I have read the case study: “Information Overload: We have met the enemy and he is us” from Jonathan B Spira and David Goldes, two analysts of basex.com. The study is very interesting, since it targets the ongoing change of the workspace around us. According to the study, 40% of knowledge workers are already working from non traditional (non-Dilbertian-) working places such as home offices, customer locations, hotels, airport lounges and so on.
That kind of “nomad” working style is increasing across all sizes of enterprises. For example I know a small design team which is quite successful, never than less it left it’s presentable studio halls to work further from home. They use Skype as their main communication tool and that way they always stay connected. An other example: A former colleague of mine joined a consulting group one year ago, since then he never saw the official office again, working from customer locations or from home. Years ago, when I visited IBM in Stuttgart they showed to me their empty office rooms, claiming that their employees mostly work from customer locations or home offices. Perhaps the IT and the design industries are pioneers regards the nomad way of work, but it is the way of work which will infect all industries soon.
And that’s the challenge: Those industries have to develop a virtual office place for their teams which provides the the same resources in a easy and reliable way just like their former company office did. At Mindquarry, we solve this challenge by delivering the infrastructure for distributed teams. The main resources for such teams of knowledge workers are:
- Files which represent the results of knowledge work such as documents, pictures, drawings, photos, program code, and so on.
- Knowledge about practices and rules, which can be collected conveniently in a wiki to avoid burying the relevant information in personal computers, email databases and the workers’ minds.
- Structured discussions, supporting email, chat and SMS as well as minute notes
- Task management, which should be as easy as possible to become widely adopted.
Yes, the enemy is us. We produce the information overload, we interrupt others, we send email with attachments without thinking because it’s easy to do. The Basex case study offers some ideas to solve that problem. Here are my 2 cent:
- Start avoiding email attachments, just sync your teams’ file-repository with your local files using the Mindquarry desktop client.
- Don’t CC all your email, use Mindquarry Talk where your teammates may subscribe the discussion or perhaps not. Anyway, they will always be able to find past and ongoing discussions within Mindquarry Talk.
For further steps: Mindquarry is Open Source, trying is out easy, and the case study is recommended reading too.