Collaboration answers the call | Computerworld

Way back when, in the days before Mark Zuckerberg’s treachery was a trending Twitter topic, the tech industry was said to have boundless potential to improve the world. Plus, there was boundless money to be made! Then the trolls, criminals, predators, and demagogues marched into the public squares that tech built, and the tragedy of the digital commons unfolded on a global scale. And big tech wasn’t averse to monetizing that, either.

So tech was disastrously tarnished — until a few weeks ago, when, torn from our open-plan offices and trapped in our homes, we discovered the digital tools that connect us are lifelines. Those of us lucky enough to continue working as the economy implodes are compulsively embracing collaboration software, from project planners to videoconferencing apps. Suddenly, public appreciation for what engineers labor tirelessly to build has risen again.

While it’s great to explore what can be accomplished with popular tools, from Slack to Trello to Teams to GitHub to Zoom, there’s more to collaboration than software. Processes and precautions around how we work together remotely are evolving rapidly as group interactions swirl everywhere.

In recognition of collaboration’s vital new role, Computerworld, CIO, CSO, InfoWorld, and Network World have teamed up to deliver five articles to help you optimize your collaborative efforts. Share them with people you know.

Office? What office?

Senior Reporter Matthew Finnegan, who covers collaboration for Computerworld, addresses the question in the back of everyone’s mind: “Remote working, now and forevermore?” Surveys show that the majority of people prefer to work from home — and in organizations that have had mature work-from-home policies for a while, many employees have settled into their new reality as if it’s no big deal. The office won’t go away overnight. But as long as productivity endures, and as collaboration tools inevitably improve, why not allow people to work wherever they like? Matthew and IDG TechTalk’s Juliet Beauchamp discuss these and other possibilities on a special episode of Today in Tech.

One thing’s for sure: Videoconferencing is proving itself the lifeblood of remote work. But can networks handle it? By all accounts, the public internet and even cloud services have held up remarkably well. Yet as analyst Zeus Kerravala observes in “Videoconferencing quick fixes need a rethink when the pandemic is over,” written by Network World contributor Sharon Gaudin, those who return to the office and want to continue Zooming or Webexing could face obstacles. “Companies thought they had good networks, but now they’re finding out they need to be upgraded,” says Kerravala. And future, richer videoconferencing experiences will demand even more from corporate networks.

A more pressing demand is security for those working from home. CSO contributor Susan Bradley tackles that in “8 key security considerations for protecting remote workers,” which itemizes the efforts you should undertake immediately. Some are obvious, like implementing two-factor authentication. Others are less so, such as adjusting for the effect on security event logging. As Susan details, endpoint security is very different for tethered home users than for those embedded in an office.

Having the right technology in place does not ensure collaborative success. In “7 secrets of successful remote IT teams,” CIO contributor John Edwards digs into the roles and responsibilities for teams collaborating remotely. Not surprisingly, many of John’s recommendations, especially those addressing leadership, can apply to most management situations. But he also covers best practices for healthy group dynamics.

Now might be a good time to remember that the true pioneers of successful remote collaboration processes have been, you guessed it, developers. InfoWorld Contributing Editor Isaac Sacolick walks us through “7 best practices for remote agile teams,” beginning with choosing the right tools for your collaborative workspace. Isaac offers clear advice on everything from adjusting sprint cadences to adapting agile “ceremonies” for remote work. The final sentence of his story offers words to live by: “A big part of being agile, and not just following agile practices, is recognizing when and how to change.”

We’re all in the middle of discovering that right now. As we pioneer our own processes and collaborative rules, the tech industry would do well to redeem itself further by taking notes and delivering creative new solutions.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.