Gini Dietrich

Can Technology Replace In-Person Meetings?

By: Gini Dietrich | March 5, 2013 | 

Can Technology Replace In-Person Meetings?During our Inside PR recording last week, Joe Thornley, Martin Waxman, and I had a very lively conversation about the Yahoo! memo.

Joe and I are both business owners with employees. He has two offices – Toronto and Ottawa – and I have a completely virtual organization with people spread across the United States and Canada.

We talked about the idea the Yahoo! executive team has decided there can only be more collaboration if everyone is sitting in the same space together.

Of course, it makes things difficult when he has two offices of people who need to collaborate and I have no one in close proximity. We talked about how to provide a sense of togetherness and whether or not technology can replace the in-person meeting.

Can Technology Replace In-Person Meetings?

Joe shared a story of how his teenaged daughter comes home from school, dials up her friends on Skype, and they all keep a video session open while they do homework. He said sometimes it’s complete silene as they work, hearing only the shuffling of paper or keystrokes on a laptop, and other times they’ll ask questions or work on a problem together.

That’s it, I thought. That’s how we do it.

Right now I do all of my direct report meetings in person (if they live in Chicago) or via video Skype. We do our staff meetings on Google Hangouts.

For the rest of the week, though, we typically instant message or text one another if we’re working on something that requires more than one brain.

But this idea of keeping a video session open? I like it.

That said, I’m the first one to admit I need uninterrupted time every day to get massive amounts of work complete. This idea won’t work for me for a good percentage of the day.

But there are times it would be a lot easier if I had someone in the next office so I could pop in and say, “I’m stuck on this challenge for a client. Can you help?”

The Fake Water Cooler

The idea being, of course, it’s non-appointment time together, but it requires a certain amount of organization and willingness to work with some level of interruption.

I floated this past the team last week so I don’t know yet if anyone will try it or if it will stick.

But I do know technology has allowed us to create substitute in-person meetings, providing the opportunity to work with extremely talented people no matter where they live in the world.

Why not see if something like this can create the water cooler chit chat and replace the in-person meeting so many leaders say their organizations can’t live without?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Very interesting, Gini, particularly for those of us who run virtual businesses. We work alone, which can be good and not-so-good, depending on the day or the challenges. Leaving Skype, or even Facetime, open would create that feeling of having a team or colleague close, but might also bother some who like to be left alone to work. As with so many other things, it just depends, right?

    • @NancyMyrland It does depend, yes, but there are instances where that in-person conversation needs to be replicated. I prefer to work alone, but even I need that sometimes, particularly after a big client meeting or while working on a new business proposal.

  • SteelToad

    Don’t look at is as a negative: It’s more providing an excuse to coordinate and work together, than it is a detractor by replacing personal contact. The water-cooler analogy is only partially apt: suppose in an office, you and another party work on separate floors, and thus, separate water coolers. It’s inefficient for either of you to leave everything else you have going on to meet with someone that a you have no “real” reason to meet with, so creativity is being stifled by simple office geography
    Virtual meetings are much less a replacement for in-person contact than they are an opportunity for otherwise unrealized cooperation.

    • @SteelToad I’m sorry – I certainly didn’t mean to present it as a negative. I think it’s pretty darn cool we have this opportunity!

      • SteelToad

        @ginidietrich I didn’t mean to make it sound like you presented it as a negative, but I can see that when I re-read it, sorry.
        It’s funny: When my daughter is home from college, she and her friends do the whole ‘skype thing’ .. mostly quiet nothing, but everybody throwing in tips on each others artwork. It really is impressive to watch

        • SteelToad

          @ginidietrich I meant when I re-read MY reply (doh)

        • @SteelToad I think we can learn a thing or two from our young friends!

  • It is not a perfect substitute for in person, but I have used Skype exactly the way you described it. After a while you almost forget it is on and then bam!
    Someone says or does something and you’re “live” again.

    • @Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes I hope you don’t pick your nose!

