My recent article in Fast Company("How to design a collaborative environment Steve Jobs would approve of") talks about creating the ideal collaborative environment. But doing that successfully often has to take into account the fact that people are working in different places, whether in the same building or across the globe.
"Collaborative environment" is one of those terms that looks singular but is often plural. You know, like "grouse." The reason is that when we're planning for that ideal collaborative environment, there are actually a lot of different environments that we want to include. One team will be sharing the same open space, while another may be flocking together in a traditional conference room. Small teams, two or three, can even be in the same office or cubicle. But then there are the distributed teams, collaborating from different locations - three in a room in Mumbai, two in a shared space in Acapulco, one on a tablet, and maybe one at home in Peculiar (it's in Missouri - look it up). The challenge to the designer is to provide all these environments with a consistent, transparent experience. That's where Polycom's longstanding commitment to "like being there" comes in. When people feel as included from three thousand miles away as they do in the next chair, they can chat, pace, sketch and whiteboard freely, and build a creative team that soars as freely as a flock of grouse.