Next week, a project I’ve been working on for about three months goes over the line. I am declaring it a good job, well done.
But it serves an example for something else too.
There are five of us in the project team.
Three of the team started during lockdown. We have never met face to face. Nor have we sat together in a meeting room, been for a coffee, or stood round a flip chart with some post it notes.
Three of the team are part time, including me. We don’t all work the same days, crossing over fully on only two working days of the week.
Two of the team have other gigs when they aren’t at that workplace.
Two of the team have young children that they juggle alongside their work stuff.
Relationships are harder to build online, or so says the conventional wisdom. You can’t read the body language. You miss those serendipitous encounters. It is harder to be creative or to ask a quick question. Sometimes you need to be face to face.
I think our team, our project, proves this wrong.
All our work together has been online, remote. We have proper meetings and quick check in catch-ups type meetings. Shared files and online collaboration spaces. A team chat to keep us connected and everyone up to date (it also see a significant amount of Line of Duty gifs too). We may never have seen each other standing up, but we are a pretty kick-ass team all the same. This big and complex piece of work is comprehensive and creative. It is on time and on budget. It is going to make a difference to people.
Strong work relationships don’t need to form in meeting rooms and corridors. Good work, creative work, doesn’t spontaneously derive from buildings, being in buildings, being co-located.
Culture is people. Teams are people. And the right people, working well together, with motivation and enthusiasm can do great work. Wherever, whenever they are.
We don’t need no watercoolers.