  • I think it’s a great idea and one that I am very interested in testing. I love working alone and find I need that quiet time to be able to focus, but I also find there are times when I need other minds to help me see past my own parameters. ‘Sides, it can be hilarious (with this team) and laughter is good for all ills. Course the real test is if/when I can do a Skype without having applied makeup first. 😉

    • @allenmireles You guys and the makeup make me laugh. None of us care if anyone else dresses for the occasion, yet everyone stresses about it.

      • SteelToad

        @ginidietrich  @allenmireles Some of us are too danged frightening looking, we might shift productivity in the wrong direction … but I guess it would work with just the microphone and a pretty picture in front of the camera 🙂

      • @ginidietrich  @allenmireles I don’t care. I had a Skype call with Lisa once right when I got home from Yoga…and I was DISGUSTING!! LoL!!
        Another time I came home from one of my meetings with Gini and my husband was like “You wore that to a meeting with your boss?” I had my “yoga” pants on and a t-shirt, no makeup but I think I might have had my hair done. I was like, “What? Gini doesn’t care what I look like!”

  • I like this idea. There are times when I yell out to a cube mate in just this same way. Of course, sometimes they don’t answer and I talk aloud all the same. !! Great option for all virtual. I find I do this already to a certain extent with friends in the industry – ask their opinion about something I am working on and it works great. 🙂

    • @katskrieger When we were in the office, the biggest distraction was always me laughing…which I do a lot. People eventually learned to tune me out, but I can see that would be a big challenge if we try this.

    • @katskrieger LOL! I used to do the same thing when I worked in an office! I’d end up just having conversations with myself and I’m pretty sure the people around me thought I was crazy.

      • @yvettepistorio  @katskrieger You ARE crazy.

        • @ginidietrich  @katskrieger Shhhh…not everyone here knows that about me!

        • belllindsay

          @ginidietrich  @yvettepistorio  @katskrieger Ermahgerd – I talk to myself CONSTANTLY when I’m working. Like, out loud, full on conversations. And now with Hank Dawg it’s even worse.

  • rdopping

    This post, the ideas and attitude hear are nothing short of brilliant! Those teenagers are inventive. Just think, Skype is free so no need to waste a bunch of time going to the library anymore to hang out and study. How cool is that?
     @ginidietrich I think what you are doing as a business is the future for many (if not already a reality). The most important statement in this post to me is “providing the opportunity to work with extremely talented people no matter where they live in the world.” That’s huge!
    Where I work, DIALOG, we have 4 offices; Toronto (the center of the universe), Calgary (the tech brains), Edmonton (the workhorse) and Vancouver (er, well, it’s Vancouver – ha, they do great work and are kicking our asses right now). The firm collaborates on projects every day. We always tell clients that they get the best DIALOG has to offer no matter the person’s location. We live it! In fact, I have a national account that utilizes all 4 offices and video conferencing is a regular part of my week. We couldn’t do it without being able to share with video. We all have the ability to video chat from our desks or use the VC units in the boardrooms. Indispensable technology as far as I am concerned.
    Can you TELL that I am excited, or what?

    • @rdopping I wonder how you feel about this? I can’t tell.

    • @rdopping  @ginidietrich “…no need to waste a bunch of time going to the library anymore…”   Really? I like the business thrust of what you’re saying, and I’ve worked virtually for years, with happy results, but I’m hoping that particular phrase was at least partly in jest.  As the father of teens, I am both gladdened by their ability to comfortably integrate technology into every aspect of their lives and saddened by its ability to isolate them and prevent the growth of honest, productive human relationships (see:  breaking up via text).  I’ll weigh in on the broader subject below, but please tell me I’m misinterpreting our statement, of blowing it out of proportion!

      • rdopping

        @creativeoncall  @ginidietrich I was kinda kidding about the not going to the library comment.
        It’s just cool to see how kids find useful avenues for technology. When I was growing up if I couldn’t go to the library to attend study sessions I missed out. These days that’s not as much of a factor.

