Firm Follows Form

Organisation Design Blog by Nathan Waterhouse

March 2013

March 30, 2013

How to lead in a virtual team

At End Of Road You are standing at the end of a road before a small brick building. Around you is a forest. A small stream flows out of the building and down a gully. Enter Command >

This is how the first arcade text-based adventure game began. You played by entering 5 letter commands – there were no visuals whatsoever, you had to use logic and your imagination to figure out what might happen next. Your navigation of the game were  limited by a range of cryptic text-commands. It is also exactly how working in and managing a virtual team feels.

For most of the day, you have to rely on text-based cues from emails that you catch from people you care about separated by multiple time zones. Even when you speak with them during your weekly video calls you have to uncompress their week’s experience from the limited time you have together. How are they feeling, what’s going on at home you wonder, are they happy, are they overstretched, are they inspired by their work – these are just some of the questions that regularly cross your mind when you are running through the laundry list of tasks and team priorities. If you’ve ever had to work with someone who is not physically in the same room as you on a regular basis you know what it’s like to work in a virtual team. Why do we work like this and what can be done to make the experience smoother and more enjoyable for everyone?

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March 21, 2013

Going beyond the workplace: nine ways to improve health

This is a reposting of my recent Guardian article on improving health beyond the workplace.

The way we travel, eat, work and generally live today is having a profound effect on our health and that of those around us. Diabetes and other chronic diseases, including obesity, are on the rise. According to the WHO, there are 36 million preventable deaths every year from these health problems – leaving a devastating social impact and a major financial burden.

Businesses suffer as well through absenteeism and retention problems, affecting their overall success. The good news is they are in a strong position to help, but to be truly effective, this can’t just start and stop in the workplace.

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