Eric Wong left Polycom as of March 2015. This blog post is his personal view and reflective of his thoughts while at Polycom.
I’ve become very familiar with the ritual of finally greeting someone that I’ve worked with for a long time, but have never met in person before.
Having worked at a number of organisations with remote and international offices, where the use of video conferencing wasn’t the norm, meeting and greeting new colleagues often began with a rather awkward introduction and sometimes, desperate attempts to remember every person’s name.
I recall the last time I visited my China office in a previous company; in preparation I downloaded the entire org chart with photos of the business unit I was supporting, and desperately tried to remember what each person looked like. It was a funny experience as I knew these people from emails and instant messaging, but yet I felt like I was meeting total strangers for the first time.
I’ve just returned from a visit to Polycom’s headquarters in San Jose. I think it was one of the most interesting visits I’ve ever made to an office in another country, meeting face-to-face with folks whom I work with on a day-to-day basis based thousands of miles away. First and foremost, I didn’t feel out of place walking into that office for the first time. In fact I recognised Wanda, my US counterpart, across the lobby the moment she entered. It felt as though we had physically met in person before, but of course, we hadn’t!
I work with the US team across HR and other corporate functions regularly, clocking numerous video calls. I’ve often presented to them and other global audiences across multiple geographic regions. Yet in San Jose I felt immediately at home. I put that down to the fact that despite entering that office for the first time in my life, I was able to instantly recognise most of the faces and personalities. What’s really amazing? There were folks whom I attended one meeting with saying “hi” to me as if we were old colleagues. I’d never worked closely with them previously – but they felt they knew me simply by having attended some of the same video conferences.
The use of video technology helps me to defy distance and create a “real” presence felt by colleagues in different geographic regions. I realise I am more than just a name on the company contact directory.
So what does this experience typify from an organisational development perspective? It’s simple: this helps teams to foster strong bonds and build chemistry, enabling better collaboration and team performance.
The good news is that this is definitely an easy to deploy technology that organisations should look at to enable higher performance in their global workforce. I honestly believe that video helps to build the best international working relationships and drive closer understanding.
Please feel free to comment, or reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any thoughts or wish to share personal experience of working globally with technology. You can also find outmore about how HR teams can introduce video and help their organisation to defy distance, by looking at this page.
Meeting my close colleague, Lyndon for the first time in person.