I couldn’t take my eyes off my wife in Paris last month. Not just because she’s beautiful — though she is that — but because it felt like I had been given this rare and precious opportunity to linger with her.
What so many of us mourn this first week of September is the end of those long, uninterrupted periods of quality time with friends and family that we experience during summer vacation. This year, I was lucky enough to experience that kind of vacation with my wife — and without our three kids — in a great European city for an entire week. And as much as I saw and learned so much that was new, I was also reminded about something old and familiar: how much I love long conversations with her.
It’s not like my wife and I don’t talk often. But the in-depth, sustained, really interesting conversations most often happen after about 8 pm at night, when we’ve finished brushing toddler teeth, reading stories and cleaning up the chaos that has erupted in our living and dining room. This is fairly normal for parents, I think. Though we’re not coworkers, my wife and I are a team that manages a variety of (to us) critical projects and use several forms of communication to do so. This includes several phone calls a day, e-mail messages and text messages. Most of these interactions are fairly short. That’s partly because we’re often pressed for time, but perhaps also because we have a deep knowledge of each other’s activities and a sort of shorthand code for updating each other on certain subjects. The best teams in enterprise environments, whether they are banks, retailers, oil and gas companies or public sector agencies, aren’t that different.
What a vacation like mine did was help strike the right balance between in-person interactions that nourish our relationships and the online interactions that keep the momentum going when we’re not together. That may be the best way I can articulate the optimal end state of a unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) project. If the technology works as it should — on premise or via the cloud — employees become equipped with a toolset that gives them a way of extending the in-person or face-to-face experiences that drive innovation and productivity.
For a lot of business people, September doesn’t mean the end of travel but the beginning of much more travel. Industry conferences, customer meetings and other responsibilities separate teams that can work really well when they’re in the same room. UC should be the thread that keeps those ties strong, no matter how hectic the schedule.
In the weeks after our time in Paris my wife and I will exchange photos from the trip, or write a quick e-mail if we read or come across something that reminds us of our time there. This too is the value of UC: it does not replace the power of an in-person experience but should reinforce what was value about the in-person experience. One way to describe a great relationship, whether between a husband and wife or a team of professionals, is to see it as the sum of many great conversations, or even one long conversation that continues in stages over time. The organizations that get the most of of UC&C tools will be those that recognize it’s not just how the various channels are being brought together but how they make those kind of conversations possible.
Learn everything you need to know about UC&C by downloading The Enterprise Collaboration eBook: A How-To Guide to Unified Communications, from Allstream.
Image courtesy of Vlado at FreeDigitalPhotos.net