I facilitated two in-person workshops last week, for the first time in almost a year.
I’m still processing the experiences, but as we all navigate this next season of pandemic life, hybrid work and re-learning how to “people,” I thought I’d capture some initial impressions here:
- We are craving being together. Small talk, conversing with acquaintances, sharing inconsequential funny stories have all been weirdly missed and we need to allow time for them. I built more connection time into the agendas.
- In-person processes take longer. Driving there and back, gathering people back from small group conversations, writing on paper rather than typing, preparing tactile materials…it’s all slower. As someone who is committed to helping groups make wiser decisions faster, I have mixed feelings about that.
- The in-person meetings you remember are not what’s happening now, as long as masks and physical distancing are still required. Acoustics, sightlines, lip reading, body language, our ability to collaborate in close proximity around a table…these are all different in a masked environment. I missed the “front row seat” intimacy that online collaboration affords.
- Shifting parameters require last-minute flexibility. As we figure out what behaviours are officially permitted or unofficially welcomed by our teams, we need to change our preparation. Four times in the past two weeks, clients have decided within 48 hours of a session whether it would be held in-person or virtually. That decision affects my facilitation plan, my purchasing of supplies and even how I arrange my calendar.
- Digital is still useful in analog meetings. Even if all participants are physically together in the space, you may find digital collaborative tools useful for data visualization and rapid collaboration in real time. But I didn’t love having people sit silently beside each other on their phones responding to poll questions.
- Personal and interpersonal dynamics are different and take some readjusting. I hated wearing shoes all day. I was awkward when someone tried to shake my hand. I spilled something on my pants, and it mattered. I was both energized and exhausted afterwards. Ugh.
I’m sure you can hear my ambivalence about moving back toward something we took for granted before. I want to be deliberate and purpose-driven in doing so. I hope this example of me “working out loud” will help you work more intentionally too