How virtual facilitation and in-person interactions will merge in the new business landscape
The world is beginning to see glimpses of life transitioning back to “normal”; but what does the new normal look like? The forced work from home adjustments we’ve all been navigating has led to some interesting and exciting developments in how we operate in the business landscape. Everyone has come close to the realities of virtual work. We have all been pushed to examine possibilities that would have been dismissed previously. And the result has included substantial remote work success across industries. So much so that a recent survey revealed 74% of 317 polled CFOs and financial leaders reported that they intend to shift some employees to remote work permanently. Success has certainly been found in this period of forced virtual work.
At Voltage Control, we have identified that the new virtual business landscape is ripe with opportunities for partnership and teamwork that wasn’t possible before. Now, you can connect with hundreds of people from across the globe in an interactive virtual workshop, attend an important conference, or productively collaborate with your team all from your home office (maybe even while wearing p.j. bottoms). This is without the cost of travel and renting event room space, and provides more possibility to bring people together who would otherwise be unable to attend. It may not have been realistic or physically possible to schedule yourself to attend certain events and meetings before the pandemic (think the cost and time commitment of traveling to various cities), but now connection and meaningful work are possible with internet access and the click of a button.
Yes, we have been isolated at home, but the bandwidth for connection has vastly increased. Greater diversity in collaboration is another resulting benefit. We have the power to solve problems and create collectively at a higher level than ever before. This capability and the resulting possibilities are truly incredible. So how do we effectively combine these methods with the integration of in-person interactions? We address the possibilities of the future of work and the essential role of facilitation to guide them below.
#WFH is Here to Stay
More and more companies are making the decision to offer permanent remote work options for their employees. Among them: Twitter, JP Morgan, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, and Dell. Other big companies like Google and Facebook have permitted extended work-from-home options for employees through the end of this year. The proof is in the pudding. Remote work, when directed by effective systems and processes, works.
If this time has taught the business world anything, it’s that we need each other.
Teamwork has proven to be more essential than ever during The Great Pause. The emergence of helpful tools and processes to enable and heighten remote work collaboration is remarkable. At Voltage Control, we’ve spent countless hours exploring the craft of virtual collaboration, as a new business landscape calls for a new set of practices. From methods to foster human connection remotely to the best interactive tools to support virtual meetings and workshops, we have curated a detailed Virtual Work Guide with our findings thus far. This universal toolkit is what we use with our remote team and clients, and it can be applied to any remote team. The guide instructs you on how to set up and facilitate productive virtual meetings to make them just as purposeful and successful as in-person meetings. To do this, it is crucial to practice methods that encourage human connection. The absence of human connection can have a grave impact on team communication and productivity if the proper processes are not in place.
You can find these tools and processes, along with remote Design Sprints and virtual workshop tools and processes, in our Virtual Work Guide. Combining these tools and skillsets with standard in-person meeting methods will set you and your team up for future work success.
It is important to note that while remote work has profound benefits, screen time can never replace face-to-face interactions. Humans are built for connection, and the ability to work in the same space as others is irreplaceable. The future of work will undoubtedly be a merging of virtual work tactics and in-person interactions. While many of us are itching to interact face-to-face with each other again, remote work capabilities and benefits have proven themselves worthy to stick around.
Remote work opportunities plus human collaboration in physical space sum to an interesting equation for business success.
There is opportunity to have a hybrid of old fashioned and new age meeting tactics.
Facilitation is needed to help businesses navigate this merging of landscapes and smoothly transition to the future of work. The key is to lean more on teamwork. The more things become automated, the more we need sound systems and operations to help our teams authentically connect and work together. It is also important to realize the power of “Making vs. Talking” and incorporate the concept in future work. This is one of our meeting mantras at Voltage Control. It is a practice that focuses on doing work in the meeting, not after.
Now is the time to get meeting structures right. Most people have it backward: they meet and then do “the work” after the meeting. They’re so busy talking about the work they need to do when they could be rolling up our sleeves and getting to work in the session itself. Doing so increases productivity and engagement and saves time, money, and let’s be honest people’s sanity.
Teams need a well-groomed meeting system to support the influx of required crowdsourcing and loosely-coupled nodes that will be working together to solve problems in the new business landscape.
Future Work Preparation
Some things haven’t changed. Like the recipe for effective meetings:
- Clearly identified purpose
- Strategically planned/closely followed agenda
- Holding space for attendee well-being and participation
- Debriefing with a defined call to action
This structure applies to in-person and virtual meetings alike. And it echoes what is at the core of all successful work and collaboration: genuine connection, focused strategy, and defined systems. The future work landscape may be unknown, but facilitation can help guide businesses through the uncertainty with a combination of in-person and virtual techniques and tools.
At Voltage Control, we are preparing for the future of work by first being witnesses. We are actively listening to people’s needs, concerns, and challenges, in order to effectively help them adapt to the business landscape and do meaningful work; for each situation and business is unique and must be approached as such.
We are continuously observing the dynamics of the ever-changing business landscape, both its potential and restrictions, to identify best business practices and opportunities to expand them.
We are also fearlessly experimenting, as we are experts in innovation and transformation, and we understand and value the prototype and testing processes essential to investigating change. And lastly, we are practicing. We are exercising and sharing the best tools and techniques needed for teams to have productive meetings (in-person and virtual), remote work team collaboration, innovation acceleration, team alignment, cultural transitions, virtual events, meeting culture design, liberated structures, design sprints, and facilitation summits.
The future of work looks bright and exciting from where we stand. And we look forward to helping teams get their footing in the new business landscape and create meaningful, impactful work.
Need help preparing for the future of work? Bring in a professional facilitator from Voltage Control.
Voltage Control designs and facilitates innovation training, Design Sprints, and design thinking workshops, both in-person and virtual. Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to talk.