How do you connect people in traditionally offline environments?

Summary:We're used to using the computer to collaborate with colleagues. What if your job means you're hardly online such as with restaurant staff? What are the tools that help an HQ coordinate and connect offline locations and teams?

I've been obsessed with building a corporate culture. When I worked at Microsoft, I took it for granted. E-mail newsletters making it easy to stay on top of updates, logos everywhere creating a feeling of identity, intranets for communication, stated company values, and etc.

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How do you connect people in traditionally offline environments?

A big part of culture advancement is feeling connected to your colleagues. Understanding what they're working on, why they're working on it, what challenges they're facing, and whether there are opportunities to engage help foster employee curiosity, feedback, and company well-being.

In a corporate environment, people sit in front of computers and have their e-mail active 24/7. In many other workplaces, people are nowhere near desks or computers for the majority of their day. This is where I hit a gap; as someone who is connected every minute via my smartphone and computer (Lord help me if I am somewhere with no Internet connection), I can't figure out how to enable members of my team to stay in touch with each other.

At my restaurants, there are full-time service crew, bartenders, chefs, managers, etc. They're on their feet all day, whether it's amongst the blazing heat of the kitchen or talking with customers in the dining area. How do I get them all connected? Is there software that helps me and the folks in the office enable collaboration between the offline team?

I can only think of a brute force method--printing out memos and newsletters and distributing them to be read by the people in the restaurants. That's not interactive though, people can't respond to a printed piece of paper.

In a recent column I talked about using a Facebook group to foster communication . That helps, but it's tied to an employee's personal account and they access it outside of working hours.

Any suggestions?

Topics: Collaboration, SMBs

About

Howard spent 14 years in the tech industry working as a programmer, evangelist, and community manager for Microsoft. In 2009, he had lived his "dream" of middle-management long enough and opened a Japanese restaurant called Standing Sushi Bar. Trading in stock grants and software licenses for raw fish and cash, he enjoys mixing his passio... Full Bio

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