LEADING AND FACILITATING IN VIRTUAL AND HYBRID WORKPLACES
Before the pandemic outbreak in March 2020, remote and virtual working was the preserve of those with globally distributed teams and stakeholder relationships – now it is increasingly the ‘norm’ for all of us.
The amazing learning curve and adoption of video calling and information sharing using products like MS Teams, Zoom, Slack amongst others, has enabled us to keep going – but as we face a future of ongoing remote and hybrid workplaces (what has been increasingly called Work 2.0), we are starting to realise that we might be coping, but not everyone is FLOURISHING.
WFH lockdowns to Hybrid Working - Work 2.0
In March 2020 we said “Most of us are suddenly working from home – and possibly for many weeks – as businesses close offices to protect staff from Coronavirus transmission.”
And … “Often, subtle changes STICK …”
Now as we start 2022 we have witnessed a number of cycles of learning – firstly work-from-home (WFH) was temporary … then companies started closing offices for good and declared that all-remote was the way forward … but more recently an astonishing amount of global research has exposed the hidden ‘tax’ of apparently effective WFH arrangements in loss of innovation, social capital, goal orientation and wellbeing. The emerging practice is increasingly an orchestrated blend of WFH, WFA (anywhere) and in-office presence.
Need to permanently cut carbon footprint
The sudden lifestyle changes forced upon us by the pandemic, has shown the extent of impact that business travel (whether it be the daily commute to the office, or flights around the world) has on CO2 emissions and large-scale climate change, and also air quality, gridlock traffic and local health conditions.
Also, many people (often with a guilty sigh) are telling us that they are ONLY NOW noticing what a toll their travel schedules were taking on their bodies, their effectiveness, their families … and rather hoping that they won’t “bounce back” to how it was before.
Could brilliant virtual, global working sustain some of these advantages, as part of the ‘new normal’ post Covid-19?
Economic reset - the future of business travel?
Organisations are facing an economic reset. We are now in the biggest, deepest recession that present generations have had to encounter – and leaders are already acting on deep cost reduction measures.
Travel and office campus budgets are usually amongst the first victims of cost cutting – AND yet, more than ever, we must continue to produce results across global teams in complex team relationships, if we are to bounce forward from the current moment.
Investing in superb virtual, global leadership skills enables your people to work productively – while saving costs.
Leading in dark and anxiety provoking times
Change is constant – little is linear, some is chaotic (very little). Most of the ‘shocks’ we experience are exponential – with weak, early signals (that we ignore), long periods where we think we have “forever” to respond, and then we are suddenly surprised, AS IF we could not see it coming. That is as true of this pandemic, as it is of climate change, social inequality, and many business challenges.
Working with complex and exponential change (and the occasional “black swan” event) DEMANDS that leaders are exquisitely ‘tuned in’ and hearing ‘inconvenient truths’ spoken from unusual places and people, and must be able to build the trust networks that bring insight into the scenarios they lead into. How will you and your leaders respond to the need to lead these vocal, insightful trust networks?
The global pandemic has been the world’s largest experiment in new forms of workplace. We coped amazingly well, but evidence is now emerging that we are not flourishing – work is increasingly dominated by an endless stream of unproductive web-meetings, ballooning email inboxes, Teams Channels, Chats etc which have lost most of their discipline and utility, slipping deadlines, exhaustion and burnout, and an escalating “quit” rate leaving precipitous levels of vacancies in key roles.
Many struggled because it was automatic to use the same skills, the same processes and the same leadership approaches that we use face-to-face in the office, meeting room or workshop – and hope that good enough technology will take care of the loss of physical connection. But despite learning new virtual skills rapidly during Covid-19 lockdowns – many are not transforming their practice, just postponing those things that are hard to do virtually “until we get back to normal”.
All the research over the last 20 years has shown that virtual, global and distributed working is a NEW CRAFT with entirely new competencies and techniques, tools and ways of working.
Research over 2020 and 21 has added depth and breadth to this understanding – leading to a Work 2.0 reset which covers not only how we lead and interact, but the very concept of a workplace itself.
In our video below we sum up 20+ years of research into the leadership challenge and transformation associated with virtual, global working.
For more than 2 decades we have been helping clients deal with global diversity, uncertainty and complexity, and acting on this in the virtual, distributed ‘space’. Our programmes bring together this learning, into digestible and practical lessons that you can access either as an individual, or as part of a leadership or change agency team.
We also create customised versions for our clients – for example Siemens – in which in-company groups are facilitated (all virtual of course) through a programme which supports their experimentation, reflection and deployment of new skills.
If you would like to sample a course, or talk to us about creating a course for your organisation, please contact us.
We want to work with our clients to develop new programmes and courses to suit real needs, and to provide efficient and effective delivery of learning materials to support our change consultancy.
If you have an idea – either as a learner, or as an author (or why not both at the same time?) then let us know.
Please note that when we reply to you, it will come from email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. It is useful to put these addresses in your contacts list now, to prevent replies going into your ‘Junk’ mailbox. If you don’t receive a reply in the next 48 hours, check this to see if it has disappeared in there! 🙂
Frequently asked questions
How long can I access a programme or course?
Your programme, course or module will be accessible to you for 1 year from the time you start it.
However in each lesson there are also PDFs, tools, products and exercises, that we think you will want to keep – you can download them, or print them.
What if I fall behind and out of step with the programme timing?
All significant learning commitments require some dedication. This means making conscious choices, and carving out the time to acquire, experiment with, and reflect on what you are exploring. Sometimes, this is going to clash with other priorities and occasionally it might feel a little overwhelming – even for the most dedicated learner. If you know that a busy period is coming up, plan for catch-up time in the weeks that follow.
Some of our longer programmes involve following a specific timetable with a group – with new modules ‘starting’ at a given time. This may tie in with Peer Support Group meetings, and/or with workshops or webinars. If this is the case for your programme, an important aspect is that you are not alone – but in a community of learners. The timings of ‘live’ experiences or group meetings are rarely changed once the programme starts, as this would impact negatively on your colleagues and co-learners. Keeping up with others, so that you share your learning and benefit from their experience, is important.
Get into the learning habit, and if you have concerns about whether you will be able to do this, and if you fall behind at any time, just reach out to us and we will try to help.
Can I bundle one course or programme with another and save money?
Some of our courses are already bundled, in particular the shorter courses shown in our ‘bitesize’ section. If the course you are interested in IS available in a value-for-money bundle, proceed with your purchase, and before closing the ‘sale’, you will be notified of this choices at your ‘Cart’.
If the other courses you are interested in are not bundled right now, just contact us, as we can put a custom bundle together for you.
Can I commission custom courses for my organisation?
Many of our programmes and short (bite-size) courses have been originally developed especially for a client – and, where appropriate, then adapted for a broader audience and turned into an ‘open’ programme. It is our clients around the world that ‘pull’ new content and commission what we go on to build, to meet their needs at any given time.
If you would like to either curate a custom programme from our existing stock, or you have an area of new content that you would like us to look at, just contact us and we can help.
What if I'm not satisfied with my purchase?
Our courses and materials are getting great feedback from users – but of course it might not suit exactly what you are looking for.
We are always happy to refund you if you start a course and find it isn’t what you wanted. Please contact us straight after completing the first lesson in the course if you would like us to refund your payment or switch you to a more suitable product.
Please note that we are unable to refund a course that has been more than 50% completed.