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The New Normal is Here, and it is Virtual Collaboration

People working in an office, in a meeting with people on video as well.

As I sit alone in my once busy office of 10 full-time, on-campus team members, I think about all the production we have as a department now as a distributed workforce. It seems not as busy, but our team would tell you otherwise! The office gets an occasional pop-in from a team member, or 2, needing some time away from their home office, but the more frequent meetups and collaboration are done virtually. I will be honest, it is difficult to navigate Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Cisco WebEx, IMessage, Facetime, Trello, and any other ringing tone my computer is randomly making as I wonder where or who it’s coming from.

As we come out of Q1 for 2021, all of these platforms may seem like a passing phase and hope things will go back to normal. The truth is, this is the new normal and virtual collaboration is here to stay. Research suggests that nearly ¾ of jobs can be done remotely, and while that does vary by industry sector, the numbers don’t lie. Of the workers whose jobs can be done from home, “71% of those workers are doing their job from home all or most of the time. And more than half say, given a choice, they would want to keep working from home even after the pandemic”, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

Even if your business does not fall into the sector that can truly work remotely, moving forward your business is likely to collaborate with a partner who does. Whether that be a logistical and supply chain partner, a marketing team, or potential clients and investors, collaborating virtually is just another tool to add to your ever-growing utility belt. Workforce and Community Programs at Arapahoe Community College, has all the relevant continuing education you need to be a valuable team member to either your internal partner who is working from home for childcare reasons, or your external partner who abandoned the office for cost savings.

At times, your team members may not be physically in the same office with you. And yet, communicating collaboratively within these teams is critical to the success of the team, and critical to your personal success on any given project or task. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of working virtually is that the collaboration, creativity, and teamwork that seems to flow naturally in an in-person setting can often feel stilted in a virtual environment. Arapahoe Community College (ACC) has a quick 3-hour Virtual Teamwork course that examines the pros and cons of remote teamwork and provides strategies for overcoming challenges and promoting team success.

Not only does a distributed workforce create new hurdles for a team in the realm of collaboration, but each individual member of that team must overcome the personal side of working remotely. Sure, working from home allows for greater flexibility but it also requires a thoughtful approach to time management. Scheduling tasks in an efficient way and ensuring a clear boundary between work life and home life are key components of balancing the demands of remote work. Our Working Remotely seminar will go into the nuances of instant messaging etiquette, using virtual collaboration tools, and explain how to incorporate socialization during the remote workday to keep that work-life balance in check.

We pride ourselves in not only training your workforce, but also the individuals who lead them. Our continuing education course Leading from a Distance explores the dynamics of leadership and how they are impacted when leaders are in a remote environment. Leaders can learn to develop strategies for confronting the challenges of remote work; address pitfalls often encountered in remote environments; and foster better interaction and understanding among their teams.

ACC knows that the learning does not stop at the first step. Registration for any of these 3 seminars Virtual Teamwork, Working Remotely, and Leading from a Distance comes with a free 1-year subscription to Fast Company Magazine, to keep you and your team evolving with the trends of the modern workforce.