Last week I participated in my first Halo video conference for an internal meeting at HP. Normally my meetings are by conference call and headset, or in person, and the last video conference I participated in was years ago at a different company when you still had to pause after you spoke to let the audio catch up with you and the video looked like stop-motion.
All I can say is - WOW, has it changed! Halo rooms are special video conference rooms fully equipped with video, audio, tech hook ups and lighting - it's really amazing how much it's like being in a face to face meeting. Why is this so important? It saved me from an overnight trip, giving me more time with my family, and still enabled me to have a very important meeting in a very effective way.
The main difference between the video conference and face to face was this: you know how when you're on a speaker phone and you raise your voice a little more than normal, to make sure they can hear you on the other side of the phone? Yeah. One word of advice: in a Halo conference, don't do that. I learned this the hard way when the person I was talking to started to look at their control panel, and said "I'm looking for how to turn the volume down". Oops. When I switched to a normal speaking voice -- the same volume that I would use if the person was in the room with me -- I learned that the person at the other end of the conference could hear me just fine.
So, I learned there's no need to yell. Other than that, the meeting ran just like it would if we were face to face. This brings me to our discussion point for this post - as the world of work becomes more global and therefore more virtual, how do you envision getting your work done? Will it be via more face-to-face (increasing travel), by video conference, or by audio conference? And what's the impact?
Add your comments below.
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Last week we started training with a walk/run program to run a 5K on May 8th. It's still early in the program, you can still join in. The running group is virtual -- you're running along with us wherever you live by running on the same schedule and sharing through the comments. Here's that post if you missed week 1, followed by the plan for this week.
Here's the plan for this week:
Sunday (yesterday) was a Rest day.
Monday (today) we're scheduled to Run 4 mins/ Walk 2 mins, 4X, for a total of 24 minutes. Not bad, we can do this.
Tuesday: rest or cross train
Wednesday: we're going to Run 5 mins/ walk 2 mins, 4X, for a total of 28 minutes
Thursday: rest or cross train
Friday: Walk 30 mins
Saturday: Run 4 mins/walk 1 min, 5X, for a total of 25 minutes
Follow me on Twitter at @StephKinHR
One of the unique things about HP is how work gets done in a global, and often virtual, environment. I’ve worked in international companies my whole career, but working in a “global” company is unique, and the people have a skill-set that is really pretty leading-edge as a result.
What’s the difference between “international” and “global”?
A lot of companies are what I’d consider “international” – they’re in a lot of countries, but the company operates independently in each country. Employees have general awareness about the other locations, but the international nature really doesn’t have anything to do with their regular day-to-day work.
Conversely, “global” companies act as one company operating around the world. Those companies look to get the most benefit possible of having operations integrated across countries. How does this play out on a day-to-day basis? Often times:
· Work teams are made up of people in more than one country, often many countries.
· When you’re implementing a project, you’re thinking about global implementation and global impact. It may take a little longer to get to the best global solution, compared to doing what works in just one country, but you’re coming up with a solution once which will work globally, rather than people separately re-creating a solution over and over within every country that needs to do the same thing.
· Managers have employees that don’t work in the same location as they do. They have to know how to manage teams that live and work somewhere different than them.
· You’re working with people from different cultures, different languages, different backgrounds, sometimes on a daily basis, and you need to know how to work differently as a result.
· You develop the skill of not being US- (or whatever country you’re in) centric in your solutions, communications and ideas.
· You can work with someone for years and never meet them in person. You find other ways to get to know teammates and build teams. You recognize voices and could pick your colleagues out of a crowd based on voice alone.
The role of technology
Successful global and virtual workplaces have a good handle on using technology to get work done. Every time I’ve gone to an HP office somewhere else in the world, I’ve had a pretty easy time plugging in and starting my work day just as easily as if I were at my own office. (In a future post, I’ll cover the office-based part of HP, which is the other way work gets done; for this post I’ll focus more on the virtual world.) Meetings via conference call and web are common. Executive presentations are often made via webcast, which is nice if you’re not in the same location as the speaker, or you’re on vacation, or if the time zone of the meeting doesn’t work for where you’re located, because you can catch them via a replay if you need to. If you participate live, you have the technology that lets you ask questions during the presentation, no matter where in the world you are. I juggle my schedule to accommodate global meetings and others’ time zones, and it’s nice to be able to have some flexibility on how and where that work gets done.
On the really cool end of the spectrum, HP’s Halo conference rooms allow for life-like video conferencing. There was a woman we interviewed in Atlanta for a role on my previous team, and she interviewed with HP execs in via Halo. She commented that it was just like being in the room with them, in fact, she said she found that she leaned back when the other person leaned forward, just as you would when someone was sitting across the table from you. And, she got the job, which is a great example of the technology enabling “face to face” interaction. You can read more about Halo in the Halo resource library, check out the Dreamworks case study and the videos.
The days of the remote employee in a company being disconnected are quickly ending. When your team is located around the world, you use the technology to bridge any gaps of not being in the same location. In fact, I’d argue that you can solve problems even faster in virtual environments. To understand this better, think of this as an analogy: technical forums. You have a problem, can’t figure out a solution, so you post it online on a targeted forum. Before you know it, someone else somewhere in the world has the solution to your problem. You apply the solution, and move on with your life. OK, I know there is a whole generation that has known only that world, but for the rest of us, it’s really remarkable. If you were trying to do this in a conventional workplace, you have access to a much smaller pool of knowledge and information. Another real life example – your manager is in a meeting and has a question, s/he pings you the question via IM, you do a group chat to ask a teammate or two in another country who worked on the project, they answer you right back, and manager has the answer in about 5 mins, to share real-time in the meeting.
The main benefit of being global and virtual
The world of work is becoming more global and more virtual for more companies, which I would argue is a very good thing for companies and employees. Can you imagine the talent companies will have access to, when location becomes a non-issue?