Virtual Relationships

It’s no longer uncommon to work with remote clients or team members that you have never met in real life! Check out my latest blog about how to enhance your relationships in a virtual world.

I would love to hear what you all do to grow and maintain virtual relationships!

As soon as you are speaking from a business relationship you should keep in mind that in EU/Germany every business is ought to manage and to keep its corporate communication. Every Email, Chats, Message, everything. It’s called GoBD (overview here).

Using some fancy messenger or cloud-based services you might find yourself in troubled waters. Esp. when fiscal authorities are checking you or your customer.

Bottomline: Stay in control of your data, keep your communication transparent and verifiable. Do not use the so called social media, they are more or less a blackbox.

Good info @Tomas Jakobs - I was unaware of those requirements in the EU. Slack does offer a subscription plan where you can access all your communications.

This is a minimum requirement of every business: To keep and manage its communication :wink:

I am in doubt that any 3rd party company can offer me a full communication history for 6 years or longer. This is the minimum time for projects. And what happens when a 3rd party Slack, Video, Messenger Whatever-Service (you name it) cease to exist?

Can you show me your chat history, for project X with supplier Y from 2013, 6 years ago?
Everybody keeps track of his/her expenses, bills and accounts. Why treat virtual relations and communication differently?

As a business owner/executive, these types of communication retention polisies are being examined by law makers in the US and the UK (at least) as they can be impossible to maintain. Do you record every phone call that you receive or make (do you even have a way to do so)? Do you tell a customer that you can’t reply on Skype or Facebook because you can’t keep a mandated record of the conversation? The requirements by so many of these knee-jerk laws are barely possible in the best of situations and nearly impossible in normal day to day communications.

Additionally, anyone with an idea of how the RFCs work for the majority of computer-based communications protocols could “recreate” missing parts that only another true expert could unmask as faked. I was truly expecting there to be a “magical” backup of the Clinton private email server to show up that magically contained missing “unclassified” emails.

This whole “Cover Your A$$” philosophy is one that wouldn’t be necessary if the international legal systems could be restructured to throw out overreaching and superfluous law suits and sanction lawyer(s) involved. We just had an attempted suit that was being driven by a customer who had her feelings hurt by one of our techs that asked her if there was someone at her company that could get involved in the support call who understood how computers worked … The judge said - uh, NO.

As George Pauschmann says - “I’m so glad that I’m closer to the grave than the birth canal.”

Oh - and my civilian engineering boss in the Coast Guard had a saying -“Never put anything in writing that you don’t want to come back and bite you in the a$$; it will.”

[quote=463839:@Tim Jones]Do you record every phone call that you receive or make (do you even have a way to do so)?

Of course not. We are talking about digital documents here. Commercial letters mostly related to projects or arrangements e.g. Emails but also Chats. And of course you should keep them in your own interest. You can ask me about any mail back to 2001 if you want to.

No and that’s not true. I do not have any Facebook, Skype, Twiter, Whatsapp or Instagram account. I do not either have or use Google. And guess what: I am still alive and the Internet is still working for me :wink: What I have is my own Nextcloud Server in my office. For video confernceing, chat or document sharing everybody gets an URL, click, ready. No additional software or app needed. No wiretapping to any 3rd party. Everything runs within webbrowser, TLS secured even with audio and video via WebRTC. Did you hear about Fediverse? Millions of federated and decentralized servers?

Let’s advance to the heart of the matter. This is trust. Trust is the personal believe in correctness in something. It is the deep conviction of truth and rightness and cannot be enforced. If you gain someone’s trust you have established an interpersonal relationship based on communication (virtual and physical), shared values and experiences. Trust always depends on mutuality.

How on earth can you comply with any NDA when you’re violating the trust of your costumer in sharing everything with 3rd parties? It starts on your smartphone when using Whatsap and giving away the personal mobile numbers of your buddies and business contacts. Mostly without consent. Just for the record, Whatsapp makes a profit with these things and sells them on.

When talking about relationships and communication, these basic principles of trust should be understood.

I understand the core intent of this, and agree with Susan’s blog for the most part, I was mainly replying to your note about the EU GoBD guidelines. While specific transactions (quotes, contracts, invoices, inquiries, and the like) are definitely important, I was speaking about other communications and the reality of retention policies based upon my 35+ years in the world of international business.

Discounting the document types mentioned above, you are smart in the way that you limit communication to your very enclosed and controlled environment, but that’s not the reality for the 95th percentile of the rest of us. Whether we’re talking to a client, partner, or employee on the phone, via iMessage, through a forum such as this, or even as innocuously as through an old-world fax machine, communication occurs. Even though my company affords me access to face-to-face travel when needed, we still hold WebEx meetings and generic multiple attendee phone conference calls when emails and spec documents need a bit of human explanation that are impossible to retain in toto. This is where I think that the improperly considered rules go too far.

BTW - I have no idea why the simple, non-vulgar work “J E R K” was flagged in my use of “Knee-J E R K” above :S

@Tim Jones - I agree with your position. I appreciate what @Tomas Jakobs is doing, but it is not a reality for most of us. It’s just not possible. As a project manager, I am absolutely for documenting and keeping important information. But I think if I had to follow those EU guidelines, I’d be much more inclined to tell my team not to put anything in writing ever and to avoid anything that was recorded. Honestly, it would make me concerned about leaving voice mails or even talking out loud near a smartphone. (Ever had that conversation with someone in your household and then all of sudden ads are showing up for it on various platforms! THEY ARE LISTENING!) And, all of that prevents relationship-building to a degree… which was the intention of this blog post.

And that’s the rub - we need to communicate to build relationships, but the combination of CYA and regulation overreach mean that even THINKING about something is a potential for miscommunication at a later date - did I just think that or did I commit it to some form of hardcopy or recorded media; we start second guessing everything that we say and write.

COMPLETELY agree @Tim Jones !

First of all, it’s German law. I don’t know if it is also EU law, mostly it is congruent.

Secondly, I am aware that it may seem strange to you. But I am pretty sure that similar rules also apply to Corporate America. Especially when trade secrets or NDAs come into play. Just think about Apple and how projects and information is locked up.

Again, good communication is based on trust. And I assume that all of us as software developers need to be trustful and transparent in our communication with our customers.

The so-called social media are no communication mediums, they are just advertising platforms and not suited for confidential, trustful and good communication. Basically they are spam and time thieves, blocked in many offices by corporate firewalls.

May I recommend a good book to read? Shoshana Zuboff “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism”

Another great explanation about federated, decentralized communication servers. Peer-to-Peer Systems like Mastodon or Nextcloud: