Thoughtfully applying the right technology – an interview for Collaboration Superpowers: The Field Guide
One of my main mantra’s regarding the technology side of virtual teamwork and remote collaboration has always been “It’s not about technology – it’s the right technology thoughtfully applied”. I was delighted a few weeks back when Lisette Sutherland, the Director of Collaboration Superpowers, contacted me about doing a Google Hangout video interview to talk about my ideas and thoughts regarding remote collaboration for her upcoming book Collaboration Superpowers – The Field Guide. This book, which you can preorder now, is packed with stories and tips for those whose business models depend upon successfully bridging distance to accomplish knowledge work. She has interviewed a number of experts and early adopters and brings you their lessons learned.
It was great to get a chance to talk with Lisette. She has over 10 years experience with web-based collaboration tools and online community management and her goal is to get the best people working together regardless of location. A woman after my own heart!
With both our varied experience we had no shortage of things to talk about! We had a great discussion about a variety of topics including The Anywhere Office – what we like about remote working, what the major stumbling blocks are to successful virtual teamwork, tips for managing remote workings, work-life balance, and how to choose the best technology for remote collaboration.
The interview was done via video with Google Hangouts but unfortunately about half way through we had some audio issues. Lisette had the interview transcribed and posted it to her website today along with the YouTube video of the interview. You can check out the interview here.
I urge you to sign up for her mailing list and pre-order her book as it will be filled with lots of great tips and best practices for remote collaboration.
I was very excited last week when this short video from 37 Signals showed up in my inbox promoting their new book REMOTE – Office Not Required. Take a few minutes and watch it as they talk about all the things I’ve long championed as the advantages of embracing and working in The Anywhere Office® – especially with regards to lifestyle compatibility and productivity.
If you’ve read the articles I post on this blog it should come as no surprise to you that I loved the NY Times Bestseller REWORK written by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson of 37 Signals (the company that created the popular online collaboration and project management software Basecamp). In REWORK they challenge the usual thoughts and paradigm about work, meetings and what you need to run a successful company. It really changes the way you think about running a business in today’s world of work.
Well it looks like Jason and David have done it again this week with the release of their new book called REMOTE – Office Not Required. This book speaks more directly to the concept of The Anywhere Office® that we discuss and celebrate here on this blog. This short blurb about their book says it all:
As an employer, restricting your hiring to a small geographic region means you’re not getting the best people you can. As an employee, restricting your job search to companies within a reasonable commute means you’re not working for the best company you can. REMOTE, the new book by 37signals, shows both employers and employees how they can work together, remotely, from any desk, in any space, in any place, anytime, anywhere.
This article, How to Avoid Virtual Miscommunication, by Keith Ferrazzi in Harvard Business Review (April 12, 2013) is a spot-on, powerhouse short-list of how to avoid miscommunication with a virtual team or project group.
Ferrazzi displays insight on challenges to virtual communication:
Think about the information you can glean just from the seating arrangement in a physical conference room — who sits next to whom, who’s at the head of the table, who has put a little extra distance between herself and her neighbor, and so on. All those cues are missing in a typical teleconference.
As well as unpacking a list of SIX best practices to achieve shared understanding in virtual communication. Here’s a favorite:
Avoid sloppy e-mailing. A new status symbol in today’s generally more egalitarian business environment has arisen: sloppy e-mails. One provocative study found that many executives have write terse e-mails with half-sentences, bad grammar, and atrocious spelling. The underlying message is that those individuals are far too busy to be bothered with writing perfectly polished text. Unfortunately, sloppy e-mails at best require wasting time trying to decipher them, and at worse cause workplace misunderstandings and costly errors. For offenders who claim they simply don’t have time to write better emails, researcher Jaclyn Kostnerdoesn’t mince words: “I tell them you have to find the time; otherwise, you’re not fit for the job and somebody else should be doing it. Or maybe you need to offload some responsibilities because there’s no excuse for sending people cryptic emails.”
If anyone gave attention to these 6 principles they would unquestionably avoid a whole lot of confusion, frustration, and unnecessary interaction. Do yourself a favor and read the full article here: How to Avoid Virtual Miscommunication – Keith Ferrazzi – Harvard Business Review.
[image courtesy of marketwitharedpen.com]
An eye opening article from Sebastian Bailey highlighting how little progress in some ways virtual team management has made in the last 15 years…
In 2000, Wayne Cascio identified five disadvantages of virtual teams, none of which have been resolved by 12 years of technological advances. Overcoming these obstacles isn’t about high-definition video conferencing; it’s about effective leadership that accounts for the nuances of the virtual environment.
Read the article here: How To Beat The Five Killers Of Virtual Working – Forbes.
Work around the Clock: How Global Virtual Teams Are Re-Defining the Productivity Paradigm for Leading Companies
CHAPEL HILL, N.C., March 29, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — With more than one-third of employees working on at least one virtual team, it is critical for global organizations to find ways to overcome the hurdles of working virtually. Global companies are now investing resources in finding ways that will help employees work better together across time zones, differing cultures, and with conflicting workplace practices. While there are many places to misstep in the process of becoming global, leaders must examine which best practices are necessary and beneficial in order to achieve global operational excellence.
