Hable is almost 3 years old now and we’ve been growing steadily. To give us national coverage our team predominantly work from home and cover geographical regions. We have people in Oxford, Marlow, London, Sheffield, Nottingham, Norfolk, Birmingham, Bath and Mid-Wales! We’re the classic “Virtual Team” and use Skype for Business to keep in contact with each other. There are lots of IM’s, Video calls, Skype meetings – and of course (although we’re trying to reduce it!) there is still a lot of email. So, we “see” each other on camera a lot and we talk a lot – but we are rarely together in the same room.
At the start of September, we were. We booked a team meeting and got together at a hotel – just like hundreds of companies have done for years. We got a meeting room in the day, had dinner together and then sat in the bar – talking about work, family, news and other nonsense until I (trying to be the sensible boss) called time and wandered up to my room as I had a call the next morning.
The photo above is #TeamHable, from left to right: Simon Reynolds, Alan Richards, Angela Reynolds, Mark Reynolds, Nicki Harman, Mel Hunter, Sarah Mann, Nic Clark & Paul Hart.
Our consultants and trainers spend most of our professional lives telling people to have less meetings. To travel less, to use the technology properly, to work in new ways. That’s because most of our customers are constantly in the same office with each other, and have an Outlook diary packed with face-to-face meetings. For us though, getting together face-to-face was a treat. It was special. It was a chance to share ideas and learn new things from our colleagues. It taught us more about each other than we’ve ever known before – and I think, I know – that we’re a stronger team for it.
The topic of “Blended Learning” is a common discussion with our customers – both as a way for Universities and Schools to teach – but also as a way for companies or organisations to teach their staff new things. But our team meeting reminded me that having a Virtual Team who only ever work together virtually is not good enough. You need a blended approach to teamwork. You need to use technology well and be efficient – but blend the use of tech with meaningful, useful, face-to-face time.
So, look at you own Outlook diary for next week. If its packed with face-to-face meetings – maybe you can shift some of those to Skype and get some time back. If its packed with Skype calls and you’ve not had a laugh with your team for a while – maybe it’s time to arrange a get together. Either way, think about Blended Teamwork and what it looks like in your world.
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