Reconfiguring the Collaborative Workspace – Futurum Tech Podcast Interview Series

On this special edition of the Futurum Tech Podcast – Interview Series, host Daniel Newman welcomed Richard Davies, Vice President at DXC Technology and Managing Director of Leading Edge Forum and Caitlin McDonald, Digital Anthropologist at Leading Edge Forum. Richard and Caitlin discussed findings from a recent report from LEF and the accelerated digital transformation that’s happening due to COVID-19.

Reconfiguring the Collaborative Workspace

Even before the pandemic we were seeing a massive shift in the way that people are working. Caitlin and Richard shared insights from The Leading Edge Forum’s latest research “Reconfiguring the Collaborative Workspace,” a study that was done over the last few years with insights from a variety of companies in a variety of industries.

It’s clear that there is an increasing ubiquity and reliability of collaborative technologies like Slack, Zoom, and shared cloud etc. All of these things were coming together to enable businesses of any size and in any field to think about how they could change the way that people work whether that’s flexible hours or a distributed team across the globe. The office has become less of a hub.

Now, 30 percent of the earth’s population is under some sort of shelter-in-place order so this shift in how we work is massively accelerated. We are looking at a new collaborative workspace.

The Technology Matters

Beyond the way that people were working, where they worked, the kinds of work they were doing one key finding from the report is all about how important the right equipment is. If there’s a barrier to communication because of the technology, you as a person perceive it as a barrier to your interpersonal communication which can be difficult to overcome in this new work environment.

Caitlin shared that employees don’t complain about wanting the new hot technology. They complain about coworkers not being able to hear them or not being able to understand them. You can’t expect effective collaboration if the tools that are in place hinder it. Companies need to invest in technology solutions that facilitate collaboration.

Rethinking How We Interact

Working from home also requires us to rethink our interactions with coworkers and clients. We are missing spontaneous interactions and team building moments. Richard shared that leaders especially have to think a little more about how to keep people engaged and connected. How do you build the community? How do you deliver what you’re trying to say? You have to consider what you’re trying to create and the desired outcome. If it’s team building, perhaps a quick informal check in call would work. If it’s something more important, then an interactive presentation might do the trick, But there’s more to think about than just the information that’s being delivered.

The Changing Physical Environment

We talk a lot about the virtual environment, but realistically when you’re working in a virtual environment you also are still sitting somewhere physically. In the current situation, it’s not just that people are working from home, you have to consider that their kids are there or roommates are there. Multiple people in one household trying to work and collaborate with their own companies and schools. Companies need to consider this when thinking about the virtual environment too.

As individuals, we need to get in the right mental headspace. We need to create the right working zone in our minds to get things done. There is no “one size fits all” response that will work. We each have to figure out what works.

Biggest Surprises and Takeaways

There were many surprises and big takeaways from the study but a few stood out. Caitlin shared that she was surprised how adaptable people are to different situations, but that there are still barriers to success if you don’t handle collaborative workspace in the right way. Right now many companies are thinking about how to get the workforce on board to deal with new ways of work and to adjust to this environment, but yet have a balance in their lives? Richard proposed that companies and leaders need to create a shared sense of purpose. Get employees invested by helping them understand the value proposition and the role they play.

At the same time, communication is hugely important. Slow everything down and make slear points so people have the opportunity to absorb, understand, and then respond.

Caitlin’s final takeaway is mostly aimed at leaders. As you’re thinking about your teams and a virtual only way of interacting, it is important to create those micro-moments of trust that normally you depend on happening by accident physically in the office. This cannot be overlooked or forgotten if you want your team to be successful.

If you’d like to learn more about the study or other pieces of research that the Leading Edge Forum is working on, visit their website. Also be sure to listen to the full episode below and hit subscribe while you’re at it so you never miss an insightful episode of The Futurum Tech Podcast.


Daniel Newman: Welcome to the Futurum Tech Podcast. I’m Daniel Newman, your host, Principal Analyst at Futurum Research and Founding Partner. I’m excited today to be joined by DXC and the Leading Edge Forum to talk about coping with the quarantine, boy are we coping today. Joined by Richard Davies and Caitlin McDonald, Richard and Caitlin, hello and welcome to the Futurum Tech Podcast.

