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10.07.09

The Effect Social Media Has On The Office Environment

By Luis Suarez

Every now and then you know you that you bump into one of those video clips that you realise it's just right. Every so often, you let serendipity do its magic and someone points you in the direction of one of those videos that, as you watch through, is just such a pleasure, and such a treat, you wish it could last for a lot longer. Sometimes you come across one of those videos that makes your fingers tingle quite a bit and you just cannot help but sharing it across through multiple venues (blog posts, tweets, social bookmarks, word of mouth, etc.etc.).

Yes, this is going to be one of those blog posts that talks about an amazing YouTube video clip that clearly describes how disruptive social computing can be in the traditional corporate world. Today I'm going to be sharing with you folks one of those videos that after you watch it you won't be the same. Inspiration, to say the least, will blow your mind!

The YouTube video was eventually put together by Amber Rae, from Leverage Software, and it surely is a wonderful instance that describes, pretty accurately, too!, the state of the corporate world in the last few decades as well as a direction in which most businesses will end up heading to eventually, as long as they start paying attention to social software, in case they may not have done that already.

Amber just used perhaps one of those key concepts that has been with us all along, although in a slightly different form, or shape. The water cooler. In this case, the virtual water cooler! In a virtual, global, distributed (Now more than ever!) corporate world as today's, the concept of the traditional water cooler may not well be very much relevant any more. Yet, it's probably one of those indispensable activities that every single knowledge worker takes advantage from on a daily basis. And probably not enough throughout the day!

Those informal conversations with other knowledge workers where you just basically talk and exchange knowledge, experiences, know-how, etc. over a cup of coffee, or tea, and where, out of the blue, you end up having one of those ah-ha moments that keeps your thinking for the following few days is something that perhaps we haven't valued as much as we should have all along. Yet, you could say that it's an essential work activity we all seem to enjoy quite a bit. And we should!

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For a good number of years plenty of businesses have been neglecting what, to me, is an essential part of our daily knowledge sharing activities: our social capital. Without it, I am sure that, as companies, we probably wouldn't have been as productive as we actually have been throughout this time. Yet, I'm sure we have seen plenty of instances where those kinds of conversations were not being encouraged amongst knowledge workers.

Thank goodness the water cooler conversations still kept thriving to the point we are today and become an essential part of how we do business. But what happens when most of your knowledge workers, your colleagues, your peers, etc., are all distributed and you don't have an opportunity to head down the corridor to the water cooler to meet them up? Well, that's when the virtual water cooler kicks in…

Welcome to social computing! Your virtual water cooler! That's just exactly what Amber's video is all about. In a little bit over 4 1/2 minutes (Under the title "From Office Space to the Social Office") and she gets to do a beautiful job in demonstrating how traditional office types of workers we have all been exposed to are starting to leave their work spaces to that new generation of knowledge workers that has continued to take those face-to-face conversations online. And still keep them going and rather actively!

And all of that thanks to this new wave of knowledge sharing, collaborative and social networking tools that help empower knowledge workers to exchange their knowledge, their know-how, their experiences, etc. etc. with their peers in an environment that tries to simulate those original face-to-face interactions. But online. Yes, I know and I do realise there is NOTHING that will substitute face to face conversations (Not even social software!), but you would have to agree with me that these emerging social networking tools within the enterprise can do a very good job at it already, don't you think?

Continue reading this article.


About the Author:
Luis Suarez has been working in the fields of Knowledge Management, collaboration, communities, and learning for the past seven years, and is heavily involved in social computing and its adoption within the enterprise. Luis shares his insights on important KM issues of today through The Knowledge Management Blog and ELSUA.NET, and is an active participant in the ITtoolbox blogging community.

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