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.