Skype in the workplace? Can I make it work for me?
Man, when you are disconnected from the world for a week, you can sure think a lot. Diconnected to me means that I only texted 10 times that week and 9 of those were reply backs, no Internet (no blogging, tweeting, facebooking, emailing…), no phone calls, and no skyping. I wrote this on the way home from Mexico a couple of weeks ago. I only used the iPad that eek to play inane games just before going to bed. That was the most unconnected that I have been in years, seriously. Even as I tidy up this post on another week off in Whistler, I am checking mail (work and personal), tweeting and facebooking.
Now, when away, it did not mean that I did not think about things that I was going to do, or write about, when I got back into my little connected world.
One of my thoughts was spurred from a conversation at dinner with my wife and kids (no connectivity and it’s amazing how much I missed and enjoyed talking as a family with none of us attached to a BlackBerry, iPad, iPhone etc…).
We were talking about the changes in the foreseeable future with respect to the workplace. The kids, (I have 2 very bright and thoughtful young adults as children. Well beyond their young years of 13 and 15) were asking how much of my job I could do at home, how much my wife could do at home (as a freelance CGA, she already does a lot from home) and would there be a time when I did very little true face to face with vendors at work? Did i really need to go tomthe office to work?? Wow!!
As far as the working at home part went, with the ability to securely connect to the offices via VPN etc…there was for sure much of the day to day that we could do at home. There are a few programs that I can not access remotely, but for the most part, I can get to the majority of my work sitting at home. Much of the day is spent on email, the phone or thinking about ideas on how to make our business stronger. Really, nne of that needed to be done in the office. I know that for sure because on the occasions that I have had to call in sick, I spent most of the day working, just happened to be from bed or the couch. So, ya, it can be done.
But then I started to get into the vendor part of my job. The discussing of strategies on how to grow mutual businesses. How can I do that online? The negotiating of a buy without seeing the vendor and the vendor not seeing me. We all know how emotion is lost in, or read ito emails! I can’t do a deal without seeing the person in front of me I told the kids.
The immediate response, “You telling us that you never bought or sold anything online Dad?”. My smartass children know very well that I have bee using eBay since 1996 and I have purchased and sold much online via ebay, and many other online mediums! They also know a few stories of me finding new Vendors for work via Twittter and they know that the are many of my Vendors that I only see once a year and we do I fact do many deals without seeing each other face to face. However, as I explained to them, these examples that they throw back at their old man are few and far between, most of my deals are done across the desk, face to face. Body language interpretation is critical in deal making as far as I am concerned; I need to see the other party, that’s just the way I roll.
I thought that would have ended it, until the lovely things that they really are, asked in such a thoughtful way; “Ever hear of Skype or video conferencing?!?”
God bless them, really.
“You told us that they installed cameras on your computer at work, right? Why not just Skype? You cold maybe see people more that way, especially the ones that have to travel to see you.”
How about skyping? Could that work? It works when we want to talk to my brother in the Vancouver Island. He is my financial advisor (works at RBC) and we seem to be able to get things done well that way. It works when we want to call my folks when they are in Trail, Christina Lake, Italy or wherever else they are gallivanting around this world. Makes it feel way more personal than just a phone call.
What about Skype (or Skype like – we have the latest Windows at work and it has a built in video app)?
I started really thinking about it and I am thinking that I am going to have to give this a serious try at work. I just have to send out an email requesting Vendors the ability to connect on Skype. How hard can I be it, who doesn’t have a Skype account? I mean seriously!
That is myneatest task at work over the coming months. 1 email to many and let’s see where it goes. The travel time this could save and the fact that I could probably “see” more vendors regularly, will be interesting to measure.
I know this does not sound revolutionary, but I don’t think video conferencing is being used in retail very much at all. In fact, I have never been asked to participate in a video call with a vendor; only the dreaded phone conference – UGH!!!
Will keep you posted!
Ciao for now @kootenayborn