Moving online

3 min readFeb 19, 2024

I’ve blogged previously about how I’ve worked collaboratively with my team during this pandemic and the challenges and opportunities of how society uses technology going forwards, but how about how you collaborate with people in the workplace?

If working digitally is going to become the new normal for many, how do we focus on learning how to do things that in theory work better face to face?

Before Covid 19, I used to do “walking 121s” with people in my team who were up for that. It helped people open up more, be more relaxed and informal as we were walking around the neighbourhood.

Since Covid 19, I’ve challenged myself to keep those “walking 121s”, but where we may both be walking but in separate places, speaking on the phone!

How do you compensate for not being able to connect with someone’s body language in the way you would face to face? How do you avoid being distracted by emails or your surroundings?

Having introductions with someone new has similar challenges as 1:1s, the difference being with 1:1s you know the people and continue the conversation where you left off and you can be more informal. Introductions should start with how the pandemic has been for them, so you can get to know them better and see what you have in common, as well as how much they want to open up.

Running online workshops

We’ve run several online group meetings where people have improved in how to make the best use of their time with pre-written agendas and defining what’s more work-focused and what’s more wellbeing and can be more open ended.

Our learning & development team have created some excellent resources and toolkits to help & support homeworking, working collaboratively and wellbeing sessions.

We have facilitators for each breakout sessions with team to help people use the new tools, be it Miro or Mural. We live edit and help people use post its to see what’s been produced and contribute if they couldn’t make the session. I would suggest reducing the number of people per breakout to 3–4 people, as you can create as many rooms. Allow more time for plenary feedback and get people to help each other use the tool. Create ways for people to move rooms or play different roles, be that a facilitator, a scribe, a trainer, a connector or a challenger.

Online workshops become more efficient for organisers, as they reduce the slack time between sessions where people would otherwise move from one room to another. It also allows for better allocation of people and they can comment and contribute together.


has some excellent tips on how to run online workshops.

Are we missing though the importance of that slack time where people bump into each other as they move from room to room or digest what’s been discussed at the workshop?

Does it allow more people to contribute who are less confident at speaking or is it more difficult as some people find the technology more difficult to use?

How can we factor in the new needs that may be invisible for people working from home, like people who’ve got childcare or care responsibilities, people who are shielding, recovering from the virus or are grieving for someone who’s died from it, people who don’t have social networks and people whose mental health has exacerbated as a result?




Head of Policy Design, Scrutiny & Partnerships @newhamlondon #localgov Co-founder of #systemschange & #servicedesign progs. inspired by @cescaalbanese