Face to Virtual

Earlier this year I ran a workshop on informal learning in the workplace for about 25 people. This followed a year of web-based sessions with Jay Cross & Judy Brown, in which we used various technologies to connect with people around the world.

As much as I enjoyed the face-to-face session, I found it rather limiting. For instance, there was no back channel of text-based IM conversation going on simultaneously, nor could I pop a link or file to everyone while I continued the conversation. I found that face-to-face was a tad too  linear and not as productive as some of our virtual sessions.

Jay Deragon [who has an excellent blog worth subscribing to] talks about the increased productivity that virtual work can drive.

The number one reason that professionals want to participate in virtual teams more frequently is simple: increased productivity.  As the size of the virtual workforce in America today is growing, so is the likely impact on productivity and profitability for organizations. More than 90 percent of those surveyed agree (35%) or strongly agree (56%) that virtual meetings save time and money. We used to think that meeting face-to-face was the only way to build trust and teamwork. Armed with new technology and new best practices, we’re learning new ways to connect on a human level with people anywhere, anytime, said Dr. Jaclyn Kostner, author of Virtual Leadership.

Virtual work significantly reduces useless meetings, eliminates commuting time and helps each worker focus on what is important. Because you can’t watch each person and tell them how to do everything, the organisation must come up with real performance measurements, and that in itself will increase productivity.


3 Responses to “Face to Virtual”

  1. Steve Roesler

    Thanks for the meaningful take on virtual work, Harold. It’s very timely.

    I was just with a client (I’m an OD consultant/closet techno-geek) who knows that he needs to create virtual teams in his global organization. Conceptually, he understands the need.

    When I tried to explain some of the simple and inexpensive platforms and tools, he got nervous:

    1. It was clear that a hands-on, concrete demo is needed for folks who don’t do “black box” thinking. Those of us who stay on top of such things have to remember that others are willing but not able. That’s a teachable moment.

    2. He was very, very concerned about the lack of face-to-face relationship at the outset. His comfort level has him bringing everyone together for one meeting just so people “know” each other.

    Again, that’s a way to bridge the gap between old school and new tech.

    Finally, an aside. Because I know this company so well, the real resistance will not be from managers and global team members. It will actually come from the IT folks who, for whatever reasons, can find 10 reasons “not to” every time a new technology is suggested or requested.

    I’m thoroughly enjoying your writing and have added you to my RSS reader.


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