Realisation: Remote collaboration was the engine behind my engagement during my years with IBM

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

It took me a year to get sufficient perspective of the fifteen years I spent with IBM to realise just how much of my engagement and energy had been generated from the transparent collaboration and networking I had experienced with colleagues around the ENTIRE world.

Not that I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but it’s not until now that I have realised just how much it really meant to me.

Missing your colleagues

When people say “I miss my colleagues” they usually mean “…in my office”. Of course I miss the colleagues in the offices of Malmö, Kista and Gothenburg too. But the unique was the colleagues in offices in Paris, London, Newcastle, Bristol, Milan, Glasgow, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Singapore, Bangalore, Raleigh, Auckland, Atlanta, Toronto, Madrid, Washington, Zürich, Vienna, Brno….and all the folks who had their offices at home – way ahead of COVID-19. All these colleagues, I have worked with, had dialogues with and shared experience with over many years, many without ever meeting live. Who were my colleagues, albeit remotely, via keyboards, phone and screen. And via Connections.


Yes, Connections was the arena where we mingled and collaborated, as available time allowed and as was needed, by own needs or those of others. Then it was called IBM Connections and was fantastic. Now, it’s called HCL Connections and develops faste and better than in many years.

What is HCL Connections? Imagine merging all kinds of professional tools for collaboration and networking into a single one. In addition, you do it inside the firewall with everybody showing up by their real names. No trolls, no hate, no additional risk of leakage of intellectual capital. Imagine merging the capabilities of LinkedIn, LinkedIn Groups, Dropbox, Zoom (both meetings and chat), Google Docs, WordPress, Trello, discussion forums, suggestions boxes and a tool for simplified publishing of web pages (a wiki, that is, if you know the concept). ALL of this, TOGETHER, with a SINGLE flow of updates in order for it all to work together so you only need to log in once and can easily move and link from the one to the other. It all comes together. And, in addition, with the possibility of collaborate also with selected external people – but not as widely, of course. Finally, the information is presented for you based on what you have previously showed interest in (like on Facebook), not all the irrelevant overflow that others try to heap onto you.

Amy, Jessica, Derrick and the others – who all helped each other

As when Amy developed her client presentation in plain view of all about 400.000 colleagues, with support and ideas from several of us, both people she knew already and others, like Jonathan in Newcastle, who I knew but not her. Who later shared her completed deck with all those colleagues again, for anyone to re-use or get inspired. So that, some weeks later, I happened to witness Anders, a colleague in Stockholm use one of them at a seminar, completely unaware of me, one of the spectators, having contributed to that specific slide.

Or like when I needed to correct a couple of files in Adobe Illustrator (which is NOT for free) and Jessica Ramirez in USA offered to help and fixed the corrections in her spare time over the course of a couple of days.

When Derrick sold transformation services in Shenzhen and found a Swede capable of delivering them, on Connections, which resulted in eight months of extremely enriching work for me in China.

When a colleague in Japan volunteered to help me split pages in a PDF, but a colleague a few desks away instead tipped me off about a freeware to use to do the same thing.

All the times I held web meetings with new hire consultants to help them understand the dynamics of being a consultant in a world-wide organisation or with leaders to make the4m realise why and how they and their employees could help each other – and others – as I did.

Ar as when I finally met a colleague from Atlanta who I had collaborated with remotely for four months (or was it six?) and she told me that she had a better connections with me than she had ever ha with colleagues in “the next cubicle”.

All the times I have received and given help in big or small things, gotten inspired and ideas from what unknown colleagues had published online on topics of my interest. Learned, grown and “met” all kinds of exciting and friendly colleagues of mixed backgrounds and experiences.

You can experience the same inspiration

Usually, as I wrote earlier, it’s the people you miss. With Connections there were so many more of them, with so many more perspectives and ideas.

With this insight, I’m even more passionate about contributing to others getting the possibility to get inspired and engaged in the same way as I did during my years at IBM.

If you’d like that chance, or even better, want your staff to have the chance of getting more engaged, mor inspired, more innovative and more productive – both within teams and across the entire organisation – just get in touch. My partners and I can help with both the platform and the transformation work in the organisation (which is essential).

By the way, HCL Connections comes both as a cloud service and to run on own servers if you prefer to.

If you want to know more, just reach out.


Author: TheSocialSwede

Enabling People-Powered Businesses by developing leadership, motivation and collaboration for employee engagement. Now as independent, previously at IBM.

One thought on “Realisation: Remote collaboration was the engine behind my engagement during my years with IBM”

  1. Peter. Last week I posted probably my finak Connection status update. I was delighted to still see people commenting and reminiscing about those days you mention.
    There’s no real replacement planned. It will just go away. Yes there’s slack now, but I don’t feel you get any cross team pollination or relationship bulding not related to your own work as we did with connections.
    I only say this because it feels different now. I don’t ‘meet’ people on the intranet and catch up with what they’re up to as we did during those times. It’s different. And a little sad that all that will soon mo longer be there.
    The potential for building a long term knowledge accident factory inside an organisation with connections is huge!! But it’s all about the culture. We found each other through shared values and work methods but mostly through people who knew someone we know(on connections). You’d see their conversations and felt like you could, join in. Arguably with that culture any tool could work, but I think wlinwas lucky enough to become aware of all that, take an interest and learn from others. It was an amazing time! 😊
    Jonathan (remote connections collaborator)

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