Some months ago, I talked about I was working virtually in a couple of instances. Using distributed tools, we’re able to coordinate and collaborate. One team got together physically last week to get work done. And the outcome was intriguing about how we’d ended up building trust virtually that manifested in the real world.
This was an executive retreat for the officers of the board of a not-for-profit. Distributed nationally and even internationally, with a global focus, in the history it’s been rare but regular to meet. However, the group had gone through some hiccups, and was regenerating. I’m relatively new to the group, but interested and learning a lot (always a plus!).
I’d only ever met one of these people before, but we had video-chatted and I’d gotten to know them some. Also, collaborating with relevant comments and revisions similarly has built trust. Trust was initially established by credentials and commitment, but it’s been deepened through working together.
What pleasantly surprised me was how close we’d become. When we met to start work, it began with hugs, between people who’d never met before! I’ve seen it before with #lrnchat, but it’s still rare and treasured.
We also were able to work together quite effectively. We had already established a safe place to interact, and it carried over. Over the course of 2.5 days, we established what the opportunities were, what ones we’d address, and how we’d do it. There’s still work, but we accomplished what we needed to create a new direction.
My takeaway is that what matters is not the tools but the atmosphere. If you work together well, you can do so in either real or virtual worlds. It’s about building trust first, and having that relationship prosper through whatever communication media are available. I think of these folks as friends now, not just colleagues. And that’s all to the good!