This week’s post is by Josh LeFevre, Julie Williams Stogner
COVID-19 changed the way we all collaborate. As individuals and organizations make decisions about the future of their workplace, we are likely to see more collaboration sessions with a blend of in-person and remote participants. While Josh’s personal preference is to host workshops that are all in-person or all virtual, we’d like to share what we’ve learned from a recent hybrid workshop we led.
This should be the beginning of the conversation around how to make ITK, design or innovation style workshops most effective in the growing hybrid collaboration space.
THE CASE STUDY
In May, Julie asked Josh to develop and facilitate a workshop to help improve decision advantage for logistics teams that are stood up in times crisis . Throughout June and July, Josh and Julie worked closely with the sponsor to craft a half-day in-person workshop with a series of activities to achieve the desired outcomes.
The sponsor asked all the participants to attend in-person to elevate the level of collaboration. One week prior to the planned workshop, some participants expressed they could no longer attend in person or that they only felt comfortable attending virtually, due to COVID-19. While this abrupt change was not ideal, we quickly pivoted to run a hybrid workshop with six in-person participants and four virtual participants.
As one participant observed, the workshop turned out great “due in large part to the upfront planning and exceptional team support.”
If you are going to lead a hybrid ITK session, consider using this brief checklist:
IN A HYBRID CONTEXT
- Test all connections, tools and tool access (like MURAL) for participants, video feeds, microphones, Teams access, projectors/monitors, etc., are working properly and are in sync to ensure virtual portion of the meeting will not have technical difficulties
- Leave enough time to troubleshoot (do not wait till the day of to test)
- Ensure all materials are printed or available online ahead of time
- Have one lead facilitator and at least two – four co-facilitators (3-5 facilitators total)
- Lead facilitator should attend in person if possible
- Have at least 1-2 extra co-facilitators in-person to collect notes and update lead facilitator of incoming virtual feedback. One of these facilitators should be responsible to monitoring the online chat and video feeds in the room.
- The secondary facilitator may be needed as escort for participants depending on site guidelines
- Have at least 1-2 facilitators online to capture notes, transcribe in-person activities and manage online conversations. One of these facilitators should be confident running a virtual workshop on their own in case there are technical issues.
- Make “video on” a requirement for virtual participants (or at least when they speak and participate). Video on encourages engagement and less distraction of virtual attendees. This also helps in-person participants feel as if they are being eased dropped on.
- If using MURAL (digital whiteboard) and in-person whiteboards, make sure both are updated and match synchronously
- This can be done by either an in person or online facilitator
- This task is incredibly challenging as those attending virtually cannot always see the activity outputs until they are completed
- Encourage participants to read their contributions as they are added
- Facilitator (Lead) can re-read the up-voted contributions
- Secondary facilitator can take pictures after each activity to ensure the online participants and facilitator(s) are able to follow
- Take time to pause and invite virtual participants to contribute to discussions
- Take breaks after dot voting to tabulate online and in-person votes
- Consider utilizing an MS Form version of Rose, Bud, Thorn
- Use printed handouts and virtual handouts for attendee bios, instructions for site, instructions for activities, contact information for follow on discussions (create these ahead of time)
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO TRY
- Have a smart projector or large touchscreen up in the room for in-person and remote persons to collaborate seamlessly via a digital interface
- Provide video feeds via tablet or mobile device at every in-person working group to facilitate a stronger in-person/remote collaboration during discussions
- Pair up one in-person participant with a remote participant, throughout the workshop, to ensure the remote participant’s voice is heard and has a clear access to provide contributions to mixed (in-person and virtual) breakout groups
- Take more frequent but shorter breaks to ensure remote attendees stay connected and to sync in-person and virtual contributions, as needed
- Conduct a “how to” MURAL or platform training ahead of the hybrid workshop