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Since starting at Citrix 5 years ago, I’ve internalized the company motto: “Work with anyone from anywhere.” Although we’ve been using this saying for a long time, mobile technology has only recently caught up. I can still picture an image we used to use for marketing that showed someone working on a beach with a laptop, and I always wondered how many people actually got Wi-Fi access on the beach.

Fast-forward to today when tablets and smart phones are so prevalent that many of us carry 2 to 3 devices (I currently carry 3: iPhone, iPad, IBM ThinkPad). How do we stay connected when we’re so distributed now? Mobile collaboration, or the ability to connect and collaborate anywhere, will become even more important over the next few years. Distributed work is not new, but these powerful electronics are increasingly pressuring us to communicate and make decisions at a distance. How do we adjust?

We recently announced that anyone can attend a GoToMeeting session from an Android device or iPhone. The whole process of launching these products got me thinking about how the way we interact will change, a realization that really hit me when I attended a GoToMeeting session from the dog park a few weeks ago.

First, we have to challenge our assumptions. Our communications are very unstructured, thanks in large part to email. We bounce ideas, send messages and make calls, but we’ve forgotten how to set up an agenda and bring people together for a successful meeting. I recommend you look through a new book titled Read This Before Our Next Meeting by Al Pittampalli, published through Seth Godin’s Domino Project, to learn more about how we’ve lost sight of efficient meetings. We need to get back in the habit of structuring collaboration around outcomes. Mobile work styles are great at creating flexibility for the employee, but not for agendas or results. We must define our interactions and what we want to get out of them.

A bigger theme we see with mobility is the idea of choice – you can choose where and what devices you want to work from. But choice must also extend to when you work. Some people assume the new mobile technologies mean employees can now work 24/7, but we must fight this assumption. Why do we like to be mobile? Because it gives us the freedom to control our lives. We can meet from a park, work on a business trip or share slides with someone in a different country.

Our challenge here is to set boundaries and stick to them. Use mobile collaboration tools to be more effective, to work from anywhere life takes you – but set a schedule of availability and abide by it.

Photo Credit: guiguis

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Eric Bensley is the Senior Product Marketing Manager for Citrix® GoToMeeting®. On the job at Citrix, Eric works on brand development, customer and competitive research, market growth strategies, launch planning, pricing, packaging and positioning for GoToMeeting. As one of the fastest growing products in the company’s history, GoToMeeting provides an easy-to-use, cost-effective and fast way to meet, demonstrate products, and collaborate online. Eric has successfully managed the GoToMeeting brand with results that include being ranked #2 in the world web conferencing market and recognition as the best overall user experience among major web conferencing vendors. Eric shares the company’s passion for driving awareness of the benefits of workshifting. He workshifts and uses Citrix products to work with geographically distributed partners on a daily basis. He's an advocate for workshifting, results-based work environments and the anywhere office. He has a degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara in Business Economics.
  • http://vsee.com Anne

    Thanks for this article, Eric.  I agree that setting boundaries is one of the toughest and most essential parts of the mobile work style.  As you suggested, I also find that for flexibility to work well, whether it’s in the classroom, at home, or in the office, it’s first necessary to have set routines/processes and established structures.  It will be interesting to see what structures and processes evolve to support the mobile work style or whether we will eventually lose some of that flexibility.