Do I have to join yet another team meeting?

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“Do I have to join yet another team meeting?” A short video from scatterwork.com.

Why do we have meetings? Because it is a good way of working for things like Problem Solving, Team Building and Completeness. But what do I mean by Completeness?

I mean making sure that nothing has been overlooked. It is very easy not to see the detail when we are deep in some issue or problem and the best solution is to involve others who will immediately spot what you overlooked. So this can be helped by Creative Thinking, Open Communication and Checklists, for example.

So we can get everybody’s contribution by scheduling regular team meetings to brief each other on ideas and progress, to get insights from different viewpoints and to check for completeness and to avoid rework. If a colleague identifies something that we forgot and it might save us weeks of work, then we should be very thankful that we got their inputs.

So if you want to discuss your project issues please connect with me through LinkedIn or any of the other methods, thank you.

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com

Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

LinkedIn: Connect with me

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How to Develop a Communications Charter

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Why have a communications charter at all? The answer is that the scope for misunderstanding in virtual teams is large, unless communication norms are explicitly stated and agreed. This is because there is such a variety of backgrounds within a team.

So how do we do it? We set up a shared document (wiki) so that everyone can enter their constraints: I need this; I can’t talk at that time; I prefer to talk by telephone and so on, then hold a teleconference using the wiki to identify the main types of communication: reporting, problem-solving, complaining, idea sharing and so forth.

And then for each category of communication, work out the rules as bullet points.

Then pool the results, adjust them according to feedback and publish them to the written communications charter for the team.

Here is an example: “Guidelines for resolving misunderstandings”:

If possible, talk instead of writing; do not allow annoyance to build up; contact the partner by a short short message simply asking for a call. Say what you feel and the impact on you. And then ask for suggestions that would help avoid what you find difficult, and summarize your results in a note to both parties.

To discuss your project issues, please connect with me either through LinkedIn or any of the other methods. Thanks very much.

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com

Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

LinkedIn: Connect with me

Please share with colleagues, who also get 10% off their first booking.

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Do you know how to communicate effectively?

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Do scheduled meetings support effective communication, particularly of teams that are distributed globally? I would say “No, not all the time”. The key issue here is the word “scheduled”. One of the things that we can do is watch the presence indicator – these little green lights for example you get on a lot of applications to tell you if the other person’s machine is online.

Maybe they are not online but at least it looks as though they are at their desk and able to communicate. If they are, that is a good time to call. In different time zones it can be much easier to notice that somebody comes online and then just call them there and then. And the second tip is to use a cloud-based collaboration service which has video in it,because then you are all using the same system and you can click on a person’s name; it goes straight through; you can talk to them immediately.

So the conclusion is that the word “scheduled” is maybe over-used and in this type of environment, it may be better to look for opportunities to talk when the other person is obviously online. So if you want to discuss this or any of your own project issues, please connect with me.

I look forward to talking to you.

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com

Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

LinkedIn: Connect with me

Please share with colleagues, who also get 10% off their first booking.

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Make your working hours work for you

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“Make your working hours work for you” – a short video from scatterwork.com.

The challenge is what to do if you have different working hours in different places. A simple way of addressing this is to adjust working hours. Either one side works late or the other side works early. In extreme cases people shift their entire living pattern for a few weeks to work on a project where the center of activity is somewhere else.

Long term that’s not easy to do so the suggestion is that we should learn from hospitals because they also have this situation. The nurses are there during the night, then they go away early in the morning and they hand over to their colleagues.

So how do they do it? They hand over the work with a handshake process and they document the status at the close of work.

These are two very simple steps which means that the people who are coming on are sure to pick up in the right place. So if you want to discuss this or any other project issues, please contact me through LinkedIn or any of the other methods.

Thank you.

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com

Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

LinkedIn: Connect with me

Please share with colleagues, who also get 10% off their first booking.

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Overlap time costs money

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“Overlap time costs money” – a short video from scatterwork.com.