According to Best Practices, LLC’s primary research study, “Building Global Capability: Creating and Maintaining Effective Global Teams,” even global teams with established common processes and online tools can still suffer from failures and disappointments. Despite this, virtual teams can ultimately provide a company access to diverse skill sets and expertise, knowledge and wisdom about emerging markets, and round-the-clock business hours for efficiency.
In order to determine which best practices global leaders are implementing in order to create successful virtual teams, Best Practices LLC drew from extensive primary research that was completed with 59 executives from 56 leading companies. The full 56-page benchmarking report contains more than 100 metrics and 10 executive narratives, providing executives with global responsibility the tools, practices and techniques to help virtual teams work better together and achieve strategically aligned objectives.
Key topics of this primary research include:
- Why companies establish global teams
- How companies measure progress toward globalization
- Tools and practices that accelerate progress
- Practices that facilitate working with other cultures, time zones and workplaces
- How progress of individual global teams is measured
- Top improvement objectives for global teams
- Key lessons learned for managing global teams
- The biggest pitfalls to avoid in global team management
To learn more about this report, download a complimentary excerpt at http://www3.best-in-class.com/rr1016.htm.
This guest post was submitted to The Anywhere Office by Erin Schwartz, a Specialist in Social Media and Affiliate Marketing.
Take a good look at any company or corporation that has been successful at doing business for any length of time and you will undoubtedly discover that they all had their own particular set of systems and processes for managing the daily functions of business: payroll, inventory, invoicing, general bookkeeping, HR and so on. Look a little further and you might even find step-by-step processes and rules in place that govern how they develop and launch new products or services or market themselves to the world.
Systems are a necessary part of keeping control and assuring quality within a business that has more than just a few employees. But when systems are allowed to become etched in stone, forever unchanging, a company is in danger of missing out on emerging technologies that could quite likely improve their bottom line and make them more competitive.
Here are six basic rules that every company, no matter what size, should follow to foster and promote an atmosphere of creativity without sacrificing consistency and quality.
It starts at the top – A company’s culture reflects the ideals and beliefs of the owner(s). Those at the top must continually give the message that change is good and that ideas for improvement are welcome. When top management embraces such a philosophy, it’s a sure bet that those underneath will also espouse similar beliefs.
Banish forever “That’s the Way We’ve Always Done It” – Having teams of people responsible for developing dynamic new products and services is only one way a company shows its creative side. Companies must also recognize that the old, tried and true way of doing something is often made obsolete by a new machine, program or process. Stubbornly refusing to even consider any changes to a ten-year old ordering or inventory system is just ridiculous. As new people join a company, they often bring with them ideas and experience gained from former places of employment. Managers need to welcome new ideas for streamlining basic systems, and not view them as a threat to the status quo.
Encourage and promote brainstorming and problem-solving round-table discussions – The power of the group mind is incredible; by sharing frustrations and successes, employees often discover new and even better ways of doing things just by tossing ideas back and forth in a casual meeting. Energize the boring staff meeting by setting aside 15-20 minutes for a no-holds-barred discussion of what’s working and what’s not, and possible ways to improve. Read more
Whitepaper: Effective Team Management A Challenge in the Virtual Workforce
Science-Based Behavioral Assessment Helps Managers Motivate, Develop and Coach Remotely
WELLESLEY, Mass., Feb. 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — The virtual workforce in the U.S. ballooned from 9.5 million in 1995 to 13.4 million in 2010, growing to an estimated 20-30 million people currently working remotely at least once per week. According to new whitepaper from global consulting firm PI Worldwide, despite more employees embracing—and even expecting—a distributed work environment, research indicates low levels of confidence in the ability of managers to adequately motivate, coach and develop employees within a virtual environment.
The whitepaper titled, Managing the Challenges of the New Virtual Workforce: The Use of Personality Data to Build and Develop High Performing Virtual Teams, examines the pressures facing leaders to manage and develop teams operating virtually and the benefits behavioral assessment data provides for enhancing communication, collaboration and efficiencies across different time zones and cultures.
“The most successful virtual teams are led by managers who understand what motivates and drives performance at the individual and team levels, assigning people to tasks in line with their natural behavioral styles,” said Nancy Martini , President and CEO of PI Worldwide. “Managers who apply behavioral insights produce teams that function with stronger working relationships, communicate more effectively and deliver on the team’s collective goals.”
According to a Forrester survey cited in the whitepaper, “effective communication” is a top concern for managers of remote teams (49%), followed by “managing projects and deadlines successfully (43%)” and “creating consensus during decision-making (43%).” Martini notes additional challenges of remote team management include:
- Difficulty in building a shared sense of purpose
- Over-reliance on electronic communications
- Low team cohesion and trust
- Less satisfaction with the team experience
In a remote working environment, it can be difficult for team members to build rapport or a sense of camaraderie which can jeopardize productivity. Through behavioral assessments (sometimes called personality assessments), Martini says, managers can uncover the natural behavioral characteristics of team members to better define high performance, facilitate workflow, reduce conflict and improve group synergy.
Read the rest of this article here: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/whitepaper-effective-team-management-a-challenge-in-the-virtual-workforce-192330671.html
See the whitepaper here: http://www.piworldwide.com/landing-pages/virtual-workforce-hmpg.aspx