The Latest on Alternative Workstyle

Hi there! It’s been a hot minute since I posted here, and so much has changed. However, I’ve decided to continue this blog in a slightly new direction. Read on to learn the latest on Alternative Workstyle.

Headshot of Lisa L Duncan sitting on a chair.

First, what has changed? When I started this blog, I had recently formed a company with another marketing colleague. Our lofty goal was to change the way we work, and we were committed to our purpose and our business! Many of my earlier blog posts, such as What’s it Really Like to Work in a Digital Workplace?, were about our journey. I used this blog to share what I learned from working in this type of remote work platform.

We had a great time “building a better way to work from home”. Working in this type of platform checked all the boxes for us. We had:

  • collaboration tools
  • the ability to schedule formal communication
  • opportunities for informal conversations
  • a sense of community

Unfortunately, the one check box we could not check was our ability to monetize the platform. In other words, we couldn’t afford to keep it going. Sadly, we shut it down in 2017. Yup, pre-pandemic. But we continued our remote-working together as marketing consultants to small businesses, startups, and nonprofits.

What shifted?

By 2020, when everyone went remote, we had already switched our operations to the Zoom platform. And for me, while it was productive, it wasn’t the same. The loss of all those informal interactions that happened during the business day and that sense of community you feel when you walk into a familiar place was gone. Work became very transactional. Ultimately, we decided to close our business in 2021 and pursue other ventures. It was not an easy decision, and I know I struggled with it for a long time, both before and after. Changed is hard, and we had worked together for a long time.

And now, it’s nearly the end of 2022, and so much has changed. After taking going back to school and obtaining my Masters in Business Administration, taking some much-needed time away from marketing consulting work, and doing a lot of professional soul-searching, I’ve realized how much I enjoy life as an entrepreneur. I love to find new ways to solve old problems. And when I look back on my career, this drive has always been the common thread in my work.

What’s Next for Alternative Workstyle?

Over the last few months, I’ve become more involved in my local entrepreneurial community. I’m flushing out a new business idea and loving this new journey. I still love talking and writing about remote work and the entrepreneur lifestyle. So, I will keep writing about those things here while working on my other business. Being a female entrepreneur has unique challenges, and I believe there is value in sharing these challenges.

I’m also using this space to consolidate my previous writings by sharing some of my guest blog posts relevant to remote and entrepreneurship. Sadly, many of the challenges I wrote about so long ago are just as relevant today. 

Keep Up with the Latest on Alternative Workstyle

Please follow along here as I share my latest on working in an Alternative Workstyle. Be sure to leave your email in the box on the right and click the follow button. 

Posted in Digital Workplace Concepts, Entrepreneur Life, Remote Work | Leave a comment

Five Challenges Businesses Must Overcome When Moving Online

With Covid-19, and the sudden need for social distancing, many businesses have been thrust into the unfamiliar territory of how to manage their day-to-day operations in an online environment.

For those that run “knowledge-base” businesses, this at first might seem easy.  You have interactive collaboration tools, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, and you feel confident you can make a go of it.  And it will work, for a period of time.

But running virtual operations is not just about having the technology, it’s also how you use the technology. 

Maintaining company culture is just as important to business operations.   We often don’t think about corporate culture until we realize it has slipped away.  People aren’t as friendly, aren’t as supportive, aren’t as team-oriented. People become less engaged. 

It is really easy for businesses, especially knowledge businesses, to focus solely on maintaining productivity in their use of online collaboration tools.

I challenge businesses to think just as much about how they are using technology to promote their culture and create opportunities for real engagement.

For the past ten years, I have worked exclusively in an online work environment.  My business even created an online platform.  Through this process, we studied the pros and cons of various technologies, and we chronicled our experience of working in this type of environment. 

While my company is small, these five challenges we faced are universal.  How well you overcome them will be critical to how successful you are in working while social distancing.

1. Engagement

Sharing experiences amplifies those experiences and increases a person’s absorption in that experience. How are you using your technology to create shared experiences?  What kind of online experiences can you even create?  How will you mimic those monthly birthday celebrations you used to hold in the break room, or those quick water cooler conversations?

2. Balancing Meaningful Exchange with Productivity 

It is incredibly hard to speak up using video technology, both technically and socially.  Think about your collaboration exchanges online.  Are you focused solely on the productivity of disseminating information, checking in?  How are you taking the time to invite the conversations that build trust and rapport among your team?

3. Multi-Tasking During a Meeting

We all know that multi-tasking is the blackhole of productivity. I am terribly guilty of this.  Long meetings where I’m allowed to mute and turn off video means I’m checking my email and social media instead of paying attention.  Does your technology (and how you use it) make it too easy for participants to multi-task? What steps and protocols do you have to minimize the ability to multi-task during meetings?

4. Self-Consciousness Inhibits Participation

Glossophobia is real!  Jerry Seinfeld once said “At a funeral, most people would rather be lying in the casket than delivering the eulogy.”  In a study we did in 2015, over half of the video conference participants felt self-conscious when speaking, with 20% feeling “extremely” self-conscious.  Just because you moved online, doesn’t mean people lose this self-consciousness, and for some online technology may increase their self-consciousness.  It is important to invite conversation from ALL participants, especially the introverts like me who typically need a little more coaxing to participant, and a little more time to process the chaos of other people jumping in. 

5. Facilitating Equal Participation Among Diverse Groups 

As business owners, we know unconscious and implicit bias in meetings can impact group dynamics and collaborative participation.  This is true and real life, as well as in most online technologies.  Just as in real life, it is important to be aware of these bias and proactively facilitate engagement and interaction among all participants.

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User Engagement with Digital Workspaces Versus Video Conferencing

Comparing Users Experience with Digital Workplaces and Video Conferencing

©2015 Duncan+Coleverria, Inc. [click to see full infographic]

Drumroll please….

the results are in

Our third party researcher, Lynn Patra, completed a preliminary study comparing and analyzing the behavioral aspects of a users engagement – and the results are fascinating.

Some of the outcomes are a gentle reminder, others are downright thought-provoking.

If you click on the image above it will take you to the infographic. If you’re interested in reading the report in its entirety, click here.

We would love to hear your thoughts.

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