Managing virtual team dynamics

The on going pandemic has changed two things dramatically namely, a) made businesses relook at priorities and change the business direction accordingly, and b) create new working circumstances.

As businesses take a deep dive into their ways of working and realise that technology and digital revolution is going to play a pivotal role in how they conduct business, it is the new working circumstances that is creating more eyeballs.

Remember the days before the pandemic isolated the whole universe, cut off borders, shut down offices, where physical distancing became the norm and the mask became the new mandate. Those were the days when we could walk over to a colleague’s desk, have a cuppa, join others in meeting rooms for a discussion, travel and network, and have countless discussions in the office cafeteria.

How we all yearn for those times! When we could easily catch up with a new team member and get to know him/her better. The times when the awkwardness of joining a new organisation was made easy with the warm smiles of colleagues and the welcoming by others.

Today’s new world

There was just so much that we took for granted in that pre-pandemic world. The pandemic has made all of us realised how fragile everything really is. And how we can no longer afford to take things for granted, including office relationships. Everyone is going through their own person challenges today and devising their own mechanisms to navigate the situation.

The way we interact with teams has changed. Team dynamics by itself has now become different and has taken on a new shape and form.

Team dynamics now has to take into account an element of humanity. It has entered homes. We get to see our colleagues in their home settings, be with their kids, or pets or families or even plants! The very basic definition of who we are, how we are, changes in a work-from-home environment.

It is important we do not lose sight of our own selves in this new maze of work-life balance. For this, it is imperative that colleagues:

  • Keep articulating the organisation’s vision and purpose
  • Recognize that things and needs have changed- many team members may not be able to adhere to normal working hours. There is now a distinct shift in balancing household chores with kids too at home. Be patient and understanding
  • Be alert and on the watch out of people who are burning out. It is not a matter of pride if a colleague espouses that he/she is putting in longer hours now. It is a cause of worry! This cannot be a new normal. Before one realises, burn out will overtake our abilities to function normally.

The future of work

We all await the going back to the good old life. But deep down, we also know that things have changed, and it will never be the same again. Many of our colleagues will continue to work from home. Offices when opened may offer more flexible work from home policies. There are already murmurs of organizations having taken the hard call of shutting down physical office space and going completely online. Whatever combination your office opts for, it is given that there will be new elements that will need to be navigated and that we will need to keep pace with this change.

It is also becoming clear that going ahead, the onus of being relevant will lie with us. We will need to be on a constant learning mode and opt for a ‘student for life’ lifestyle. The world will belong to not subject matter experts but to those who know how to adapt to uncertainty and have figured their way with new, diverse solutions in these challenging times.

Are you ready then to face this new world?

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

Sarita Bahl
Country Group Head CSR at Bayer - South Asia
Sarita Bahl leads the Corporate Social Responsibility function for Bayer South Asia and is also the Director – Bayer Prayas Association. Prior to this, she successfully oversaw the communications and public affairs function for Bayer South Asia. Over her three decades of professional experience, Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, public sector, trade associations, MNCs and the Not-for-profit sector. An alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Science and the Swedish Institute of Management Program, Sarita specializes in stakeholder engagement, sustainability and communications. She is passionate about animals (is mother to a female cat), books and movies.

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