Article

The One Skill You Need to Succeed in the Remote-First Workplace

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  • By Leila Toplic, NetHope
  • October 27, 2021
The One Skill You Need to Succeed in the

By Leila Toplic, NetHope


In remote-first workplace, knowing how to effectively facilitate virtual meetings and experiences is needed, now more than ever.

The global pandemic has accelerated virtualization of work making virtual meetings the go-to way for individuals and teams to connect, collaborate, and learn. Even after the COVID-19 crisis has passed, virtual engagements (i.e., meetings, workshops, trainings, conferences) are not going to go away. The future of work will be a hybrid of virtual and in-person engagements. According to Gartner, by 2024, in-person meetings will drop from 60% of enterprise meetings to 25%, driven by remote work and changing workforce demographics. Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index, a study of over 30,000 people in 31 countries, found that 73% of respondents want flexible remote work options to stay.

So, as we emerge from the pandemic and begin to adjust to the remote-first world of work, we will continue to depend on connecting virtually. Yet, we’re already exhausted. A study by global staffing firm Robert Half shows that 4 in 10 remote workers report suffering from mental exhaustion that accompanies the prolonged screen time and video calls during the workday.

Our challenge now is to move away from operating in a reactive, one-size-fits-all mode and make sure that the future of work enables all of us to thrive.

One skill that I believe we’ll all need in the new workplace is the ability to facilitate productive virtual engagements.

Virtual engagements provide many benefits – you can include more diverse voices easier; people don’t need to travel which saves time and money, and it’s better for the environment. But, too often, people are asked to facilitate virtual engagements without the skills they need to succeed.

Let's change that.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve not only led many virtual meetings and workshops, but I’ve also taught facilitation skills to nonprofits and along the way I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t. My journey with virtual facilitation was aided by the many who generously shared their tips, ideas, and learnings with me, either directly or via books, blog posts, podcasts, and videos.

In the first installment of the Virtual Facilitation Guide for Nonprofits, I share my virtual facilitation process and the methods I recommend using to create productive remote experiences that put people first.

If you are interested in contributing tips and resources to the future installment of this guide, please email me.


A very special thanks to Patti Bunker (The Carter Center), Paola Elefante (Plan International), Pallavi Garg (PATH), Megan Hershiser (International Rescue Committee), Nora Lindstrom (Catholic Relief Services), Sonja Reutzel (Catholic Relief Services), Morgane Bradley (NetHope), John O’Duinn (Author of Distributed Teams: The Art and Practice of Working Together While Physically Apart), and Gary Bolles (Author of The Next Rules of Work: The Mindset, Skillset and Toolset to Lead Your Organization through Uncertainty). Their brilliant insights and ideas have made this Guide better.

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