09 Aug The Power of Virtual Meetings
By definition, a remote employee at Shamrock is anyone who works outside of a traditional office space or central location. Although we have a headquarters, the preference for all workers is to remain remote. Which is perfect for me, as I’ve spent 95% of my career as a remote employee.
Using software such as GoToMeeting or Google Hangouts has always been an integral part of virtually meeting customers and coworkers who live in different parts of the country, and across the globe. A handful of times, the screen share/webcam features are totally ignored, and collaboration will occur via voice only.
This is all well and good in certain situations, but as part Shamrock’s employee focus initiative, we’re trying to do better. Recently, we held our first ever virtual “Summer Picnic,” which required all employees to dial into a conference line while being in a space where they could also share their webcams – for most, this was their home office. During my 8+ years of working as a remote employee, this is the first virtual meeting where ALL participants were mandated to use their webcam, and it created something special.
Each employee put something on display that gave the rest of us an insight into their daily life: The lunch they were eating. The workspace they operate in. What they were wearing. While we couldn’t all be together in person, we did have the benefits of seeing each other’s reactions, facial expression, and the non-verbal cues that are such a crucial component of face-to-face conversations.
Within a few hours of the meeting wrapping up, the positive voluntary feedback started to pour into my inbox – hence the reason I’m putting together this article. This type of event truly promotes teamwork and develops relationships within an organization, especially for those companies that have remote workers who might work in disparate places but share common goals.
Although not every conference bridge needs to be connected to a webcam, I think the power of occasionally introducing this feature to online get-togethers can go a long way. At my previous employer, I was 5% of the entire population of remote workers, which meant for a manager to focus on my morale, workload, and overall status was sometimes difficult. From a team building perspective, there were times when the entire headquarters team would meet to enjoy “adult beverages” in the office, which was never something I could take part in. Nor was it an event that the HQ crew attempted to include remote workers in. It might not have seemed like a slight to the organizers, but to me and probably my fellow telecommuters, it felt dismissive and inconsiderate. This isn’t the kind of attitude that promotes inclusiveness, growth, or loyalty.
Since joining Shamrock, I can say that our approach is thankfully quite the opposite. The goal is to make sure we develop a working environment fulfills this stated policy: you can work from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection. Furthermore, we plan to take this virtual picnic exercise to each employee’s local watering hole, where they can enjoy a drink and collaborate on new ideas, all while all sitting at different bar stools across the nation.
To extend this approach beyond our staff at Shamrock, we want to ensure that we provide the same people-focused service to our customers who’d like put a consultant’s face to their name. We’d like to give our clients the chance to virtually meet the rockstars that build, design, and support the solutions we deliver. So if you’re currently engaged in a project and want to “e-meet” your consultant, just ask. We want you to be part of more than a company, and to join our Shamrock family.
Let’s get together!