        • @rdopping  @ginidietrich Whew! That’s what I thought; you’ll have to excuse by Dad-reflex…

    • @rdopping  I agree with your statement to @ginidietrich  “I think what you are doing as a business is the future for many (if not already a reality). The most important statement in this post to me is “providing the opportunity to work with extremely talented people no matter where they live in the world.” That’s huge!” As someone who does not live in a big area it allows me to connect with other people all over and I treasure the friendships I have made because of Skype and Google Hangouts.

    • @rdopping  @ginidietrich Hah! “Er, well, it’s Vancouver…” NICE!

      • rdopping

        @RebeccaTodd  @ginidietrich so glad my comic styling didn’t go unnoticed.

  • Const-Skype sounds like a fun idea… Though woe betide anyone forgetting big office brother is watching and turns up for ‘home’ work dressed in underpants and a bandana….

    • @Nic_Cartwright What’s wrong with that?!

      • @ginidietrich you would be on a constant stress level worrying to make sure your cycling pants matched your Tour de France bandana…..

        • @Nic_Cartwright  True…

        • @ginidietrich I turned off Skype the day I lost my batman outfit…

        • belllindsay

          @Nic_Cartwright  @ginidietrich I only wear pants on Friday.

        • @belllindsay @ginidietrich I hear yahoo are considering that as mandatory Friday wear

        • @Nic_Cartwright  OMG! Did you find it?!?

        • @ginidietrich you never see me and Christian bale in the same room…….? That’s all I can say….

  • nateriggs

    You bring up some good points, Gini.  Just heard on NPR that Best Buy is going to follow suit with Yahoo and ban employees from working at home.  Lots of people seemed to be surprised by the move by both brands, but I think we have to keep in mind that while all the online collaboration tools are great, scaling adoption inside of huge organizational cultures like these companies is a battle in itself.  If you’re a small, networked, entrepreneur-type, then online collaboration is ‘virtually’ a no brainer.  It’s easy for folks with our past experiences to naturally gravitate towards new tools.  
    But in corporate environments where Exchange Servers and heavy IT departmental politics are still at the controls, I feel like getting employees to gather around virtual water coolers is going to take some more years.  As some of the new companies grow larger, the trend will probably shift.  It’s all a bit silly, but in the end, people really dislike change…

    • @nateriggs folk also dislike the thought of being “banned”….. Told what to do….. Different topic, I.e. how yahoo managed it, but general message needs to be one of treating folk as human rather than resource…

    • @nateriggs I don’t disagree…but I also think it’s time for large organizations to think differently. The industrial age is over. GE works virtually and they’re the largest company in the world (or one of the largest). It can work if organizations think about results instead of butts in seats.

  • @ginidietrich I was using Facebook Video chat to talk to my boss daily when I work remotely from Maine, but I just switched to Skype and I stay logged on all day so he can call at anytime. We also text each other with quick questions or if we need something. 
    I think you can get as much done working remotely as when you’re in the office, I get more done when I work remotely. Although, I believe the company needs to be set up for it. When I worked at WIN Home Inspection we all worked remotely and it worked really well cause we were set up for it, we used Voice over Internet phones, instant messenger to chat quickly with each other and we stuck to the meetings we scheduled.
    On another note, I did miss having co-workers to chat with. I solved that problem by attending multiple networking events each week and going to learning seminars.
    I applaud you for trusting your employees to get their job done when they’re not sitting next to you.

    • @jennimacdonald I”ve never been a big micromanager, but I will tell you I always felt guilty if I wanted to ride at noon when we were in the office. Now I don’t feel guilty about it at all. There are definitely pros and cons – sometimes Mr. D will say to me, “You need to get out of the house” – but I’ve seen productivity rise since we went virtual. No reason not to trust your colleagues when the focus is on results.

      • @ginidietrich  @jennimacdonald See G you build this two-way street of trust and respect, which builds motivation in your team. You are confident enough to appreciate them and let them know you do. Not every manager has this sense!

