What are the hidden costs of going virtual?

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Yes, another soothsayer warned of the possible consequences of the pandemic. This one is different. It’s not something you can track and identify. It’s an absence. It’s a vacuum. It’s a vacuum. Consultants such as myself are often accused by others of being hammers looking for nails. They create solutions to problems that seem either self-made, or immaterial. Curve ball! I’m now exploring the virtual halls to find nail pops, hidden problems, and we haven’t found a solution. I propose that we look into a very real and dangerous threat that I have found in my conversations with both government agencies as well as private companies. It is a threat for organizations and their working methods stemming from our current lockdown and stay-at-home orders as a reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even though I may not know all the answers, I promise I will ask questions and give practical advice. Let’s go for an adventure.
Remote Work: A History
Maximal Distribution: Initial Victories
The missing piece: A serious deficiency in COSS
Is it possible to keep COSS in the game?
First, a brief history of remote work
Remote work was once a term that referred to teams working remotely from one or several offices with some individuals working at home. One example is the way that digital project management and IT people have embraced virtual workspaces over the years and had distributed team members for a long time. Over the years, catchphrases like “following the sun” for global IT teams or “passing through all the books” in the financial world have been a common reality. The rest of the world was shocked at the inability to commute to a sandwich shop for lunch or an office for lunch. We weren’t. The pandemic has forced virtually every industry to virtual work. In this new world, we have been “maximally distributed”. This means that each member of the team is now isolated and has been reduced to one point.
What happens to an organisation when it is confronted with maximally distributed social unit Initial Victories in Maximal distribution
Organizations around the world actually did a remarkable job at adapting to this maximally-distributed reality. All of us who work in “office spaces” were able to experience the four stages of Zoom and came out relatively unscathed.
We digitized every step of our existing processes without any major losses. We transferred our most important business metrics onto the Cloud-based dashboards. We survived! Companies delivered, got paid, paychecks sent. Both the transactional and structured parts of our work lives were successful. However, our corporate body corporate scans the informal and unstructured spaces. A maximally distributed team can have negative long-term consequences for our work life as well as those workgroups that are located in the liminal spaces structure. It can be even more pervasive because we may not be able see the effects for a while, even after a pandemic.
The missing piece: A serious deficiency in COSS
Remote work could be missing one piece of the puzzle. COSS could be that piece.
When we work in highly adaptive, idea- and relationship-based environments, physical proximity is crucial. It is now more difficult to passively hear, overhear, and observe information through virtual work. Imagine people who work in less structured and culturally flexible organizations. They are more likely not to have experienced the worst because they lack face to face collaboration and real-time communication.