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Effective Working in Digital Age

Effective Working in Digital Age?

2021 02 03 head

Home office is the new way of working. A lot of friends and business partners are working from home. Our meetings are mostly online. We share documents and results through digital platforms.

I truly hope we continue to work online in the future. I would like to mix home office, local coworking space, and regular office attendance. I am convinced less commute time and a greener approach to work are certainly great improvements.

I would also state the obvious. My infrastructure at home is better. I have a better Internet connection. My display is a high-end 4K screen instead of a cheap HD version. The coffee is also better.

My life would be more productive and fun if more people better understand how to work in a digital world.

Here a few advices to improve our experience.

Schedule an Appointment

  • Send me a calendar invitation in the ics format. Never email me asking for an appointment, please provide directly the invitation. Do not send invitations in Outlook proprietary format, I use macOS and Linux, not Microsoft and Office.
  • Send me a meaningful invitation. Provide an agenda, attendee list and attach documents I shall read before the meeting. Add the link and password for the conference such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, or Microsoft Team.

Test your connection before initiating your call. Mute your microphone to avoid disturbing the call attendees. Please buy a professional headset.

Use tools such as Trello and Miro to have more collegial meetings.

Write a Meeting Protocol

If you are responsible for a meeting please:

  • Provide an invitation with attendee list, agenda, and as attachment the documents I should read if I want to attend.
  • Write a protocol describing the activities of the meeting. A well-written protocol has the following sections
    • A copy of the agenda you sent to all attendees
    • A short description of the discussion
    • A list of decisions
    • A list of tasks to implement. Each task has a description, a due date and a responsible.

Please send the link to the protocol for review to all attendees. Define the deadline when the protocol will be released.

Any meeting without such a protocol was in fact just a gathering to eat donuts and drink coffee. Modern organizations have coffee break for such gatherings.

Share a Document

The rules to share a document are:

  • Avoid sending me a document per email. Send me the link to the document in a shared repository I have access to. I mean everybody is using Google Drive, DropBox, or Microsoft One Drive.

The rules to edit a document are:

  • Do not assume I am using Microsoft Office. I use and strongly prefer LibreOffice. I support open source software and format. Microsoft Office formal definition is not even implemented in Office.
  • When modifying a shared document, consider using the review mode as being polite to your team members.
  • PDF is the de facto standard to exchange documents in the wide world. Acrobat Reader is free to use on all major platforms. Acrobat Reader supports a review mode.

Communicate

  • Please use a chat application like Slack to communicate. Do not email me and call 20 minutes later to ask me if I read your email.
  • Please call me to discuss a complicated topic or schedule a telco Do not start an email trail to identify potential solutions to something complicated

Work on a Project

  • Use Git and set all the code artifacts under source code management.
  • Work with text formats. Avoid Office or LibreOffice formats for your documents You cannot compute differences on such documents.
  • Consider AsciiDoc as your preferred format. AsciiDoc is semantically equivalent to DocBook. You can write whole books with AsciiDoc.

Lessons Learnt

Adapt your analog processes to the digital world. Do not just copy them. Improve your processes and remove spurious activities.

Enjoy your online interactions. Go regularly drink a coffee or a beer with your peers. We are flesh and blood entities.