From healthcare to government to education, it’s clear that we need a new way forward to make the world truly more open and connected. It sometimes seems like “business as usual” is still making it difficult for people to really feel like they are collaborating and communicating to get things done. When we hear the words “more open and connected,” we typically think of social media and open floor plans. However, from my experience in visual communications technology, I believe that there is more to the story. By taking the following three concepts into account, any entrepreneur can make his or her organization more open and connected in a tangible way that gets results.
Sustainability: Work from anywhere
Employees aren’t connecting over ping pong tables, and open floorplans aren’t making teams any more open with one another. Organizations become more open and connected simply through employee happiness. In a world with a population surpassing 7.5 billion people, with approximately 200,000 people moving into the world’s cities every day, building remote teams that work from anywhere is more important than ever in order to sidestep the pollution of dysfunctional daily travel that has spun out of control in virtually every city across America.
Quality connections can be built from anywhere. Forcing millions onto the roads and into subways and airports, for hours, every day and night, is only contributing to employees’ stress, sleep deprivation and other killers. Working remotely can open up your employees’ lives and make them happier and more productive, allowing them to spend more time collaborating and connecting — by achieving more great things together — which is the adventure that teams really bond over in the first place.
Become more sustainable by using messaging apps like Slack and HipChat, and video conferencing, to transform your employees’ home offices into productivity powerhouses.
Inclusion: Listen to everyone
Diversity awareness is on the rise, not only because we have put a human face to it, but also because diverse teams that collaborate closely are proven to be more innovative in the workplace. Today, success in business at all levels is innovation-driven and relationship-driven, not task-driven. A lack of diversity results in hivemind and group-think, which is ultimately counterproductive. Opening your doors to inclusion can make your organization more open and connected by considering — and acting on — fresh-faced perspectives from a larger and more diverse pool of minds, experience and worldviews. Besides bonding over victories, nothing builds trust and connection among teams quite like people feeling that their own unique voices are being heard in a consistent and successful way.
The Vidyo team is from all walks of life, and our employees learn more every day about each other’s diverse cultures, backgrounds and traditions, and face-to-face inclusion across the board constantly opens our managers up to new ways of approaching each challenge. Another good example is Johnson & Johnson, a global organization with employees all over the world, who realized that they needed culturally relevant and appropriate content for distance learning and training that would make sense to each specific region of the world in which they do business in order for their employees to truly feel connected.
Transparency: Learn from anyone
Today’s business world is flattening out, with a focus on meritocracy, and a distaste for the Industrial Era top-down hierarchy that defined the workplace for the Baby Boomer generation. One of the main reasons why key employees can become disconnected and demotivated is because they feel like they are out of the communications loop, or that communicating is too complex — they may feel a lack of ownership, because they may not feel a sense of transparency about where they are headed and why. Task-wise, miscommunications happen (an enemy of openness) all the time because of a lack of transparency in a number of workflow scenarios. More transparency, by simplifying communications and the flow of information, can make your organization more open and connected because people will feel like they have all of the information they need, at all points in time, to make the right decisions for the company.
At Vidyo, we’ve found that visually connecting face-to-face (often several times per day) is a transparent way to reduce miscommunications and thoroughly flesh out the details at hand. It has also encouraged an easier two-way (or ten-way) street of communicating and sharing key information. And at Ford Motor Company, for example, they’ve found that learning from and taking advantage of an array of perspectives among their global workforce, creates openings to actually increase their customers’ satisfaction — showing how speaking with everyone and being more open and connected is good for the customer, too.
Communicating and collaborating with a higher degree of sustainability, inclusion and transparency can make your organization more open and connected. Each one of these parts builds on the other to form a whole, which emphasizes face time, simplicity and trust. The way you decide to increase these three areas should be unique to your business. Regardless of your company’s size, or the product or service you provide, I believe that any team can quickly and easily come together and collaborate over these concepts. It’s true that social media can over-simplifiy our communications, and that open floor plans aren’t all that seamless — if you are looking to create a more open and connected company, think outside the box and try to bake these three ideas into the foundation of your culture.