Archive for September, 2010

The high flying world of Private Fly

Friday, September 24th, 2010

It’s always great to meet up with people who are using Yuuguu as a key part of their business. Better still if it is quite an interesting, high-profile business. And if you get to spend a day at an exciting place, with great people, in front of a camera – fantastic!

This is yours truly spending a day with PrivateFly.

Based in St. Albans, PrivateFly link up people who need to fly on private jets with private jets who need to fly people on them. Result. Owners Adam Twidell and Carol Cork explain what they do, and the part Yuuguu plays in their high flying world (sorry – didn’t spot the dreadful pun until I’d typed it. But left it in. Double sorry).

Yuuguu meets Private Fly produced by Greek Bloke Productions.

Choosing a secondary school

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Hard to believe it, but a whole decade of my life has raced past … never to return … and I’m looking at finding a secondary school for my big girl.

I’m confronted with the dispiriting facts that (a) my local council choice form counts for very little, and (b) schools, great as they are, never fully prepare you for your life ahead anyway.

Yet how could they? The stuff I get paid to do these days hadn’t been invented when I was at school. And before @phillcoleman gets all ‘That was “Fire” and “The Wheel”, Al’, I’m talking about the PC, mobile, and this t’interweb thing I am typing on. I rather hope to get big girl a school like the fantastic one I went to, that taught you ‘stuff’, but also tried to teach you how to learn, and experiment, and have some confidence.

And that led me to thinking about this blog’s title: ‘the Future of Work’. What actually will be the future of work for my big girl?

It’s unlikely to be manufacturing if she remains in the UK. And a good deal of our services sector has had the wind knocked out of its sails as well. Profitable banks? Anyone remember those?

Looking at her primary school education to date, Eco issues are set to become hugely important to this particular generation of millenials. Whilst it has been news to this Gen-X’er that we are trashing the planet quicker than it can sustain being trashed, big girl has been practically brought up with that message.

Obligatory plug for Yuuguu ‘Were already doing our bit to cut travel’ aside, I wonder if this generation will be the one to finally reach that tipping point as described so well by Mr Gladwell. That, ok, so we never used to do remote working all that much, because … well, we never had, but now there are some more pressing matters at hand.

  • Would I do my old commute to work 8 miles to Manchester town centre each way, each day if petrol cost 25 pounds a litre?
  • Would I park my car in the City Centre if the projected 9 billion worldwide populous had made city centre real estate so scarce and expensive that parking contracts were five figures a year?

Using remote tools like screen sharing, telephone conferencing and instant messages is certainly a way of reducing the carbon footprint of transporting people in metal boxes. It cuts it to that of making the electricity needed to power the computers and internet. And things might well get more interesting here in big girl’s working life; I will not be surprised to see much more creative, local solutions to generating small amounts of electricity -just enough to power a mobile internet browser on a phone, or a notebook. Potentially, this could be done by completely clean sources, depending on local conditions: solar, wind, water, thermal.

The development of a measurably greener alternative to business travel might just be the push needed to drag remote working fully into the mainstream.

What do you think?

Better Teleconferencing

Friday, September 10th, 2010

There is one depressing similarity between office work and remote collaboration. You can certainly make your meeting arrangements more efficient. But you’re just as likely to have a dull, pointless waste of everybody’s time if you don’t have a think about what you want to achieve.

I read an interesting link about this on Ten Top Teleconferencing Tips

Great tips. We’ve found at Yuuguu that when you collaborate, talk is important. It gives context to the other things you might be doing – screen sharing, sending links, remote control and so on.

Get the numbers right with Yuuguu

What’s the easiest way to ruin your meeting before it starts? Make it really hard to join. This was the first point in the article: everyone in the call needs to know the number to dial into, and any other access codes they will need.

With Yuuguu, our Meeting Scheduler makes this fast – and easy to get the details accurate. Follow the wizard, copy the results to your clipboard then send them around in your favourite way – be that email, twitter or carrier pigeon.

Welcome interruptions

I found the point about ‘allowing interruptions’ really interesting.

I’ve recently attended a conference at Durham University. Delegates and speakers alike used twitter clients to get interruptions projected on a wall using twitterfall and a conference hashtag.

Initially, this felt odd. I could almost see the horn rimmed spectacles of my old teacher at first, shouting ‘Mellor! No talking in class!’ But it did prove helpful.

Every now and then, a break was made in the presentation to look through the tweets and discuss any important issues arising. So, even better than an interruption, this technique allows deferred interruptions.

And yes, we’ve had this feature for quite some time in Yuuguu. Our screen sharing goes side by side with a group Instant Message discussion.

During our in-house meetings, we tend to have always used this feature for deferred interruptions. It can get a little out of hand with off-topic stuff, but I think overall I would recommend you give it a try.

As a bonus, a deft cut-and-paste from our chat window provides everyone with a handy transcript of the points raised.

Al’s Extra Rules for Extra Successful Meetings

I would add a few more Al’s Rules

  • Al’s Zeroth Rule: if you have nothing to discuss, don’t run the meeting
  • if you’ve got nothing to say, say nothing
  • if you disagree, do speak up! You might save us from ourselves. It feels awkward to some people to go against the flow – but what if you’re the only one present who can spot the ‘obvious’ flaw? We’ll thank you later!

Update: Even more great tips for being on a teleconference from someone who should know: Andy Pearce, CEO of teleconference company PowWowNow. Well worth a read – I particularly like the ‘Stand Up’ one. That definitely works for me.

It’s nice to be able to do this

Friday, September 3rd, 2010
Video will appear here.

I really liked one of the mornings earlier this week.

Fresh coffee and bacon sandwich in hand, I went upstairs to my office, ready to switch the computer on for another day’s work. I took up my little lad with me – mostly to give mum a break for a few minutes before I started work!

He promptly grabbed my headset, and proceeded to pretend to be dad at work. Good lad!

I thought that this is a really nice thing for me personally that yuuguu gives me. I’m a remote worker, so I get to not only claw back my commute time (typically one to one and a half hours each way in my previous tech jobs), but my little boy gets to see me from time to time during the day. He sees me at work. Quite a bit of that is done talking with colleagues using the headset. I tend to be involved in pair programming and aspects of marketing/customer support. And the boy has obviously picked up on this.

It’s nice to not only be able to spend a bit more time with him, but nice that he gets to see what I do for a living; as Dad, I definitely want to set him the example that the world does not owe you a living, you have to earn your way by providing value to others. It’s really nice that he can see some of that at home, as well as just the purely family stuff.

Not sure about the advice he is giving down the headset though. But then again, if you were to ask @phillcoleman, he might just say that little Jakey was making more sense than I normally do ;-)

Have a good weekend, all!

Until next time …