Here in the USA, GSA (Government Services Administration) has been at the forefront of the promotion and implementation of mobility and telework within all government agencies. As well, the US government has had a Cloud First Policy in place which was instituted in 2011 by its very first then-U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra.
Businesses Are Lagging Behind
But as strange as it may seem because most of us would probably think it would be the other way around, businesses as well as state, county, city and local governments are lacking way behind the federal government when it comes to implementing a robust mobile and virtual workforce, let alone a virtual organization workforce. On a side note, at the risk of drawing the ire of whomever came up with the word "telework," this is just too antiquated a word for me to use in my own writings; except when used in reference to when or how the term is actually used by others - as is the case in this article. So, let us move on.
Working in a Virtual Environment is Not for Everyone
However, that being said, working in a virtual (telework) environment or virtual organization environment is NOT for everyone. As well, in case of a major man-made or natural disaster, or other Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) event or Judgment Day, having a virtual workspace or virtual collaboration capabilities, on its own, may not be sufficient if you are dealing with a prolonged disaster of magnitude proportions. In which case, being able to LEAD in a 'virtual organization' environment - not just 'virtual or telework' environment - will be required of all Managers and Executives; something which is easier said than done.
Who Will LEAD in a Virtual Organization Environment?
Knowing who will be able to LEAD in a 'virtual organization' environment when a 'prolonged' disaster of magnitude proportions strikes is not something that should be left to chance or a roll of the dice; or taken with a grain of salt or "we'll cross that bridge when we get there" mentality. This is something that you should plan for and know well in advance, and these individuals should be assigned to Elite Virtual Organization Teams on Standby, ready to be activated within a second's notice regardless of where in the world they happen to be.
After all, as much as I hate to burst anyone's bubble and as distressing as it may sound to some of you, just because someone is an awesome brick-and-mortar, social media or social networking executive with superb leadership skills, and commands the respect and admiration of their peers and subordinates in a brick and mortar or even remote workforce environment; does NOT necessarily mean that this executive is well-suited to lead in a 100% virtual or virtual organization environment. As a matter of fact, at the risk of alienating the very audience I seek to impart my knowledge to and assist, I will even venture to say, based on empirical evidence acquired over the past 16 years since I have founded the virtual organization management discipline, that, in the absence of having obtained formal training in the virtual organization management discipline, you are most likely ill-suited to LEAD in a virtual organization environment.
How to Select These Virtual Organization Leaders
The question then becomes, 'How will you know, or how do you know, who these Virtual Organization Leaders are?" Well, this is not something that you learn on the fly or, as the expression goes, knowledge that you gain by watching your brick and mortar or remote workforce 'fly by the seat of their pants.' Why is that, you might say? That's because there is a huge difference between social networking, 'teleworking', working in a 'virtual' environment, and working in a 'virtual organization' environment - something which obviously falls outside the scope of this discussion. Therefore, when these Virtual Organization Leaders are called upon to perform at a critical time, it is absolutely imperative that there be no room for error or margin for failure due to Trial-and-Error or "doing the best they can under the circumstances." That will not be good enough.
It's one thing to be caught off guard due to a lack of knowledge or information; but it's a completely different matter to ignore the warnings from those who have been in the trenches.
Therefore, here is the answer - a 2-step process:
All your Managers and Executives must undergo a Virtual Organization Aptitude Assessment
in order to determine which ones are able to adapt and thrive in a virtual organization environment; and,
2. Train, Assess and Certify.
Once you have identified the Managers and Executives who are able to adapt and thrive in a virtual organization environment, schedule them for a formal Virtual Organization Leadership Executive Training, Assessment, and...
Absent this formal Virtual Organization Leadership Executive Training, Assessment and Certification, the only possible outcome that you will have during a COOP event or on Judgment Day is "Virtual Chaos." Social networking and social media will only exacerbate the problem and make it go viral.
In an Ideal World
Ideally speaking, all essential employees
, not just Managers and Executives, should undergo, at the very least, a Virtual Organization Aptitude Assessment (see Brief Overview of VOR Core Virtual Organization Aptitude Assessment...
) so that you can readily identify and maintain a database of all employees and personnel who are able to adapt and thrive in a "virtual organization
" - not just virtual or telework - environment. Once you have gathered that information, you can then decide which of these individuals should go through the formal Virtual Organization Leadership Executive Training, Assessment and Certification in order to be able to LEAD in a virtual organization environment.
In conclusion, it's not enough to have a remote workforce, globally distributed teams, flexible workforce strategy in place and being in the Cloud since disaster comes in various shapes, forms and magnitudes. We must always be prepared for the very worst as we hope for the best, and that, my friends, requires a great deal of effort and serious preparation. Thus, the time for Virtual Organization Aptitude Assessment is Now
instead of something that can be put on a back burner for future consideration.