So, here we are. What you and I may have thought would be a short-term virtual detour has become a long-term “new normal.” The pandemic has forced each one of us to hit pause on some things, and to do very differently those things we continue to do. There isn’t particularly an end in sight, and perhaps you are wisely thinking about how to move from just coping with the situation to a more proactive approach. Perhaps you and your team feel like you’ve been treading water, and now you’re ready to build momentum and actually succeed in this new world.

Erika Harding, Founder and Director of Amplify Consulting & Communication Solutions in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Guest post by Erika Harding. Bio and website below.

How might you take it to the next level? How do you maximize the benefits and opportunities of the new virtual workspace? How do you minimize or mitigate the negatives? How do you strategically build and grow?

First, let’s take a moment to look how far you (and your team or organization) have come. You’ve conquered the daunting logistics of feeding and caring for yourself and your family under a new set of rules and limitations. You’ve adopted new protections and protocols that have now become second nature. You’re probably working from home, and you’ve managed to learn how to Zoom and enable your work team and your family to learn, share, socialize, collaborate and generally function in a virtual space (if you want to improve your Zoom confidence and competency, please check out Online Video Mastery™).

Let’s not minimize these achievements. This is a complicated large-scale global disaster that seems to go on forever. Everyone is swimming in a soup of stress, anxiety and unpredictability, and you are managing to keep going.

So, you (are pretty sure) you can survive this (let’s all hope). But how can you not just survive, but (dare I say it?) … thrive?

Let’s start with the positive, and how to capitalize on the some of the real opportunities and begin to optimize the virtual playing field.

Can you name the benefits of operating in a virtual space? Sometimes it can be easy to forget these, or not see them at all, but let’s really look at them:

Safety – This may seem super basic, but working from home and using #Zoom or other #videoconferencing platforms is keeping you, your family and your team SAFE. Don’t take this for granted. Click To Tweet

Safety – This may seem super basic, but working from home and using Zoom or other videoconferencing platforms is keeping you, your family and your team SAFE.  Don’t take this for granted.It is critical that you acknowledge the risks that everyone is facing, acknowledge the fear and the anxiety and the stress. Find ways to take a moment to CHECK IN with whomever you are meeting with, whether it be one person or a large group. This may seem like a time sap, but it is an incredibly worthwhile investment in everyone’s physical and mental well-being.

I was in a board meeting the other day, and we were all going around, doing a quick check-in, and one colleague shared that she had lost multiple family members in the past six weeks due to Covid. There is no way I could ever have known this, and it gave all of us a bit of insight, a new understanding of things. If we hadn’t carved out those few minutes at the beginning of a meeting, we would never have had a clue.

Try this: share with each other the tips and tricks (“best practices”) of negotiating your day-to-day personal and business life in a safe way. Did someone find a new source for masks and antibacterial cleaner? Have they tried a new sterilizing protocol? How do they manage distanced dining with non-family members? What’s the best way to screen customers coming into your facility? How are they handling the stress of customer/client interactions? Are there some effective crisis-diffusion phrases they’ve discovered? How about sharing what didn’t work? Tap into those lessons learned so everyone can benefit.

Does some of this seem like a waste of time? If you can’t talk about these things in a meeting (which is often the best way to do it), consider enabling these conversations – which might seem peripheral to your business (but they’re not!) – to take place somewhere. This might be the chat function on zoom (a nice way to enliven a meeting is to give tasks, ask questions or make requests and have everyone share something in response) or via another user-friendly virtual conversation-facilitating/community-building channel such as Slack or GroupMe.

Safety and Authentic Concern are now key to everyone’s business or organizational success and you need to get good at it. The best way to get good at it is to enable lots of idea sharing and problem-solving, so that it isn’t all dependent on you (or any one individual), but rather de-monopolizes the often top-down information flow in an organization. Yes, optimizing the virtual playing field requires rethinking the way information moves, and giving up (a false sense of) control. If you follow these blogs, we’re going to talk a lot more about this.

We are also going to talk about other ways the virtual workspace can be beneficial and how best to leverage these opportunities (including Access, Flexibility, Stability, Connection, Digital Learning and Integration) in coming posts.

Here’s wishing you a successful day. If you like my approach, please check out my website, Amplify Consulting & Communication Solutions. I would love to hear from you.

Erika Harding, Amplify Consulting & Communication Solutions