Welcome to 2020! Face to face is out; digital and online is in! Working remotely and online collaboration sessions is the future of work. Although research shows that working from home is linked to a happier and more productive self, it also means that many of us have had to swiftly and speedily adopt a new mode of hosting meetings and trainings. Enter online Workshopping!
Virtual facilitation brings with a set of challenges:
As people who are used to traditional boardroom meetings often accompanied by notepad and pen, we may lack the digital skillset to fully facilitate and benefit from the online tools for virtual meetings. Which are the right tools and how to manage them are questions we need to face in order to facilitate our virtual meetings.
The Right Atmosphere
Online platforms are not naturally interactive. People aren’t as engaged and some even tune out. Attendees don’t participate and contribute as much as they ordinarily would in face to face meetings. Creating a relaxed atmosphere that harbours collaboration and contribution is a key essential in online workshopping.
Keep the Focus
In general, people generally have shorter attention spans in a digital environment. You need to pull out all the stops in digital meetings to hold attendees’ focus and attention for the duration of your session. Furthermore, working from home means partners, children and house hold tasks may interrupt the flow and somehow online seems to mean multitask. People often attend to emails and messages while “listening” to the meeting in the background.
In a virtual setting we get far less facial expressions and body language cues. As a result, we generate a lot less emotions. The brain remembers interaction by attaching emotions and associations. As a result, we remember far less from virtual meetings.
Lack of Social Cues
Network connectivity issues means that cameras are often off and you cannot see your attendees. When social cues are missing we are unable to decode and gauge how others really feel about what is being discussed and whether or not they are engaged in the experience. It also often results in misinterpretation of intentions and expectations.
Leading in a digital space is different to leading in a physical space although they may share the same goal. Required is a different set of skills and insights as to what works and what doesn’t.
Here are some tips to guide you into effective online workshopping:
Successful workshops require planning. Ensure that you have in your mind and convey to others a clear reason and specific goal of the workshop. This can be further achieved through providing pre work. This allows attendees to read through materials and prepare any required presentations or documents as well as ready themselves for discussion and brainstorming.
Set clear expectations from the session and of participants. If everyone knows what is expected of them, there is a greater chance of success.
The right online space is essential
Decide on the software that would most suit your business needs and satisfy your team’s requirements. Know your purpose and that of your colleagues and employees. Once you have made your choices, ensure that you know your software enough to assist everyone signing in. A good idea is for everyone to try it out ahead of the scheduled session to iron out any glitches and issues.
Consider benefits and restraints of your remote workforce.
Ensure that everyone can participate equally. Some restraints may include network connectivity issues, needing to attend to children during certain hours, as well as employees who are not yet familiar with the platforms. Try to schedule your online meetings at a time that is suitable to everyone as best as possible. If colleagues are meeting at convenient times, they will be less likely to have planned extraneous disturbances. Some benefits may be the fact that people are at home which often presents a relaxed environment. No-one has endured the stress of traffic or the great morning rush to get somewhere on time.
Hold on to tradition where appropriate
Maintain some traditional aspects in order to create a secure trust-filled environment where people feel comfortable to speak up and share. These include icebreakers to help everyone get to know each other. Encouraging small talk at regular intervals will help fill the gaping hole resultant from the lack of available body language and emotional cues.
Break it Down
Due to shorter attention spans in digital spaces and the many distractions in the home workspace, it is also important to have shorter sessions and stop for breaks.
Optimize your time together
Provide pre reading so participants can be prepared and cover less exciting stuff before hand so you can keep a more dynamic high energy session. By allowing people to work asynchronously through digital collaboration tools means that your time spent together online can be used more efficiently. It also means that people can do their brainstorming when they feel creative and then you can meet to discuss. This will also allow you to stay connected between sessions.
Use repetition to keep the energy levels high. Ask questions to keep people engaged and giving.
Know that your tech may not work 100 percent all of the time. Also, don’t expect that your sprints will go exactly as planned. You will probably need to go off course. Just go with the flow and make the most of situations that don’t go as planned.
Perceptions are a thing
When your workshops are run with a high level of professionalism and success, attendees have an inspiring experience. This builds positive perceptions and motivations. The result being employees with increased desire to perform at higher standards and set greater expectations which in turn drives the creative process.
Motivate your team
For modern business, virtual meetings are an essential. Bringing people together in an online setting is not a guarantee for success. Unstructured and poorly run virtual meetings result in time wasted and employees feeling frustrated. The need for a well-designed and effectively facilitated meetings will result in meaningful and productive sessions and grow a talented creative team.
So how do you create that captivating environment?
The team at Interact can facilitate your workshops with finesse, knowledge and skills. Click here to know more: https://info.interactrdt.com/book-an-online-workshop-0