Virtual Collaboration Can Stink

Flipside Workspace conference room meeting

Pre-meeting greetings in Flipside Workspace™
(copyright, Duncan+Coleverria)

When you really think about it, how great is your virtual collaboration?

It’s one of those ideas that is great when done well, but can often flop on the execution.  Many who have dipped their toes in the telework trend have returned to the safety and comfort of physical office space.  In response, co-working spaces have cropped up to bridge the gap between working in a company’s office, and working independently.  More and more companies are redesigning space to accommodate wayward remote workers, who are looking to touch down on the mother-ship from time-to-time.

With so many collaboration tools out there, why is virtual collaboration still so difficult? 

Emily Klein, founder of Flextime Global, wrote an excellent post that pinpoints The 4 Ingredients for Virtual Collaboration Success.

To summarize, the four ingredients she sites are:

  • fostering trust and shared leadership
  • interactive virtual gatherings
  • collaborative tools
  • co-location to manage conflict resolution and negotiation

I know first-hand how critical each of these four ingredients are to successful virtual collaboration.

There is something real about “office magic”.  

It’s why Marissa Mayer called all of her workers back into the office, why companies struggle with creating telework plans, why people still arch their eyebrow a bit when someone tells them, “I work from home”.

Despite all the great collaboration tools that are out there, people who work outside of an office are still missing that “office magic”.  It’s those casual interactions, impromptu meetings, answers to quick questions, and the office camaraderie that really is the glue that holds the company together and motivates performance.

We set out to capture what was missing in our work lives: “office magic”.

Back in 2009 when we first formed our company Duncan+Coleverria, we were seeking to fill this “office magic” void in our own work lives.  We created Flipside Workspace™ and in 2010 abandoned physical office space for this virtual work environment that shares all the ingredients discussed by Ms. Klein.  We have been successfully collaborating virtually ever since.

We have evolved in how we work in the space, and in the process have created a way of working that fosters trust and shared leadership.  Similar to the protocols that come into play in a physical office space, we have developed a workstyle that seamlessly rides the ebb and flow of independence and co-working that is required for productive outcomes.

When we have something important to discuss, documents to share and review, or clients and colleagues to meet, we hold virtual meetings in our private virtual conference room.  Our meetings are shockingly realistic, complete with the pre- and post- meeting banter that helps build rapport.

Of course, we couldn’t function without collaboration tools, and we have many in Flipside Workspace.  We use document sharing, IM, P2P calls, just to name a few.

My partner and I co-locate to our virtual office everyday, where we interact together as if we were sitting side-by-side in a physical office space.  Through our passive and persistent presence, she’s available to me, and I to her.

In Flipside Workspace™, we are able to mix the collaboration tools with “office magic”, and virtually collaborate in the truest sense.  

We are building a company together, and like many co-founders that have come before, we are each other’s yin and yang.  We are the left brain and the right brain, needing to function as one to the rest of the world.

Our mission, our vision, our purpose must run through each of our veins equally.  Each thought, each word, each idea, each product we generate needs to not have my voice, nor my co-founders voice, but needs to have one voice….our company voice.  In order to do this, we must be in perfect harmony.  We must move beyond collaboration and be in full cooperation with one another.  We must be so connected that when we do tasks apart, they meld seamlessly together upon completion.

Some call this “the war room”.

We call it Flipside Workspace™.

Don’t believe me?  Stop by my office in Flipside Workspace and tell me yourself, my door is always open.

About Lisa Duncan | Alternative Workstyle Enthusiast

Completely and totally passionate about work flexibility, love helping other businesses succeed, aiming to change how we think about workplace. Co-Creator of the digital workplace,, Co-Founder of, #huffbost blogger. [Duncan Coleverria]
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2 Responses to Virtual Collaboration Can Stink

  1. Great website you have here but I was curious if you knew of any
    community forums that cover the same topics talked about in this article?
    I’d really love to be a part of community where I can get feed-back from other knowledgeable individuals that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Thanks a lot!

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