  • I love this idea and it came just in time for our first annual planning meeting/anniversary celebration! I feel like one of the biggest issues faced in a virtual office is the friendly camaraderie that comes from incidental conversation.  Sometimes I worry my employees only see me when we’re meeting about client work or performance reviews!  
    I think that it would have to be planned time of open video.  Honestly,our team (myself included) feel like it’s a perk to workout in sweats and no one needs to see just how many Husker pants I have!  🙂

    • @HeatherTweedy Apparently no one on my team cares what each other thinks…they show up in their jammies or sweats and no makeup. It kind of cracks me up!

  • Enough has been said/written about the Yahoo! thing, that I don’t need to add to the noise.
    However, of course I am here to comment…! So: first, just because people are physically in an office together doesn’t mean they are all literally in the same space. I don’t know what your physical office was like, but I can tell you at almost all the physical offices I’ve occupied, almost always there were more doors shut than open, or people *in* their offices than in some kind of communal work space (which mostly didn’t exist, and still doesn’t except at some tech companies… a conference room is not the same thing). I don’t see the need to try to replicate a physical office down to the last detail.
    The idea of opening simultaneous video/Skype sessions is nice but it’s one thing when kids do it (they don’t mind seeing each other in their bedrooms, etc.)… but could be quite different when professionals try it. Heck, you’ve been on Skype calls with me where you’ve refused to turn the video on because you didn’t want me seeing you that particular day…! That said, it’s certainly interesting, though for me, I would probably only do it with a very few people, with whom I’m absolutely comfortable.
    Second, personally I am not a “Will X Kill Y?” or “Will Such-and-Such Replace So-and-So?” kind of person. I’d rather meet in the middle.
    Third, as far as real in person meetings go – I don’t believe anything can and/or should replace them. That’s what makes us, as humans, tick. Now, *how* we approach meetings, how we schedule meetings, how many of them need to take place in order for the business to be effective… that’s a different story. But should F2F disappear completely? Not in my opinion.

    • @Shonali Yes to this! What I was pondering with Howie above- just because people are physically in an office doesn’t mean that they are mentally present.

    • @Shonali We actually didn’t allow closed office doors. And, in some cases, boys and girls shared offices and it’s against the law for them to keep the door closed in Illinois. I didn’t know that and had to learn the hard way. Lordy. So we’ve never had the “we’re here, but not really here” issues, but we did at FH. Big time.

  • The company that I am with now is the first time that I have had a team spread out across multiple countries. We use Google Hangouts and GChat constantly! I didnt really like the idea of video at first but now when I am emailing or chatting, I say ‘do you wanna hangout’ and the answer is always yes. Some things are better face-to-face but it just doesnt make sense to fly all over the country all the time when technology enables interaction instantly. And – when it comes time to seek new talent, you are not limited by your geo.

    • @C_Pappas Have you thought about taking it the next step and just keeping a Hangout open while you work together?

  • Most people are always amazed when we say we have never met majority of our clients “face-to-face”.  Typically in our industry everyone wants their programming done yesterday and the person we deal with is too swamped to set aside in person meeting time. We do lots of Skype meetings, and rely heavily on instant messaging.
    My daughter studies via face-time (supervised, so yes, I know she is studying) and in many instances you just hear papers shuffling with no chatting.
    My son “hangs out” with friends via Xbox live on a whim.  
    Today for instance, is a snow day with our programmers all working remotely, but with IM, etc its business as usual!

    • @sydcon_mktg I have a friend who told me one of the young professionals on her team called in sick yesterday because she couldn’t get to the office with the snow. My friend said, “Um, you have the Internet at home.” Come on, people!

