific questions…

  • Has your company implemented a Social Networking Solution?
  • Are the employees using it, shying away from it, testing the waters or going crazy using it?
  • What tools and pieces are you using?
  • What works and doesn’t work?
  • Who are the “evangelizers” of it at your office?
  • Do you see any benefit?
  • Did anyone ask you what you wanted in the solution or did it just “appear” one day and you were told to use it?
  • Is your performance appraisal linked into it– for instance you must have so many posts in a forum, or have your own blog, etc?

Just give me some feedback today.  I know what my opinions are BUT I find it fascinating to hear yours and it always amazes me to hear about the good, the bad and the ugly. It helps me to help you and my clients.  Happy Collaborating!

September 17, 2008 at 9:01 pm 6 comments

Cisco Telepresence

I have participated in a Cisco Telepresence meeting and the technology is fantastic.  It only took a few minutes for me to forget that it was a cross country meeting.  BUT this demonstration by Cisco on what is possible, is truly amazing.  It is about 4 minutes long and worth the time to view it.  It really makes you think out of the box!  This is amazing technology–it is green, it brings people from all over the world together and it is a piece of what the future holds in this collaborative space.  Happy viewing (and collaborating!)

August 21, 2008 at 6:43 pm 1 comment

Telecommuting

In the July 25th print addition of the Atlanta Business Chronicle there was a great article regarding telecommuting.  Michael Dziak, COO of e-Work.com, Inc., was quoted as saying “Teleworking was a novelty in 1990, trendy in 2000 and now becoming very common. In 2015 it’s going to be a standard practice for everybody and if you don’t do this you’ll be in the Dark Ages.” 

Using technology of course is imperative for this—-BUT not just catching  a signal so that you can be on the internet.  The use of IM type tools insures that you are visible to others on your team and you in turn can see who on your team is available.  Do you and your team use this?  What about a virtual workspace to share documents and to collaborate on them?  Do you and your team use this?  How about a social networking tool where you can share what your expertise and experience is so others can seek you out?  If you and I are working on a similar project or initiative, do we know it?  Can we search on it?  As a manager how can you effectively manage folks you do not see sitting in a cube hour after hour? 

How about the trust part?  Communication? Getting to know one another?  Water cooler time and coffee breaks?  These are intregal parts of any team whether you are near or far from each other.  Do you  and your team use the tools mentioned above to connect with each other, build trust and loyalty?

I think whether it is telecommuting, a team that is spread across the globe or a team that sits next to each other, all of these questions are valid and should be acted upon.  Using collaboration tools to not only share knowledge and information but to also talk to one another in a quick efficient way AND also to find out something about each other–our background, interests, etc is all valid no matter what the team situation is.  The fact that a team is spread out geographically brings these issues to the forefront, but many of us have had teams that are close in proximity but still do not collaborate.

Collaborating is an attitude and must be desired to have it work no matter what your technology is.  It starts with a person then moves to the tool.  After that it doesn’t matter where my computer connects, I am connected with YOU!

Happy Collaborating!

July 30, 2008 at 6:51 pm Leave a comment

Just pick up the phone would ya?

I had lunch today with an upper level manager from a large, global corporation.  The purpose of lunch was to collaborate on working with remote teams–challenges, what works, what doesn’t, where are the holes, etc.  He works for a technology company so having collaboration tools at his disposal is not an issue.  He has a plethora to choose from and admits that he has only scratched the surface here as there are so many available.  His team is global with a significant number out of the country and time zone!  He has done many things right in getting cohesiveness on his team like meeting with those that are remote to get to know them face to face, posting pictures on the intranet site, profiles are online, instant messanger products and conference calls are used to name a few things.  BUT when I asked what the biggest factor was in bringing his team together he said “the telephone!”  It made me think that too many people avoid the phone now and sometimes use email and the other online tools to avoid talking with folks.  If communication and trust are the foundation of collaboration, doesn’t the phone make sense?  He said he encounter resistance from his team at first, but he does practice what he preaches.  He commits 2, 1 hour phone calls a week to his team members that are on the other side of the globe.  He has his local team members do the same–they are required 1 hour of phone time with their counterpart once a week.  This has helped in many regards–starting to understand each other’s culture, overcoming language barriers and challenges and just basic clarification that everyone is understanding goals and projects the same.  The phone time has also become their “water cooler” time as I like to call it.  Over time they have evolved into developing relationships with one another and asking about each other’s lives.  Just like you do with those you are face to face with daily. This was a great reminder to me!  The telephone—“reach out and touch someone” as the Bell ad states!  Happy collaborating!

July 22, 2008 at 9:35 pm 1 comment

Introducing Social Networking at Work Part III (do we need it?)

When you did the analysis of your business processes you may have found that teams are spread out and/or work different hours.  It might look like the company below:

ABC Corp has 2000 employees, 12% of which work remote–meaning at home.  Since ABC Corp is spread out globally, the teams function as remote teams even though these team members are in an office of ABC Corp; some teams also have members from the 12% who work at home.  When looking at processes it is discovered that:

  • The manager feels somewhat out of control; he/she is not sure always when his remote team members are on line.
  • At home remote workers feel disconnected at times–they feel they are the “last to know” and do not have the same feeling of connectiveness as those in the office do as far as connecting with other ABC Corp employees–even if those employees work for different business units/projects.  It causes a feeling of insecurity within this group of employees.
  • Too much email seems to be a consistent theme–since this seems to be the way people share information on projects they are working on, since they are spread out from each other and in different time zones, they email ALOT!  No one is quite sure what the latest document is.
  • Expertise is spread out across the organization.  BUT when a team member hits a road block or challenge there is no way to tap into this expertise and to connect with someone that has knowledge in that area.
  • There is no process for many things; each area has created their own.  No knowledgebase to research to inquire if another unit is doing a similar process.  So the “wheel is reinvented” over and over again.
  • Trust and communication is an issue.  People feel more open to communicate and then to trust if there is face to face connections than when they know nothing about their team member.  Loyalty?  It barely exists.
  • Job turnover is high on these remote teams.  Even with the members that like their job, they are not reaping the benefits of connecting with coworkers, so they seek out other job situations.
  • It has been difficult in assigning tasks and tracking progress on those.  It is hard to talk to someone across the globe and during the day employees are left wondering what the status on project tasks are.

These are just a few of the things you may have discovered in doing the analysis on the user end.  Many holes and processes that are not quite working.  I am sure you can think of many more!  Share those in the comments and then let’s collaborate on a solution and buy in to that solution!  Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!  Happy collaborating.

July 21, 2008 at 10:36 pm Leave a comment

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