Meet a Bright Mind: Uschi Linke

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Uschi Linke, Head of Digital Knowledge & Collaboration, DHL Freight

ConnectMinds member of the “Intranet-Expertengruppe München”.

With many years of working teams spread across countries - even in other time zones, Uschi Linke has extensive experience in working remotely.

What's necessary to make "remote" work successful?

The easier precondition, which needs to be considered is the technical equipment plus the respective (company) soft- and hardware, as well as a speedy and secure connection, which is for some companies already the first challenge.

From my own experience, to make remote work successful I would recommend:

For initial agreements or creative workshops as it is helpful to start with live meetings. Any sort of initial face to face gettogethers. Not being together might lead to misunderstandings if the participants do not see the counterparts’ mimic and gestures – especially if they have never met each other before. And to avoid that such misinterpretations manifest themselves wrongly in a team, it is very helpful if the working parties get to know each other personally and learn to talk openly, honestly and to trust each other.

After the initial agreements, the ongoing collaboration in projects, the roll-out of defined processes, training even of an unknown audience, as well as the further improvement of existing programs can easily be done remotely.

That said, complicated the preconditions are a risk is of missing clear definitions of the hard to measure soft skills of remote innovative workers. Within innovations, it’s more difficult to define measurable achievements. In a sense of: What are the agreed targets? How are updates shared in the team? Are there fixed working hours where team members need to be online? What if bosses change and have no experience with a distributed team? For the remote collaboration of project workers who have innovative tasks, it is important that companies start gaining experience now.

How do you find "remote" working fits in the professional workplace in 2018?

Remote working and thinking outside the box absolutely fit in the professional workplace of knowledge workers. I find the most valuable achievements can’t only be developed behind office doors any longer. Constant change and improvements are a combination of sources of inspiration every team member gains in- and outside the daily tasks, the combination of possibilities which are available in- and outside the own company, and the capabilities which are bundled in a team which is rarely located together in one room.

This said, we have to bear in mind that most jobs are still stationary. Only knowledge workers can work remotely. The emergence of automation and robotics solutions will replace a lot of the stationary repetitive tasks in the coming years. It is key for companies to bring together remotely the best innovative thinkers across departments, locations, or even countries to develop fast in the new environment and gain experience with remote innovative workers.

What is the value of a ConnectMinds membership?

Main arguments for me: Insights into subject areas that can NOT be publicly researched (e.g. intranets of other companies, online and digitization projects that are currently being worked on). This has made a huge difference for me since the time I 'only' knew our online tools. Also, the very open and familiar exchange with executives from other large companies, in which even critical questions and different opinions or approaches become transparent.

Plus the ConnectMinds moderator support and engagement for each group, participant and meeting. Furthermore, the (best practice) sharing of experience gained in other groups or sometimes inviting particularly valuable speakers from other groups – I myself have already been invited to Frankfurt to give insights into the development of the DPDHL intranet ‘myNet’, which was a good experience, too.

How does our group meeting benefit you in your professional life?

Since the insights into "What is going on, what is missing and what is under development in other companies?" I’m much more relaxed about the own state-of-the-art status of our company. On the other hand, it’s also influencing and inspiring our own Digitalization Strategy (e.g. ideas, approaches, evaluation of input, content, new technologies, use cases) as in times of Digital Transformation there is no time to relax and rest on the successes.