Typically when people travel for business it means packing up and heading out to destinations away from their office. Whether it is for client meetings or trade shows, folks take some time and work virtually, apart from their colleagues and the conveniences of their offices. They rely on communication and collaboration tools like Skype, email, and mobile phones to stay connected to their home base while physically away from the office.
A little while back I made my first business trip for BatchBlue, but it was a different sort of business trip because, unlike most business trips, for me it was my chance to abandon my virtual ways and physically be in the office with my coworkers.
I started working at BatchBlue back in February of this year but the team here and I go way back. I was a very early beta (alpha?) user, a regular in the forums, a reviewer of their product, a winner of their contests, an SBBUZZ guest and host, and now an employee. Through this all though, I hadn’t ever met any of my coworkers. We’ve talked on the phone, video chatted over Skype, emailed, tweeted, facebooked, but for people that I’ve “known” for nearly 2 1/2 years I had never seen, or met, any of them in person.
For me virtual is the norm, not the exception. I must rely on the communication and collaboration tools that we’ve chosen to stay integrated in to the workflow and to keep myself active. I attend a weekly team meeting via Skype and we use cutting edge technology to make sure that I’m visible to everyone.
BatchBlue by nature is still pretty virtual, even with our recent move in to our BatchHaüs, but I’ve been the most virtual of all. But for 3 days I got to sit alongside these wonderful, talented, and smart people and learn from them. We talked a lot about business, about BatchBook, about Customer Experience and how we can do better. But we also had a team picnic where I had the chance to meet spouses and families, and dogs. We also laughed and told stories and did the things that coworkers do.
Doing the work is only part of what is important at BatchBlue, and I think in any company culture really. I know that there are a lot of things I miss being separated, but the ubiquitous chats and the updates via Twitter, Flickr, Facebook – not only from the company but my colleagues helps me feel more connected.
Now, as I sit writing this, once again sitting in my virtual office, I am glad that I got the opportunity for the virtual to become real – if only for a little while. I also know that with each personal connection I get a little less virtual – no matter how far away I am.