Kevan Hall, CEO of Global Integration recently visited Silicon Valley to talk to some of the newer technology companies about their experiences of collaboration and creating integrated global organizations. It was an interesting experience on many levels.
The limits of communicating through technology
It was good to visit a booming sector and to learn about the particular challenges of high-volume recruitment and building a new corporate culture when employee numbers can grow by 50% or more per year.
One of the topics we discussed was collaboration through technology. I was expecting to hear about the reduced need for face-to-face contact as younger tech savvy employees cooperated seamlessly through communications technologies – and to some extent this was true.
However, I also heard several stores that validated the need for a balance between the use of technology and the more high touch relationship oriented face-to-face contact.
One of the HR people I spoke to had worked for a technology company that specialised in communication tools and was passionate about the use of them, unfortunately over time the people in the organisation became quite isolated. Most spent their time in offices and cubicles communicating through Web tools and became isolated not only from their remote colleagues but also from the people in the next cubicle.
This was a real problem for the organisation because it was unacceptable for them to be seen to be criticising their own technology. It became a difficult corporate cultural exercise to find the right balance.
This echoes our own findings – balance is important.
We have clients at the other end of the scale who are passionate about a family style of high touch management and underuse technology – this leads to very high travel and time costs. These clients cut travel budgets in autumn nearly every year, only to find it bounces back once the limits are relaxed because they haven’t developed the skills and infrastructure to get things done without face to face contact.
We need a blend of technology, travel and the skills to operate both face to face and remotely in order to be successful in an integrated global organization.