Blogs by InnovatorsBox®

What shifting to remote workplace taught us

Work as we know it has been forever changed by COVID-19. And the widespread disruption over the course of the past year forced us to rethink how we live, how we shop, how we dine, how we date… and how we work. It pushed us to discover new ways of working, and that meant the world had to adapt, and adapt fast. 

Businesses had to implement years’ worth of digital transformation plans in little to no time. A lot of individuals had to find ways to work around their kids, many while homeschooling them, and our spouses/partners/roommates became our new “colleagues” from the social standpoint. Our trip to the ‘office’ is a mere few steps. Our new work attire is comfort wear. So much so that Pajama sales had soared a staggering 143% by as early as April 2020!

Talking about interesting stats, here are some more numbers that we’re seeing out there through Global Workforce Analytics, Flexjobs, KPMG, and others.

Those are some staggering numbers. 

And they’re a clear indication that we may never 100% return to the pre-pandemic world that we used to know. We’ve come a long ways, and if you told me in January 2020 that I’d be running InnovatorsBox® 100% virtually, and still manage to grow and thrive, I would have said, impossible, because like most of us, 100% virtual was not our reality then and nor was it in our imminent plans. 

When I made the leap from working in government to starting InnovatorsBox® over five years ago, we operated remotely. I would mostly work from home and so did my team- and we were all early adopters of the G-Suite. However, ALL of my networking, speaking, and client engagements were done in person. I traveled several times a month. So much that I’ve even found myself holding mini workshops while in transit, traveling from one city to the next. I was constantly in motion. So while I embraced the operations piece of remote work, I was that person who resisted Zoom! 

But when COVID hit, I knew I had to change my mindset— and do it fast! Nearly all of my client engagements and travel plans had been put on hold and so were all my proposals. Like most of us, we were faced with a lot of constraintsBut I knew that constraints aren’t the obstacles – but the foundation – to CREATIVITY and INNOVATION. When our options are limited, we end up generating more varied solutions. 

So I immediately began to innovate. 

Within one year, we created a new set of programs and services – all delivered online. 

(Oh, and I found love, too!)

Reflecting on the past year, I’ve come to see how remote work has challenged me to rethink standard business practices. One example is cross-collaboration. Working with team members and clients around the world gives us a global lens on everything we do. And when I couldn’t travel anymore, what was initially thought to be a constraint ended up becoming a big opportunity. Since we were no longer constrained by the time and cost of travel, we are able to work with more clients globally. We have clients in India and Korea and partners in Brazil, Indonesia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Our reach, our team, and our global community is continuing to expand. 

Yes, running a fully remote business during a pandemic has been difficult, scary, and sometimes lonely, but I am grateful for the opportunities it has presented. And I’m also grateful for being able to find strength, compassion, empathy, and resilience while I navigate this uncharted territory. It helped me remain courageous, and prompted me to keep learning, to keep innovating for my clients, and to keep connecting with my community.

As I look back on all that we, and our clients, have accomplished I know I’m ready to tackle the next set of challenges on the horizon!

I’ve always known how important communication is. But during the pandemic, I’ve really come to appreciate why it is so important to be mindful of our inner well being. The importance of self care cannot be overstated during these times. While upskilling our technology toolbox is incredible, it’s just as important to build our inner strength and resilience. 

The pandemic has added incredible emotional burdens, stress, and anxiety, it has also presented us with powerful new ways to collaborate, connect, and create. And to help, I’ve created this step-by-step toolkit that will strengthen your mindset and build creative resilience as you navigate the changing workplace. 

About the Author

Monica H. Kang

Monica H. Kang

Monica H. Kang, Founder, and CEO of InnovatorsBox® and Author of Rethink Creativity is transforming today’s workforce through the power of creativity. She helps companies rethink culture, leadership, and team development by making creativity practical and relatable regardless of industry or job title. She has worked with clients worldwide including Fortune 500 companies, higher education, government, and nonprofits. Monica’s work has been recognized by The White House, Ashoka Changemakers, National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), and Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). Prior to InnovatorsBox®, Monica was a nuclear nonproliferation policy expert. She holds an M.A. from SAIS Johns Hopkins University in Strategic Studies and International Economics and a B.A. from Boston University.

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