Caitlin McDonald: Hey Daniel, great to be here.

Richard Davies: Great to be here.

Daniel Newman: It is great to have you and it’s been a lot of fun doing a number of podcasts over the past couple of months. Because we are in quarantine and everyone that’s been a part of our Futurum Tech Podcast community knows that we are very committed to this. But the volume has definitely seen a big upswing. That’s because we are in the middle of April, 2020 and we are still, in many cases, sheltered in place. I’ll ask you both, Caitlin and Richard, where are you and are you at the moment sheltered in place?

Caitlin McDonald: Yeah, so we’re both in London in different parts of London. Yes, we are in fact sheltered in place.

Richard Davies: Completely and utterly sheltered in place.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, I heard the restrictions there have gotten a little crazy. The England and UK kind of had a bit of a social experiment early on. Said almost the Prime Minister has now recovered himself from coronavirus. I think initially almost was maybe thinking of a herd approach. I don’t know if that’s really what he was thinking, but it seemed to be, because it went from kind of like, “Well let’s ride this out.” Even after they saw what happened in Italy, Spain and what was happening in the US. But then it went really hard the other way. You guys kind of now are really locked down. Sounds like maybe one time out a day for exercise and groceries and that’s about it. Let me set the stage for everyone out there that maybe hopefully everyone’s aware.

So, what we are talking about, just in case, maybe you’re listening to this and it’s 2022, as we are amidst the middle of the COVID-19 outbreak. I don’t think anyone in the world didn’t hear about it. Certainly if you’re listening to this podcast, you probably were very aware of it going on because you know it’s been something we talk about a lot. It was pretty much the headline of every news item, every social media network, every podcast, blog article, and any other feed you could possibly be listening to.

But, it’s an important time. It’s a time to do a lot of reflection for every business. Looking at continuity, how our company is going to lead forward as we abate this. How do companies handle it coming into it. So Richard and Caitlin, I haven’t formally done this yet, but I have a whole bunch of questions for you, but beforehand, how about a quick introduction of each of yourselves for everybody out there on the podcast that’s listening. Caitlin, I’ll start with you.

Caitlin McDonald: Excellent. I am the Digital Anthropologist at the Leading Edge Forum. We do strategy advice for large businesses. We try and help them understand what’s coming in the world of technology and prepare them for what’s next about three to five years out. My role really is to look at all the people, the people side of things. An Anthropologist is a wonderfully fancy way of saying that we’re very nosy about people. The digital part of course is, how does digital technology impact people’s lives and people’s working lives? That’s my role with LEF.

Daniel Newman: You’re a doctor, Caitlin McDonnell. You’ve done a PhD?

Caitlin McDonald: I have indeed, yes. Which was all about the way that communities kind of form online and how culture changes as you move from one culture to another, largely facilitated at the time by digital media.

Daniel Newman: Fascinating topic. I really look forward to learning more. I’m sure everybody that listens to this podcast. Richard, I’ll turn it over to you.

Richard Davies: Thanks Daniel. Richard Davis, I run the Leading Edge Forum, which is a global research and advisory business. Which is part of DXC Technology. DXC Technology is a 20 plus billion dollar IT services company. The primary mission of myself and Caitlin and the rest of the team is to advise a lot of leadership within large organizations around how to make better use of technology. Make better informed decisions, maybe about some of the strategies that doesn’t just look at technology. It doesn’t just look at organizations, but it also looks at people. Some of the subjects that we’re going to talk about this afternoon, I really in the heart of that and obviously that’s a body of work that Caitlin leads for us.

Daniel Newman: Digital transformation, digital technology transformation people. It’s really the intersection. I’ve written seven books now. Most of them are very much correlating these two. My last was called Human Machine. The one before that was called Future Proof. It was a seven key pillars for digital transformation success. And the reason I’m pointing this out is Richard, is you pointed out, some very clear things. In our seven pillars, technology was one and other items like experience and innovation were the more tech leading ones. But a lot of it was people, culture, change and leadership. it’s ironic to me sometimes how much people think you can drive change just by throwing technology at people, but you really can’t.

Let’s talk. There was a report that you guys had been involved in, called Reconfiguring the Collaborative Work Space. Caitlin, I wanted to ask you kind of what were some of your key insights that you’ve garnered from that report?

