The hybrid workplace introduces a number of new challenges for managers. Identifying and understanding unconscious biases in the workplace is one of them. Unconscious biases are beliefs about individuals or a group that would be considered to be unfair, such as beliefs about the effectiveness of remote workers vs. in-office workers.
COVID-19 Proves it: Virtual Teams are the New Normal
Time and time again, world events have shown us that we can’t always rely on working face-to-face. As The Wall Street Journal reports, virtual teams are the new normal. Working from home has officially evolved from a perk to a necessity.
Virtual teams are the new normal. Even after this first wave of social distancing passes, we are likely to see further spikes before the Coronavirus is fully under control. And as The Atlantic reports, the sudden need to work from home due to COVID-19 is causing managers and employees a huge amount of stress and testing their resilience.
Which means that knowing how to work remotely is essential for a resilient workforce that can weather storms like this, which are likely to become the new normal going forward.
Building Resilience in Virtual Teams
Rapidly transitioning to a virtual office is more complicated than simply giving staff a laptop and an Internet connection. In fact, technology is only 10% of the equation – the remaining 90% is human.
It’s a critical 10%, however: the foundational puzzle piece that enables us to collaborate and connect effectively. Many people mandated to work from home are not comfortable working with their collaboration software. Without proper training, their stress levels will rise and their productivity will fall, impacting your entire team.
As for the remaining 90%, the question is how to engage with and sustain relationships with your team.
- Social distancing can lead to feelings of isolation, which can increase our anxiety and reduce resilience
- Without the ability to pop by each other’s desk or meet for coffee, everyone needs to mindfully and deliberately spend time building those relationships
- Virtual team meetings are opportunities to reinforce trusted working relationships as much as they are to discuss work
Virtual teams can be enormously effective, productive, and high performing. Due to COVID-19, most organizations are being mandated to work virtually without any time to plan.
This is understandable of course, but it can be ultimately detrimental to the success of your team. Training is an opportunity for managers and staff to take a step back and appreciate what it takes to operate successfully in the virtual environment, setting them up for success over the short and long term.
Working Virtually is Not Business as Usual
Simply put, you can’t apply face-to-face strategies in the virtual world – it takes a new set of skills to be effective.
Tips you can put into practice today include:
- Did you trust your team to do their work before? Then trust them now! Virtual employees typically work four hours per week longer than their co-located counterparts, and usually check their work email after hours
- Pick up the phone and check in with your staff every day – not just about work, but how they are coping in general
- Create opportunities to connect such as virtual team lunches or a virtual happy hour
- Start team meetings with a quick, personal check-in – make sure your team has an opportunity to share how they are coping during this tough time
- Hold virtual office hours where staff can drop into your conference line; this lets your team know that you are accessible to discuss anything needing your support
Take Your Virtual Team to the Next level
Social distancing and the need to work virtually are here to stay – particularly as more social distancing and office lockdowns are likely to occur before the Coronavirus pandemic is over. The best, most reliable way to ensure business continuity in these challenging times is to make sure your team has the skills to be successful now and in the future.
To help global businesses make the transition and optimize their operations, we offer the following services to provide immediate, effective support to your virtual team in this challenging time:
With reduced attention spans and increased distractions and demands on our time, microlearning’s popularity is soaring due to it’s short burst learning format and versatility. We will partner with you to create custom microcontent, to support your learning and development objectives.
Certificate in virtual team management:
The Certificate in Virtual Team Management from the Project Management Association of Canada is a highly interactive, experiential and practical program. It is designed to meet the needs and maximize the effectiveness of working in an everchanging and challenging virtual environment.
We’re on YouTube:
Virtual teams and leads need access to great advice and best practices now more than ever, which is why we launched our YouTube channel with free tips and advice. Visit now and subscribe to get the latest virtual teams’ content!
What do you think? Is the virtual office about to become the new normal? Let us know on social media using the hashtag #VTB!
Research shows that employee burnout is on the rise after such a lengthy period of working from home. People have been trying to balance personal lives and professional responsibilities for many months now while dealing with the challenges of the pandemic, and it has taken a toll on their physical and mental well-being. Burnt out employees lack energy, are more negative about their jobs, and aren’t as productive at work.
Gradually, more and more remote workers are heading back into the office. Over three in five Canadians say that they want to return to their physical workplace or office, according to a recent KPMG survey. But there are still many people who prefer to work from home at least a few days per week. While the evolving hybrid cultures will differ from place to place, company leaders share a common concern – how to maintain high productivity levels from all their team members, regardless of their working location. They wonder if employees will continue to collaborate and be as effective in a new hybrid environment when they are no longer working together in one place.