Preparing Students for a Virtual Workplace
Nick K. Gera, JD, MBA, MPP is a doctor of Education student in the Higher Education Leadership program at The University of Texas at Austin
While remote work has been around for many years, the acceleration of remote work has amplified since the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Louisiana State University (LSU), “As jobs requiring basic skills are outsourced to technology and automation, future workers will need more specific skills to compete.” Meeting the demands of employers to be able to work in-person, hybrid, or remotely is unequivocally the best training for students. The following sections will discuss why preparing students for a virtual workplace and hybrid options will help enhance student success in the future.
In today’s job market, work hours, locations, and projects are becoming more flexible. With the rising costs of childcare, transportation, commercial rents, and running a physical office, remote work offers many cost-saving measures for employers. With technology allowing more access to work files digitally, the need to be in the office for specific hours is not as necessary in today’s job market. Ultimately, future jobs will require more specific skills and aptitudes than before, amplifying the need for remote work. Employers will have a broader geographic reach for the best employees and not be bound to certain regions only.
Time management in the virtual workplace
Time management is an essential skill that is required in the digital workplace. Online education’s growing prevalence has afforded students flexibility in managing their abilities to do their assigned work. However, just like online schoolwork, employers give their project deadlines, and they are expected to meet these deadlines through time management. In support, according to LSU, “as students engage with virtual learning, they will have more opportunities to practice overcoming issues like procrastination.” Therefore, by the time students enter the workforce, they will have mastery over practical time management skills.
Increasing digital comprehension
Exposing students to these digital tools builds their confidence in navigating the internet and completing tasks. Essential life tasks like applying for a job, banking, dating, and making medical appointments have all been normalized with online migrations. In addition, encouraging students to utilize their digital awareness when working remotely. Therefore, allowing students to perform digital work in the classroom will help in preparing them for the digital workforce in the future.
Developing leadership skills for the virtual workplace
As the virtual workplace evolves, employers will seek leaders who can manage, train, and develop their employees to meet the needs of clients/customers. Virtual workplaces impact the ability to build relationships because everyone is not at the same place and time. Consequently, those who wish to be leaders in the virtual workplace must have confidence in their social, technological, and communication skills. They must foster relationships with their co-workers, employees, and corporate leadership to ensure goals are being accomplished. The more time spent in digital training, online project management, and getting the best out of people through emails, virtual chats, video conferencing, etc., the more successful a leader will be in the virtual workplace.
Conclusion: Success in the virtual workplace and evolving job market
While it is hard to determine the future of virtual work, the best thing we, as educators, can do is to prepare students for a virtual workplace and hybrid-like options. Training students to work collaboratively and independently on projects in-person/remotely is the best development experience for them. Regardless of the many opinions of corporate leaders today, the demand and possibilities for virtual work will increase, and the best candidate for any type of job is a well-prepared one. In conclusion, our job as educators is to prepare our students for success, and online learning is uniquely positioned to achieve the goals of the evolving job markets.
For more on preparing students for a virtual workplace, watch the recording from our Empowered Educator virtual conference.