Archive for the ‘Cooperate With Them’ Category
We talk a lot about how to make out of office work effective. But there are still benefits to meeting in person – even if it only happens occasionally. In this episode, we look at various scenarios for in-person meetings, as well as their pros and cons.
Listen to the episode here:
Many organisations struggle with letting employees bringing their devices into the workplace. Full-time Out of Office workers don’t have this problem, but it does affect Semi-Commuters (who work from the office some of the time) and even full-time telecommuters who drop in from time to time. As Fred Mouawad points out, BYOD has its advantages:
- Key to Work-Life Integration
- A Step Toward Co-Entrepreneurship
- Attracting and Retaining Creative Talent
- Emergence of Wearable Technology
- Reduction in Operating Expenses
If you’re working in a distributed team, you might already know about some of the more common tools and apps, such as Dropbox, Evernote, iCloud, GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts, Skype, Buffer, and Hootsuite. These are all wonderful tools, but there are also a whole host of other tools available. We’re going to share some of them today, so you know about them and can consider whether it’s worth integrating them into your workplace.
Listen to the episode here:
- HiTask: A task management tool
- Trello: A workflow management tool
- Gmail Streak: A basic CRM integrated with Gmail
- HipChat: A chatroom application designed to help teams collaborate
- Slack: Competitor to HipChat, with many of the same features
- Sqwiggle: A simple chatroom aimed at distributed teams
- IDoneThis: A simple tool for teams to share what they’ve achieved each day
Connecting with the world:
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.
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:
- Buffer Uses HipChat And Jawbone – for informal online chat
- AgoraPulse Uses Weekdone – to track progress and see status reports
- Zapier Uses Campfire And Sqwiggle – for group chat
- Foursquare Uses Always-On Video Conferencing
- iDoneThis Uses iDoneThis – for productivity tracking
Most meetings are polite and orderly, but occasionally you might be chairing a meeting with hostile participants, conflicting agendas or a controversial topic. Learn how to manage these meetings so you can achieve the meeting’s objectives without losing your cool.
The most important thing is to be sure you don’t let your emotions get in the way of achieving your outcome. Ignore the power plays, put-downs and pettiness and focus on what you want. If you can keep your head when all about are losing theirs, everybody wins!
Of course, that’s easier said than done! I recently wrote a blog post for Citrix about this topic, addressing things you can do before the meeting, at the start of the meeting, and during the meeting itself.
Collaboration 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:
- Get the right people on board.
- Include your virtual team members in the team.
- Stop making decisions via email.
- Meet face to face to save time and money.
- 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.
Craig Jarrow, author of The Time Management Ninja, writes in his blog:
One of the top reasons your email isn’t getting read is because it is too long. Writing long emails doesn’t mean you are getting more work done.
Craig then lists ten reasons people write long emails:
- You don’t know what you are trying to say.
- You don’t know what you are talking about.
- Your signature is unnecessary.
- You are writing a book.
- You are spamming.
- You are rambling.
- You are forwarding a mess.
- It shouldn’t be an email.
- It should be multiple emails.
- You don’t edit your emails.
Craig then finishes with a simple message:
Make Sure Your Email Gets to the Point
We discuss email productivity at length in the Cooperate With Them chapter of the book.
Corbett Barr usually writes about the entrepreneurial life, but he sometimes turns his attention to traditional employment as well. He suggests these four things for better workplaces:
- Let employees decide on how much time off they take
- Measure results, not when/where/how work is done
- Make employees owners
- Find a job you love
The second item in particular (about measuring results rather than effort) is one that resonates with us. It’s one of the key drivers of success for a successful Out of Office work environment.
The other three aren’t directly related to Out of Office work styles, but we would certainly endorse them as well.
One of my clients, Michael Harrison, recently spent a month in hospital and 3 months at home following a major medical procedure. This slowed down his work, but didn’t stop it altogether. During that time, he spent a lot of time in online meetings, and discovered both their pros and cons.
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