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21st Century Work Life and leading remote teams

Brought to you by Virtual not Distant, the 21st Century Work Life podcast looks at leading remote teams, online collaboration and working in distributed organisations.

Join Pilar Orti, guests & co-hosts as they shine the spotlight on the most relevant themes and news relevant to the modern knowledge worker.

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Jun 7, 2019

A special episode bringing you a bit more of our fascinating conversation with Justin Morris, because despite being overscheduled with amazing content for our regular fortnightly show for the next few weeks, we really wanted to look beyond the whole ‘Ethical Walls’ story to explore Justin’s work at Modality Systems, and his unique overview of online collaboration.

Justin and his colleagues help people provision and adopt MSTeams, so that they get the most out of it, and transition to the new more collaborative space which MSTeams represents.

It’s fundamentally a change management process, with a data-driven approach to successfully drive adoption. Indeed the level of tracking and data available within MSTeams is surprising, but as Pilar pointed out this could be perceived as over-intrusive surveillance. Justin explains that these analytics are also available to the user, and as such provide a lot of insight into how we manage our time and productivity.

If we can make the fundamental mindset shift from suspecting surveillance to welcoming analysis, it helps to remind us that the data (and the technology which reveals it) is intrinsically neutral… how organisations and individuals use it, is what adds the nuance and intent.  The MSTeams set-up is versatile and flexible, to take account of organisational culture, individual preference, and even local regulation and legislation. But as Justin points out, many people are simply unaware of the trail of data breadcrumbs they leave behind in all online interactions, professionally and personally.

Simply staying abreast of the latest updates, conversations and issues in Microsoft Teams and the digital workplace space is a full time job, but it enables Justin’s unique perspective on the needs and expectations of different organisations and teams - and their level of maturity in respect of the collaboration space, internally and externally (there’s lots more on this in episode 191 with Matt Ballantine and his fantastic cheat sheet

Today’s conversation also explores attention and the role of video in the online space: how engaged are participants in video vs audio meetings, and the way some people are still defaulting to what is familiar, rather than exploring what the technology can do. The opposing point of view of a youtuber and a podcaster make for an interesting contrast! And serve to remind us all of the sheer versatility of online team communications today… audio, video, text, multimedia, which do you prefer, when, and for what purpose?  Justin and Pilar first connected when he answered her written question with a quick video, which also had the effect of making that interaction public for a wider audience. (You can watch the video here: )

Justin is a big social media fan - well, he did meet his wife on Twitter, which was a new one for us! So connect with him @justimorris, or for his videos.