Into the Virtuous World:
a look into the acquisition of virtues in a virtual workplace
The separation of work and religion
For years, a lot of us has successfully evaded discussion of our Faith and the practice of our religion at our workplace with studies indicating that it is not in alignment with the corporate goals as it evokes conflict particularly stemming from differing religious backgrounds as one article expounds.
It is with sadness that a disconnect of the employee from his core spiritual being is enforced in the spirit of material benefits leading to an artificial dichotomy of the individual. Research, however, contradicts competing interests of said tenets. As the paper suggests, the decision to embrace organizational spirituality have in fact far-reaching benefits that embraces religious diversity and impacts all including non-religious workers.
The rise of the virtual work world
Recently, I chanced upon upcoming business trends and one prediction that struck a chord is the rise of remote workers by 2020 resulting from one of the global business leaders’ summit.
A 2017 blog for remote predictions is proving to be right on the spot as this year ends. And this is particularly felt even in this far-flung area in the Pacific where I am located, Manila. Being a virtual worker myself for 8 years now, I went on to research about what it means to have a virtual team having been immersed in such an environment with nary a formal training on what it means to be “virtual”. A Project Manager, by profession, I am accustomed to running project teams with members spanning across the globe and working at various time zones to ensure efficient communication flows through the entire project lifecycle which would be tantamount to successfully completing a project. Thus, it is essential for me to make virtual teams work.
A changing society
Evidence of moral degradation greets us daily as we connect to various news media. Almost half of the society perceive it as the reality of our times.
In the iOT (Internet of things) age, a lot of us are threatened by the possible negative outcomes that come with it. In a study by Pew Internet Project , the survey results indicate an almost split perception on the impact of technology on the brains of our youth. Fears of loss of deep-thinking capabilities and face to face social skills compete with the idea that the change in the youth’s learning behavior and cognitive abilities are positive steps in the human evolution. One of the interviewees mentioned that “The human brain is wired to adapt to what the environment around it requires for survival …”
A future framework for work relationships
The co-dependent nature of being virtual and virtuous and their future roles in the business arena excites me in a way that it connotes the beginning of an era where global business leaders begin to embrace pursuits of knowledge beyond material and human education into the divine or spiritual thus paving the way to the breakdown of prejudices and mediocrity as well as the practice of genuine respect for others. It leads to a different level of conflict management that favors a more holistic benefit for all.
1. Developing the moral man
One core element of a virtual team is the presence of high morals and standards. Just imagine the abuse of the privileges of working from home or from any location by an individual that is less spiritually developed. Without the presence of trust, such a setting will not persist. A virtual team leader will be spending less productive time monitoring and disciplining his members as opposed to empowering them to produce positive products for the company. It is then, imperative, that the corporate culture should consider the spiritual education of its employees as key in all its learning and development programs. In the book, “New Approaches to the moral education of children” * by Dr. Martha Taylor, she presented the educational philosophy, the principles and teachings of the Baha’i Faith and some of their implications about values education. It pertains to an unbiased method of inculcating deep religious values among children, regardless of their faith. It is with this, that I endeavor work organizations to view the development of the moral man in a similar fashion as instrumental to business success
“Man is, even as steel, the essence of which is hidden, through admonition and explanation, good counsel and education, that essence will be brought to light. If, however, he be allowed in his original condition. the corrosion of lusts and appetites will effectively destroy him.” (Bahá’u’lláh, B.E, p.3)
2. Unleashing the innovative mind
As the world surrounding us spins in an accelerated pace, mental re-wiring is inevitable and judgment skills need to be heightened as we attempt to process multiple sources of information in search of truth.
Working physically away from team members unburdens the individual of actual physical distractions of co-employee relations where only necessary interactions are maintained. During these less frequent required interactions via the aid of technology, there is increased cooperation and doubled effort to communicate to compensate for the lack of non-verbal language and perceived lower engagement. More focused participation and understanding of time limitations typically breeds a more positive result for brainstorming sessions aiding to better decision-making capabilities.
Such a virtual structure while encouraging absorbed team interaction also promotes isolation. As most experts say, isolation and quiet time facilitate the creative process.
Veering away from the comforts of a brick and mortar infrastructure to a totally different way of collaboration such as a virtual organization most often fosters creativity and innovation as the organizational shift translates to a paradigm shift of the mind.
3. Alignment of goals
The beauty of the socio-economic framework presented by the Bahai Faith lies in the strong belief that we “have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization”. Bahá’u’lláh, the Faith’s Prophet-founder, wrote, “Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and center your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements.”
Thus, a spiritually-charged individual is of the notion that one’s mission in the world is to promote and seek its betterment. This principle aligns to a company’s goals of providing quality service to its customers and being attuned to its needs and requirements. A perception of the extension of one’s work task of one’s life mission provides the work-life balance and motivation that attracts and retains employees. It perpetuates a desirable output of values contribution.
The rapid growth of the “work from home” phenomenon has been a prediction that continues to next year therefore, a trend that even small enterprises would have to embrace and prepare for. One article indicates that it is an attractive option for seeking talent that places a high premium on lowering stress and reducing transport costs. It also seems in congruence with the working styles of the millennial youth that will serve as our prime resource pool of the new age. However, preparation and support of said trend needs to be charted with an appropriate strategy of spiritual education for it to be sustainable. Although models for spirituality in the workplace are made available, a more encompassing framework espoused by the Bahai Faith allows a systematic application of the principles of shared values amidst diversity. Working remotely allows prioritization of a shared value such as the family unit. Ensuring that spirituality is present in this unit and spills over to the workplace and other stakeholders such as the customers is essential in its continuance.
*Taylor, Martha., “New Approaches to the Moral Education of Children”, Third edition, 2017.