President’s commentary — Staying connected

As I pop my head up to take a break from the seemingly never-ending flow of communications, emails and additional workload being created by the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world, I think I am one of the lucky ones who still has a business to run and job to go to. My work format has changed significantly — I’m now working remotely with limited or no access to the physical office or face-to-face contact with colleagues and clients, but with current technology this is quite manageable.

The work landscape has very quickly changed, to one that utilises an even greater array of technology to carry out day-to-day business. People are using Skype, Zoom, Teams and many other platforms to hold virtual meetings, allowing everyone to see each other face to face while they work in their own homes. All these platforms are accessible from computers (with a mic and camera), tablets and phones.

This quick shift to work from home has pushed those, once reluctant to try new technology, to jump in the deep end. This spirit of 'giving it a go' provides us with a great opportunity to iron out the bugs, make sure everyone has remote access and get everyone comfortable with this new style of work.

Interestingly, social media is finally doing what it was always intended to do, make us more social. During business hours people are meeting virtually. It also has the added benefit of providing those positioned remotely or interstate with better access to their own team. The screen-sharing function offered by most platforms allows participants to show their screen, almost as if we were in the same room looking at the same screen. 

Social media is finally doing what it was always intended to do, make us more social.

Outside work hours, people are using the same technology for virtual catch-ups with friends and work mates. Friends are checking in on friends and doing their best to maintain the human contact that we still need. Last week, I hosted an interesting ‘Friday night drinks’ with my team — everyone at home, with their drink of choice. Some even dressed up for the occasion in what was a great virtual and video meeting.

This was right after Governance Institute’s first fully online board meeting. Apologies to my work team (about 18 online) who had to watch me scoff down some dinner before we got started. The joys of back-to-back video meetings while working from home. No doubt some new learnings to come regarding online meeting etiquette.

On these new boundaries, we are seeing lots of kids (and pets!) pop their head in, as parents working around kids home from school, making the lines between home and work less obvious than they once were.  As people and employers get comfortable with this, I suspect we may see a change in the way people work, making work something people do in conjunction with family life rather than somewhere they go, away from family life. I am optimistic the flow-on effect of this will be better work-life balance, better-shared home responsibilities and better work and family mental health.

I am interested to see what this does to the future work landscape. We can certainly see people are already changing their learning habits with our own training programs. People have quickly shifted to online short course and training and are using any downtime to upskill and bump up their CPD.

I encourage you to schedule your own virtual catch-up in the weeks ahead and look forward to sharing my changing work landscape observations in the months and editions to come.

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