Monday, August 25, 2014

Teams, Teams Everywhere—In the Office and Outside of It

We seem to be in a perfect storm of technology and workforce development, where
important aspects of the way we work are coming together. Since the early ‘60s,
the use of work teams has been on the rise. Fortune 500 companies are full of them.
Most mid-sized businesses have realized that work teams can boost productivity, help
managers manage, and give groups more ownership of the work they perform.
Teams enable individual workers to get together in the name of a common goal—producing
the annual report, for example—and bring their own respective talents
to the mix. Your work team for the annual report might include a writer, an editor, a
graphic designer,
a production and layout person, a corporate communications person,
and someone who can provide the financial detail. And here’s the good news—data is
that working in cohesive teams boosts creativity and productivity, and people
seem to be happier at work when they’re part of a successful team. That’s all good.
But add another new development to the mix. Now workers are often on the road,
traveling from region to region, stationed overseas, or perhaps remotely accessing a
corporate network from another continent. The development of new hardware options—
more powerful and affordable laptops, netbooks, and smartphones, as well as improved
video conferencing tools—make this easier than ever to do. In this global and mobile
workforce, how will your team meet its goals? Will the editor know when the writer has
finished the draft? What happens to the deadlines?
The simultaneous development of the pervasive and always-on web and the explosion
in social media technologies has made it easier to stay in touch with all members of your
team wherever they travel and whenever they appear. From any point of web access on
the globe, your teammates can communicate with you. Nice. Working virtually has even
bigger benefits as well—when a team works successfully from remote locations, there’s
a reduced need for centralized office space, which means lease costs for your company
go down. And that daily one-hour commute into the office? Gone, if you’re working from
home. That saves fuel and reduces the carbon your car is pumping into the atmosphere.
Those are just a couple of the large-scale benefits that, multiplied exponentially across
the planet, make the world a whole lot greener.
But this brings us back to a critical question. In this flexible time of go-anywhere,
anything work styles, how do you stay focused on your team objectives and complete