Remote Collaboration — Success or Failure?
Hello? Can you hear me? Oh sorry, I was on mute.
With the rise of Covid-19, the world was unceremoniously forced into a futuristic work environment. A world where we can work from anywhere.
This has been the dream of many, to cut out their commute, work in a more insulated environment (no need to wear pants!) and to utilize time more effectively.
For organizations, this has meant a reduction in costs with respect to office space, and refreshments in the workplace too.
Everything seems peachy, right?
IBM famously introduced a work from home option for a large percentage of their workforce in 2009, only to backpedal in 2017, requiring employees to return to the office. Yahoo, Aetna and Best Buy also followed suit. This was due in part to the failing of the work from home model.
But what about now that organizations have no choice but to allow or enforce a work from home environment? What are the ways in which they are making it as successful as possible?
It is perhaps unsurprising that Zoom’s stock price has followed an incredible trajectory since the start of the pandemic.
Zoom’s easy to use interface, accessible pricing options and general versatility have made it an easy go-to for organizations, schools and individuals alike.
Even though there are concerns about Zoom’s security, for most people, Zoom fits their requirements (who doesn’t love the ability to change one’s background to the Death Star?) and is the best option.
At the height of the Covid-19 lockdown (when we all thought this was a 2 week phase), our community organized “pub quiz” evenings, run on Zoom, and it worked like a dream.
When it comes to more serious meetings however, there is no doubt that there is a certain awkwardness to sharing your video when on a video conferencing call, and due to this, a lot can be “lost in translation” with other participants, who cannot read your facial expressions.
Even though this may be the case, many (including myself) feel that video is just too awkward to share.
Perhaps it’s due to the “mirror” effect of seeing yourself in the corner.
While that may be the case, we all know that we end up spending more time looking at ourselves than the others on a call, and I’ve even had the misfortune of witnessing someone checking their teeth for lunch remains.
Through the introduction of work from home as a necessity, there are various platforms which have also come to the fore for sharing ideas, collaborating, and designing.
The creators of Mural and Miro couldn’t have foreseen years ago that their vision would come to fruition in such circumstances. They were for sure not banking on a worldwide pandemic to drive such drastic adoption of their platforms.
I have read a few reviews about Mural vs Miro, and there are pros and cons to both, however, I have only ever used Mural in a collaborative environment.
While Mural is certainly a novel idea, and one which we used to some success, it takes a while to get used to the idea of a board that has multiple random sticky notes flying around while people are editing their thoughts.
It’s not the most intuitive design, but it gets the job done.
One substantial benefit I have noticed when using Mural, is the savings on time.
This is due to the fact that multiple people can work on the board at the same time, everyone’s handwriting is legible (due to it being typed), and everyone can see everything on the board at once.
When we have run white-boarding sessions in the past, unless it’s with a small group, there is always some concern that not everyone gets a chance to see the board and contribute.
We make use of Slack in our organization, and it’s supposed to improve efficiency and enhance performance of teams.
I have a love/hate relationship with Slack.
When I need someone, I love the ability to slack them and get a response!
However, when I am needed, I hate the fact that it distracts me from my current task, and redirects my attention to the conversation where I may be asked for some trivial information.
If I had to weigh it overall however, I find that in my life, Slack is a major efficiency “drainer” and distracts me more often than it assists me to perform my job more effectively.
I often read a slack, and then set it to unread / remind me at a later date.
Failing that, if there actually is substantive work that needs to be performed, I find that I need to revert to email anyway for tracking (it’s impossible to find a random thread on Slack!).