I am a “virtual employee” – this is the language used in my firm. Oh, I’m real enough … it’s just that I work from home … far far far away from the central hub that is the office building of my workgroup.
I’m very used to conducting business through email, IM, conference calls, and so-called collaborative workspaces (when connected to the firm’s network I’m very limited as to what can be used).
And I continue to use wikis and other web-two-point-oh stuff for smallish projects.
But this just burns me!
My team is now having monthly lets-all-just-get-together-and-celebrate gatherings … an attempt to “bring everyone together” in the spirit of teamwork and team building. These gatherings are all in the main office site hundreds and hundreds of miles away from me.
And how do they handle us virtual employees?
By setting up one phone in the middle of the room for a conference call.
The folks in the room are having some pot-luck snacks (everyone brought in different types of snacks and desserts); they’re collecting in small groups throughout the room and just chatting; there are many little conversations going on all at the same time.
And we get stuck with a dixie-cup-and-string set up … can’t tell which conversation to focus on; certainly don’t have any opportunity to partake in the snacks being offered.
And the kicker is that we have more virtual employees than those who work in the building. We outnumber them!
I’m probably not going to attend any more of these “celebration” meetings … and I’m going to be a bit noisy about headquarters’ need to reconsider how they include use virtual folk.
There is so much real collaborative tech … there’s SL or other virtual social worlds … heck! I’d even just settle for web cam.
In this day of reducing travel and still wanting to come-together-to-build-our-teams … we have to get smarter about using tech to really include everyone who works on the team – and not just be thought of as an afterthought.