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The Biggest Virtual Experiment Ever

By Lone Jensen

The pandemic has caused a transformational moment in the world. Very suddenly we were presented with new challenges and an increase in uncertainty touching close to all areas of life. And this uncertainty might very well have come to stay!

The COVID-19 pandemic by default volunteered many workplaces and employees into the biggest virtual experiment ever. Businesses had to transition quickly to remote setups, strategies, and plans were to be rethought, and employees had to adjust to a new and uncertain now. We have passed the first part of the experiment. Are we ready to take the next step?

As some countries and societies slowly start to reopen it is time for business leaders to reflect on the learnings gained so far and decide what their model of the future will be. Should they develop into a fully remote organization, or should they return to the “old normal”? Or perhaps an online/onsite hybrid? No matter the decision it comes with a set of consequences, good and bad, that link to all levels of the company. These decisions are not simple, especially as in many cases we still do not have the answers to what lies ahead. The decisions have to be made nevertheless.

For years we have been talking about the future of work. We have predicted how the workforce would go remote, and how technologies would assist us in doing so. By unexpected forces we’ve accelerated into this future earlier than we thought and it has turned out that for many it works even better than expected.

The decision business leaders are making now should not be about remote or not. The real question to ask is: How remote the organization should be now and within the coming years? Leading tech-organizations already are starting to make conscious decisions about their strategies. Choices that without doubt will lead to further development of best practices, technologies, and working models.

It is still too early to tell in the long run what the past months and the ones to come are to present to us, but in the shorter term the expectations about the near-future of work are:

  • More companies than initially predicted will make the transition to a fully or partly remote organization

  • This will lead to a number of changes in how companies are managed, how performance is measured, and what skills are essential to succeed

  • Working from home will be available to more people than ever and jobs will to a higher degree be redesigned to fit the structure better

  • A shift from measuring performance in hours to measuring it in outcome and fulfillment of responsibilities will become the norm in more companies

  • The definition of what works best “on-site” with people together, and what functions just as well online will be clearer

  • Teams will start planning accordingly which leads to an increase in flexibility for employees and the ability to choose what fits their individual work-life balance best

  • Technologies to support remote work and creativity will continue to develop

  • New tools will play a key role in many organizations ability to perform

  • Mental health will come more into focus with leaders and co-workers playing a key role in supporting the well-being of team members

  • Resilience and the ability to embrace change will be more important than ever at all levels

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