Sit Next to Me :: What Do Smarter Teams Look Like?
Anna Osgoodby Life + Design :: Sit Next to Me :: What Do Smarter Teams Look Like?

As the way we look at the workplace evolves, so too will the way we work together as teams. Whether you’re an entrepreneur like myself, or working in a corporation, spending more time out of the office is going to have a profound effect on that work. So how can teams become smarter and work more intuitively? Here are some thoughts.

Getting Smarter Tech

As we rely more heavily on video conferencing and conference calls, we also find ourselves becoming more demanding. We’ve all been on a conference call waiting for everyone to dial in, only to get an email from someone whose phone number or passcode isn’t working, necessitating another dial-in. Or you’re on a video conference, and the software isn’t working properly. In both cases, it could be 15-20 minutes before you even begin to address the purpose of the call. Tech is great when it works, but in many ways the technology we’re using still lags behind. According to a Wainhouse Research study, “despite ongoing increases in demand, utilization and usability, the process and workflow for organizing, participating in and closing-out a conference call has changed little over time. Many longstanding meeting-related issues remain.”

So in the future, we may be able to say goodbye to mundane tasks like setting up conference calls, emailing participants, keeping track of dial-in numbers and passcodes, testing sound and presentation quality, and taking notes. Instead, AI will be able to help streamline the process so that the only thing attendees need to worry about is having a productive conversation. Not only will this make the process easier for all parties involved, but employees will be able to get right down to the business at hand. It’s all about creating smarter tech that streamlines current processes and allows those involved to focus on higher-level work.

Adding a Human Touch to Working Remotely

Here’s another question: How can AI and machines help make working remotely more of a human experience? That may sound counterintuitive at first, but let me explain. When you’re meeting in person or working together in an office, it’s pretty easy to judge someone’s tone of voice or to pick up on nonverbal cues. When you’re working together from different ends of the country, though, that process is anything but easy. Working in the design world, connecting with my clients is everything. It’s my job to bring brands to life or to capture a specific feeling, and sometimes explaining something via email isn’t the most effective method. Video chat and phone calls can certainly be more helpful in these situations, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement. Plus, in my field, hopping on a call or scheduling a video conference for every set of edits just isn’t realistic.

Technology that Cisco is working on to help communicate the context of words and ideas will be a game changer for the industry. Using these new tools, we can communicate with high emotional fidelity, capturing almost all of those nonverbal cues that make up the majority of human communication. Tech can also keep us in tight personal connection during the times we’re not meeting, through emerging platforms like work chat, where informal and persistent connection builds team trust and productivity.

Yes, all of this will help streamline my current edit process, but more importantly, it will eliminate the need for unnecessary calls or meetings or misunderstandings caused by ineffective communication. Again, it’s all about creating smarter tools, and we can expect the integration of AI to increasingly bridge the gap between tech and humans.

Keeping Distributed Teams Connected

A final thought about smarter teams: With technology creating “virtual office spaces,” knowledge workers can also begin to take advantage of some of the benefits normally associated with an office setting, such as the ability to brainstorm ideas. Cisco has shown one way of doing this with TeamTV, its always-on television channel that brings remote teammates into the office. The idea is that workers on distributed teams can sometimes feel disconnected from their teammates. TeamTV is being used to build personal relationships and promote on-the-fly brainstorm sessions. While the idea of a webcam constantly filming the team took some getting used to, the Cisco Emerge team soon found it became as natural as working in an office with an open plan.

When you’re an entrepreneur, the administrative tasks you need to manage can eat up a lot of your time. And time is money. By having access to software that can learn repetitive tasks such as invoicing and scheduling weekly calls, creatives like myself are able to free up time to spend on projects that highlight our talents. That in itself is a huge component to building smarter teams.

**This post is brought to you by Cisco and IDG. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Cisco.

The Future of Collaboration :: Making Every Place the Work Place
Anna Osgoodby Life + Design :: The Future of Collaboration :: Making Every Place the Work Place

One of the best parts of being an entrepreneur is the flexibility of my workplace. Some days it’s at a coworking space or a local coffee shop, others it’s at my home office, or, let’s be real, from the comfort of my couch. At the end of the day, though, my clients and the people I’m collaborating with care less about where I’m doing my work and more about the job at hand. As the way we define the term “workplace” continues to evolve, so will the way we do our actual work.  

Why? Because we’re in a period of change, and entrepreneurs and freelancers aren’t the only ones being impacted. In fact, a number of surveys involving knowledge workers suggest that many organizations are already making significant changes in preparation for the future workplace. That’s because diminishing employee satisfaction is found by organizations to be one of the biggest challenges they face.

Organizations are losing talent to those branching out on their own or to other opportunities that allow for more flexibility. In fact, employees who had the freedom to work remotely reported being the most satisfied, creative, and productive among those surveyed, which is why you’re seeing this dramatic shift. So how will this shape the way we work together and how we view the workplace?

Human Connection Still an Important Factor

In the future we may be spending less time in traditional offices, but collaboration will remain a necessity across industries. We may be taking advantage of technology more, but human connection isn’t going to be any less important. The shift instead will be focused on how we communicate. No longer is it necessary to come into an office every day to share ideas; instead, teams can now take advantage of collaborative software to work together on shared tasks. As a designer, communication is a key part of my job no matter where I’m working from. Not only do I need to make sure that the needs of my clients are being met on each design project, but I also need to be able to coordinate any other moving pieces in between teams affiliated with those projects.

