Out of Office

Archive for the ‘Collaborate With Them’ Category

How To Work When Your Team Is Scattered Across Time Zones

One of the challenges with a distributed team is that different people might be in different time zones. As we become increasingly global and mobile, that is only going to be more common, so it’s useful to know how to manage this situation.

A recent Fast Company tackled this issue, giving advice like this – particularly for online meetings:

  • Declare a “home” time zone, with normal business hours in that time zone – but of course with enough overlap for all your team members in other time zones.
  • Minimise the use of videoconferencing, because it inconveniences people who have to attend outside normal hours.
  • Minimise the need for follow-up after meetings, because that can cause delays for people in multiple time zones.

Read the full article here.

How 5 Remote Teams Use Technology To Make Long Distance Work

Out of Office work, although on the rise, is still relatively new, and there are no agreed best practices on how to make it work most effectively. However, there are a number of case studies and examples we can learn from, and adapt their ideas to your own situation.

Fast Company recently published an article with five such examples:

  1. Buffer Uses HipChat And Jawbone – for informal online chat
  2. AgoraPulse Uses Weekdone – to track progress and see status reports
  3. Zapier Uses Campfire And Sqwiggle – for group chat
  4. Foursquare Uses Always-On Video Conferencing
  5. iDoneThis Uses iDoneThis – for productivity tracking

Read the full article here.

How to Build a Happy and Productive Remote Team

Building a remote team – with both in-office and Out of Office team members – isn’t easy, so it’s useful to learn from people who have done it before. In this video, Poornima Vijayashanker, the founder of Femgineer, interviews Ben Congleton, CEO of Olark, about his experience in taking his in-office team and extending it to be a remote team.

Creating Connected Distributed Teams

Often, people in distributed teams don’t have the same personal connections with remote team members as they have with people in the same office. This is natural, of course, but can be overcome. Creating better personal connections leads to more rewarding work, better collaboration, and higher productivity.

Listen to the episode here:

References:

5 Myths About Leading Distributed Teams

Many managers admit they don’t know how to manage and lead virtual teams effectively — particularly when it comes to trust, communication, managing deadlines, and achieving consensus in decision-making. Even worse, there are some common myths about virtual teams, which can cause friction within the team or even seriously damage its performance. In this episode, we address these myths and offer suggestions and advice for how managers and leaders can overcome them.

Listen to the episode here:

The five myths:

  1. Myth #1: It’s too difficult to build trust
    Reality: It’s not more difficult; it’s just different.
  2. Myth #2: It’s too difficult to build synergy
    Reality: Synergy is intentional, not incidental.
  3. Myth #3: Team members feel too isolated and detached
    Reality: Some personalities thrive under remote work arrangements.
  4. Myth #4: Interpersonal skills aren’t important
    Reality: If anything, interpersonal skills are even more important.
  5. Myth #5: You can’t measure and reward performance
    Reality: Sometimes you can do it even better.

Download the white paper, written by Gihan Perera for Citrix, on this topic (available here courtesy of Citrix Online):

8 Easy Ways to Organise Meetings with In-Person and Online Attendees

Hybrid meetingsThe technology for online meetings has advanced to the stage where many organizations see them as a viable alternative to in-person meetings, conferences and other events. This is especially important for Out of Office workers, for whom online meetings are the most convenient, productive and feasible option.

However, there are still concerns that online meetings don’t provide the same benefits as their in-person equivalents. The good news is that this doesn’t have to be an either-or proposition. Organizations, meeting planners and conference organizers can get the best of both worlds by combining virtual and in-person meetings.

I recently published a blog post for Citrix on this topic, with ideas for ways to organise meetings with both in-person and online attendees.

Hybrid meetings, no matter if they are webinars, trainings, or conferences, reduce travel expenses for remote members and dispersed organizations, extend the reach of the meeting, capture knowledge and insights for future reference, increase workplace flexibility, and allow participants to interact in different ways. If you’re already conducting online meetings and events, look for opportunities to turn them into hybrid events. It’s not just the way of the future – it’s right here and now.

Break Those Bad Collaboration Habits

Break Those Bad Collaboration HabitsHave you built up some bad habits when it comes to working with others? Many of these habits can be frustrating and time-consuming, so addressing them can boost your productivity and performance.

