As a facilitator, Tushar ( name changed) conducts strategy and solution designing workshops for his clients. With the lock-down in place, his clients deferred the pre-scheduled sessions. Tushar has a good understanding of the digital platforms and has been conducting some sessions in past digitally. However, he was finding it difficult to convince his clients that the same workshops can be conducted virtually with the same effectiveness. He then organised a few experience sessions for his clients and asked them to just be participants. In just 60 minutes, Tushar could give them a feel and taste of what can be delivered on the digital platform using various tools and convince them to resume the sessions.
Manohar (name changed) manages large teams across West & North Indian states. He travels frequently to meet the teams and their clients, and conducts reviews & performance assessments. A lot of his work used to happen on telephone calls , and yet, the face to face meetings and reviews with clients and teams were critical for him to keep the teams engaged and focused. With travel and other social distancing restrictions, Manohar feels that his teams engagement & productivity has suffered even though they are in essential services business. He is finding it a big challenge to conduct the meetings & reviews. He feels he has no option but to wait out for things to normalize.
These are just 2 examples of how different people are reacting to the challenges posed by the Covid19. From Mobile phones to entertainment mediums, from gaming to work tools, we are surrounded by and are comfortable with digital gadgets. And yet when the lock-down forced us all to work from home using digital platforms, it has caused discomfort. The simple reason being - digital was part of our lives but we still were doing a lot of things in physical world- conducting meetings, discussing in groups, reviewing projects & performance, generating new ideas collectively, Interactive Teaching & training, and many more such activities involving teams. The above examples are two typical responses to changed scenario - compromise and feel that there is no way we can do the same activities on a digital platform, or re-skill and adapt the same activities to the digital platform so as to engage teams effectively as before.
Most of us are familiar with Whatsapp or Skype calls. However, digital platforms like Zoom, Teams, Bluejeans among others, when used along with tools like Stormboard, Miro, Padlet and Google Docs & sheets and many more, have immense potential to help any Manager, Teacher, Trainer or Business owner to engage with large group of people. From basic abilities like screen sharing & file transfer while interacting, to advanced features like polling, creating virtual rooms, interacting through annotations & whiteboards, Brainstorming & collaborative tools, virtual platforms offer a veritable combination of tools for every purpose and have emerged as an alternative to the physical interactions and meetings.
Digital platforms & tools have become important and will stay relevant & co-exist with physical environment even more closely than before. It is time to re-skill and learn to use the digital platforms to ones benefit, to enhance your virtual engagement and to continue to deliver effectively.