We have the solution to creating teamwork for remote workers. To coin a phrase: Just do it.
Here’s what I mean: In addition to media, WorkSpace Connect’s parent company produces trade shows
, which of course have not been happening in over a year — but are now starting up again. Trade show operations teams are a special breed: intense, focused, practical problem-solvers. They’re also a lot of fun to hang out with. It creates a distinct culture, one that forges camaraderie and close collaboration.
Not only have these teams missed the excitement and pressure of putting on large events, they’ve missed each other. Our parent company has not yet re-opened most of its offices, but as one of our first big events gets ready to stage in a couple weeks, the team producing it felt the need to be together. So they decided to work together virtually.
How are they pulling it off? Well, it turns out to be really simple. The team leader set a four-hour “meeting” in Microsoft Teams, and everyone’s going to attend. They’ll be on video, which means they can see and shout out to one another if needed, and if someone needs to focus, they can take off their headphones or turn down the volume on their computer.
When the team leader told me about this plan, he was clearly excited — he was looking forward to it so much that he brought it up unprompted on an unrelated call. He said several of his team members are planning to show funny videos or find other ways to break the tension throughout the half-day.
You could come up with more technically elegant ways to do this, and all the technology vendors are working on that. But Teams or Zoom or whatever is good enough, and even better, it’s here now.
An enterprise could mandate this kind of “virtual office” (the phrase my colleague used) be instituted by every team on a specified cadence, but if that internal drive to be together and culture of collaboration aren’t a part of a team’s mindset, odds are this will wind up as just another good-sounding idea that everyone liked when they heard it, only to languish as a distant memory.
And I think the lesson goes beyond just this example of virtual teams. I don’t see how any mandate from enterprise management to work in a specific style can really survive first contact with the realities of how the employees think, work, and live.
So do people crave togetherness? It’s obvious. Can they get more togetherness in virtual space than we give them credit for? Clearly. Given the choice, would this operations team of ours be gathering in a physical office for this home-stretch period? That’s the question that only time will answer.