E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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The Conference Call – Fun at Work or Fun in Work?

Gran Canaria - Roque Nublo & Surroundings in the SpringWhy can’t we all have fun while at work? I mean, some serious good fun while we are getting the job done! Don’t you think it is fair? I mean, don’t you think that knowledge workers should be entitled to have just as much fun behind the firewall as outside of the firewall? Don’t you think that it would help those same knowledge workers become much more productive, engaged, committed, involved and purposely determined than those who don’t? I am not sure what you would think, but this is something that I have been pondering for years now and, once again, I had an opportunity to talk about it while in Germany last week, on my latest business trip, as we talked about the impact of social software within the enterprise. Yes, that impact of social tools like YouTube and the wonderfully hilarious The Conference Call by David Grady.

Ha! How did I manage to talk about one of those really fun YouTube videos that’s making the rounds over the last couple of weeks going viral big time, you may be wondering, right? Well, very easily. With a key concept that we seemed to have kept neglecting over the course of the years, but which, thanks to social software tools, it’s coming back into the workplace in full force: social capital to improve business processes.

Indeed, I got to talk about it through a story. Like in most of these cases, stories are wonderful mechanisms to not only transfer your knowledge, but also to share your insights about something that will really stick with folks over time. People don’t remember information. People don’t remember knowledge. In fact, they can’t even manage it properly. But they *do* remember stories!

So during one of the presentations that I did I talked about a personal story that described very well the context of how you can have some really good fun, while still getting the job done, and benefit from that social capital exchange with your colleagues. The story I shared was along the lines of how every so often I have a tendency to share those precious golden nuggets of really funny video clips, or whatever other fun sites, on my internal microblogging / microsharing site (Powered by IBM Lotus Connections Profile Boards, of course! 😉 hehe) for my social networks to have a giggle or two on a Friday afternoon…

Thus, a couple of weeks back, I shared what I think is one of the most hilarious YouTube videos you will bump into during the course of this year, specially, if you are a knowledge worker interacting through conference calls with other remote knowledge workers. Yes, you would be able to relate to it quite a bit! In fact, it would be just too scary how much you would be able to relate to it on your day to day workflow, which makes it even funnier (Or sadder … who knows…).

The thing is that if you are looking for a good laugh, and believe me, I had one of those days today, I would suggest you spend the following 5 minutes watching David Grady‘s take on what it is like hosting a conference call nowadays in a corporate environment. If nothing else, it’s one of those hilarious experiences that one finds it hard to forget any time soon!

Now, I am not going to spoil it for you folks, so I will just embed the YouTube video clip code over here, so you can play it right away and judge for yourselves whether it’s just too close for comfort for your day to day workload or whether it is totally unrealistic. Somehow I sense it would be the former …

I am sure by now you may be wondering what this video has got to do with having fun at work, social capital, social computing and my customer visit in Germany, right? Well, like I was saying, I had an opportunity to discuss with that customer how something so trivial and fun as sharing the link to the video in my internal microsharing site resulted in several dozens of fellow co-workers, who also needed to have a good laugh after a long, stressing week of hard work, commenting on how much they enjoyed it, but at the same time, all of a sudden, there was a different set of interactions, on the same thread, from people who felt so identified with the scenario that, before we all knew it, we were all embarking on putting together plenty of good practices on how to moderate and host a conference call for remote attendees.

We also discussed how, now more than ever, with plenty of knowledge workers being remote and rather mobile altogether from their co-workers, we probably needed to start working our way through identifying new methods of engagement, i.e. new working styles, perhaps new technology, or adapt already existing one altogether, so that the situation that Dave describes so accurately in that video could be tamed somehow. And here we are … Still working on it as the video keeps making the rounds all over the place, both inside and outside of the firewall….

Talking about a superb break, right?, in between two intensive workshops! Yes! I also used the video clip to play it in between both workshops I did last Thursday and it surely was rather helpful in provoking a good laugh or two on something that we all get to face day in day out! You gotta watch it!

My good friend Bertrand Duperrin picked up on this very same subject not so long ago under the insightful and rather thought-provoking blog post with the title “Fun at work or fun in work?“. It’s a rather good read and a highly recommended one, more than anything else, because he brings in plenty of good arguments as to why having fun at work, or introducing serious games at work, can only, but benefit not only the knowledge workers themselves, but the business altogether. And somehow the story I shared with that customer on how The Conference Call fun activity resulted in putting together some good practices on improving remote collaboration surely proves the point that any company out there not leveraging fun at work is probably not getting the most of the potential that its employees can offer to improve already existing business processes making them, at least, much more endurable and enjoyable altogether.

Because after all, who hasn’t realised just yet how we are already spending (more than) one third of our lifetime at work, the other third sleeping away and the last third having good fun eventually. Shouldn’t we all try to make it, at least, give it a try to, two thirds along the way? Most probably, don’t you think? 😉


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