We are typically engaged in multiple projects at one time, and for the past five months they have all been done remotely. I (Kelly) have worked remotely before, but the work was more independent and reactive in nature. In our current projects, we are managing and facilitating collaborative, generative work solely through video conferencing and online collaboration tools.
Figuring out a remote work flow has obviously been at the forefront of my mind, and for Christmas this past year I received the book Remote by 37signals. It has fueled an interesting and very timely debate among the proponents and the skeptics of remote work. I am still in the midst of reading it, but so far I can identify with the many benefits they outline. Things like: "talent shouldn't be bound to the hubs," "escaping the 9 to 5," and no "commuting your life away."
This new norm for us and my recent praise of the shrinking gap between how work happens in person vs. separated in time and space got challenged this past week. For the first time in six years I was able to meet in person with a colleague I have been working very closely with on a number of projects.
Our almost daily video conferencing undoubtedly helped ease the transition to working in person. But after sitting in the same room for just a couple minutes, I really felt what video conferencing still has not been able to replicate. It is hard to capture that feeling in a word, but it is the unspoken body language that takes place during collaboration–the act of physically working on the same thing, at the same time.
The majority of EBEE's project work will continue to be done remotely because of our geographic location, and I look forward to seeing how close video conferencing technology and online tools can get to replicating the feeling of collaborating in person. This past week made me realize how important it is to prioritize in person meetings and build travel more intentionally into the scope of our work.