The current pandemic has led to separation from friends, family, work colleagues and clients. Pre-pandemic, our ‘normal’ working week was divided between coaching at our base here in Oxford and travelling, mostly by train, to colleagues and clients in London and across England.
Moving the business online has been a challenge. Our coaching methodology is about the ‘face-to-face’, whether that is with individuals, boards or teams, and creating a space in which they feel safe to explore their anxieties, concerns, ideas and ambitions. However, going online has been transformational for the business and the people we work with, and we’ve been incredibly busy. It seems that the screen has become the new sacred space.
We’re using virtual communication platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, and they’re enabling us to connect with our clients in a different but hugely beneficial way.
Many of the people we work with face arduous daily commutes to and from the office. They might be exhausted before they’ve even sat down at their desk or chaired their first meeting. Take a two-hour commute out of the equation and a client will, most likely, be more energised, receptive and focused. They might find they have more time to build a coaching session in to their working day rather than ‘add it on’ after hours. For us, reduced travel means we can be more nimble in our communications with clients and colleagues. It’s also a tick in the box for sustainable travel – something we value highly.
We always encourage regular breaks during coaching, to keep the energy up and allow time for reflection in between sessions. In the office environment, that break might be a trip to the canteen or a walk around the office car park. At home, our clients can step out into the garden, have a fresh coffee or take a stroll around the neighbourhood; they can relax a little more and that encourages greater openness.
We have also been able to tailor our coaching techniques to suit the new virtual world. In the case of team coaching especially, online meeting platforms have helped to enhance the group experience and give contributors the space to be heard. For example Zoom prevents users from talking over each other, which in turn encourages more focus and listening; on Teams, you are required to patiently ‘raise a hand’ if you want to contribute. These may seem like relatively simplistic tools but they really work when used this context.
Of course we miss the face-to-face with our clients – there really is no replacement for the warmth of a smile, a shared joke or enjoying a fresh pot of tea together as we talk. What lockdown has shown us is that a blend of the in-person and digital coaching might be an exciting new way forward for the business when this crisis passes.
In the meantime, we will carry on helping all our clients to continue to deliver their brilliant services. If you feel we can be of help you, please do contact us, either by email at beBrilliant@ox-exec.com, or by phone on 01865 310320.