One of the most important management challenges of the next 5+ years is leading through the balancing act of an  in real life (IRL), remote, synchronous, and asynchronous working environment. This is as true for 1871 as any other organization—with perhaps the added complication that many of our members share our office with us. The choices we make not only impact how our team collaborates, socializes, and coordinates but also how we enable and support our whole community in doing the same. 

Life was “easy” pre-Covid, as the expectation and the reality was everything was only “IRL”. During COVID everything we did was virtual, 75+% synchronously. The flip switched in March of 2020. We have been quite successful in a virtual environment and currently serve leaders and teams in Nigeria, Denmark, Ireland,Venezuela, and across the US. Our heartbeat is in Chicago, our reach and ability to support is boundary-less. 

In both cases, the playing field for everyone was equal. Everyone leveraged the same tools, had the same access, embraced the experience in the same way. 

The last 18 months changed everything about the way we work. It has challenged core foundational assumptions about how we work, the role our physical space plays and as our members’ physical locations change, what tools we need to leverage to grow and strengthen our community.  How do we continue to create environments where the 1871 team and our members feel deep connection and belonging, where they can thrive? 

The shift to remote has unlocked an astonishing amount of value, a recent report by Citrix suggests that this is a 2 Trillion dollar impact in just the US. We, at 1871, believe in the power of “and”. We value and celebrate our physical space AND we know we need to have fully integrated technology to enable our community to engage when, and how they want. 

The 1871 team came back in full force in August on a 3 day in, 2 day remote schedule. The 1871 experience will forever be omni-present, or poly-synchronous meaning 90+% of what we do will be able to be consumed IRL, virtually or on-demand. We want everyone to be able to come as they are, and that format can change day to day.  We are leveraging a remote-first mentality when it comes to technology to ensure that everyone has equal footing. 

So what does this mean? We view the world  of engagement in the following way—the tech stack spreads across formal and informal, and synchronous and asynchronous. As we embrace an omnipresent experience with members spread literally across the globe the biggest gap is in the top right box (informal, synchronous) for those not participating in real life.

The greatest predictor of engagement, productivity and innovation is the number of face to face interactions outside of formal meetings, spaces and times people can really be themselves. There is also significant research that reinforces the need for face-to-face interactions in creating trust and building culture. We thrive when we can hear real voices, see faces even in an avatar format, vs just through text.  

I’m excited to share that we  are solving this gap, through the rollout of an exciting new platform called 1871 VX, an immersive, augmented reality, private 1871 campus. This is a headset-free engagement tool, launching this week as an option for all of our members to leverage.

We are starting formally with PYROS breakout groups, and  select events. Members of our community are welcome to use this platform as your virtual office, potentially as a way to separate work and life!  You can operate in this environment the way that works best for you! We are going to be learning right alongside you and we are looking forward to that.

I want to thank Chris Wren, and Tom Packard from the VR/AR Chicago team, with us from the beginning, planting the seed of the idea and guiding our whole approach. They are both stars and if you are interested in getting engaged with them please reach out directly.  

See you in 1871 VX! 

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