Afterword: The Virtual Road Ahead

As this book went to press, in the winter of 2020–2021, the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were about to be administered. Offices had begun to reopen, albeit with fewer employees on premises, masks a regular part of one's outfit, and hand sanitizer dispensers everywhere. Business travel remained mostly dormant. It's a weird time, to say the least. We're writing these pages in what we hope are the final months of the crisis, so making predictions about the future of organizational life feels especially perilous.

Despite this uncertainty, we can say with conviction: The future will feature more virtual work, not less. Some companies will go to one of the extremes – either minimizing remote work to get as close to the way things were before the pandemic, or shedding all vestiges of in-office work with the attendant commuting, business travel, and relocations. But most organizations will find themselves somewhere in the middle in a hybrid model. In this future, a key driver of organizational success will be how effective leaders are in leading at a distance.

For David Solomon, Goldman Sachs CEO, the future is less about “going back to the way things were,” and more about moving forward. “With our office interactions and all of the ways we will operate, the key message is that we'll have more flexibility in the way we'll work,” he said. “It is much more powerful talking about this in a forward-looking way than trying to get ‘back to normal.’” ...

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