HOW TO WORK REMOTELY WITHOUT BEING ISOLATED
If you really work alone, without collaborators, then you can skip the rest of this post. It probably won’t matter much to you.
I value agile collaboration. I work with others, at various times and places. If you do, too, then please continue reading…
When you can’t be in the same room or building with your team and others, how can you work together? Sococo Team Space! That’s how. You can be remote…yet visibly present and connected…very much so!
Sococo, where were you when I needed you?
I spent most of my past three years working remotely…
I was a full-time member of an awesome organization (NASA), staffed with amazing people (engineers and, yes, rocket scientists!) who engaged in plenty of collaboration around the work (Independent Verification & Validation). I was hired to work from home, with travel as needed to various locations.
To be sure, we made good use–heavy use–of our phones, conference lines, screen sharing apps, content management systems, file sharing, secure virtual private network, messaging and email. That technology stack was good enough that some people would “dial in” to a meeting from the same building! If you are working from a wheelchair, you already know how valuable that technology can be, especially on a hilly, ice-and-snow-covered campus of several buildings! (West Virginia is known as “The Mountaineer State” for good reason!)
Yet, in spite of our “connectedness” that technology stack didn’t quite achieve the level of collaboration support I hoped for. At first, I traveled half the time. That was a great jump-start for meeting new colleagues and building rapport. The next year, a week a month. But travel budgets continued to shrink. I made only two trips last year. Can you spell ISOLATION? Sometimes it felt that way.
What I really craved…
Tangible Virtual Presence!
As an “agile” engineer, I wanted easier collaboration, higher bandwidth, and consolidated multi-media access to collaborators…within reason. When I was “there” it was easy to “see” if someone was “in” their office, a meeting room, conference, or common area. So, I’m spoiled already. I wanted something that was as close to “being there” as possible. To see and be seen, hear and be heard. Near-instant access to others. But more than just an instant messenger, a phone call, a Skype session, or web meeting. I wanted something more integrated, encompassing audio+visual+media+whatever, and…LIVE!
I wanted a continuous, mutually-tangible and symmetric tele-presence.
Enter Sococo. Paul Brody (@pjbrody) is CTO and co-founder of Sococo. The folks at Sococo have made it even easier than ever to engage and collaborate remotely…and it’s rich, really rich, in capabilities and nuances! The way it looks to me, you can have it all… and customize your space to adapt to changing needs. For example: cube farms, private offices, large conference rooms, small meeting rooms, a break room, and common area or a lobby. It works in 2D, with numerous visual and audible cues. With a single click, you can instantly “beam” yourself into a room–if the door is open–and engage with everyone else in that room. And not only audio. You can use multiple shared screens, virtual speaker phones, or other furnishings of the future. I can hardly wait to see what comes next!
It keeps getting better! Here’s a recent blog from Sococo:
Blurring the Boundaries Between Online and Physical Presence.
Kudos to Krebs for his kool kollaboration…
Special thanks to my friend and colleague, AgileBill Krebs (@AgileBill4d) founder of AgileDimensions LLC, for leading me to Sococo! Bill is a passionate innovator and evangelist for distributed teamwork. He keeps finding new ways we can work better together. Recently, Bill created Sococo Team Space for the Agile3d Distributed Agile Congress meetups. If it weren’t for Bill’s invitation… I shudder to think how long I might have waited to get “beamed up” into an agile virtual office suite! Thanks again, Bill!
-Ken (singing) “I get by with a little help from my friends!”