Erika Flora, Co-Founder and CEO of Beyond20, the leading global IT and Business Strategy agency based in Washington D.C., Southern California, and Phoenix, Arizona, is asking businesses and employees to dive into “next-gen” virtual education and collaboration this spring.
Erika Flora, Co-Founder and CEO of Beyond20, the leading global IT and Business Strategy agency based in Washington D.C., Southern California, and Phoenix, Arizona, is asking businesses and employees to dive into “next gen” virtual education and collaboration this spring. Flora and Beyond20 became virtual training and development leaders during the pandemic, offering online training, working sessions, simulations, and interactive, team-building events for business that has helped bring the buzz back to collaboration and the virtual office culture.
With an abundance of collaboration software taking center stage with companies, Flora has business leaders using exercises and games to bring teams together virtually, mirroring what in-person meetings afforded.
“We’re almost at one year since the shift to the remote workplace and the rise of collaboration software,” said Flora. “What have we learned a year later? That virtual doesn’t truly bring us together – often, it can make us tune out. Meetings should be about making new connections, solving hard problems, coming up with new ideas to take back to the workplace, and finding new ways to experiment and work. It’s time to try a new slate of virtual activities to bring the spark back into employees and our company’s workforce.”
Beyond20 and Flora have led IT and business training and strategy for companies during the pandemic, guiding them from survival to harnessing their vision to better innovate and accelerate. She sees a renewed focus on educating and re-energizing teams in 2021 as companies staff and ramp up in short time windows. She has written a blog post on the benefits of virtual training that is available here.
“As companies begin returning to in-person work this year, the challenge is finding the connective thread, so everyone thrives in remote and hybrid work environments. We can find success by elevating how we collaborate remotely, so there aren’t gaps in ideas and understanding and we maintain a strong office culture regardless of where our people are located.”
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Some tips she offers:
- Collaboration software alone does not make for a collaborative team
oThe remote workplace brought the quick activation of remote collaboration software. Tools can help, but buying a tool will not solve a lack of collaboration if we don’t have the right approach to getting our teams talking and working together in new ways.
- Eliminate the ‘Sage on a Stage’ Mentality.
o Virtual training and meetings that only use PowerPoint, lecture, or traditional brainstorming techniques (The idea of a “sage on a stage”) are not how adults learn and collaborate best. The person that does the most talking does the most learning (and has the most fun). Engage your team by: experimenting with games (like this Un-Problem exercise) and using virtual whiteboards with sticky notes and problem-solving activities to aid team discussion in breakout rooms, so that same people aren’t talking all the time (as pictured below).
- Use Brain-Based, Experiential Learning Techniques:
oBeyond20 regularly runs virtual classes, consulting and coaching sessions, and meetings use “brain-based learning” techniques that incorporate exercises to enliven creativity and ideas much like in-person meetings did. Some examples include keeping meetings, lectures, and activities short (less than 30 minutes) as well as trying out immersive games and simulations where teams can “learn by doing”, developing practical skills by learning them in a practical way – like how we learn to ride a bike. This is called Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle of: Do, Review, Discuss, and Plan. Below is an example of an interactive simulation session Beyond20 regularly runs for clients. Attendees can jump between tables – much like they would in the real world – and solve problems as a team. Several clients also use these types of virtual events as high-energy team building activities to rapidly engage and excite new employees as well as get existing teams working together in new ways.
Beyond20 is the leading Digital Transformation consulting agency for the Federal sector and Fortune500 companies like Aflac, state and local governments, and agencies, including the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, and the City of Austin, TX.