Am I feeling integrated? Being the virtual employee that I am …

Articles by Melanie Turek

Collaboration Loop – Integrating Virtual Employees into the Fold: Defining the Problem

Collaboration Loop – Integrating Virtual Employees into the Fold: Solving the Problem

These two articles really hit home for me … particularly of late … and for two reasons – one being from my own experience in my firm, and the second being from my client’s experience as they are expanding the number of virtual employees.

When people talk about collaboration, they often focus on getting teams together to work on projects, from anywhere and anytime they need to. That’s important, but it’s just as important to remember that a lot of work doesn’t get done by pre-defined teams—it gets done by ad-hoc groups of two or more employees, and that those groups often change and mutate as a project progresses.

When I was in the land-of-never-ending-cubicles back in the day, we frequently walked across the floor or down the hall or met up with folks in the lunch room area … we floated ideas around and asked each other for help on something … Poof! a quick lil’ team was created in the moment. Now that I work from home, with the main office over 400+ miles away, the bulk of my team make-up falls in the predefined mode. Thank goodness for IM …

I still find there to be a ‘home office’ mentality by and large … it’s difficult not to feel left out of the loop … in my firm, a virtual work setup isn’t for the meek … one is left to hunt for information and for people who might help out with something … and the mantra that I’ve all too often received is “the information is out there. You just need to find it.” … well DUH! Let’s state the obvious! That’s why I’m asking … where is the danged information / who is the expert here?

In Melanie Turek’s second post: ‘Solving the Problem,’ she offers some advice on how to ge us virtual folks more in the loop and involved (I’m only highlighting a few of them):

  • Train, train and train again [on the technology and tools that we are supposed to use … make sure I know how and when to use … and please, please, please don’t make this a massive information dump via virtual classroom]

 

  • Train, train and train again [on business processes … When I was transitioning to my current firm I had to learn about an entirely new business model and process. Got a 1/2-day session via conference call with an accompanying PPT presentation. And that was that. Nope! Please continue the conversation … this cannot be a one shot deal]

 

  • Imitate MySpace [this has got to be my pet peeve in my firm right now. We have an online directory, for what it’s worth … but there are key bits of information missing – like a direct telephone number … phone extensions are only shown for folks who work at offices. Us virtual folks don’t have phone numbers listed – just a generic message: “contact the administrative assistant for the associates’ direct number.”  But much more importantly – with a firm as large as we are … I have no clue what Associate X does … what is she expert in … what is he deeply interested in … what projects or workteam has she been a part of … etc.  I’d even get into seeing what Associate X is currently reading, including her RSS feeds of interest and the like .
    Yes, I know that there are thingys out there that can do this … but my point is that the firm should put this together on its internal directory.

hope springs eternal

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About Rory

I make my home in the central part of the Garden State along with my family. When I'm not working as an Instructional Designer (focusing mostly on Web-Based learning ... and other eLearning technologies) or researching something, I'm found at home playing computer or video games. Among other things, I volunteer as a choir member and catechist for 8th graders at my parish.
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