  • (I haven’t weighed in on conversation in a long time, but I still read every day!) This is a topic right up my alley since I work for a provider of these kinds of services.  Strangely enough, we abide by the rule that nothing will ever be able to replace the face to face interactions, but tools and services like ours (and others) can greatly bridge the gap between being in the office all day and never being in the office at all. There’s a ton of fascinating research out there that breaks down the health risks and psychological “costs” of having limited or no physical contact with co-workers.  
    I think that a 100% virtual environmental or office space doesn’t completely work – in most cases. There are exceptions to every single rule out there but the studies and experiences I’ve had with various clients show me that a virtual environmental is more successful when it is still treated as an office.  If you and all your employees were in the office together, I don’t think your boss would like it too much if you showed up in your pajamas with bed head and you didn’t wash your face. The boss would be equally irritated if you said “I’ll be right back, I really need to get some laundry done” and then didn’t get anything done for the next thirty minutes. Creating a virtual environments means creating a place in your home where you “work”. I hate spending the work day in my office, but I am super productive at home in hour or two bursts. 
    Still, nothing will ever be as powerful or as meaningful as the face to face.

    • @Maranda It’s funny you say that. I used to stress about getting my bike ride in before I went to the office because I didn’t think it showed good leadership to go out at noon (which is when I prefer). Now it doesn’t bother me one bit. I can sit here in my cycling clothes, all sweaty and smelly afterwards too, and no one says a thing.

  • A few years ago, I worked for a PR agency organized very much like your Gini. We were scattered across the nation and pretty much everyone worked from their homes. Overall, phone/email/text worked relatively well.
    We would once a week have a telephone conference call. About twice or three times a year, we’d get together in person.
    Seemed to work out well.
    The virtual office/work from home approach, which I think has great value, is in essence a challenge of the hiring manager. It is difficult enough to find talented, hard-working people who get your mission and will work well with your team.  Now they also have to be motivated enough to be productive while sitting in their jammies, with a television and a pile of laundry ten feet away.

    • @ClayMorgan So far, it hasn’t been a problem for us. I’ve found if we focus on goals, people deliver. I don’t care if they do it in their jammies or completely naked. They also don’t forget how to tie their ties.

      • @ginidietrich I forgot how to tie my tie ONE time. Just once!

        • @ClayMorgan  @ginidietrich Last time my son had an event we had to double check on YouTube how to tie a tie! I tell you there is a YouTube demonstration for just about everything….

  • Leon

    G’Day Gini,
    I imagine that about 100 years ago, managers were asking each other , “Will telephone conversations replace face to face talking?” I subscribe to that old fashioned idea that to get the “right” answer you must ask the “right” question.
    Maybe we should be asking something like “How can we best use technology to ensure that we still retain the benefits of  in person meetings without the associated disruptions and inconveniece?”……..or something similar.
    Big Heresy!
    It’s occurred to me that children don’t really need to go to school for five days a week any more. With modern technology and modern instructional design techniques, sitting in a classroom with a pile of other kids is no longer the best way to learn stuff. Not only that, but every child could have the best possible quality of instruction designed and delivered by the best teachers without classrooms.
    We’d still need to address socialization issues. And we’d have to find viable uses for all those buildings we call schools. Let’s face it. There’s no good reason why school should last 12 years and post secondary education a minimum of three. That;s merely an administrative convenience.
    OK! OK! I’ll return to my burrow to plot more challenges to the cornerstones of Western civilization. But one thing’s for sure. Businesses no longer need gangs of supervisors and technical experts whose main purpose in life is to ensure that lesser mortals “do what they’re paid for.”
    Make sure you have fun

    • @Leon There is a commercial that shows a kid attending class from his hospital room via a robot that walks the halls, eats lunch in the cafeteria, everything. I wonder if schools will actually run that way eventually?

  • I started my virtual agency some 18 years ago, and what I would have given to have Skype, Hangouts, etc!  Today I leave Skype on, ready to chat, video or otherwise… but in an ideal world, I still see teamwork as a mix of the virtual an in-person.  
    Case in point:   we sometimes act as an on-call creative department for agencies, and one called up a couple of months ago at 4pm, needing creative for a new business pitch – three campaigns, fully comped – by 7:30 AM the next morning.  No problem, because I was able to a) assemble a local team quickly, work several hours face-to -ace and then continue literally through the night on Skype Pro where we can group chat, screen share, file share, etc.   But – particularly for the initial creative ideas – it was much preferable to be in person, rapidly bouncing ideas off each other, seeing each others reactions, giving each other crap for the bad ones, and more quickly zooming in on what worked.   Skype was just fine, however, for working through the details.  
    So I have some sympathy for Yahoo in their pursuit of in-person innovation… but I think they’d be wise to preserve a mix.

