Take the Distancing out of Social!

You don’t have to be socially distant to be safe from Coronavirus, just physically distant. If you are physically distancing, good. If you are also socially distancing, you might also become isolated, depressed and unmotivated.

Our work at CSI is all about bringing ‘social back’ to the ways we use technology and so I discovered some interesting needs while doing research related to using virtual machines for socially-oriented “incident management rooms” we are setting up for some customers.

Some organisations need their offices to be functioning, but are not fully staffed. CSIs “incident management system” is for workgroups that need help with the “working from home” situation that many of us currently find ourselves in, as some people need their offices to be functioning in order to work from home even though those offices are not staffed to normal capacity.

Well, the punchline is that, interestingly, we’ve been having to use our own tools and techniques inside-out during this pandemic. We have customers who would normally be using our technology in-situ, in an office, for example. But we are making “situation rooms” that can be minimally staffed and they become remote working hubs because some technology issues need to be fixed immediately and not when someone might possibly be able to get on site.

So, like everyone else, we’re finding ourselves doing work we haven’t had to do, interesting work, especially from a social-user experience perspective and social interaction point of view. But work that uses our own tools and techniques in a different way. In setting up our situation rooms we found that people seem to still have a lot to learn about a level of social manners when using technology to collaborate, now more than ever.

It also reminds me that although we have all of these social media platforms, we’re not all that good at bringing social to each other online. I now see how absolutely ridiculous the term “social distancing” really is. You DO NOT want to distance yourself socially, you want to distance yourself physically. There is a big difference and continuing to use so-called social distancing as our terminology for keeping safe can also make us isolated.

Now that our technologies are keeping us alive, potentially, it’s time to gain some insights into how to stay connected, together and motivated while physically distancing ourselves from one another

Here are some of my thoughts.

  • Do less texting and emailing and more phone calls and video conferences;
  • If you find someone on LinkedIn you think you can trust, set up a video conference. Tools like Zoom are easy to set up and use. A URL points you to the online conference and you land in a fully encrypted video group meting with as many people as you invite.
  • Video conferencing etiquette:
    • Tell people if you are recording the session;
      Get familiar with the tools. If you are the initiator you have to set up the conference to end when you leave or not end when you leave, depending on the nature of the conversation and your own availability;
    • Try to have a headset with a microphone or a noise-cancelling microphone. If you haven’ heard the “feedback” from normal microphones, you’ll know when you hear it!
    • Sit so people can see more than just your head. If you’re far enough back this might force you to focus on the people on screen because you won’t be able to reach the keyboard :-).
    • There seems to be a growing idea about “using your hands more.” Not gesticulating wildly, but being descriptive in movement as well as in speech and tone of voice.
    • Say “hi” to everyone and introduce yourself to people you don’t know. Zoom video conferences show everyone’s camera and name (and yes, get yourself a big monitor if you can).
    • From a work perspective you can use video conferencing for other types of remote work. Troubleshooting software updates (FML :-/ ), for example – “seeing” the effects on a screen in another location makes the process much quicker.

Technology can be used to facilitate a series of social events that will end up in us having stronger relationships and maybe even new jobs.

Stay safe And Stay tuned for more! For more contact us on learn@get-csi.com.

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