In my last blog in July, ‘Relationships mean business’, I wrote about how productive working relationships can be built without face to face contact.
This point was well illustrated by Dutchman Sytse Sijbrandij, co-founder of the successful Unicorn ‘Gitlab’, in a recent newspaper article (NRC 26 September ’19).
Whilst he was wiring money from a Western Union office in the Netherlands to his co-founder and business partner in Ukraine, the clerk asked him ‘do you know this man or have you met him via the Internet?’.
He had to explain that he had never met his partner face to face (F2F), but that they had collaborated online to start a software company. By now, their company is valued at €2.5 billion.
Today, Gitlab has 1000 employees, but not a single office. Here Sijbdrandij explains his view on building remote working relationships:
‘It does not make any sense to sit together in an office. It’s better to use digital tools well(!) to stay connected. We meet on video-calls and on chat. For socializing and networking, there are ‘coffee chats’ and ‘social team calls’. It saves costs and it’s practical. The biggest advantage is that you can hire people who would not work for any other unicorn because they do not live in a big city. I have a software developer who lives remotely in rural New Zealand and is completely ‘off the grid’, except for internet connectivity of course.’ Is it still a Dutch company, with employees in 55 countries? Sijbrandij says: ‘I still have my house in Utrecht and my door is open for any employee that happens to be in the Netherlands.’
Whichever meetings you facilitate or participate in, the challenge is to leverage its advantages and not focus on its downsides!
People often compare remote and F2F meetings, from a pre-conceived notion that remote meetings are second best, after F2F. The graph below shows some of the differences between the two types of meetings Online versus F2F.
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And if you want to understand more about the virtual classroom, attend one of our free sessions, Getting to Know the Online Classroom 17 October 10.00-11.00 CET. Find out more about the next session here.
Image source: www.freepik.com
Fredrik Fogelberg is a chartered Organisational Psychologist specializing in leadership development and team facilitation in international organizations. He has over 30 years of international experience in the corporate world and as a consultant.