Nevertheless, there are certainly special challenges if you want to organize creativity virtually?
Jan-Henning Jestädt: Thanks to the coronavirus, tools such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and many others are now standard in every company. This development has been validated by 250 German decision-makers in our new study #NextLevelDigital, which focuses on digitalization initiatives before, during and – prospectively – after the coronavirus. Properly moderated and paired with virtual whiteboards or other tools, a lot of creative power and dynamism can be created while collaborating remotely.
Anna-Maria Lange: That’s right. Such virtual meetings can replace a lot of actual, physical presence. But here’s another part of the truth: The energy is different as soon as you are together in the same room with other people and can look each other directly in the eye. Unfortunately, the coronavirus reality is different at the moment.
Jan-Henning Jestädt: That’s right – body language and facial expressions are important communication signals that often get lost in videoconferences with more than three people, because all the participants usually find themselves lost on the small screens. But looking forward, there is certainly going to be a mix of remote and physical collaboration. There may be two days a week when everyone works together in the company with the option to communicate directly – under the rules that the coronavirus pandemic continues to impose on us. In addition, employees will still have the freedom to work from home on the other days and arrange these days flexibly – even if that means choosing to work at 2:00 a.m. Asynchronous documentation of results is agile work in its purest form.
Anna-Maria Lange: That’s what many people enjoy about the new situation: They can withdraw and do their work with full concentration and self-determination when the tasks require it.
What is the feedback from your customers? How is their agility working under the current conditions?
Jan-Henning Jestädt: A current customer project is a great example: In the months prior to Corona, we had been driving the project forward with a healthy mixture of close cooperation on site and virtual collaboration done in an agile way. So it was only logical to continue the project completely virtually in the course of the conversion to home office. And the experiences have been positive throughout: The entire team enjoys the freedom and flexibility gained while at the same time observing no restrictions in the work results. The fact that they suddenly didn’t have to deal with commuting and traffic jams during the rush hours anymore certainly took care of the rest. We can already see here that this new form of working, which combines both physical and virtual cooperation, has become established and will continue to establish itself in the long run.
Anna-Maria Lange: I’ve experienced exactly the same thing in the courses offered by our Nunatak Academy, where we prepare managers and employees for digital change – usually in face-to-face seminars. During the lockdown, we very quickly converted our courses to virtual offerings. And our participants’ feedback was equally positive: They want to keep it that way – and their companies are also happy about the savings in travel costs.
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