Does the remote working boom prove that Global collaboration can be just as effective as Local?
I have always believed that collaboration is driven by human engagement – supported by a healthy dose of trust, communication, cooperation, and shared goals. The current COVID-19 crisis has proven that even teams that have always worked in physical proximity or were co-located have discovered that working remotely… works.
My father, who grew up without digital technology, always had a sense of fascination (and doubt) when I told him I have no office to go to, and many of my valued colleagues I have never met in person. And by the way, they also exist in different countries, continents, and time zones. Thankfully, the common use of the English language is a bond that we North Americans often take for granted, but is a skill set that my teammates have acquired.
Ironically, the innovation of trans-Atlantic wireless communication was pioneered by a remote collaboration (by necessity, of course) from a transmission facility in Cornwall, England to a receiving station at Signal Hill in eastern Canada – involving collaborators from multiple countries. Since then, the enabling technologies and digital collaboration tools have melted away physical distance and made remote or home-based working a rapidly growing reality around the world.
So, we asked our own employees here at Atos to provide their views – does the current boom in remote working prove that international collaboration works just as well as local? Here is what they said:
"Yes, it does. And it will save on travel, commuting and carbon footprint. Modern collaboration tools scale well, covering hundreds or thousands of users. With services such as voice, video, conferencing, screen sharing, persistent text conversations, file sharing, whiteboarding, and other services, you get all the needed capabilities for collaboration." – Karl Klaghofer
"My many colleagues collaborate daily with people living in different countries and time zones; this has been happening for most of the past decade. Video conferencing and screen sharing tools facilitate group discussions and allow people to work together without face to face meetings. In my opinion, the recent remote working boom will bring an expansion of this trend to additional industries and sectors. As people become more familiar with modern communication tools, they will realize the potential that those tools unlock." – Lampros Pappas
"Hopefully yes. Even though there will be no physical contact, at least the camera will be able to somehow bring the people closer." - Maria-Christina Hassiotis
"The current era is creating its own boom market. Multinational companies have often been engines of global economic development. Businesses around the world are under pressure to restrict travel or increase the need for more remote working, extra conferencing, and collaboration tools. It pushes firms to expand remote work to cut costs (think call centers). They now discover that a great deal of work can be done remotely. Global companies develop business strategies to adapt to this New Way of Working." – Bruno Vandenberghe
"It allows the reduction of large traditional office spaces, due to the higher virtual workforce." – Tony Rich
"One of the positive outcomes of the remote working boom - with the right collaboration tool a virtual meeting can run as smoothly as a real face to face conversation – and it makes no difference whether you do a 1:1 conversation or a meeting within an international team… in other words, collaboration without any borders…" – Michael Brust
"Yes! With the right tools it is simply to collaborate locally and internationally, without the need to travel, also making it worthwhile for any size project. However, I feel it remains necessary to meet in person now and then so that a good personal connection enhances collaboration." – Johan Sandrap
"Yes, as free-time and working-time will integrate even more over time, international collaboration will become much easier." – Arne Belter
"Absolutely; since almost all employees become familiar with remote working tools and mindset in general as part of their daily routine, this would encourage them to use these new 'skills' with colleagues from other countries (something they were reluctant to do before). Overall, this could benefit international collaboration!" – Vassilis Alampanos
"I believe it has already done so! A remote worker has great flexibility to bridge time zones among countries around the globe. Regular web-collaboration (instead of seldom traveling) allows better communication among individuals or groups coming from different cultures and mindsets. At the end of the day, remote communication/collaboration provides all the means one can thing compared to gathering on a meeting room." – Minas Botsis
"The last 3.5 months shows us that we can solve issues and work in collaboration, holding online conferences through almost ten time zones. It is beneficial to know the personalities of your colleagues and therefore a face-to-face kick-off could facilitate conflict resolutions based on different cultural behavior and increase the team performance. But I appreciate working for the last five years as an anywhere worker." – Radoslav Kantchev
"Things can happen faster as there will be no need to get close together in a room or travel to make specific arrangements. The need to collaborate remotely was there, but since there was not a very strong reason then we used to prefer proximity. But now, with COVID-19 there is a reason, and the technology exists already to make this a reality. We now collaborate from a distance as if we are together in a room." – Konstantinos Brokalakis
"Globalization at its best! Remote working has assisted in making companies and organizations coming closer and make their businesses more efficient. Employees are now more get used to it and its much simpler for them to share ideas and taking decisions remotely." – Vas Giatilis
So, the consensus is in. At least from our sample of Atos employees, it is a resounding "yes" – remote collaboration works, and a common thread is the impact of modern collaboration tools to enable virtual teaming and collapse the physical distance between members. With recent industry research saying up to 70% of organizations are now planning to continue remote working options post-COVID, now might be the time to get ready to optimize your teams with the right tools and technologies!