As more of us transition into remote ways of working, we are finding there’s a considerable learning curve in making the switch. Even XPLANErs with all the facilitation experience in the world are “having a moment” converting the immediacy of the in-person workshop into a similar digital experience.
While many of us are familiar with the online tools, we are grappling with bigger “how to” questions like how to make the remote experience more human, how to activate the senses and how to create those “aha” moments that characterize in-person interaction.
At XPLANE, we know there’s power in assessing our vulnerabilities, learning together and taking on a beginner’s mindset in order to see this new reality as an opportunity. These past weeks, we’ve been experimenting with various practices, tools, and techniques to quickly develop our remote collaboration capabilities. Here are a few of our learnings:
Running a meeting or workshop remotely will take additional planning, set up, and prep. In our experience, activities take longer to run. You need to account for technology hiccups, provide added context setting and consider issues of accessibility. To be prepared, consider running an inventory of your tools, whether it’s a collaboration platform or deck. We recommend inviting an outside perspective for help. Ask them to take on the user’s perspective and run them through the workshop to glean needs and accommodations for which you may want to plan.
At XPLANE, we use the double-sided pencil to structure our workshops with each facilitation having a clear opening (divergent), exploration (emergent), and closing (convergent).
In remote collaboration, there’s the possibility of asynchronous work taking place before and after the workshop. Think about how you can prepare your participants. For instance:
We have found engagement is not a given in remote collaboration. People can easily check out, multitask, or be otherwise distracted. With that in mind, design your agenda with an “engagement first” mindset. Here’s a quick list of ideas to amp up participation in your meetings:
Injecting a little unexpected joy into your agenda will not just make your remote meetings more memorable, it is essential in building up the psychological safety to help participants connect and collaborate more quickly. XPLANE has long used visuals during in-person facilitations to break through a myriad of disconnects—from confusion to tension to territorialism. In a remote environment, inserting a variety of experiences that connect users to their senses can make the difference between a so-so experience and ground-breaking one.
You never know what terrific new ideas you will develop when you give yourself the room (and patience) to experiment—listening to and learning from your participants, along the way. Seize the opportunity to try something new and make the tools work for your style of facilitation.
We hope you’ve found these ideas to be helpful. We invite you to reach out to us with any questions you may have, or ideas you’ve found successful that you’d like to share!
For more information on the distributed worker experience, we recommend these XPLANE blog posts: