Insights for Working Virtually

This blog is for anyone who communicates in-person or virtually in the business world.

Laura Pierce is co-founder of evoke virtual and an expert virtual instructional designer, presenter, and facilitator. Laura holds an M.S. from Oregon State University. and completed professional development programs at U.C.L.A. Anderson School of Management and Stanford Graduate School of Business in Strategic Marketing Management.


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Virtual teams are failing! Who's at fault?

Virtual teams are failing! Who's at fault?

We have a perception problem.  It seems like managing and working on a virtual team should be getting easier. With all the great technical solutions for connecting, sharing documents, collaborating visually online, we’ve got what we need to address the key challenges to move projects, plans, and innovation to success.  Managing virtual teams is such a routine activity now that we often hear leaders say, “I’ll just do what I’ve always done well as a manager and I’ll get the same results.”  The question we need to answer - is this working and are we getting the results we expect?

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Open Offices Don't Work! Impact to Virtual Teams

Open Offices Don't Work! Impact to Virtual Teams

Recent analysis shows that over 70% of all offices have an open plan – no doors, no cubicles, and relatively few conference rooms. Open offices have been around since the 1950’s. The intent of this office configuration has been to increase opportunities for collaboration and casual exchange of ideas. In many cases that has been true. We've known since the days of "tiger teams" that putting a project team together in one place can efficiently produce innovative results. It is also great for the boss with a command and control mindset monitoring workflow. But how does this apply to a 21st century workplace?

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Demographics Can Devastate Your Virtual Meetings

Demographics Can Devastate Your Virtual Meetings

Now that I’ve got your attention, I want to clarify. We need to be crystal clear about the impact words have on a listener’s ability to understand what we are saying. When I say “devastate”, I can’t assume that everyone reading this is going to respond in the same way. Label this what you will, but word choice and how you say something will impact your ability to influence someone to take action - the action you want them to take.

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Why Virtual Meetings SUCK! Three More Things To Do Now (Part 2)

Why Virtual Meetings SUCK! Three More Things To Do Now (Part 2)

Let’s revisit meetings that suck. In Part One, it was observed that the “laptop up and mobile device on” syndrome would not happen during an in person meeting. (If you missed Part One, go here.) The contention was that “...there is a basic level of human respect that we afford each other when we are in another human’s presence.”

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Three Things Every SME Must Do Before Conducting A Virtual Training

Three Things Every SME Must Do Before Conducting A Virtual Training

I was at the gym one evening when a friend mentioned that she was conducting a customer training program in the morning. She confessed that she was a little stressed because she had never conducted a training program solo. Adding to her stress of flying solo was the fact that the training was a mixed-location training, where half of the group was local and the other half was in the Netherlands joining via video conference. She told me that she planned to just focus on the slides and information and not worry about where people were located. Not a good strategy for success in the virtual classroom.

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Did You Hear Me? Listening in the Virtual World

Did You Hear Me? Listening in the Virtual World

In a recent program I was conducting with a senior engineering team, one of the participants had a big “aha” moment. She realized that when trying to influence other organizations, it was more about listening than talking. Since the engineering group is a virtual team, we realized that the skill of “listening” may require a different focus in virtual than what we take for granted in person.

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Three Tips to Help Content Experts Deliver Better Webinars

Three Tips to Help Content Experts Deliver Better Webinars

We call on our organization’s Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) everyday to support our sales meetings, customer briefings, and organizational “lunch and learns.” It just makes sense. They can introduce the finer points of a new product, help a customer more effectively adopt a solution or inform the organization about new processes.

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Are Your Best Ideas On Mute In Your Virtual Team Meetings? 3 Things To Do Now

Are Your Best Ideas On Mute In Your Virtual Team Meetings? 3 Things To Do Now

Here’s a sad fact that I see confirmed in my work with global leadership teams. Not everyone is contributing their best ideas and feedback in meetings – even the people with the most knowledge or innovative ideas. In a recent survey cited in Harvard Business Review, even though participants may feel they have an important contribution to make, only 35% felt they could do so routinely. It’s even worse for virtual teams.

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Are You Stifling Innovation In Your Virtual Teams?

Are You Stifling Innovation In Your Virtual Teams?

In a meeting with a client recently, she told us that she had been trying to get the help of a senior engineer on a critical new product. She found that if she timed her morning coffee break just right, she could get 5-10 minutes with the senior engineer every couple of weeks. This is exactly why innovative companies like Uber, SurveyMonkey, and airbnb have opened offices with the freedom to work where you want.

 

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Can You Read Your Sales Partner’s Mind?