To give an example: When can we meet for a call? We have participants in New York, London and Sydney.

One combination is, 7 a.m. in New York (somebody gets out of bed a bit early), midday in London, 11 p.m. in Sydney (somebody goes to bed very late).

Here’s another combination; 5 p.m. in New York is OK, 10 p.m. in London – that’s a bit late, but Sydney is OK.

So our conclusion is that overlap time is very limited and it costs money, particularly if the people involved have to be paid overtime or there are additional costs for communication. So here are some strategies for dealing with this.

1. One strategy is to share documents before a meeting. Don’t waste meeting time just to say “I’ll send you this”.

Share access to databases and documents for the same reasons. If you make edits, comment them in the document so that the discussion can take place in writing and then it can be asynchronous; in other words you can make the comment when you see it, without needing overlap time to talk.

2. Partition the work so that you don’t need so much communication. If each work package is done in a particular place, then the communication within that work package is local and the actual amount of communication can be reduced.

3. Make the communication easier using a cloud-based collaboration service with workrooms (we use Podio). This is much easier than using email because the messages come in and they are tagged onto the particular deliverable or task.

With emails you have to always ask what they relate to and connect them back, so that’s a big tip.

To discuss any of these issues or indeed your own projects please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or any of the other methods.

I look forward to talking to you.
Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com

Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

LinkedIn: Connect with me

Please share with colleagues, who also get 10% off their first booking.

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Culture Tips for Long Distance Business Relationships

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This video is about culture tips for long distance business relationships.We mentioned before in another video that two complicating factors are time zones and cultures. Here we’re just picking a very small number of culture tips, which are not even prioritized. There are so many things that we can do in this area. The first tip is to devote time to personal introductions:Who are you? Where are you from? Have you family? All those sort of introductions tend to fall away when we just have electronic communication with somebody in the team somewhere else.By giving specific time where that can happen, a scheduled meeting can be a great idea. People can use their LinkedIn or Facebook pages and show that to the others which certainly helps break the ice.

A related tip is to learn about each other’s cultures. I was on programs in both India and Algeria that had been scheduled by head offices somewhere in Europe. On both occasions they were on the eve of big holidays. Naturally enough, the people I was working with wanted to close and go away in the middle of the day and this was completely ignored by the scheduling. If something is scheduled with no knowledge at all of the big festivals in the country,then that tends to send a very negative signal. Another little tip is to communicate spontaneously so that you actually talk from time to time.

One way of doing this is for example you’re working and you get a message over LinkedIn from somebody who comments on something that you said; then you know that they are active there and then. You can call back and you have a good chance of getting them. Scheduling meetings and so on can be very laborious but the spontaneity can be really nice. Another tip is to mix communication methods because skills in different languages vary. It could be that somebody writes well in one language but doesn’t speak it so well; or understands very well but doesn’t write very well and so on.

If for example we have a meeting by telephone or teleconference supported by slides with diagrams, work breakdown structures, Gantt charts or whatever and then afterwards we ask if there are questions and allow time for replies: maybe 24 hours. The questions might come back in written format,there might be a 2nd conference and so forth. This might seem to be “overkill”, that it’s too much. It is if everyone speaks the same language but it certainly is not if the team members speak various native languages. It allows people to latch in and genuinely understand what is happening.

The final tip is to get a good collaboration app such as Podio (or search for “alternatives for Podio”). You have a task that needs to be done; it goes into a database with a message saying “please do this” and then onto that you can hang messages, comments, documents, links etc. If you’re talking, you can click on the person’s image and up comes the video conference. This is much better than email where you have to think “what did that relate to?” and make a mental connection with the topic. Maybe the document you are talking about is somewhere else, so you loose a lot of time just jumping between one another.So clearly, there are dozens of things in this area that could be said but these are just a few short ideas. If any of this is of interest to you, please feel free to contact me. Thanks very much.

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com

Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

LinkedIn: Connect with me

Please share with colleagues, who also get 10% off their first booking.

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