Caitlin McDonald: Yeah, absolutely. This is a piece of work that we did over the course of the last year. Of course before all of the COVID-19 crisis pandemic kicked off. We were already thinking that there is a massive shift in the way that people are working. To your point about just because you throw technology at people doesn’t necessarily mean that they will adopt it. You have to look at the behavioral shifts as well.

Something that we were observing is that due to the increasing ubiquity and reliability of collaborative software such as what we’re doing now, video call, such as people being able to collaborate live on documents, much better kind of cloud storage, things like that. All of those things were kind of coming together at a time that enabled large businesses in particular for information workers, but also for people on the front lines of services, to think about how they could change the way that they distributed the workforce.

So, becoming more comfortable with flexible hours for example, or working with distributed teams that were across multiple time zones. We already saw this shift taking place. That the office was less of a hub. Not to say that it wasn’t a hub. I think we’ve all realized in the last few weeks how much it has been. But this kind of a shift was already taking place. We were already seeing that. Then of course now something like 30% of the Earth’s population at the time that we’re recording this podcast is under some form of lockdown, some form of stay at home order.

Naturally, a shift that was already happening suddenly became massively accelerated by that stay at home order.

That was something that we were observing, which means of course that businesses suddenly have to get very rapidly good at what we were already discovering with some of the insights that we had. We were doing research with a range of organizations. It was everything from an advertising agency all the way through to healthcare services in the US, all the way through to a power company that operates pan-European. Lots of different perspectives that we took in.

A couple of my favorite interviews, one was with the Estates Manager at the Parliamentary Estates. So, if you look at the beautiful palaces of Westminster where the UK Parliament meets. They were talking about the challenges that they face when they’re trying to digitize their services, of course, because you have such an iconic building. So, how do you actually get up to speed with trying to make your ways of working more virtual digital? All the way through to somebody who was a kind of a CSO, but she was on a motorcycle trip around the United States at the time. She was talking about the flexibility she had in her work, but also the additional security concerns that that brings about.

Such a huge range of perspectives in terms of the way that people were working, where they worked, the kinds of work they were doing. Really, I would say one of the key findings that we had, which was relevant already, but even more so in this time, is all about how important the right equipment is. I don’t just mean because it’s nice to have nice things to work on and to work with. But because when you’re thinking about communication technology, if there’s a barrier to communication that comes because of the technology, you as a person perceive that as a barrier to your interpersonal communication.

What I mean by that is today we’ve all dialed in on a video call and if suddenly my video were to freeze or if my audio were to freeze, you wouldn’t then necessarily know whether that’s because I’m pausing in the conversation to make a point or because I’m thinking or because of disagreeing with something you said or whether it’s because the actual video itself or something in between the WIFI has cut out or whatever it might be. There’s so much more work that you then have to do to understand what’s happening with the communication if there’s a barrier because of the technology itself.

We saw this in a case study that we had with one particular group. Which had distributed people across many different time zones. They sent in all these photos of like really, really terrible headphones that they’d been given to work with. The CTO of the group was looking at all these and he was saying, “Look, I don’t understand. They keep trying to buy these really fancy expensive headphones and I don’t understand why they want me to spend this kind of money on that equipment.” We showed them about 15 different pictures that they’d sent in. Then we showed them what they were saying, which wasn’t, “Hey, I really want some nice fancy headphones.” Rather, what they were saying is, “My teammates can’t hear me. My teammates can’t communicate with me properly. They can’t fully participate in decision making because they’re not fully present because these headphones are so bad that we can’t have an equal experience of communication.”

So, when we were able to turn it around and say, “Hey, you know although it is nice to spoil your staff and that makes them feel valued, the more important thing is these people can’t actually collaborate together unless you’re able to remove some of those barriers.” So he looked at that and he was like, “Okay, I’ll buy them all really nice headphones.” So that was a win for that particular group.

Daniel Newman: Your headphones sound good.

Caitlin McDonald: Yes, mine are very good.

Daniel Newman: Although everyone’s listening to this podcast on audio, I often do record it on video. In fact the reason I do that is to alleviate some of those communications barriers. The opportunity to see someone face to face. Communication, nonverbal is important and we all know that, right? You can see if someone’s agreeing with you.