I recently wrote a blog post for Citrix about this topic. Here’s a summary:

  • BAD HABIT #1: Using your inbox as an action list
  • BAD HABIT #2: Using email for making decisions
  • BAD HABIT #3: Calling too many in-person meetings
  • BAD HABIT #4: Not trusting other team members
  • BAD HABIT #5: Forgetting your virtual team members
  • BAD HABIT #6: Getting stuck in the details

For all the details, read the full blog post.

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Five Steps to Better Collaboration with Online Meetings

Resolve to Collaborate Easier in 2014Collaboration is the key to business success, but if you find yourself wishing for the “good old days” when everybody in your team was based in the same office and your meetings took place in front of a white board, you’ve fallen behind the times. Surprisingly enough, online collaboration is often faster, smoother and more productive than in-person collaboration.

Here are five ways to elevate your team’s collaboration and leverage the advantages of virtual meetings:

  1. Get the right people on board.
  2. Include your virtual team members in the team.
  3. Stop making decisions via email.
  4. Meet face to face to save time and money.
  5. Share ideas and insights with other teams.

That’s a summary from a blog post I wrote recently for Citrix, a leader in collaboration technology. For details, read the full post.

Videoconferencing

VideoconferencingVideoconferencing has come of age, and it’s now a feasible, attractive and sometimes even preferable option for bringing people together. Let’s look at the pros and cons, tools and principles for making it work.

Listen to the episode here:

Download the MP3 file here

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Buy the book here.

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Five Virtual Conferencing Tools for the Out-of-Office Worker

One of the issues that managers most often cite in their resistance to allowing their workers to telecommute is the need to attend meetings. Managers want to make sure that all employees can meet when needed to share ideas, update each other on important projects, and to discuss other important company business.

However, working from home does not preclude being able to attend meetings with co-workers or to collaborate with them. There are many great virtual conferencing tools that can make meetings possible, no matter where each of the participants is located. Here are five virtual conferencing tools you should consider using as an at-home worker:

Skype
Skype is one of the most popular video conferencing tools because it is so simple and it’s free. You can use it to make calls to other computers or phones, using just a headset with a microphone. You can use it to make video calls to other computers, helping you to have face-to-face conversations. Skype is a simple service that allows virtual conferencing, but it does not include features for virtual presentations. You would have to share files or links in order to look at the same thing on your screen during discussions with co-workers.

Watchitoo
Watchitoo allows you to bring together multimedia presentations and video conferencing. This means that you can all follow along with a presentation or watch video together while you are conducting your virtual conference call. The service supports screen sharing, the use of white boards, multiple video feeds and more. You can also record your session and generate a post-meeting report. The service is free for up to five people, or you can pay $39 a month for up to 25 people.

Blackboard
Formerly Elluminate, Blackboard is an online collaboration platform that focuses on enabling you to create virtual classrooms. This is an especially useful tool if you need to conduct or attend online training. In addition to video conferencing, it has an interactive whiteboard, breakout rooms and desktop sharing. Pricing depends on what kind of licensing you need, and you have to call for a quote.

Infinite
Infinite specializes in solutions for non-profits, but any business or home worker can benefit from its services. However, if you do work for a non-profit, you’ll qualify for a discount. You can use it for phone and web conferencing, webinars and webcasting. The service is entirely web-based, so you won’t have to download any software. You can decide to be billed by usage or sign up for a plan.

GoToWebinar
GoToWebinar offers solutions for webinars, which can be used to make presentations, host online meetings, make pitches and much more. It allows for desktop sharing, text chat, teleconferencing and more. The service provides web-based conferencing, so you don’t have to download anything. You can record sessions and create polls and surveys. Plans start at $49 per month.

With these virtual conferencing tools, you can attend meetings with your co-workers no matter where you are conducting business. You’ll stay in the loop so it’s like you’re working from the office even when you’re not.

What tools do you use to meet with your boss and co-workers?

Bio:
Amber Satka writes on financial topics, and her research can be read at her auto loan calculator app site. Amber is a former office manager and current mother and writer.

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