As I have been involved with virtual training and education for decades, I may be able to coach you in how to successfully make your company operate with a much increased virtual component.
I was a co-founder of one of the first accredited all on-line MBA programs, helped build the world’s largest on-line training company, and have been a board member of multiple other virtual learning providers. I have also owned and operated an on-site delivered instructor led training company which gave me a needed contrasting point of view about effectiveness. The successful outcomes experienced were in part accounted for by product and experience design that dealt with the problems associated with remote learning. Those problems included:
- Remote workers may be slow to understand the need to get help.
- In person peer interaction helpful for communications, team building and reaction reading are missing.
- Keeping track of who is performing and who is not is more challenging.
- Distractions at home.
- Feelings of loneliness.
With consideration of these problems I believe the remote work is the future for most companies where physical presence is not essential.
- Companies can recruit worldwide for key skills.
- Zoom, Slack and other technologies make remote work easy to implement.
- The chaos of modern open office environments cannot compete with the improvement in concentration available from a quiet home environment.
- Employee costs caused by commuting time and expense are eliminated.
- Remote work is friendly to the environment and many larger cities, most with poor public transit options, are making commuting from outside the city very difficult by reducing parking availability and narrowing streets to accommodate bicycles.
- Expensive office rents and on-site perks can be reduced or eliminated.
- Sicknesses spread around an office are eliminated.
- The at home distractions effecting virtual productivity will subside as workers develop the routine needed to minimize them.
- The necessary redesign of processes to accommodate remote operations provides an opportunity to question and change historical practices that were not and will not be all that useful going forward, such as the routine use of too many meetings with too many attendees scheduled to be too long.
My Covid inspired research has led to some important conclusions:
- On June 5 a Gartner poll of more than 200 industry leaders revealed that 82% of them intended to offer their employees part time remote work options and 47% intended to offer full time remote work options.
- Remote work practices will need to be developed. Harvard’s Tsedal Neeley offers some thoughts in his upcoming book:
- Office rituals used to communicate and reinforce norms need to be updated for remote work.
- When to start and stop work and when to work alone (what he calls shared rhythms) need to be defined to keep workers from becoming exhausted.
Welcome to the future.