You can see if somebody’s trying to get involved in the conversation and talk. Also see if they kind of lean away or if they’re distracted. Those are all feelings and that’s the reason that video has been so important.

I will also concurrently say you made a good point about gaps in these tools. I think we’ve all kind of have figured out when something’s frozen or when audio doesn’t work. We also know immediately how we emotionally feel like it’s that, “Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? Are you there?” It’s very frustrating. I said there’s a reason that we’ve done events live or sales calls live for years, even though there’s been technology that could make it more accessible and immediate.

It’s because the human condition still desires that physical interaction. People feel like a deeper connection is made. Of course I say at events, people like the dinners, the wine, the conversations, the in between presentations. Because otherwise the one thing I’ve realized quickly from quarantine is I’m working a lot more. I’m working a lot more, because you don’t have a lot of those more informal [crosstalk] interactions that you would get from that. So you might work 10 hours in a day instead of the 14 that you would work if you were at an event. But at the event you do two hours of dinner, a nice long breakfast, you’ve got a bunch of walks throughout the day from session to session, where you’re chatting to people. That’s all gone. All you do is work.

Caitlin McDonald: And the work becomes much more transactional as well, also. If you work in an office, you get up periodically during the day to go make a cup of tea and you run into someone and you say, “Oh, I’m so glad I ran into you. I really wanted to talk to you about whatever it is.” So you have those kinds of brush past interactions. When you move to virtual, it can be much harder to do that. Your day can get, not in all situations, some places are actually very good at managing this, but in a lot of places it can just get very structured. So you just end up in these like back-to-back calls all day. It becomes very transactional. Becomes very kind of, “We have this agenda, that’s what we’re going to get through.” You miss that team building elements and you miss those spontaneous interactions which are just such an important part of team building.

Daniel Newman: Well, it turns out that meeting could have been an email after all or something like that is what the meme said. So Richard, let’s talk about some of your key observations. You’ve run companies, you’ve interacted with other senior leaders. What is your experience kind of telling you about what we’re going through right now?

Richard Davies: Well, what we’re going through is unprecedented, I think for everyone. If I bring it back to maybe my own personal experiences, being quite lucky really in the sense that a lot of what we’ve done as Leading Edge Forum over the years is that because we’re global in nature, we have had this mix of physical and virtual. As a group, the teams that I have globally, are quite used to interacting with each other.

When the pandemic hits the switch to virtual wasn’t difficult. Everyone was already equipped and have the kit and so on and so forth. I’m not sure that was the case for a lot of our customers and I’m not sure that was the case for other employees within our company who were going into the office on a daily basis. So, my experience personally hasn’t been a huge difference.

What has really begun to really dawn on me though, is as this draws out then the dynamics of how we act and interact are going to change. So, the first few weeks was partly a mad panic to get everyone a kit and a mad panic to get on to this virtual teaming. Now, I think as it draws out, we’re going to have to think a little more about how to keep people engaged. Because, as you alluded to, if people are working 10 hours a day without, and maybe some of those social breaks, well without some of that interaction, that’s a lot to ask of people.

I think secondly that the thing that I’m really thinking a lot harder about… This has been fed back to me by customers is, “What is the purpose of the call?” This is no different, many respects that when you go to a physical meeting with clients, you’re figuring out why you’re there, what’s the agenda, what’s the purpose and how do you leave it?

Also, I think when interacting in this manner, I’m trying to think very carefully about, am I trying to create an audience that will listen or am I trying to create a community? Because they’re two very different things. If I’m trying to convey a set of messages, that’s more me being on broadcast mode and I’m communicating to a broader audience, one to many.

Quite often now I’m dealing with six, seven clients at once, via this mechanism, these are peers. In communicating with peers, the we become the vehicle, not me, the we. Again, I’m having to think very, very carefully about what it is I’m creating and I’m having to think very, very carefully about the outcome. It’s this me versus we. I’m constantly flitting in between either because my messages are different.

Daniel Newman: I had a friend that used to say we is greater than me. Said that all the time.

Richard Davies: There’s no I in team, either. So there we go.

