For years I have been the lonely isolate on Thanksgiving in my geographically dispersed family. I live in the Netherlands and the rest of my family in the US. At the beginning of our virtual holidays, I would try to get their attention by calling or sending emails, but these efforts were futile as my family members were too busy being together – greeting and chatting with each other, preparing the meal and playing games. Perhaps I would receive an email response a few days later with a picture attached, showing that they had enjoyed themselves together.
This year was different! I was included! As everyone was staying home, our 100% remote family had a zoom call and I was invited. We were each in our own homes with the videos on and time to catch-up. Although we all enjoyed the call, what they saw as a restriction was inclusion for me.
Dare I whisper – can it always be like this? Shall we zoom on Christmas and 4th of July?
Welcome to the life of the isolates on your team, the people who are located alone while you and the rest of your team sit together and collaborate. Previously they often felt like an afterthought in the communication and life of the team. Their efforts to receive the attention of the ‘home’ team was energy-draining and often futile. Times have changed. I have spoken with isolates who have noticed the advantage of the current period of 100% remote working. They are included in the team and are loving it.
As we go forward and design the organizations, structures and processes for the future, let’s hold onto the learnings from this period, such as the importance of geographic inclusion.
For more information on virtual team configuration, see this excerpt from the book Virtual Teams Across Cultures: Create Successful Teams Around the World.