Newsletter from Post*Shift / Issue 233, April 2020
P*S_Thoughts 🧠
Don’t just talk - show your work!
This week's contributor, Lee Bryant, considers whether we will move beyond ‘remote’ meaning non-stop meetings, to actually reaping the benefits of genuine online collaborative working:

This is a slightly puzzling time for the first-wave pioneers of enterprise social business tools (or whatever you prefer to call them). On the one hand, we are watching a world suddenly forced to come to terms with online collaboration, remote working and using the internet to connect people and their work. But on the other hand, the ideas, methods and tools we grew up with and which were once imagined to be the future of work are now almost quaint artefacts of a long-forgotten, more optimistic period.

People who spend their lives in meetings and calls have entered the new era doing exactly the same, but from home, using Zoom or MS Teams or a.n.other tool rather than meeting face-to-face in a room. The idea that meetings are ‘work’ and constitute an act of value creation, rather than performative organisational politics, seems to persist even when there is no office.

Meanwhile, people who are used to remote work, as opposed to just remote meetings, tend to operate a toolkit that is balanced between real-time synchronous (Slack, MS Teams, IRC), semi-synchronous (online collaboration tools - wikis, forums, collaborative planners and design tools, etc.) and asynchronous deep work (anything from paper to coding tools).

To take one specific example - coding - Github-type tools are uber-collaborative, but the typical user is perhaps wearing headphones and very much in a do-not-disturb work mode. Almost all of these involve an element of sharing, collaboration or co-operation, but very few involve just talking to people. Remote meetings, on the other hand, are useful for catch-ups, stand-ups, checking in on people from time to time and sometimes even structured workshops or design sessions.

  • Want to agree a strategy outline with a distributed group quickly? Use a wiki, not a series of meetings.
  • Want to have greater ambient awareness about what is going on elsewhere in the organisation? Subscribe or follow feeds from their output, do not expect them to down tools and tell you all about it.
  • Want to keep track of developments in your sector now there are no conferences to travel to? RSS feeds and Twitter lists are your friends. Maybe join a community of practice.
  • Want to work more effectively with your small team? Use MS Teams or Slack with integrations to mix real-time chatter with planning tools, decision tools and tools to help you turn noise into knowledge.

In other words, don’t just talk - do some work! Write. Curate. Connect. Architect. Build on other peoples’ ideas. Share. Ask. Reflect. Show your work. Accept feedback gracefully. Start to learn the power of real collaboration and distributed work.

Maybe, just maybe, our wasted youth spent persuading organisations that social tools are more professional than workplace theatre will finally come good… And if remote working becomes the new normal even after the lockdowns end, then enough people might feel the pain of enterprise search and findability that we might make more progress with personal search agents, concierge bots and smarter personal filtering tools rather than just inboxes. And they say I’m a dreamer 😉

Interested in learning more about these topics?
Talk to us about how to leverage your digital workplace to organise, lead and manage your work remotely.


P*S_Links 🔥
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P*S_Life 🐙
  • LJ, Livio, Andrew & Melissa are preparing for the imminent launch of a Digital Guides network, learning programme and comms campaign to nudge a large organisation 🏢 to use their collaboration platform better.

  • Cerys & LJ are working hard across two major learning projects for a global technology giant, also shifting all planned workshops online in the process. 👩🏼🎓

  • Lee, LJ & Cerys are helping a well-known professional services firm to plan and execute their digital strategy, adapting the approach to remote working conditions 🏡

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