Daniel Newman: We always have fun with quips. But no, I think what we’re finding now is, is there’s a need for balance from a leadership standpoint. There’s a need to help people to understand that that balance didn’t go away. I also think one of the big challenges we’re facing right now is we probably underestimate the shock value of change.

Meaning I’m sure you two don’t, because this is what you do. But I’m saying like on the average organization that went from 75% of their workforce coming to an office, working kind of within a certain subset of hours, having a certain number of tools available at their disposal, to working at home. You know, I’ve seen a plethora of podcasts, blog posts, news segments, ‘How to work remote.”

It’s been a really interesting thing to watch, because I don’t think there is a way to work remote. Just like there’s not a way to lead or a way to manage. There are anecdotes and examples as our doctors like to talk about right now in terms of cures and causation and everything else. Well, it’s the same with work. I think there are ways that might work to a larger population.

For instance, one of my favorites is everyone’s like, “Well, get up and shower and get dressed just like you’re going to the office.” I’ve been working at home for years. I’m totally fine working in my skivvies, I can be just as productive.

For some people that’s not the key, getting up, working out, showering, and doing their normal routine. For others, that’s paramount. It’s critical that they can get up and have that normalcy. They get their… They go have their coffee. They read the newspaper. They get to their desk. They… So, each person I’ve said really has to figure it out for themselves. Speaking of figuring out for themselves, another thing that’s changed, so when you get to your office, Caitlin, you talk about the changing workspace. I’d like to hear a little bit about that. You sort of alluded to it a little bit in your first question. I think your survey really talked to this, too. Talk a little bit about what’s happening to the workspace.

Caitlin McDonald: Yeah, absolutely. When we talk about space in the report that we wrote, we’re not just talking about the physical environment. Because, realistically when you’re working in a virtual environment, whatever that means, you also are still sitting somewhere physically. I think right now, when you think about the ways that work is changing, Rich described it as being completely unprecedented. It’s not just that people are working from home or have been sent to work from home. It’s also that their kids are there. Their roommates are all there suddenly, so you can’t have the video on, because they’re all walking through the back of the call.

We were trying to say, even though companies are becoming more comfortable with virtualization of the working environment, you still have to think about the physical environment around you. Even more than that, you want to think about your head space, your actual working zone in your mind. When I think about collaboration, what I really like to think about is, it’s almost a way of inviting someone else into your head space, your internal mental working environment. So that you can then collaborate on something that you need to do together.

The great thing about that is, because when you think about working spaces in that way, as the head space, what that really means is you can work from anywhere. Because your mental working environment is always with you no matter where you are. Of course it’s being impacted by what’s happening physically around you as well. That also gives you some freedom to make different choices about how you actually set yourself up for work.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, I think the workspace has evolved. I would show you mine, but I’m going to use a virtual background because I haven’t cleaned my office since… I haven’t shaved or cleaned my office. So there’s a visual for everyone out there, but enjoy that.

Caitlin McDonald: Although I am going to point out he actually is wearing clothes, considering he mentioned skivvies earlier. In case anyone is concerned for us.

Daniel Newman: My pajamas. Is that a better… I think I was saying it as like pajamas, you know. We do like to have a little fun here on the show. We do realize that if we’re going to get people to listen, they’re going to have to smile occasionally and realize that tech can be fun and so can leadership.

Let me just come back to you really quick. Because I’d like you to just give me maybe one or two big surprises from that workplace study.

Caitlin McDonald: Yeah, absolutely. I think something that always surprises me as an anthropologist is how adaptable people are to different situations. Also, everyone thinks that their own normal is normal, right? So everyone just expects that the way that they work is the way that the world is. Even just showing them something as simple as how different a different company sets up its own culture can be a real clue to success.

To give you an example of… There are these kind of parallel case studies that we saw where there was one company, which was having a real problem with setting it’s kind of working environment up, because basically everybody was working really long hours and accepting all these meetings and people were saying things like, “I never get up for lunch. I don’t even get up to go to the bathroom.” All these kinds of things. We were like, “Okay, that doesn’t sound super healthy.”

