atlas by clearpeople

Brave New World

1 June 2020

“How beauteous mankind is!

O brave new world

That has such people in't!”

So wrote William Shakespeare in the Tempest back in about 1610. Over four hundred years later these words once more resonate as we conjure with life with- and post-Covid 19. It occurred to me that as we transition from being an essentially office-based business to one that is and will be entirely virtual, I have yet to physically meet two of my most recently joined team members.

That fact alone would have been impossible to imagine just a few months ago and I would have poured scorn on anyone suggesting that they employ people into key roles without first meeting them and ‘seeing the whites of their eyes’. And yet here we are and, perhaps more intriguingly, both people have made a great start and are already contributing significantly to our success and that of our clients – quite literally in this case as they’re both Client Success Managers!

So why has this apparently imperfect model worked? I think there are several factors that positively affected the outcome.

Firstly we were clear that we wanted these new joiners to help us shape our approach to delivering success. As such they should expect to question and contribute ideas. This gives new joiners a feeling of empowerment and helps them engage and share ideas from early on, even when they’re still learning about the company’s workings, its people and its clients. What is often several months of finding one’s feet can become more productive and positive.

Secondly we were very clear about the type of people we wanted in the team. New joiners needed to be self-motivated, self-starters and willing to stick their noses into everything, ask questions and throw themselves into learning about the processes and technology that are a foundation of our offerings. Fortunately Microsoft has been building an impressive library of e-learning content for Office 365, which greatly helps bring new-joiners, who might otherwise have a cursory understanding of the toolset, to a higher level of capability quite quickly.

Thirdly we ensured that two or three subject matter experts (SMEs) were always on hand to fill in the new joiners’ knowledge gaps. These SMEs are friendly, approachable and good at explaining.  Having them available to answer client queries, help shape proposals and clarify requirements means that the new joiners never feel too exposed and can learn quickly from such knowledgeable experts in their field. It can still feel a little overwhelming trying to cut through the techno-jargon, but at least the new joiners aren’t left alone.

Fourthly and finally, we are lucky to be using an incredibly rich and full-featured collaboration platform in the form of Microsoft 365 combined with our digital workspace solution, Atlas. The combination of Atlas and Microsoft 365, particularly Teams and Yammer, means that little is hidden in our organisation. Working out loud means that not only do the new joiners see the output from our teams, but they can quickly understand the thought and design processes that led to that output. They can engage in the creative and technical processes at whatever level they feel comfortable and build an intricate and deep understanding of our business and its offerings in record time even when all of our team is working remotely. Although we rather take it for granted, if I stop and think about it, that is an astonishing thing!

Who would have thought that, in just a few months, our world could have changed in such an absolute fashion? The concept of the office feels immediately outmoded, the idea that physical interaction is a necessity before employing key joiners seems quaint and working out loud has proven to be the oil that lubricates our new existence. I wonder what Shakespeare would have made of it all. I don’t suppose he’d be too pleased that his Globe theatre has been locked down and seems some way from re-opening, but maybe he would have embraced new technologies to convey his thoughts and messages. Who knows, perhaps he would use Microsoft Teams and Atlas to collaborate on his next production which might be released via streaming channels first. We’ll never know, but it’s an intriguing thought.

Author bio

Barry Wakelin

Barry Wakelin

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