Most every conversation I’m in, there is this growing awareness that there’s no telling how long significant changes may go on, much less their impact on the overall business landscape. This is leading to a range of concerns and corresponding responses related to work environments.

Virtual work may have a long-term application. While organizations will seek to have some level of on-site operations as health conditions permit, there’s an equal movement for more work to be done virtually. Specifically, various forms of learning have all shifted to a virtual environment and may not revert back any time soon.

Many conferences people have used as their primary time to learn new skills have shifted to virtual for 2020 and perhaps 2021 as well. This is changing the landscape of considering how to optimize virtual learning for the foreseeable future.

Collaboration. Early on, it seemed only a matter of weeks before people would be working together in person again to get projects done. It’s becoming more evident that this may in fact not be workable. Beyond the kinds of conference calls people have been having for day to day discussions, we will likely find ourselves needing to achieve whole new levels of completing work in a virtual manner.

For example, imagine building a new product in a collaborative manner online versus in person. By looking at a screen, how can people generate ideas and collaborate towards a new outcome? How do we replicate the types of interactions that have been used for consensus-based decision making or other more creative ventures?

Virtual skills reflect an evolution of capability. Basic virtual skills are simply the ability to converse and hear what other people have to say. As these skills evolve, the communication becomes closer to in-person environments. For example, breakout groups in a virtual environment imitate what we might do in small group meetings inside of the workplace.

It’s not too early to be considering what advanced levels of virtual communication will need to look like. What are the forms of collaboration and work previously done on-site that we need to be preparing to do in a virtual manner? What are the options for building these skills and creating these strategies for the future?

If your teams did not travel to see each other for the next year, what arrangements would you want to make or strategies would you need to build to continue to have fruitful and effective operations and team engagement? I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas about preparing for the future.

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