Sunday, 29 March 2020

Facilitating with care in lock-down situations

In the current situation of (near-) lock-downs, interviews, meetings and group discussions are moving on-line. And so are workshops, with tutorials and useful advice on running on-line workshops popping up all over the place.

If, as a facilitator, you want to make sure all workshop participants make the best of a virtual workshop, the challenges of moving on-line are not just technical. When everybody has to work from home, your workshop enters the participants' households. To express it in terms of systems thinking, your workshop is not confined within the borders of office spaces and working hours anymore; it intersects with a number of household systems: 

Some workshop participants are likely to live alone. Many are likely to live with children, including children who need to be looked after. I know what I am talking about, sharing a flat with a two-year old and his mother. Sometimes he sleeps. But when he doesn't, one of us must look after him - nursery school is closed. That is, none of us can spend the whole day at her computer. 

In this lock-down situation, virtual workshops that run for two, three 6-8-hour days in a row effectively exclude people with infant/toddler/small child care responsibilities. As workshop planners, we need to adjust our thinking and chop our virtual workshops into smaller units, spreading them over more days, to make sure more people can participate. A windfall benefit is more time for the ideas exchanged in the workshop to settle and to mature between sessions - I quite like that! 

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