Can You Read Your Sales Partner’s Mind?

This is a trick question, but we’ll get into that in a moment.

We know that to meet sales goals, for most industries today, it’s critical to have a strong network and the support of sales partners. Regardless of the type or mix of resellers you may utilize, having a diverse and robust sales ecosystem is one of the keys to meeting revenue targets. This is particularly true for organizations with big growth goals in a world of shrinking direct sales headcount.

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Technology Belongs in the Backseat in the Virtual Classroom

Technology Belongs in the Backseat in the Virtual Classroom

Recently, we were finishing up feedback on a virtual course a client asked us to review and potentially redesign. As each person gave their feedback, some trends appeared. “It took us a long time to get to content.” “The introduction seemed a little flat.” “Why did we spend so much time on all the tools in the virtual environment? We didn’t even use all of them in the session!” We weren’t surprised. We knew what the problem was.

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5 Conditions for Success When Coaching Your Virtual Team

5 Conditions for Success When Coaching Your Virtual Team

A friend of mine is responsible for product development at a San Francisco Bay area company. He manages a team that is not just local, but spread over three locations and two continents. He knows his job is to help team members analyze their performance, help them problem solve, and motivate them to achieve success. The challenge is how to effectively do all that when he isn’t in person. It isn’t practical or cost effective for him to fly to each location when a coaching need arises.

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Do You Really Know What They Need? Define Before You Design

Do You Really Know What They Need? Define Before You Design

It’s a common lament. “We’ve created training program after training program to support this new initiative and they still aren’t adopting the tools.” Sound familiar? Your organization has a new product, program, or corporate initiative to launch and as training professionals, we need to get employees engaged and trained. Our programs need to focus on these key business initiatives in our organizations. So, we track participant registrations in our learning management system (LMS), test them and analyze their scores, and make sure the training is mandatory. Even then, they still aren’t adopting what we are teaching.

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Are You Playing Hide and Seek With Your Audience?

Are You Playing Hide and Seek With Your Audience?

Most of us agree that we live in an attention deficit world and it’s not surprising we feel that way. Imagine yourself walking into a room about to share a plan that will put potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in the pockets of a sales team. This hot new business area is key to both the attendee’s commission check and your company’s success. You look out at the audience and as people come into the room, they sit down, open their laptops and put mobile phones next to them.

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Prepare for the Unexpected when Training Virtually

Prepare for the Unexpected when Training Virtually

It's Monday morning and you know what that means? Your virtual platforms service provider did a system update, your phone bridge software installed a bug fix, and none of your workshop participants checked their computer system before the program. Sound familiar? It's what we call gremlins in the system!

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Are You Conducting a Lot of Virtual Meetings? Yes You Are!

Are You Conducting a Lot of Virtual Meetings? Yes You Are!

Recently I asked a group I was working with whether they had a lot of virtual meetings. The answers I got were mixed. Some said they were using screen-sharing tools, a few used more elaborate collaboration platforms, and others said no they weren't leading virtual meetings. Then I asked a different question. How many of you are on conference calls regularly? After a group groan, everyone's hand shot up.

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Burning the Midnight Oil: One Huge Challenge for your Virtual Team! 

Burning the Midnight Oil: One Huge Challenge for your Virtual Team! 

We’re a virtual team at evoke. All of us traverse three time zones and more on a daily basis. As the pro’s, we must excel at managing virtual team communication. Most days that’s true. But there are definitely days when we struggle.

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Are You Letting Technology Get in the Way of Learning?

Are You Letting Technology Get in the Way of Learning?

As virtual instructors, knowing how to use our virtual training platform is crucial. Every platform has its own unique capabilities. We also know that real learning comes from the collaboration between participants that an instructor fosters in the classroom.

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Are You Missing a Link in Your Virtual Training Plans? The Role of IT

Are You Missing a Link in Your Virtual Training Plans? The Role of IT

Imagine… You launch a new virtual training program in your organization. It’s an interactive new hire employee orientation. Your instructional design team has pulled together a video of key executives in the company speaking about the organization’s values and philosophy. During the program, the participants will engage in activities built around these videos.

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Want to be More Visible in the Virtual Classroom? Get Messy!

Want to be More Visible in the Virtual Classroom? Get Messy!

 A few years ago, I was conducting a dry run of a new virtual workshop for a client. The client team had agonized over the slide design, visuals, and color choices. The end result was beautiful and they loved their slide deck. About mid-way through the dry run, the head of marketing stopped me. In an aggravated tone, he said, "With all that typing and uneven highlighting on the slides, you are making our slides look messy and unattractive."

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