You do not need tools, you need to connect with people

You do not need tools, you need to connect with people

How we use tools and why we use them is more important than which tools we use

In a recent post, I talked about the physical workspace of a remote worker. In this post, I want to talk about the virtual environment, the digital tools, that make up the other half of her workspace.There are tons of tool lists on the internet, each with a great rationale of why you should be using a specific set of tools. Amidst all this information, how do we choose which tools we really need?

There are tons of tool lists on the internet, each with a great rationale of why you should be using a specific set of tools. Amidst all this information, how do we choose which tools we really need? Continue reading “You do not need tools, you need to connect with people”

Is your team chatting already?

Is your team chatting already?

Group chat is the future for virtual teams

What do you think when you hear the word chat? Do you see yourself chatting with your colleagues?

Whether your initial reaction is positive or negative, fact is, that chats are becoming the single most important means of communication for many virtual teams.

A distributed team certainly needs different functionalities for their collaboration – depending on the goals and the nature of their work – document sharing, a web conferencing tool etc. But team building happens only through the constant and seamless flow of conversation, something that only chat can provide.

A chat has mainly two functions in the team development process. There is the informal information flow and dialogue that creates a sense of nearness and belonging. This includes sharing of private information which is a basic need also in a business context. The second function of the chat is providing context information. It helps the other team members understand why a person is thinking in a specific way or why she is acting the way she does.

This digest is presenting a collection of posts that argue why chat is important, how it is becoming the key element of the virtual infrastructure of remote teams and what tools could be used to fill this function.

Start off, by reading our post (Chatting in virtual teams is more than talking about football) to learn more about why you should consider introducing a chat in your team in the first place. Continue reading “Is your team chatting already?”

Chatting in virtual teams is more than talking about football

Chatting in virtual teams is more than talking about football

Informal and private conversations at work are natural and essential

The biggest challenge in distributed teams is overcoming distance and creating a sense of closeness within the team. The problem is that in distributed teams this closeness does not evolve automatically as is the case in face-to-face work-environments. We all have conversations about private matters during work and we don’t need to reserve a dedicated time slot for this kind of exchange of information or dialogue. This can happen over lunch, in the hallway, on the way to the elevator, or as a warm-up in meetings before the “serious business” starts. Everyone agrees that talking about personal and private matters is part of the overall work setting. Architects know that a space to encourage informal conversations is a vital element of an “office”. Most offices, therefore, have coffee corners, water coolers, cafeterias and other spaces where people can meet and mingle. Continue reading “Chatting in virtual teams is more than talking about football”

Is it time to retire Email?

Is it time to retire Email?

Have you ever declared email bankruptcy and deleted your whole inbox to start from scratch? If you have not tried this approach you might have thought about it and at the very least you have spent hours, days, weeks being frustrated by email.

The Radicati group estimates that in 2013 over 180 billion emails were sent per day! And this is not the end of it: By 2017 this number is said to have grown to over 200bn emails/day.

Email has made work faster and more productive but more and more of us are experiencing the dark side of this communication revolution: hours spent a day to manage your inbox, deleting spam and bacn (don’t know what bacn is? see here), deciding if an email is worth reading or even replying, but most of all searching for relevant or up-to-date information in our inboxes.

And now not only companies start enacting policies to limit employees’ time in their inboxes, but in France a deal has been struck with a workers’ union to limit email outside of work hours.

From our point of view email is not all bad and we would follow Steven Sinofsky’s advise (see summary below): change how you work, add new tools to the mix that do the things email is bad at better, but do not ban email altogether. Continue reading “Is it time to retire Email?”