What was really happening is they had this culture where they were all like super obsessed with making success happen for the customers. Also there was this slightly kind of valorous wanting to be the one recognized for being the hero and saving the day. But of course if you want to be the hero there has to be an emergency. So, they were kind of always operating on emergency speed, which is not good. Then you have to say, “Okay, look. Look at the good intention behind the behavior.” Which is that everybody wants to be doing something really good for the customer. Then, you have to try and essentially value different outputs so that people can do that in a calmer way.

There was this other culture where actually, if you looked at the way that they were describing their working days, the patterns of their working days, they were actually very similar. But they all said that they felt very in control of their work and they felt like they had plenty of time to do their tasks and all of this. In fact, this was the only group that said that they felt like they weren’t kind of being constantly pinged at by the endless notifications and having people asking them to show up for things all the time.

I don’t know about you, but certainly since we’ve gone to the lockdown situation, my devices are in my face all the time. There’s an endless amount of notifications popping up. Somebody wanting to chat, 15 different emails from the grocery store telling you how they’re handling a pandemic, like whatever it is. There’s just stuff that the screen wants my attention all the time, even more than ever.

There was this one group that we did this research with and they said that they felt fine about their time. They were the only ones that were like, “Wow, this is really unusual.” Everyone else thinks that their time is completely chaotic all over the place. The only difference was that this one group said that instead of starting their day by checking their email, which everyone else did, virtually every other person in the survey said, “I start my day by checking my email or checking the WIFI to make sure it’s working so I can check my email.”

But this group, instead of that said, “Actually, when I start my day, I spend a little time planning what I’m going to do.” Just simple as that. Or, “I spent some time reviewing last week’s projects and learning some lessons from that. Then I figured out how I’m going to structure everything so that I have time for my individual tasks. But also I think about when this group, who I work with, is going to need me. I make sure I unblock them first before I do anything else.”

Just that simple act of saying, “I’m going to take a step back. I’m going to take a breather. I’m going to think about how I want my internal to be set up so I can do everything that I need to do.” That really made a difference to just their attitude about work. It wasn’t even actually their working patterns, but the way that they felt about work was so different as a result of that compared to anyone else.

Daniel Newman: That’s really interesting. I would say that I almost do that like a CPU in my brain is always sort of what I need to do. I don’t know that I actually cognizantly do any of that stuff. It’s kind of interesting when you stop and ask someone to break down how it happens. Like I said, my CPU might also be fried, so I’m not quite sure it’s working. The motherboard is not working.

Anyways, I get… Your point is very much that there’s a kind of a lack of reflection that has taken place because we’re in this on demand, always connected, always getting signal world. I actually turn almost all the notifications off on all my devices. I have multiple phones, multiple… But I also, now has kind of created this reverse psychology. Where I check it a lot more because it’s like, because I turned them off, I feel this urgency that I better check, because I’m not seeing them come up.

At least that’s… I feel like that’s your locus of control. This way I’m controlling the situation of when I want to check it versus the sort of Pavlovian approach of-

Caitlin McDonald: The bell. Oh, no.

Daniel Newman: So Richard, let me kick this one back to you. With all this in mind, putting your leadership into play. How do you get the workforce on board to deal with new ways of work and to adjust to this, but yet have a balance in their lives. Where A, they don’t hate their jobs, B, they’re still productive and C, they are able to achieve that work life balance or life work or whatever we call it these days.

Richard Davies: Yeah, it’s a great set of questions. I’m not sure I’ve got all the answers is the first thing I’d say. What I try and do is to create a shared sense of purpose. That for me at the moment, in the last say month has been the most important thing within the group. All groups of people who represent different backgrounds, some people are very shy. They don’t like coming on video. Other people can’t wait to come on video and you can’t get them off of video. Ultimately, you sort of…. There you are.

Daniel Newman: Well put.

Richard Davies: This shared sense of purpose becomes hugely, hugely important, because you want everyone to participate. You don’t want people to feel that they can’t participate. That would just compound the issues that we’re already got as regards to that work life balance, people feeling excluded, people feeling isolated. That you just compound that by the video.

In answer to that question, that shared sense of purpose is my overriding North star, if you like, for everything that I do with my own team. Then, when I’m starting to think about our customers or our partners and then looking at working out, what do I want to do with that audience? What desired outcome do I want to create? That will dictate, obviously whether we look at the community approach or we look at a to many approach. I personally can’t stress that shared sense of purpose enough.

