Happy Shareholders Day, Apple!

Lisa Linz Duncan - Early Apple Fan

Early Apple fan circa 1982. Photo credit: Owen O’Rourke for Bedford Minuteman

Since yesterday was Apple’s annual shareholders meeting, I thought I’d share a little personal history with the world’s largest company.

Back in 1982, Rita Richardson wrote an article for the Bedford Minuteman Newspaper in Bedford, MA.  The article, Two Residents Design Computer Programs for Town Use  offered a glimpse into what could be the future of personal computers at the time.  Not all of their predictions were accurate, but many of the insights shared by my father, John Linz, and fellow computer enthusiast, Eric Ellington, on the potential of personal computers came true.    Of course, I doubt either one of them ever thought we would be wearing Apple watches, using Apple phones, or trading records for iTunes.

If only my dad had purchased $3,000 worth of stock, instead of the Apple and Apple II Plus that were sitting in his office at the time of this photo, he would be sitting on a fortune! But then again, it is because of people like him, who believed in those early products, that helped Apple become what it is today.  It’s also what helped me become who I am today.

That’s me in the picture sitting at the Apple II Plus.  Flash forward 30+ years: today I work in a digital workplace.

When my business partner and I made the decision early in our business to invest in the development of a digital workplace, few could imagine this alternative to a physical office. I guess it’s not so different from my dad buying his first Apple back when few could imagine a world of personal computers.

We know not all the predictions about digital workplaces or the “the future of work” will come true, but we do know our experience working in a digital workspace for the last five years allows us a better glimpse on what the future could be for digital workplaces.



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Sidetracked by Curiosity

Personality testThe other day a version of the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator made its way around our office, for no reason other than it was a novelty. Our very own Bookworm kicked off the test-taking, which then went to my business partner, which then came to me.  With each hand-off was the directive “take the test and tell me what you get”.

I dutifully took the test, because with nearly 20 years working together, I’ve learned when my partner gets a bee in her bonnet (those who know her can add your own translation), I drop everything and do what she says.

I got INTJ – Introvert, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging.  No surprise. I’ve taken this test before, with the result always the same. I dutifully shared my results, and to my surprise learned that my personality type is a rare breed – only .8% of the female population shares this personality.

The glow of my specialness dimmed when my partner revealed that not only was she an INTJ, but so was our very own Bookworm.

Three INTJs working together, the rarest of rare?  How can that be?

I decided to look into this further. In one, very unscientific, and most likely made up internet article, I learned that INTJs get along best with other INTJs. Okay, this was starting to make sense.

Being an INTJ, I thought about how we can best use this to our business advantage and decided to look up famous INTJs in business. Lucky for us, Mark Zuckerberg was on the list. Actually, when I thought more about Mark, I realized that he and I share not just our personality, but a whole host of other experiences in common. It’s fairly creepy, actually.

For the record, only 2% of the total population are INTJs, so already, Mark and I are in a fairly tight little circle. But add in things I’ve learned about Mark from the too-often-trusted news source Wikipedia:

  • We both learned a different language as adults.
  • We both lived in the same 3 states (MA, NY, CA)
  • We both moved to CA after college
  • We both were playing around with computers at very young ages
  • We both have visions of changing the world
  • We both created platforms to interact with others online
  • We both have a Z in our last name (okay, mine is in my maiden name).

There was a time when I would be absolutely driven to calculate the percent of the population that would be in our tight knit circle of likeness, just to prove my point. But years of helping my children with Common Core Math leaves me satisfied knowing that the probability of anyone else sharing these traits and experiences is “most likely to be false”.

I’m not altogether sure how this elite circle of closeness that Mark and I share, without ever meeting – or even likely to meet –  will help us out in our business. Although, I will certainly ponder this new found insight to see if there is some way to use it towards a strategic advantage.

If you haven’t taken the test there are many online versions such as the one found on 16 Personalities Website here. If you are one of the lucky INTJ’s I invite you to meet with us in our digital workplace, Flipside Workspace, to share your thoughts with us.

personality types word cloudIf you are any of the other 15 personalities,  my apologies ahead of time if we appear rude; we would very much like to meet you too.

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What Five Years of Working in a Digital Workplace Has Taught Us

When my co-founder, Anna Marie Etcheverria, and I set out to “create a better way to work from home” back in 2009, we could not have predicted the terrifying and exhilarating journey on which we were about to embark.  As with any start-up, there were highs and lows, right decisions and wrong decisions.

