• Part 7 of 8: The Office May No Longer Be a Physical Place

    Technology makes it easier than ever to work with clients and partners around the globe and untether yourself from a traditional office. “I live a good part of my life in different places,” says Duffy of Duffy & Partners. “I travel constantly. I’m never in one spot for too long and can always stay in touch with our team and on top of the work that we’re doing because of technology.”

    In fact, Duffy’s Minneapolis firm does 60 percent to 70 percent of client meetings over the Web. They’ll use GoToMeeting to present designs online or Skype so everyone can see each other. It’s a more efficient and cost-effective way to do business, according to Duffy.

    A variety of other options are available to help remote work teams connect. One way employees at IPG Mediabrands stay in touch is via Yammer, a Twitter-like tool that only your coworkers can see. At Disney, telepresence rooms – high-tech conference rooms with large screens – allow far-flung teams to collaborate and literally feel like they’re sitting across the table from one another. Webcasting is another way the company communicates with employees worldwide. Disney executives host webcasts throughout the year to showcase accomplishments of their global marketing team and answer live questions from employees.

    Long-Distance Relationships

    Here are a few tips for ensuring effective long-distance collaboration:

    • Follow up in writing. Even though Skype makes it feel like you’re right beside your teammates, it’s still a good idea to put together key points or decisions in writing and email them after the meeting.

    • Touching is believing. If Duffy & Partners presents a new package design online, they’ll often send the physical object after the virtual meeting to let clients touch and feel that cool embossing that was discussed.

    • Make the trip. Even the best videoconferencing equipment doesn’t let you pick up on all the emotional cues you would in person. It’s a good idea to schedule at least some true face time for relationship building.

    Donna Farrugia is Executive Director at The Creative Group, a division of specialized staffing leader Robert Half International Inc., which specializes in placing highly skilled creative, advertising, marketing, web and public relations professionals with a variety of firms. Read the entire white paper, “The Creative Group of the Future.”

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