BREW Report: Managing virtual workspaces and cryptocurrency

    As more businesses shift to virtual workplaces, the key to engaging teams is to create connections—much like you would in person—but this becomes difficult when communicating via phone, video or email, Dima Ghawi said during her panel discussion for Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week today.

    “Think about the experience when we are in the office. The water cooler experience. The office parties,” Ghawi said. “When you’re working virtually, you miss out on these things.”

    Ghawi—a motivational speaker, leadership coach and former IBM talent development manager—offered up these five tips during her BREW panel to effectively engage virtual teams that must meet and work together over the phone or computer:

    • Reduce distractions like background noise

    • Understand different personalities among team members

    • Be prepared and aware that people may not understand what you’re saying

    • Listen to nonverbal cues, such as tone of voice

    • Know which technology best suits the conversation, such as video or email

    Virtual companies also must work on establishing and maintaining a meaningful connection between managers and their teams, among team members and between the team and the company mission.

    “Make people feel connected and know that their work is meaningful,” Ghawi said.

    She suggested creating time during conference calls for “virtual water cooler time” when team members can carry on casual conversation and learn about one another.

    Also today, local entrepreneurs Charlie Davis and Cody Louviere also gave a presentation on cryptocurrency, known by its most famous form: bitcoin. They explained that bitcoin is only one type of cryptocurrency, while blockchain is technology behind it.

    “Think about bitcoin as the brand name Kleenex and blockchain as the tissue,” Davis said.

    Cryptocurrency is just hitting the mainstream but has been in the works for decades, he said. There’s still a lot of confusion and misinformation surrounding the topic. Bitcoin is comparable to digital gold, and not so much used as a means of monetary exchange. In fact, Davis said, bitcoin so far is a terrible medium of exchange. It’s also risky.

    “People who buy into it are either hobbyists or people who want to diversify their assets,” he said. Louviere, founder of King Crow Studios, has taken an interest in bitcoin because he has to stay on top of new technology as a video game developer.

    BREW events continue this evening with two keynote speakers. Marketing guru and best-selling author Ryan Holiday will reveal how to create and market brands that last. Cyber security expert Jeff Moulton—executive director of the Stephenson National Center for Security Research and Training as well as the Transformation Technologies and Cyber Research Center at LSU—will offer tips to protect businesses from cyber threats.

    See the full schedule of remaining BREW events, which will return Thursday with panel discussions on search engine optimization, press coverage, productivity and fundraising. BREW wraps up Thursday with the final PitchBR event, featuring SellSwipe, The Healing Sole and Aqua Pak.

    —Annie Ourso Landry