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Virtualization of workspaces: Adaptation or change?



We first chose to not write about what everybody has been talking about for the past weeks: COVID-19. Because we did not want to appear as using the situation or being opportunistic, maybe reasons of discretion or decency. But we cannot deny that the upheavals are so real, tangible, immense, and the consequences substantial. A stock phrase with our peers: “following a long meeting with myself…”, the conclusion has been that to not address the questions would constitute a denial.


Let’s disrupt a little bit the planning of our monthly bulletin to emphasize another aspect and address another hot … topic. We can contribute to making a difference during this unsettled period.


So, with the help of our friend Rhetoric, which we regularly consult, let’s think about the consequences of our context, let’s think about what this massive mandatory migration to teleworking represents.


The team concept as a mathematical principle


“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. Maxim often attributed to the philosopher Aristotle, who studied with Plato. While this Aristotelian attribution has little justification (nowhere written as such in his work and reductive to a geometric analysis), the fact remains that the holistic ideology underlying this sentence is still grounded. To consider a phenomena or a realization in a global perspective allows us a more accurate appreciation of the consistent input (resultant) and a better understanding of such. The result of collaboration of a team of 12 people with a common objective will clearly richer, will go farther, will have considered a wider perspective, than the one resulting from the work of one person multiplied by the same number, twelve. The richness, or added value, comes with exchange, questioning.


The added value created by the mathematical principle claiming that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts is called synergy.


Virtualization of workspaces


Quickly, very quickly, almost violently, our new context made many people start teleworking, but not all had the same starting point. Some of them already had strong habits in this reality (seeing little difference) while others had not yet arrived at that point at all. Many of those who were not there at all find, or will find, themselves taking a mandatory pause (a very serious situation, obviously). But, for many, it will now mean being part of an occasional or partial practice, a new way of working.


For many, this new daily approach will require many adjustments, because the interaction changes colour. The deserted kitchen areas, the coffee machine spaces are replaced by telephones, collaboration tools and video cameras. Because there is a concept that stays here…, survivability (character, state of that stays forever). The team is life-long, and its necessity is absolute.


The allocation of the members of a work group is not the end of such a group. Like the geographical decentralization of large organizations, the multiple locations of groups, sub-groups or individuals do not slow down their collaboration. At the most, the functional virtualization of work groups requires adaptation, not a change.


Adaptation (Wikipedia): « … modification of the individual behaviour that maintains his life in a relative harmony with the environment data, without calling in question his identity. »


Change (idem): “(…) passage from one state to another (…)”


Teams remain, they are preserved; collaboration remains; the added value will be ensured.

Preservation (idem): preservation or conservation consists in maintaining an element in a constant state.


The virtualization of workspaces is not a new reality in itself; it even constitutes a criterion in choosing an employer for many of our millennials today.


Expectations will remain, as much as obligation of result. It means reviewing the catalogue of ways allowing everyone to adapt.


Adaptation and modification of form


Yes, there is an issue, that of speed of execution. The necessary adaptation must be quick, and some issues or difficulties are obvious.


The contemporary catalog of means is very well stocked, particularly with regard to IT means. Even if the means are not always immediately available (inventory issue, insufficient resources to install them), they exist and can facilitate the necessary adaptation.




The change will come after. With certain wounds that will have to be treated and that will leave more or less permanent scars, with the successful adaptation of many individuals to a new way of organizing work, our reality will have evolved by then.


Right now, however, we all must work together to manage this in-between world. Tell us your story.


Luc Lachapelle B.A., M.A., M.I.S., C.D.I.A., S.S.C.

Director, Strategic Consulting Services.




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