New technology and the integration of AI will only help benefit this process and streamline the experience of working with remote teams. Now, talk about new technology and AI replacing humans may make for catchy headlines, but the truth is, we’re not going anywhere. Instead, the trend will be more on developing software to make the process of collaborating more seamless and integrating systems that allow us to be more productive remotely.

Collaborating Effectively as a Team

As we shift to more professionals working remotely, our need for productive collaborative tools increases. Some of the top tools that make my job easier are programs that combine project management, communication, and workflow. These tools help break down location barriers and allow my team to work together as if we were all in the same room. Having a digital hub for projects makes it easy for all team members to access the information they need and provide updates anywhere and anytime.

Of course, there’s always the issue of unproductive meetings, which are regularly cited as a top challenge in employee surveys. Utilizing software that streamlines processes not only increases people’s ability to be more successful at working remotely, but it can also increase the productivity of meetings. This is because the programs make it easy for all team members to see what’s been accomplished already, meaning less time is spent on progress reports and more on big-picture tasks.

The most effective programs and tools are those that allow you to forget about the fact that you’re working in different locations and just focus on the tasks at hand. By expanding the way we look at the workplace, not only will we be able to enjoy more flexibility in our work, but we’ll also open many doors to collaborative opportunities that wouldn’t be available in a traditional workplace setting.

Mobile-Optimized Experiences

As the shift to working remotely continues to expand, so will expectation for mobile-friendly experiences. Today we’re more attached to our mobile devices than ever before and with that, we’re also doing more work from our phones. As a designer, I can tell you that, in the last few years, my clients are more concerned about how their websites translate across platforms than about eye-catching designs. They want to make sure that their brand experiences are seamless no matter if people are looking at their website on a desktop, tablet, or cell phone, and I expect this trend to translate into collaborative tools as well.

As a millennial, I’ve grown up with technology at my fingertips and just as the workplace has become more digital, I expect the same from the tools I use. I want to use tools that help me get my job done faster and more efficiently, and I want them to be accessible and easy to use no matter what device I’m using. And I’m not the only one. By 2030, millennials will make up 75% of the workforce’s employees, and it’s critical that the programs we’re building today are designed with that in mind.

My closing point: we’re in the midst of a dramatic shift in the way we view the workplace and how we’ll work together moving forward. During this turning point it’s up to us to take advantage of the technology available to build powerful collaborative tools that maximize productivity and break down barriers of location. The workplace will no longer be defined by its location but rather by the work that is accomplished and the tools we use to do so.

**This post is brought to you by Cisco and IDG. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Cisco.

Get Rewarded this Season with Black Box Wines
Anna Osgoodby Life + Design : Get Rewarded this Season with Black Box Wines

If there's one thing that goes well with the holiday season, it's wine! Okay, let's be honest... are there many things that don't pair well with wine?! 🍷🍷 That's what I thought.. that being said, if you're a wine fan like me, then you are going to love today's post!

Anna Osgoodby Life + Design : Get Rewarded this Season with Black Box Wines

What could possibly be better than the holidays and wine? How about getting rewarded for the wine you're already buying! Say what?! Yes, this is a real thing. Black Box Wines recently introduced a loyalty program and I am alllll about it. 

So what are the dets? It's super easy, all you have to do is create a free account through their rewards program and then you can start earning points right away for your purchases and engaging with the brand. That's it! Easy peasy. So what can you earn rewards for? Product discounts, access to events, gift cards to top brands like Sephora, Uber, Hulu and more. Plus, they have some really awesome branded merchandise, like the goodies below!

Anna Osgoodby Life + Design : Get Rewarded this Season with Black Box Wines

I don't know about you, but personally, I'm all about saving up for the floaty set! Think my new apartment complex will be cool with me floating around sipping some of my favorite wine? I mean as long as I share right? I'll keep you posted 😉 The team also hooked me up with their portable wine glasses, which I most certainly will be putting to good use.

Anna Osgoodby Life + Design : Get Rewarded this Season with Black Box Wines
Anna Osgoodby Life + Design : Get Rewarded this Season with Black Box Wines

Now onto some other important details, the actual wine! If you're not familiar with Black Box Wines, then let me introduce you! The brand offers premium, award-winning wines in a box. And this is not your parent's cheap boxed wine either.. it's taking boxed wine to a new level! So far I've tried the Red Blend and the Rosé and I've been really impressed. Which btw, once the temps warm up again save this Frosé recipe I made this summer.. delicious!

Their wine is the perfect choice for the holidays too because each box holds 4 bottles worth of wine. Plus, it's good for up to 6 weeks after opening, just in case you don't finish it at your party. It also has half of the carbon footprint of glass bottles, which is something you might not think about when you uncork a bottle, but certainly has an impact!

So let me set this straight, the wine is delicious, you'll get rewarded for drinking it, plus it's a more eco-friendly option?! If that doesn't encourage you to check them out I don't know what will! So what are you waiting for? Get to that by clicking the link below! Cheers to that!

**Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. Black Box Wines provided me with a complimentary box of wine and set of wine glasses in exchange for a blog post. This post and all opinions stated are based on my own ideas and honest experience with the product and has not been influenced based upon the sponsorship.