    • @creativeoncall I like how it doesn’t seem a big deal you had to deliver something in 15 hours and most of those hours were OVERNIGHT.

      • @ginidietrich That’s what one gets for naming one’s company Creative on Call… sometimes ya gotta get creative as soon as the call comes in.  It was actually great fun; I like the energy of time compressed projects, where things can’t be over thought and are forced to stay closer to the original inspiration.  (OK, let me qualify that.. I like time compressed projects so long as they are appropriately compensated). And we were invited back to do another pitch with “a lot more time” (3 days).   In any case, technology definitely helped make the first project possible.

  • magriebler

    While I am personally creeped out by the idea of an open video session (I like my office, although the door is always open), what’s great about this conversation is the reminder that there are so many ways to stay in touch while working virtually. Phone. Text. Email. Skype. Google. I’m not in a virtual office environment right now, but I have been in the past. I figured out what communication tactic worked best for each staff person and that’s what we did. As a team, we met regularly via conference calls (no video).
    Isn’t it nice that we can customize the way we work with our colleagues, just as we can customize the way we reach out to our audiences? I love it. We truly are free to work anywhere these days. What happened at Yahoo is a failure of management and I wish we were talking about that, instead of blaming the staff.

    • @magriebler I’m going to Skype you and make you keep it open all day.

  • Even in a tech driven business like online banking tools for banks I have made the experience, that in the end you always nee a face-to-face meeting for getting a deal.
    Cheers from Germany

    • @HLeichsenring Interesting…I’ve closed a lot of business in the past year without the face-to-face meeting.

  • Melanie Tolley Hall

    We use Chatter on but we could use it in more collaborative ways I think!

  • Been working on my own post on this – as yeah it’s generated a lot of debate. The tech is a part of it and will go w/ everyone that ‘replace’ completely is a bit of a stretch.
    For many events and meetings, a video chat is perfect. There are some tough talks that need a personal touch (Up In Air), and a few more complicated, more detailed or even more critical – tech fails, so if it HAS to happen, it may be in person.
    Now this ‘water cooler’ noise, I think it’s mostly that.. as is much of the ‘productivity’ debate. Guess I will have to finish my post a little sooner. FWIW.

    • @3HatsComm You got it done! I have it open (screwing up your stats), but won’t read until tomorrow. As is evidenced in the tardiness of this reply, I’m behind!

  • When @jaybaer was on the podcast a few weeks ago, he said something that really struck me: if travelling for regular face-to-face meetings with a prospective client is a contract condition, they don’t take on the work.  
    I’ve been a remote worker for the past six years in various roles, and workshifting is valuable to my work and my productivity. I posted on Facebook after the Yahoo! announcement and I realized that I was being rash in my critiques. Mayer was brought on to fix a culture problem at Yahoo! and she’s certainly privy to far more information than little ol’ me.

    • @jasonkonopinski  We don’t really have that rule formalized, but we won’t take on clients that require it either. We’ve only had *one* prospect decide not to work with us because we don’t have actual office space. I thought that was odd, but it was her prerogative.

  • Open video session; it has merit. I would just have to remember it’s on and not pick my nose or burp or make any trouser adjustments…….
    I do have an office and when I need uninterrupted time I can pull my door shut. However, I’m usually one of the first ones in the office in the morning so I have a good hour to get whatever social stuff I’m going to do done…unless somebody comes in and sits down. I like to keep an open door, but sometimes it’s not the best for productivity.
    I guess you could have a ‘virtual’ door I suppose, right? 
    Not that I’m a pit nicker, but I did find this in your post: He said sometimes it’s complete silene as they work…I know, it’s kind of like having a booger in your nose and none of your friends will tell you. But I know you love me unconditionally and I can say stuff like that, right?
    Have a great day…….:).

