Rob Smyth

Monday 8 June 2020

Has the pandemic spawned and opportunity for virtual osmotic communications?

Has the pandemic opened our experiences to make  a new type of meeting "Virtual Forum" a possibility?

Meetings, pre-pandemic, require us to get up and go to a meeting room. Some bring a laptop and continue other work, others bring their lunch. Those with their laptops remain "semi-passively present" while still achieving a level of base workflow productivity (PPWP). They strive to benefit from the meeting osmotic communication while still doing their base work.

For most it is difficult or inappropriate to achieve PPWP, the meeting is an interruption to other work. Inhibitors to PPWP are:
  • A software developers role  - Physically relocating (and the interrupting time it takes) is an inherent interruption to a software developer's flow state.
  • Not all staff have a laptop (a laptop may not be appropriate as a prime work box).
  • Less senior people may feel a responsibility to appear attentive in the meeting.
  • Not everybody works well in an osmotic environment. For them osmotic equals noise.
But what if the meeting's rules of engagement where:
  • Participants are not expected to exhibit active participation.
  • Active greeting on joining is not expected and should be the exception (treated as an interruption to the joiner's work).
  • Passive participation while doing other work (PPWP) is not only OK but the expected norm.
  • The meeting can invoke the attention of a particular participant for input.
It challenges my concept of a "meeting". So perhaps it is a virtual forum. So much value in a name to let participant know how they are expected to engage and use the forum/meeting.

I think Virtual Forums might enable:
  • Code review pit forums
  • Technical review panel sessions/forums
  • Problem solving forums
What I'm wondering is .... rather than just inviting those who you know need to be engaged, but everybody. Make passive engagement with minimal interruption OK. It enables a new type of collaboration.