One thing we did right was figure out how to effectively work in a digital workplace, a move we made when we created our own virtual office, Flipside Workspace™.   According to Gartner Research, “A digital workplace enables new and more effective ways of working, improves employee engagement and agility, and exploits consumer-oriented styles and technologies.”  Check, check, and check.

After five years of “going to the office”, we have a pretty good understanding of what works and why for businesses in digital workplaces.  Here’s our top five:

  1. Human-to-Human Relationships Matter…a lot 

Regardless of how many options there are for digital workplaces, much of what is lost in today’s offerings is the ability for real-life human interaction in technology. This is a big differentiator between the “physical workplace” and the “digital workplace”.

Our expectation of any workplace is generally inherent and reasonable. As an example, in a “physical workplace” we can reasonably expect to develop relationships on some kind of an emotional level with our co-workers, clients, customers, vendors, etc. because of the instinctive behavior in persistent presence: we form relationships, we build trust and comfort with one another, we build off of each other’s ideas and truly engage and collaborate.

When we work remotely, however, we have to work especially hard to fill in that void with conscious communication techniques to foster engagement, encourage a mix of face-to-face interactions with digital communication, and select those platforms that foster human-to-human interaction.

Using Flipside Workspace, we’ve managed to develop a few techniques to mimic “physical workplace” experiences such as walking into each other’s office for a quick question, spontaneously introducing clients and colleagues who “pop-in”, or even grabbing others for a larger brainstorming session, such as one would in a physical office building.

2.  Real Engagement Facilitates Conversations

You know that moment before a conference call, or online meeting when you’re not quite sure who is there, who wants to speak, or even who is speaking? Awkward.

It’s time to put the “meet” back in meeting.  No matter what type of digital workplace you use, make sure you are optimizing opportunities for real engagement with the people you are working with, not just clicks and likes.

When we meet with others in Flipside Workspace, we are able to see the conversations happening and join in and interact, much the same way as we gather around and chit chat prior to a meeting in real life.  This valuable time before and after meetings allows participants to talk, connect, and and have meaningful pre- and post- meeting discussions outside of a structured meeting. Ultimately, conversations equal real engagement that builds trust among participants.

3.  Perpetual Presence is Key

It’s one thing to have presence on social media, it’s an entirely different thing to have a perpetual presence in a digital workplace. The difference? We liken it to this: you can either walk in, take your coat off, hang up your hat, and make yourself available to your team, clients, or colleagues for whatever period of time you want, OR you could keep your coat and hat on, briskly walk by your colleagues, pop your head in and tell them you like what they’re wearing, and then walk right on out again. Which is more advantageous?

It’s important to use your digital workplace in a way where people can find you and engage with you beyond the “like” button if they need to.  How do we maintain perpetual presence in Flipside Workspace? It’s as simple as this – we’re either in the office, or we’re not.  We post and hold “office hours” so that our digitally-based clients and colleagues know where and when to find us, they can actually see if we’re sitting at our desks, or even out to lunch.

4. The Importance of Corporate Culture Cannot Be Overlooked

Years ago when I did some recruiting work for a client, one of the critical elements I looked for in a candidate (beyond their skill set) was their cultural fit with the client.  It costs a lot of money to hire and train a new employee, and making sure the new hire would be a cultural fit from the start was a key strategy in reducing staff turnover.

Extending corporate culture into a digital workplace is essential in keeping the trust between geographically dispersed colleagues, building corporate camaraderie, and improving the lines of communication.  From branding to corporate rituals, each element of corporate culture that is mimicked in a digital workplace only serves to enhance the experience and productivity of a digital workforce.

A shared expectation of how a digital workplace is used improves the comfort level and experience for those working in a digital workplace, and it’s just common courtesy!

We’ve developed our own set of protocols and practices that have served us well in our five years of working in this digital place and many of our clients have adopted these as part of their corporate culture.  Contact us directly if you would like to learn more.

5. The Work Environment Matters

We mean this literally and figuratively.

Literally speaking, some people are better suited for an office space in a highrise while others get their energy from working at a park. Either way, it behooves employers to understand that just like a face-to-face workforces, a remote workforce feeds off of its environment too.

However, technology needs to be managed, and it doesn’t make any sense for an employer to offer a smorgasbord of technology options to suit its staff.  A multi-purpose and multi-visual digital platform can solve this problem, bringing all the technology needs AND environment preferences under one roof, so to speak. It just so happens that Flipside Workspace does precisely this.  Read more about Why I Love Working in a Digital Workspace here.

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