What can you do better online than offline?


Only two months ago I was introduced to Tortoise Media by a client in the West Coast of the USA, a Tortoise founder member. That same day I joined as a member then attended a “ThinkIn” at their newsroom in central London that evening. It was amazing, I sat ten feet away from their Nobel laureate guest and was even asked to contribute a question.

My friend in the West Coast, however, couldn’t participate, as Tortoise, revolutionarily inclusive though they are, was still part of a highly traditional profession, news journalists, so were anchored to a physical place, a newsroom.

Well, we all know how that changed about a month later.

Tortoise (belying their name, moved immediately to make ThinkIns digital. I joined one of the first and they had adapted brilliantly, using the tools in Zoom to make the sessions even more interactive than when there were 100 or so people in the newsroom to manage. They are now able to really curate the conversation so much more richly, as well as by having everyone online, there is no bias towards those “in the room” as inevitably happens when people are included in an existing meeting by videoconferencing.

In short, Tortoise ThinkIns are, in multiple ways, better remotely than in person. Oh, and people join the ThinkIns from all over the world and are all on equal footing, massively enriching the conversation.

Rigid beliefs are common that offline is better than online, even the language “working from home” infers online is a poor substitute for offline. This limits our abilities to truly smash working paradigms, through innovating (doing different things and doing things differently) online.

As someone who has worked remotely for over 27 years, my plea is for you to not simply replicate what you do offline, but instead look to how we do things better online.

Today I’ll simply share some real examples from the last month of online life:

  • That meeting you normally have for your team based in your office. What about now including their counterparts in another city, region or country?
  • That team operations meeting held in person where someone takes minutes then circulates them for approval before sending out. Now people discover their online meeting tool auto-transcribes the conversation and everyone can receive these notes in real time, saving resource and time as everyone gets to work on the actions immediately.
  • A network runs regular “speed mentoring” events with three mentors each giving an hour of their time to two members back to back. Offline this means people come to a venue and three mentors help six members. Online almost unlimited mentors and members could be together. They could all join a group meeting and, with online facilitation, start and end the event together, then breakout into meeting rooms with just mentor and mentees.
  • A business that has a weekly meeting at 9am now starts it at 8am as the average commute into the office had been well over an hour, so without that they can all start (and finish) their day earlier.

I could give countless examples, these are only a sample.

If you are open to the question: “What can you do better online than offline?”, a starting point to being “future-ready” in this way is to talk to those who already live this in their working lives.

I’m one such person, am happy to listen to your thoughts and ideas then, as a Sounding Board, give my own reflections on your unique situation, informed by decades of remote work around the globe.

Let’s talk

Book your 30-minute meeting here.

Also published on Medium.