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Falling Between 2 Stools

The Trouble with Part Remote / Part Face to Face Team Development Sessions

We recently facilitated our first, socially distanced, face to face team development session since February. It was a leadership team of 10 and, despite the fact that we managed to design and facilitate a session that was both successful and appreciated by all the participants, I was left feeling that we could still have done better.
Primarily because I underestimated the impact of having 3 of the 10 participants joining via Teams from Germany, Italy and Singapore (2 were a last-minute surprise!), with the other 7 in the room. We had taken into account but not fully appreciated the impact on:
• the dynamics of the conversations – e.g. the people in the room engaged much more readily with their physical colleagues in the room
• the range of facilitation techniques that would be effective and the ability to flex in the moment
• the activities we could engage in – even some I thought would work didn’t (fully)
• the movement restrictions, even within the room
Furthermore, I found that when we were really engaging with the “remote” participants, the people in the room were left a little passive, and when doing slightly more active things in the room the remote participants drifted. Whilst I knew it would be hard to find the right balance (if there is one…), it was definitely harder than I thought.
Consequently, I came away with the clear impression that:
• it is far easier to run a great team development session that is either 100% virtual or 100% face to face than a hybrid event
• any form of hybrid team event runs the risk of being less than it could be for at least some of the parties involved, but that’s ok if everyone agrees it’s ok: it can still be good
Is it better to avoid them wherever possible? – Probably.
Is that feasible? – Probably not.
SO, when you do get stuck into a part remote/part present session make sure you realise that it will probably be tougher than you and your client first thought but, that it can still be very successful.
It would be great to hear your opinions and about your thoughts and experiences on what, I am sure, will be an increasingly common phenomenon. Please feel free to reach out to me or comment in the box below