How to Define Virtual Work, Learning, and Personal Life
The entire world went virtual in what felt like a matter of moments. While remote work, education, and personal life weren’t new, their popularity skyrocketed.
Virtual work is here to stay. Over 80% of companies plan to stay at least partly remote after the pandemic. (Virtual shopping isn’t going anywhere either.)
But how do you define virtual life specifically? Learn more about what this means for life, work, and learning.
How Do You Define Virtual Life?
Merriam Webster defines “virtual” as “occurring or existing primarily online.” This comes from Medieval Latin virtualis and Latin virtu, meaning “excellence” or “efficacy.” The Latin definition of “virtual” is from the mid-15th century: “being something in essence or effect, though not actually or in fact.”
If you check a thesaurus, common synonyms for this term include “digital,” “cyber,” and “computer-generated.”
Today, people may use the term “virtual” to refer to text-based or video-based interactions. It has different contexts and sub-definitions that evolve as digital technology expands.
What Is a Virtual Meeting?
The term “virtual meeting” can mean any time people gather in a digital space. These days, it probably brings the companion term “Zoom fatigue” to mind. Video technology on Microsoft Teams, Skype, Zoom, and elsewhere allows remote teams, friends, and families to connect with a new level of virtuality.
What Is Virtual Memory?
Early computers had limited physical storage space for files, software, and hardware. Users need so much storage that virtual memory in a computer’s operating system exists to allow for data transfer from RAM to disk storage.
What Is a Virtual Disk?
A virtual disk, also known as a digital drive, is a form of virtual storage. Someone working from a virtual desktop uses these software components to back up files they’ve created on their computer.
What Is a Virtual Community?
The internet lets us connect with people all over the world based on shared interests. That’s led to hundreds of thousands of virtual communities. Group members connect through websites or social media, often crossing geographic boundaries.
The virtualization of shared interests helps people connect with others to work towards common goals, ask questions, and support each other.
What Is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality brings to mind advanced goggles that allow you to go beyond physical reality. These virtual environments can mirror the real world or be entirely fictional. Users can use goggles, gloves, or other accompanying technology to “control” their avatar in the attached video game in real-time. Players often use an avatar or a virtual image as their character.
What Is Virtual Gaming?
Virtual gaming refers to playing anything from virtual Monopoly to Halo to role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. You can play these over the computer or on gaming systems.
What Is a Virtual Learning Environment?
If you’re a parent, you think of a virtual learning environment as the kitchen table where your kids loudly completed assignments and argued with classmates over Zoom this past year.
However, a virtual classroom is a more fleshed-out digital platform where technology adds to the learning experience. The purpose is to keep things interactive and organized when classes don’t meet in a physical place. Tools can allow for online lectures, quizzes, questions, chats, grading, and polls.
What Is Virtual Dependence?
You might joke about how hard it is to pull yourself away from your phone, but virtual dependence is real. It’s also called Internet addiction disorder. Here, the affected person spends long periods online, and this behavior damages other areas of their life. Symptoms may include depression, anxiety, loneliness, and procrastination. Surveys show up to 8.2% of people may be affected. Candy Crush, anyone?
How to Build Successful Virtual Environments
The definition of “virtual” makes it easy to assume that work and personal connections transfer to a digital environment without effort. Don’t just copy/paste your meeting agenda into a Google Calendar request. Pay attention to studies and trends about how to work within virtual spaces. Get started with these tips:
Choose the Right Technology
Many tools can help you connect virtually, but not all are created equal. Some shine with personalization options and others with easy video recordings. One tool may offer a virtual whiteboard and another will simplify screen-sharing.
With the virtual revolution well underway, consider what’s important for your team or group. If you have a large team, choose a tool that has breakout rooms or coffee table chats.
Remember that Humans Still Crave Connection
If you’re a boss in the virtual world, consider this your new golden rule: Connect with people more rather than less. It’s easy for people to become disconnected online.
Overcommunication is key. Give details about how the team makes decisions. Specifically, clarify policies for virtual meetings. Plan times for fun online hangouts.
If you’ve got to have a difficult conversation, don’t leave it to email or Slack. Pick up the phone or schedule a videoconference.
Gather makes it easy to create the right virtual spaces with your unique needs in mind.
Ask for feedback to avoid any potential blind spots. See if anyone knows of helpful integrations or software upgrades.
For example, if remote employees feel disconnected from the leadership team’s decisions, can you host brainstorming sessions so the team can find solutions together? If employees in different departments never get to interact with one another, can you use virtual mixers or games as icebreakers?
With digital events, ask your attendees what they liked about the platform and ask if anything could have made the experience better. You’ll likely get some great ideas you can use next time.
Keep Adapting Your Virtual Spaces
The term “virtual” can apply to work, community, technology, and education.
As you work in online environments, keep looking for the best technology for your group. Remember that virtual spaces can easily become lonely, and people may not feel as comfortable giving honest feedback. So, offer opportunities to connect. Lastly, ask your co-workers or students how you can make their remote experiences better.
Gather.town uses customer feedback to make virtual working and networking easy and fun. Build a workspace, conference meetup, classroom, and more. From playing games to brainstorming new ideas, Gather makes it fun to connect.