Phil Dearson

Remote Collaboration

publishedabout 1 month ago
1 min read

Humans nowadays completely dominate the planet not because the individual human is far smarter and more nimble-fingered than the individual chimp or wolf, but because Homo sapiens is the only species on earth capable of cooperating flexibly in large numbers.
Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus

Mural put on an interesting virtual event this week about remote collaboration - Re:think Teamwork. It was a timely examination of why going back to the old ways of working isn’t, well, working.

I see many businesses directing their staff to return to the office, either in whole or in part. It seems to be primarily driven by senior leadership, worried that collaboration and creativity suffer when teams work remotely.

This is, of course, nonsense. As someone who’s successfully worked remotely for the last 8 years or so, if there is poor collaboration or creativity, it’s down to the business approach rather than the physical location of the participants.

Priya Parker, the author of The Art of Gathering, proposed a set of questions to ask your teams before deciding how to approach remote collaboration.

  • When in the last 2 years have there been moments when you wished you could be working in person?
  • What have you not missed that you don’t want to bring back?
  • What do you want to bring forward from the pandemic? (not that it's over yet!)
  • What do you want to experiment with now?

Gather the responses before considering how to form your collaboration techniques. One size doesn’t fit all.

When it comes to specific techniques for remote collaboration, Chris Pacione of the LUMA Institute suggests creating “recipes” of related methods. He recommends 36 core methods that can be collected into problem-solving recipes. Anyone I’ve worked with will be familiar with most of them. They fall into 3 categories:

  • Looking - Observing human experience
  • Understanding - Analysing challenges and opportunities
  • Making - Substantiating the future

Articulate your problem, then create a recipe for remote methods for tackling it.


Here are some things you might find interesting…

The 37signals Guide to Internal Communication

Internal communications can suck. With a remote/hybrid workforce, how and what you communicate are critical if you want to avoid meeting overload, whispering campaigns and notification fatigue. 37signals offers some great rules of thumb.

AI Buyer Persona Generator

There’s no true AI yet but GETitOUT has a clever set of algorithmic tools that, from a few small inputs, can create detailed buyer personas. Extract pain points and goals from competitor websites, generate personas then automate marketing copy based on those needs.

Thanks for reading.