    • HowieG

      @bdorman264 you use that first hour video conferencing on chat roulette?

    • @bdorman264 Or fart…

      • @ginidietrich That’s a given…….

  • HowieG

    This is very interesting because I was a remote sales person for 5 years. Worked from home 3000 miles from my employer. But the org wasn’t virtual. I would spend 4 separate weeks a year there. I noticed how it is easy to interrupt people often and be interrupted. 
    That said we would do conference calls with clients around north america to discuss engineered products. Things went much smoother when the engineers were together in the same room that in separate locations.
    So to me just depends on the organization and what they do for business. A lot of tools can replace meetings. And I think the right leadership can facilitate proper collaboration from a far. Maybe plan a block of time a few times a week where you need to stay available for skype or IM etc?

    • @HowieG Great points, Howie. I was also a remote officer for years- would only see a colleague every 6 weeks at the most. And this was- shlock horror!- back in the pre- smart phone days, so we would have to email or- get this!- PHONE our team mates! And that is one thing I notice now that I have an office- yes, there are all those opportunities for serendipitous work talk, but it is mostly casual chit chat. And perhaps that casual talk build relationships- I don’t know, I am an introvert and have to script small talk or else I bring up zombies way too frequently- but I tend to see it as endless disruptions. 
      Thing is, where are the metrics for how much impact these face to face meetings have? Because when I think of these types of corporate meetings, I think of most people fiddling on their phones or laptops, flipping through handouts, or just staring off in to space. It may make the presenter feel better to have bums in seats, but I dare say most of those bodies are actually at rest.

      • giesencreative

        “I am an introvert and have to script small talk or else I bring up zombies way too frequently.”
        Best. quote. ever.

        • @giesencreative Honestly. On a recent sales trip I tried to engage a cashier on how microwaves create zombie food…she just stared as if I had a second head.

        • HowieG

          @RebeccaTodd  @giesencreative so zombies exist?

        • @RebeccaTodd  You DO have a second head.

      • @RebeccaTodd  @HowieG Been there Rebecca.. how many memos and meeting recaps are emailed to the group, b/c no one remembers what was discussed? And how rare for something to actually get decided, get done? Sure it can happen just the same at a ‘virtual’ meeting but that’s kinda the point – being live (or a zombie.. heh) in person doesn’t guarantee this teamwork or magically capture idea lightning in a bottle. Mileage will always vary. FWIW.

  • mitchellfriedmn

    @ginidietrich No. Never. Not ever. Am I clear? 🙂

  • namfos

    @ginidietrich Richard Cohens seems to think not,

  • asifkhan83

    @ginidietrich nope don’t think so. Unless I’m mistaken travel (& biz travel especially) has actually been increasing not decreasing over yrs

  • nowever

    @AmyVernon @ginidietrich I’ll have my people Skype your people to answer that.

    • AmyVernon

      @nowever @ginidietrich this is an auto-reply.

      • nowever

        @AmyVernon @ginidietrich My car tweets for me also.

  • I love the idea of you and @belllindsay just having your Skype open, kind of like when you were a teenager and would fall asleep on the phone talking to your crush. So cute!

    • @RebeccaTodd  @belllindsay You say goodbye first. No you!

      • belllindsay

        @ginidietrich  @RebeccaTodd LOL!

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  • MediaNortheast

    @BurgessAdv Interesting write up!

    • BurgessAdv

      @medianortheast yeah, we thought so also! Hope you’re having a great day!

      • MediaNortheast

        @BurgessAdv Funny how the open minded youth of today can give us such great ideas

  • Gini Dietrich

    Melanie, I hear that a lot about Chatter. We have a couple of clients who say they have it, but it’s not used effectively. Wonder why that is?

  • GrantEpstein

    Very interesting idea.  Would certainly make informal communications much easier

    • @GrantEpstein We’re going to try it. I’ll report back.

