Work Preference and Virtual Work

Tom GibbonsOrganization DevelopmentLeave a Comment

Early on in 2020 as the pandemic took hold we published a few documents focusing on the models of the Team Management Profile (TMP) and virtual work. Our small team here at TMS Americas has been virtual for about 18 years now and we thought if we captured some of our experiences through the lens of the TMP, people could use that to help make use of their TMP’s to navigate what for many was a new virtual world of work. In fact it was not just new for many, but new with virtually no planning, no choice and no experience!

This is the first post of 3 that will focus on this topic; this one looking at work preferences and virtual work. The post will highlight some of the things in the document and you can find the link to the document at the end of the post.

One of the things we learned after writing the documents was that there is virtual work and then there is virtual work in a pandemic! And while there are many things the same, some things are different. For instance, over the long term, the Structured work preference for Organizing tends to thrive more effectively in virtual work than does the Flexible work preference. This is because co-located work creates a lot of structure through which we organize ourselves. Things like work hours, work space, many work boundaries are all largely created by default by co-located work. In virtual work these need to be created much more by the individual and the Structured preference tends to act on this faster and with more awareness than the Flexible work preference.

However, during the pandemic, especially early on, the Flexible work preference was of tremendous value! Navigating an environment where things were changing daily, (or hourly!) when the possibility of creating a structure to assist work was not possible, is a place where that Flexible preference can shine. Figuring things out on the fly with no past experience is another place where the Flexible preference feels more comfortable than the Structured preference.

As the pandemic progressed and as we begin to emerge from it now, more of the longer term impacts of virtual work on preference remain. The Extroverted work preference is much more constrained in virtual work than the Introverted preference. The Practical preference is more enabled than the Creative preference. And the Belief preference, which had a bit more air time during the pandemic is again being subsumed by the Analytic preference. It is these things that the document looks at.

It may be that the pandemic fundamentally changes the impact of virtual work on work preference. Now that we have had an immersive experience in virtual work for well over a year, perhaps there will be change. But for now we are emerging from virtual work in a pandemic to virtual work by choice, and it will be quite some time before we know if fundamental change has happened.

For the document on work preference and the impact of virtual work click here.

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