Remote workshops and virtual collaboration

Remote workshops and virtual collaboration

A guide on how to be masters of collaboration during the COVID-19 pandemic

Our PwC Experience Consulting guide on how to be masters of collaboration when there is a travel ban and we are working from home.

Get set before go

Your home office is your new office.
Set yourself up for a successful meeting or long-term quarantine:
  • Choose a location where you can be seen and heard, and are less likely to be interrupted.
  • If you can, bring an extra screen home from work. You can also use a tablet, second laptop or your phone.
  • Having multiple screens saves you from constantly switching between views and enables you to see people while keeping track of presentations at the same time.
  • Use headphones with a microphone. It might be worth investing in a high quality headset that is comfortable and offers clear sound.

Less presentation, more interaction

Make it easier to lean in than lean back.
Death by PowerPoint is even worse when you are not in the room. Make sure the presenters are well prepared and limit the time they speak. To keep people engaged, involve them to the max by designing interactive exercises and make them feel that they “own” the outcome.
It is also good to have multiple facilitators with clear roles, for example one driving content while another captures feedback or monitors participation in exercises.
Google Meetings, Hangouts, Zoom, Skype or whatever. Pick a platform that everyone can easily get onto and start looking each other in the eye. Create separate meeting invites for breakouts and smaller groups.
For co-creation sessions, prepare some predefined templates in Google Docs/ Slides/ Sheets where each participant can write directly into the workshop output.
appsCollaboration Tools
A collaborative, real-time whiteboard solution (e.g. Mural, Miro, Google Jamboard) that lets anyone share notes, create diagrams and graphically record meeting outputs.
Using a chat feed is a quick and effective way for people to ask questions while others are speaking.
Ask questions, collect feedback or vote on polls from your mobile phone.

Amplify every voice

Don’t let the loudest voice win.
Make time for your colleagues and meeting participants.
  • Start with a check-in, so you get everyone's voice involved from the beginning.
  • Structure the exercises so you specifically ask every participant for their quick response – either by working down a list or taking a spontaneous “popcorn” approach – the chat feed is a good place to +1 or agree with other participants.
  • Keep the pace up in big groups by limiting responses to 1 or 2 sentences.
  • End with a check-out, getting people to reflect on the meeting as a whole. The process of reflecting and summarising aids learning.

Camera on – Mic off

Help to share the spotlight.
Create a good atmosphere and meeting culture by turning the camera on to show that you are present. Even if you don’t look your best, it helps to build trust.
Turn off your microphone. By muting your mic you help your fellow participants stay focused on the speaker. Even with the best set-up, some background noise cannot always be avoided.

Keyboard shortcuts to mute your mic:

  • Google Meetings
    Ctrl + D (PC)
    CMD + D (Mac)
  • Skype
    Ctrl + M (PC)
    CMD + Shift + M (Mac)
  • Zoom
    Ctrl + A (PC)
    CMD + Shift + M (Mac)

Tighter, brighter, better

Keep the energy up & the meeting short.
It’s harder to stay focused in a virtual meeting when you are the only one in the room.
  • Plan your online meeting around a tight agenda where no item is longer than 20 minutes.
  • In a workshop, sessions should be no longer than 3 hours. Otherwise people will lose focus.
  • Send out pre-reads and any other detailed information before the meeting.
  • Inject energiser activities like physical exercise to keep people moving and feeling fresh.

(Virtual) Facilitator magic

Virtual facilitation for amazing results.
Virtual workshops can seem very limiting and disengaging. They don’t have to be.
We run virtual workshops with the same intense preparation, dedicated team and amazing results as our “physical” Design Shops. Our secret sauce?
  • Certified facilitators and session designers that build your session together with you and engage all participants.
  • A specialist crew including scribes, tech wranglers and process facilitators to create an effortless and engaging virtual experience.
  • Our proven methodology to tackle complex organisational issues and transform them into decisions that stick.

Want to talk about running your next workshop remotely?

Get in touch with us.

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A big thank you to Klara Adolphson and the Experience Center colleagues in Sweden for your great input.

Your contacts

Robert Ballantine
Robert BallantineAdvisory Partner, PwC Switzerland
Jörg Thews
Jörg ThewsInsurance Advisory Leader, PwC Switzerland