Working in an office for forty-plus hours, Monday through Friday, is outdated. It’s so 2019! Virtual work is here to stay. The pandemic transformed work-life, and the transformation isn’t over.
According to a recent survey by The Conference Board, more than a third of U.S. workers may leave their jobs within six months to find a flexible work arrangement. Flexible work location was ranked higher than better pay and career advancement. Rebecca Ray, Executive Vice President of Human Capital at The Conference Board, said, “…Employees are much less willing to embrace the rigid, conventional work policies of the past about how and where work gets done.”
The percent of workers worried about returning to work due to contracting COVID-19 jumped from 24% in June to 42% in August. Companies with flexible work arrangements have an edge over their unyielding competitors when it comes to talent attraction and retention.
While the claim that in-person work is better is being debated, most people can agree it’s nice to put a face to a name. Yet better communication, collaboration, and work can be argued. Perhaps what is really up for debate is what defines something to be “better?”
Personal face-to-face communication feels better. You are exposed to facial cues and body language. In-person communication may feel more authentic. When we see someone as we communicate, we subconsciously mirror their facial cues and rate of speech. While some say this is the cornerstone of empathy, others disagree. When you are not in-person, use video when you can to give these visual cues.
The past eighteen months proved work goes on in a virtual world. We have learned to use collaborative software. There are advantages to both virtual and in-person communication. One advantage to in-person interactions is the deep, meaningful, lasting relationships that develop. There are a number of articles arguing that digital communication can build these meaningful, lasting relationships. We are learning how to encourage building relationships in a virtual world.
Most of these tips are not exclusive to virtual meetings. Though tips to stay bright and engaged, like frequent stretch breaks, are more comfortable in your dining room. We can hope the ever-evolving work world will foster a healthy, respectful work life as it continues to unfold.