Five critical skills for adapting in this virtual world

As the months and days pass us by, most of us have found our own rhythm and routine for work from home (WFH). I know many who have stayed with their work from office routine because it gives them a sense of continuity. On the other hand, there are those who have carved out a new formula that balances both, their work life and the additional household chores. I have swung on both sides of the spectrum and am currently in a mid-zone, I guess. I follow no specific routine nor time. My tasks are laid out, I know what my day would look like. But I stop at that. I juggle the house and work responsibilities by taking mini breaks from my work. I need that. To step away from the laptop. Stop looking at that screen for continuous hours. Stretch a bit. Walk around for a few moments before coming back once to the laptop. To each her/his own.

The common thread of course is the virtual world that we now live in professionally. In this world, we have learnt our way to work with our teams and colleagues. Decisions are now made over teams calls. Brainstorming is done over a virtual coffee break. For those who moved to a new career, it has been about getting to know new colleagues albeit from a distance. And of course, you have the induction of new colleagues/agencies/vendors/service providers, all of which is now planned online. Not to forget; the management of the pandemic – the biggest crisis of it all.

Navigating through this new virtual way of working, here are five critical skill sets that we need to either enhance or embrace as we adapt and communicate with our peers, leaders, community, stakeholders, investors, consumers and society at large.


If there is one thing that the pandemic has taught many of us, it is agility. Everyday we have learnt to adapt to new ways of WFH and living. We have gone through stringent lockdowns, manufacturing plants being shut, no public transport and the economy hitting an all-time bottom. Each day, each month as the pandemic shifted its focus and as scientists around the world learnt more about it, we learnt new ways of coping. We learnt to stay indoors and practice physical distancing. The government chipped in by working online. Innovation reached new zenith with many manufacturing companies changing gears to manufacture hygiene and sanitisation related products. Communication saw a new zenith with creative internal and external virtual campaigns taking over.


The subject of mental well-being has finally got it’s due thanks to the pandemic. Self-awareness, listening, and taking time to pause and reflect – something that one takes for granted but rarely practices; have today become the mantra for developing resilience in this difficult period. Being in the moment, being mindful and being self-aware is something that needs constant work, day in and out.


Being optimistic and keeping your hopes high even in the darkest of times can work wonders for your well-being. By focusing on things that you can actually change, it is possible to change your mind process and increase your flexibility in embracing change.


Good attitude is contagious. What one requires in this time of crisis is empathy that clearly underscores the need to be kind, compassionate and accommodative to other people’s needs and challenges. All of us are learning to face this crisis in our own manner. With empathy and consideration, one can go a long way in working effectively with teams and colleagues.


It is a known fact that face-to-face interactions are critical to building trust. How does one build trust in this virtual world? How does one assure our teams and colleagues that we will work around solutions? The answer says Vikas Bhola of, is in being authentic and realistic. I loved his idea of keeping an emotional bank account (a kind of mental excel sheet) where one deposits goodness and withdraws mistrust. To do this, Vikas follows a simple exercise that he calls as – AAA. He begins every meeting with his triple A’s – appreciation, acknowledgement and apologies for what did not go well. Such a powerful idea!

As human beings, we are the epitome of adaptability. Nothing can stop us from embracing the above five skills to navigate the pandemic-driven professional journey smoothly.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Sarita Bahl is an alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Sciences and the Swedish Institute of Management Program. An experienced and versatile leader, she comes with nearly four decades of professional experience. She has over the years successfully overseen the communications and public affairs function and led the corporate social responsibility strategy for Bayer South Asia, Pfizer, and Monsanto, among others. Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, the public sector, trade associations, MNCs, and the not-for-profit sector. Her areas of interest include advocacy, stakeholder engagement, sustainability, and communications.

As an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) from the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and Senior Practitioner (Mentoring) from the European Council of Mentoring and Coaching (EMCC), Sarita specializes in career transition, inner engineering and life issues. Sarita enjoys writing and is passionate about animals, books, and movies.

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