Making Virtual Teams Feel Like They’re In The Same Room: The AppNeta Approach – Forbes

Posted: October 5, 2019 at 9:45 am


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There is fantastic talent out there to drive growing companies, but the best people are scattered everywhere and with full personal lives that prevent them from relocating to headquarters easily. Yet for enterprises that hire people in different geographies, and perhaps allow significant working from home as well, the old methods of management and teambuilding are not effective, and communications and productivity can suffer. So, whats the solution?

This is a common problem nowadays, and many companies deploy the usual tools: on the one hand, digital communications through frequent conference calls, file sharing and collaborative working platforms, email, text messaging, plus electronic monitoring, control and performance oversight systems; on the other hand, real face time through regular travel and routine meetings to bring people together in person for planning, problem-solving and relationship building. These techniques help a lot and are basic components for teams working across different geographies.

A more effective solution, however, is to adopt a comprehensive strategy for productivity across multi-location working. This means combining a commitment to excellence in personnel wherever they are with a performance-based culture and a full array of tools designed explicitly to support dispersed teams and help them achieve their best regardless of where they are based.

There is fantastic talent out there to drive growing companies, but the best people are scattered across the globe. The trend towards remote workers requires us to step up to the next level.

Working at a distance can bring strains. But by underlining the reason for the geographical spread (a commitment to the best people, regardless of location), highlighting the benefits this gives to staff (in terms of enabling their personal lives), and underscoring a commitment at all levels to make it work, this challenge can be converted into a strength and managing it becomes a positive.

A pioneer in this approach is AppNeta, led by Matt Stevens. The company is a leader in monitoring and enhancing the performance of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) apps typically suites of software packages hosted by a third party on the cloud or between different data centers for use by customers. So, the companys entire ethos is delivering efficiency and effectiveness across extended networks and remote locations.

With more than 120 personnel, corporate HQs in Boston and Vancouver, and seven other satellite offices, it was a short step to decide to practice what they preach by establishing the same commitment within their own dispersed staff teams to performance, results and effective communications across their human network.

We want the best talent, regardless of where that talent lives, says Stevens. Were happy to make the compromise of having a team of all-stars who may not see each other in person that often opposed to losing out on the best talent because of geography.

AppNeta has taken a comprehensive approach. Our idea has been to weave the team together by establishing a culture of intentional, open communication, says Stevens. We focus our people on clear, specific individual and team goals and deliverables and hold them accountable to that, not on how they do the job or when or where they do it. We then use all available tech tools to support connectivity and intimacy so people feel as close to being in the same office as they can.

The change requires a shift in the entire corporate culture, away from a 9-to-5, office-based concept towards a results and delivery orientation. As Stevens recalls, We did away with the whole idea of fixed start time, fixed break time for lunch, fixed end time. The idea was, Here's your job, here are your targets, here's what you must learn, here's what you must invest in yourself, now go make it happen. It was a big epiphany for the organization, and a big breakthrough, letting us bring in a whole different quality of talent. The creativity and the ability for the team to take chances went up several hundred percent.

Specifically, this approach means:

Decentralized teams do face a risk. Control is important and becomes harder to maintain. Without the chance to see their teams in person, managers have to ensure that they make the extra effort to stay on top of everyone and provide them adequate support. Communications is always a major challenge across numerous locations, and the absence of the easy ability to sit together, solve problems and even socialize, can lead to inefficiencies, misunderstandings and occasional tensions.

While its always been important to be goal focused and to communicate well, the trend towards remote workers requires us to step up to the next level. However, the benefits are also clear, as AppNeta illustrates. We want amazing talent and we don't care where people are, says Stevens. We've hired people all over the US, across Canada, in Eastern Europe. The key is to focus not on where people live but on the talent and their capabilities, their passion and their alignment to your corporate mission.

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Making Virtual Teams Feel Like They're In The Same Room: The AppNeta Approach - Forbes

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October 5th, 2019 at 9:45 am