How I learned to master our virtual workplace Published March 4, 2022 By Ciarra Williams 88th Comptroller Squadron How I learned to master our virtual workplace Ciarra Williams, Financial Specialist, 88th Comptroller Squadron Photo Details / Download Hi-Res WRIGHT-PATTERON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- We all have faced change and uncertainty with the transition of workplace navigation and flexibility during a global pandemic. While we may not always be a fan of change, it is essential to help grow, thrive and expand businesses. Organizational change has been part of the Air Force’s foundation. All change processes involve multiple steps, including adaptive and transformative. Below are some examples of how I have been able to navigate through and benefit from workplace changes using the virtual tools the Air Force provides us. Positive thinking In my experience, working from home has been a transition to get used to, especially not having the luxury of face-to-face interaction. However, during all the changes, being positive has benefited me while adapting to the new norms we have. With no face-to-face interaction, virtual working has become vital while navigating the pandemic. For myself and my squadron, Microsoft Teams has provided much relief and been essential to the success we have been able to attain while working with the Financial Management systems we support. Maintain communication While we aren’t able to interact with our team members and supervisors face-to-face, being able to maintain professionalism and communication with both remains essential in this new virtual-workplace implementation. With the increased email traffic, working from home and assisting customers daily, Microsoft Teams has helped my team members and I continue to provide effective communication with partners and personnel, enabling us to navigate through the challenges of change. Although virtual working and learning are sometimes unconventional, I managed to use Teams as a resource to help guide myself — along with other team members — through training and give me the ability to assist Airmen and civilians, providing them with exceptional service. My team has also leveraged the chat function to host weekly meetings and help share information regarding our customers and in-house training. Virtual learning has been a transition for all of us. Leveraging all virtual options in our programs, such as Excel, has been very helpful. For example, we managed to work our validations using the Excel sheet online, allowing all team members to work on our annual validations at the same time. Prepare for roadblocks No matter how much we prepare for change, things may not always go according to plan; being flexible and open to roadblocks that may arise is essential to change. We can’t remove roadblocks, but proper preparation can help when challenges come. Using the above processes while practicing effective communication has provided a resolution for our virtual-workplace changes. Virtual learning can have several roadblocks. I have also used the screen-sharing option in Microsoft Teams to help guide team members through workplace challenges and assist our customers. Virtual acceptance No one is born with expertise in maintaining and managing organizational change; it is simply a skill that takes time, patience and hands-on experience to develop over time and one I am still working through. Embracing the virtual-work changes has helped evolve my professional development. I believe accepting that change is a part of our work life. Through change and proper planning, all military, civilian and contractor personnel have successfully navigated through adversity, hard times and significant organizational changes. Each of us has played a vital role, especially while maintaining and uplifting the Air Force mission through COVID-19 restrictions, carrying our workplace duties and supporting the mission through teleworking. If you ever question your ability to push through the challenges of change, remember all the great work the entire Air Force accomplished in the past two years. That alone has shown how successful each of us can be at mastering workplace changes.