The third wave of virtual work

The third wave of virtual work

Carla Pianese, a remote worker and senior program manager at Tricolor Associates Management Consultancy, gives us her take on the third wave of virtual work, which centers on enhancing collaboration, productivity and management.

Over the last three decades, three main waves of change have transformed how businesses and employees engage in knowledge-based work. The first wave saw the emergence of freelancers, facilitated by home computers and e-mail, giving unprecedented degrees of freedom for both employees and businesses. The second wave offered mobile technology and worldwide teamwork, allowing full-time professionals to “work anywhere, at any time” without jeopardizing their career development. Now, the third wave has emerged, focusing on fostering community and promoting collaboration.

The third wave: addressing worker isolation

One of the most significant challenges faced by employees in the virtual work environment is the feeling of isolation. As remote work gained traction, some workers found themselves estranged from their peers, which affected their sense of belonging and well-being.

The third wave of virtual work aims to tackle this isolation by developing new ways to foster community, collaboration and productivity. Co-working spaces, collaboration tools and virtual and face-to-face team-building activities are some of the key strategies being employed to help hybrid and remote employees feel more connected and less isolated. These innovations are not only improving the mental well-being of employees but also driving increased collaboration and productivity.

Co-working spaces

One of the most notable trends in the third wave of virtual work is the emergence of co-working spaces. In fact, “remote” does not mean “at home.” These shared workspaces are designed to provide remote workers with a sense of community and belonging, often adopted by companies with a hybrid model (mix of remote and face-to-face settings). Co-working spaces offer a variety of resources, such as high-speed internet, meeting rooms and networking opportunities, allowing remote employees to interact and connect with others living the same work style.

Communication and collaboration tools

Another essential aspect of the third wave is the development of collaboration tools that enable remote teams to communicate together seamlessly via ever-evolving applications, such as Slack and G Suite, that help sync communication, project management and file sharing to better support the needs of virtual teams and enhance collaboration.

Managing remotely and employee experience

The third wave of virtual work also places emphasis on improved management techniques that cater to the unique needs of remote teams. This includes utilizing tools and strategies that help managers monitor employee performance, create an environment based on trust, and ensure that remote workers are aligned with the company’s goals and vision. By adopting these management approaches, organizations can better support the productivity and retention of their virtual workforce. Organizations are increasingly recognizing the importance of employee engagement and retention and initiatives such as virtual team-building events, company retreats, and regular check-ins can play a crucial role in maintaining team cohesion, boosting morale and nurturing a strong organizational culture. These initiatives provide opportunities for employees to interact, learn and grow together, mitigating feelings of isolation and disconnection.

The third wave of virtual work is well underway, and its focus on community building and shared spaces is proving to be a game-changer for remote employees. By prioritizing employee well-being and providing the necessary tools and resources for effective virtual collaboration, organizations can ensure that their workforce remains engaged, motivated and productive no matter where they are located. The third wave of virtual work is not just about technology but also about creating a sense of belonging and purpose for employees, ultimately driving success and growth for businesses in this ever-changing digital era.

Carla Pianese,
a remote worker and senior program manager at Tricolor Associates Management Consultancy

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