Daniel Newman: Yeah. I think that hasn’t probably changed ever, but I think maybe there is a cute lights being shown on certain parts of our work and our behaviors. There are certain things that will accelerate and decelerate exponentially as a result of this. I think leadership sort of always is in style, even when seemingly technology has displaced it. It really hasn’t. I think there are fleeting moments that we go, “Oh, this tech can now help us manage a project.” Well, this tech can put tasks inside of an app, but it’s still going to be leadership and shared sense of purpose that’s going to have people actually executing this stuff in a timely manner that’s going to deliver that customer success that’s being talked about.

I’m down to only a minute or two and I’m sorry if I cut you there Richard, but I want to get my last question in. You guys have been great. Thanks for hopping on the podcast, if I haven’t said that. It’s great having both the Leading Edge Forum and DXC participating in this particular episode. Check out the show notes, too. If you have a chance, there’ll be some links to some more of this info in these reports.

Let’s give the listener something to act on, on the way out. Richard, I’ll let you start this time. What’s a top collaboration tip from, I’d say either from the study or just from your own experience that you’re going to recommend to leaders out there trying to optimize their businesses right now during quarantine, then after.

Richard Davies: For me, the one tip is, slow everything down. What this whole connectivity and the way of connecting and the way of communicating does at the moment, is it makes us sometimes transmit. Just slow things down, make clear points so people can think about those points, absorb them and respond. Clarity of communication just becomes so important when we’re in this particular mode. That’s my one takeaway. Whether you’re creating a community of seven or eight or you’re broadcasting to 400 people, keep it simple and slow.

Daniel Newman: Slow it down, he says. Caitlin, tell everybody to speed it up. Let’s make it as confusing as possible. No, Caitlin, give me your thoughts. What should people do?

Caitlin McDonald: Yeah, my top tip is mostly aimed at leaders. As you’re thinking about your teams, who you’re moving to, a virtual only way of interacting, I cannot stress how important it is to create those micro moments of trust that normally you depend on happening by accident physically in the office. You now need to be much more intentional about how you create those spaces. My question to you as a leader would be, “How are you going to create the virtual canteen so everyone has a place for those micro moments to flourish and grow?”

Daniel Newman: Excellent. I love it. Make sure you keep the canteen topped off for everybody. I want to thank you both, Caitlin and Richard for sitting in and chatting with me today on the Futurum Tech Podcast, the Interview Series. Thanks to the Leading Edge Forum. Thanks to DXC for partnering on this podcast. For everyone out there, please check out the show notes. Like I said, we will have some links. There can be some more information. Learn more about Caitlin and Richard and the study that we’ve talked to here.

Stay safe during the quarantine. If you were listening to this after the quarantine, call in and let us know what life is like thereafter. We’d all like to know. Calls from the future. See, new podcast theme. But for now, for this episode, for Futurum and for myself, I’ve got to say goodbye, but thank you very much and we will see you all later.

Thank you for joining us on this week’s Futurum Tech Podcast, the Interview Series. Please be sure to subscribe to us on iTunes and stay with us each and every week as we bring more interviews and more shows from our weekly Futurum Tech Podcast.

This podcast is part of a special series focused around what leaders and companies are doing to help employees and customers deal with COVID-19. Be sure to subscribe so that you don’t miss out on amazing insights.

Disclaimer: The Futurum Tech Podcast is for information and entertainment purposes only. Over the course of this podcast, we may talk about companies that are publicly traded and we may even reference that fact and their equity share price, but please do not take anything that we say as a recommendation about what you should do with your investment dollars. We are not investment advisors and we do not ask that you treat us as such. 

Author Information

Daniel is the CEO of The Futurum Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise.

From the leading edge of AI to global technology policy, Daniel makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology investments. Daniel is a top 5 globally ranked industry analyst and his ideas are regularly cited or shared in television appearances by CNBC, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal and hundreds of other sites around the world.

A 7x Best-Selling Author including his most recent book “Human/Machine.” Daniel is also a Forbes and MarketWatch (Dow Jones) contributor.

An MBA and Former Graduate Adjunct Faculty, Daniel is an Austin Texas transplant after 40 years in Chicago. His speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.


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