Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A virtual "Window to the office"

This is another post where I explore the ideas and benefits around video- and teleconferencing....

We are soon starting a test in our team where we install "a Window to the office". The idea is to have a virtual video room where everybody in the team can connect with almost any device from anywhere and there will be a central computer showing video from the main office room all the time. This could potentially be a huge change on how we look at office work today. Our preliminary tests show that the technology is almost there. It needs some tuning and testing though and probably some components (like the Chrome Beta browsers Webrtc client on tablet) need some iterations to get stable, but we are almost there.

This way we can make the teamwork in geographically split teams much better. Why one should do that? Here are the benefits that an employer could get from such an arrangement:

1. You no longer need to hire only from the same city your office is in.
2. Companies who provide immaterial services (software development, designers, project management, even musicians and architects) can work (much more effectively) for customers that are not in their city. This means that you have a small task of getting your customers also to use the project teams videoroom, but that is doable.
3. You can put an end to the endless moving of people from one office space to another. Moving seems to be a constant in many companies because people change their roles, the organisation structure changes, projects change etc. By substituting real presence with video presence everyone can just leave one set of virtual video rooms and join others. As a major benefit compared to physical office can specialists suddenly be present in many teams, sometimes even at the same time!
4. Last but not least - you can cut the time people spend on travelling between offices and meeting rooms.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Making work geographically independent in the Cloud Services Factory

For a year now I have worked as a manager in a team called The Cloud Services Factory in the TeliaSonera group. We are a team of project managers and ICT specialists and our responsibility are innovation and product development projects on different TeliaSonera markets. Most of our team is in Tallinn, I work in Stockholm and the projects are aimed towards the Swedish, Finnish, Danish and other markets. This all creates a very interesting geographical challenge! How to manage for example a project that is aimed for the Nordic markets and that is managed by specialists from Estonia, Nordics and other countries?

In this and a the next posts I would like to share some of the experience that we have in organizing our work to be geographically independent. I would like to push this even forward. I am quite sure that for ordinary office work the technology is almost there to end the need for being in the same physical location all together. This will create a shift in the whole society as concentrating jobs into growth cities like for example Stockholm, Helsinki and Tallinn will no longer be necessary. Imagine earning the Helsinki salary and paying for Võru or Sundsvall real-estate.

The first thing I would bring forward is the biggest benefit you gain when all work is organised geographically independent. This is a benefit for both the company and the employees. And it is quite simple: If all meetings are organised as video- or online meetings then it is you as the participant who decides where you will have the meeting...not the meeting organizer.

I have worked this way for over two years now and after a while walking even to the next building for a meeting sounds...a waste of time. Why not just call-in or talk over a video.