COVID-19 has forced many companies to abruptly change to a virtual work environment. Two major shifts were required. First, many companies had to change their technology infrastructure and related processes and procedures to continue operating effectively. Second, employees had to quickly adapt to these changes. If both parties, company and employees, did not do their part in making these shifts, challenging situations may have occurred.
For today’s discussion, let’s assume your company made the necessary changes to operate effectively in a virtual work environment. The question then becomes, did your employees get on board and make the shift?
According to research conducted by Mike Billington as part of his Doctorate studies in Education, not everyone can get on board. Here is an excerpt from his studies.
“Hiring successful virtual workers requires a paradigm shift. My research found that about 70% of the workforce that is not already remotely working is adaptable to virtual workplaces. Of this 70 percent, 50% easily adjust while 20% can acclimate with moderate training and supervision. Adapting the remaining 30% to virtuality will be a challenge.”
Based on this research, it is quite possible that 30% of your workforce who have recently moved to working remotely may be struggling. If a virtual work environment becomes your new norm, these employees may never be able to work successfully in a virtual environment. The result may be that these employees will need to be replaced with those who can effectively work virtually.
As this workplace shift occurs, management will need to identify those who can adapt and those who cannot. Over time, it may probably become obvious based on work productivity measures who will make the shift successfully. Yet, if you need to hire a new employee or replace an employee, evaluating potential new hires based on personality traits conducive for virtual work environments will increase your hiring success.
Back to Mike’s research study on virtual work teams, he identified four critical traits that successful virtual workers possess. These four traits are part of the Big Five Personality traits that have been studied for decades within the psychology world.
High Openness (inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious)
High Conscientiousness (efficient/organized vs. easy-going/careless)
Low Extroversion (outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved)
High Neuroticism (sensitive/nervous vs. secure/confident)
There are many assessment tools that can evaluate these traits. Extended DISC is one we have used successfully to identify these types of behavioral traits. Consider assessing your entire team to identify those who may be at higher risk of struggling in virtual environments. Help those that need additional mentoring or training. Replace those who will cannot make the shift.
If you have a hiring need within a virtual work environment, give us a call at 317-578-1310 for a complimentary discussion on how to effectively recruit top performing virtual workers.