Event details


Enquiry Only
Enquiry Only

To register your interest in this event please contact enquiries@roffeypark.ac.uk

Managing remote teams is not new. Many organisations have had people spread widely over sales territories, regional offices, international leadership teams and so on for decades.  In recent years many of the interactions amongst such groups have been mediated through technology.  But if virtual management is not altogether new, the speed and scale at which many organisations are currently having to adopt it is unprecedented as most of us are forced to work from our homes.

While the coronavirus crisis and the restrictions that it has brought will end, the need for widely-developed virtual management abilities will not go away.  After the initial shock, it is already evident that many organisations are already settling into new forms of remote working that will endure long into the future.

The purpose of this Stabiliser Session is to identify the challenges and opportunities opened up by the wholesale shift to virtual management.  Because it’s been around for a long time, we already know some of the issues.  A Roffey Park Institute research paper from 2003 (Virtman and Smith) identified the following challenges for virtual management:

  • They must deal with feelings of isolation and communication difficulties
  • Trust, a critical factor for effective virtual working, is harder to build
  • Technology is both an aid and a barrier to effective communication
  • Issues around cultural diversity come to the fore
  • Psychologically, virtual workers become distanced from their organisation

Much has changed since then of course.  Smartphones and social media have proliferated, enriching and complexifying the nature and meaning of the ‘virtual’.  That so much more can be and is mediated through technology amplifies risks as much as it opens possibilities.  The myriad ways in which we can now communicate at a distance makes virtual management more possible than it has ever been, but also, in the vast array of fast-evolving platforms, operating systems, protocols and the rest, more bewildering.  Most designers have created software-based structures that were intended to mimic the internal structures, networks and flows of businesses housed in physical premises.  But for all their efforts to create ‘rooms’, ‘teams’ and ‘conferences’ that we can adapt to intuitively, this is not the way the world works.  The truth is that working online for all its synthesised familiarity, is radically different from what most of us are used to.

Perhaps the trickiest aspect of virtual management is the bit that hasn’t changed – we are still managing people.  But in different environments people tend to behave in unpredictable ways.  How do we maintain rigour and focus when we are all dialling in from our kitchens?  How do managers set and maintain a professional tone when everyone is in an informal, domestic environment? How do we deal with inappropriate behaviours when we cannot ‘see’ how people are responding to each other or the new structures?

The purpose of this session is twofold.  It is a space to air and share the challenges posed to you and your organisation by the adoption of the structures if not yet the honed management practices of ‘virtual management’.  But it is also an opportunity to explore the possibilities; to share each other’s ideas, experiments and happy accidents.


Timings and fees

Each session will run for 75 minutes

£20 per person