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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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Feb 28, 2019

Today’s episode was the direct result of a Twitter conversation, in which Pilar mused about the distinction between collaboration and co-operation, and Matt Ballantine was among the people who responded – thank you to everyone who joined in this fascinating discussion, and it’s great to have been able to continue it on the podcast – how much more 21st Century Work-Life can you get?

And speaking of social media, the warm reception to Thinking Remote: Inspiration for Leaders of Remote Teams has been a joy to read – thank you everyone for the great feedback and reviews, we’re so glad that this Virtual Not Distant publication has struck a chord. If you’ve read it, don’t forget to let us know what you think (and if you’re waiting for the paper version, it’s coming very soon)

05:01 Voice Behind the Blog, Matt Ballantine, “The Collaboration Cheat-Sheet”

Matt Ballantine, cohost of the WB40 Podcast, created this amazing ‘cheat sheet’ for some UK government consultation work last year, looking at the meaning of collaboration.

It’s an amazing document which generates as many questions as it answers, because making change in the first place requires commitment and engagement and very clear understanding of the purpose of changing. Why improve collaboration, and what would that look like? And how much responsibility lies with organisations rather than individuals?  If collaboration is not happening, then the problem is probably not technological – so how can you address the systemic barriers and better align the incentives for all?

Matt breaks down these barriers one by one, and challenges organisations to address the issues presented. Looking at issues of trust, access and the way we frame our work social environment creates powerful new frames through which to look at ways to collaborate, and reminds us that our teams and enterprises do not exist in isolation from the rest of the physical and virtual world.

His 7 Team Persona model is a powerful way to consider your team as an entity, in ways you might never previously have considered.  It can help you choose the kind of structures and set-up you need for your digital workplace - and the assumptions behind the design of collaboration tools and software are also very interesting to unpick, because the type of team who builds an application might be very different from those who need to use it.

Also a fascinating dissection of the difference between behaviour and culture within organisations, and which you should attempt to change and why. Changing behaviour within cultural context is far easier. Either way, who really owns and takes charge of the change?

Get ready to deep dive down the rabbit hole with Matt and Pilar, and afterwards you’ll want to keep up with Matt’s work at and on twitter

"Good practice when it comes to interaction and collaboration comes from learning how to get there not from being told what best practice is".


51.24 Recommended Tool: Google Docs

 Does anyone need an introduction to “Gdocs”? Well yes, because not everyone appreciates the flexibility and powerful collaboration tools built into it. And also because it has improved a great deal in recent years, to now offer word processing capabilities easily on a par with Word or Pages. 

Maya and Pilar work on lots of written projects together, and find it a great way to connect and communicate as they edit, comment and even discuss a shared document in real time. You can collaborate with just about anyone, even if they’re not logged in to Google or part of your team (though you might find them anonymised to a strange animal!)  And you can even create tasks and tags for other users of the document.

With a range of integrations and add-ons, you might find Google Docs the free and platform agnostic tool you’ve been looking for all along – but if you prefer something different, then please tell us all about it – via our Contact Form or social media @Virtualteamw0rk