  • My business partner lives across the world (okay, just the city) from me – it’s taken me two hours (!!!) in rush hour traffic to get to her house on more than one occasion. We both have young children, so meeting in the middle or on either end isn’t worth the time we’d lose travelling. We use GoToMeeting to have weekly phone calls where we touch base on projects and client work, Dropbox as our server, a Facebook group for various day-to-day communications, we’ve also instituted other cloud-based solutions to keep communication open. And we’re constantly texting each other (thank you iMessage!!) or sending IMs. 
    I know it’s not realistic for every position in every organization, but for a knowledge-based organization like Yahoo? I can’t understand this archaic decision.

    • @Karen_C_Wilson TWO HOURS?! Good Lord. That’d make me go mental. I’d definitely be doing the same as you.

  • Melanie Tolley Hall

    I think it’s reluctance to embrace the site and rely less on e-mail. People are still straddling both techn

  • Melanie Tolley Hall


  • Gini Dietrich

    Grrrrr. I wish email would die.

  • Richardtyrrell3

    @tedcoine @ginidietrich called Skype!!

  • mssackstein

    @profkrg @ginidietrich I’m sure they can, but I hope they don’t 🙂

  • SeattleKG

    @scrappy_face @SpinSucks I think I love that idea and hate it all at the same time!

    • scrappy_face

      @SeattleKG It’s nice to be able to have Skype meetings, but… keeping it on could be a little weird. 😉 @spinsucks

  • Face-to-face meetings are outstanding, but I appreciate tools like Google+ Hangouts and Skype for getting that face-to-face without costing thousands of dollars in travel expense. I also think that technology goes a long way to further enabling the mobile worker if you already have the culture and relationships to sustain that mobile worker.
    Yahoo muffed that announcement terribly, and it used too broad-brush of an approach. If they are trying to save a sinking ship, I can understand getting more people in the office to re-establish a winning corporate culture. But some people are incredibly effective in mobile roles and should not be faced with ultimatums: come back in the office or find another job.
    Of course, this is coming from a guy who has telecommuted since about 1998!

    • @dbvickery Someday we’ll be able to beam back and forth to meetings. That will be nice.

  • Leon

    G’Day Gini,
    I was rereading “The New Positioning” by Jack trout and Steve Rivkin when i chanced upon this little gem. It’s relevant to the Yahoo situation.
    “Chances are that when a new CEO arrives, you’re looking at a would be hero. Obviously, any piece of thinking that was around before he or she arrived is suspect.”
    “The New Positioning” was first published in 1996! Hmm…….
    Best Wishes

  • Leon

    G’Day Gini,
    I was rereading “The New Positioning” by Jack trout and Steve Rivkin when i chanced upon this little gem. It’s relevant to the Yahoo situation.
    “Chances are that when a new CEO arrives, you’re looking at a would be hero. Obviously, any piece of thinking that was around before he or she arrived is suspect.”
    “The New Positioning” was first published in 1996! Hmm…….
    Best Wishes

  • Melanie Tolley Hall

    Me too!

  • AnastasiaAshman

    ginidietrich TaraAgacayak TMonsefBunger and I conduct Skype weekly team calls and monthly Linqto video calls with our global community

    • ginidietrich

      AnastasiaAshman See! So easy to manage.

      • AnastasiaAshman

        ginidietrich we exist globally at globalniche so operating this way is not so much a choice as a requirement, hence early adopters

        • ginidietrich

          AnastasiaAshman I imagine no one complains about it either and productivity is fairly high?

        • AnastasiaAshman

          ginidietrich complaints from forefront are usually about ppl slow to adopt cf

        • ginidietrich

          AnastasiaAshman Interesting!

    • TaraAgacayak

      AnastasiaAshman ginidietrich TMonsefBunger And when we do have in-person meetings we incorporate #tech.

      • ginidietrich

        TaraAgacayak How so?

        • TaraAgacayak

          ginidietrich We put mtg notes into Basecamp, use smartphones to snap photos of mtg documents, Google docs for ongoing collaboration…

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