Communications solution for small teams working in a dispersed organisation

Here are  a few thoughts on teamwork and a recommendation for Yammer, a desktop and mobile tool which addresses communications for dispersed teams.  If your organisation is made up of remote groups which need to work more closely together, share ideas and resources then Yammer may be of interest.

I’m hopeless at working on my own.  There’s a confession!  If I try to work on my own I’m prone to distractions or tend to trust myself too much, so I need people to keep me focused and to give me a reality check every so often.  I have a home office, and do in fact work on my own for much of the time and so I value the supportive friends whom I see, usually at the local Cafe Nero.

The teams I have worked with in the past have often been based in a single space – round a big table – where the banter is part of the business.  If an idea pops up in conversation it can be quickly evaluated and moved

forward or ditched.  Arguments can be resolved quickly and excellent work praised in a timely and meaningful fashion.  But what do you do if the team isn’t in the same room, a dispersed team?

Increasingly organisations are requiring teams to connect with each other remotely.  This is for a number of reasons – perhaps because its members are part time or because they also belong to other organisations.  It can also be because team members are fast tracking and juggling with several projects or tasks at the same time and so don’t have time to meet.

There is a value in engaging with people embedded in different situations and yet part of a small dispersed team.  Small teams can become blinkered by their own context and not see beyond their immediate environment, they can bed down into thick walled bunkers.  So, having a close knit team made up of people with quite different outlooks can can have enormous value.  Perhaps they can share insights from different parts of the country of the world

At Oblong in Leeds I work part time with a group of volunteers who come and go.  The organisation is run through a series of collectives which come up with ideas and make decisions through their weekly meetings.  Every six weeks there are assemblies of the whole organisation.  The meetings and assemblies have been inconsistently attended, agendas poorly formed and the meetings devoted to catching up.  The problem was communication.  Getting people motivated and briefed before the meetings was the challenge.

The solution we have found is YAMMER.  Yammer is a tool for connecting work groups around an organisation and enabling them to share conversation and resources freely wherever they are.  Yammer works like a simple and well structured Facebook account where you can see to structure of your organisation & who belongs to which team.  You can follow and connect with relevant people and choose appropriate levels of privacy.    Yammer also gives you the opportunity to create networks outside your organisation.

The benefit to Oblong has been a vast improvement in the internal communications and briefing of the team members.  We can clearly see where people belong in the organisation.  When we meet there is an improved level of attendance and commitment and we can devote the time to decision making rather than catching up.

Anyway.  Advert for Yammer over.

Published by Mark

Mark Waddington is a former BBC broadcaster and producer. He now works for the Diocese of Leeds as Urban Mission Officer. If you would like to get in touch email