Coming up on our one-year pandemiversary (yes, I just made that word up), one thing that has become very clear is how different the workplace has become. No more water cooler chats or unexpected pop-ins, team meetings gone remote, difficulty measuring employee productivity or maintaining employee morale, and that’s just a few. The changes are massive and all-encompassing, and the longer this goes on, the more we realize that the “new normal” is going to look a lot different than what we remember. How do we equip our employees with the necessary tools, skills and confidence to face these daunting ch-ch-changes, as David Bowie would call them? Let’s explore.
The first thing I noticed when converting to the work-from-home environment was the sudden absence of communication. It’s so easy to just walk over to someone else’s desk and ask them a question when we’re all in the same building, but when sitting alone in my home office, the hurdle to communication has become much greater. It can feel foolish calling up a coworker for a 10 second chat to answer a question, and it can feel equally foolish sending a text to a coworker that doesn’t get responded to for hours. Confidence is the key, knowing what is effective with whom, and what works best for you. But instilling that in employees can be quite difficult, especially when you’re physically distant.
As consistent communication decreases, echo chambers increase, what I like to refer to as the disparity of experience. Sure, we’re all working from home, but as far as relating to one another goes, the shared experience ends there. All of our home situations are different, how we are responding to the continued isolation and how it is affecting us are different, even our perspectives on larger community and world events may be different. This makes the critical skill of empathy quite difficult to practice, but at the same time even more important. The only thing worse than facing extreme challenge is the feeling of facing it alone.
As the shared experience dissolves and empathy decreases, conflict lies right at the surface, a misplaced word or uninvited opinion away. Maybe you consider yourself a conflict resolution expert, maybe you have tons of experience diffusing situations in the office. But how do you even detect a conflict when it’s occurring in virtual meetings you aren’t even privy to? When everyone is separate and oversight of intra-org communications is minimal, how do you see the red flags before the conflict erupts? These are difficult questions to face, even for the most experienced behaviorist.
One unique benefit to having everyone working from home comes through the transition of many training companies such as Vermont Panurgy to virtual classrooms. Working from home eliminates the distractions of a busy office, but the expectation of sitting in front of the computer for long blocks of time is still there. This brings a unique opportunity to provide truly engaging training content in a comfortable and relatable atmosphere for the student, with minimal distraction, thereby increasing their chances of retaining the knowledge gained.
Vermont Panurgy holds a vast portfolio of talent development courses covering all the above topics and more. Whether we’re discussing inter-office communication, practicing empathy, conflict resolution, leadership techniques, writing skills or stress management, we’ve got a class for that.
The best part? Our small class sizes, properly-paced content and highly-skilled instructors allow for a highly interactive virtual classroom, where students can ask questions, discuss with each other and share experiences with ease. Couple this with the quiet, familiar space of your own home, in front of your own computer, and you’re looking at a learning experience unlike any other, the possibilities greater than ever before.
Maybe you feel like your team has acclimated to the work from home environment well enough, maybe you think all these soft skills are already in the bag. Don’t let that confidence allow you to overlook the importance of training though! As with even before the pandemic, investing in professional and personal development of your employees demonstrates a caring attitude and can create a sense of purpose and security, translating into more productivity and job satisfaction. In 2021, you can also add in the opportunity to interact with others for an extended period, something most of us have longed for since last March!
Vermont Panurgy also offers technical training in common software applications such as Microsoft Office 365, Quickbooks, Adobe Creative Suite, and more. We even have higher-level technical classes for IT professionals, such as CompTIA certification boot camps, server and database administration, Exchange Server and Office 365 administration. These offerings bring even more opportunities for you to provide some valuable education to your employees and show them how valued they are. It’s a win-win!
Take a look at our full class schedule to see all of our offerings and upcoming dates. We are excited to help you and your employees take advantage of this unique opportunity for learning and growing, especially while we are all working from home. Bowie had it right, the best way to deal with change is to “turn to face the strain,” let’s turn together!