Human Interactions of Today
September 16, 20204 min read

Human Interactions of Today

New times, new rules.

Written by Dídia Gabriel

We have undergone an unexplainable and unexpectable amount of change in our daily routines. That’s a fact, we’ve heard, read and felt first-hand in the recent months. Amidst all the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, lies a “routine” which must remain active despite the new circumstances – interacting with others.

Having physical encounters been reduced to a bare minimum, moments of interaction have seen a new light. In our personal lives, dinner with friends have required new models in how we greet each other and how many people sit together at table. Such moments have required us, as friends and family, to adapt intrinsic and natural behaviours like hugging.

In a professional context, routine knowledge sharing, and celebratory interactions have also been adapted to the its sole stage – digital. Adaption, however, isn’t just about removing ingredients from the original recipe – it’s creating meaningful, context-based moments that take into consideration new key factors:

  • Attention-span: remote work has brought us all even closer to our screens – from social media, emails, professional and personal chats to online shopping, etc. The options are endless and create infinite distractions for all users.

Events should follow strict time boxes – 1 hour and a half max. (recommended) – and include different dynamics.

  • Availability: logistics have been drastically reduced because we are no longer hassling to the office every morning or getting stuck in traffic for long hours. Tuning in to a session is literally a click away.

Participation has increased drastically in a remote context – participants are more prone to attend events (bear in mind – good content is still a must).

  • Interaction: creating connections in corporate events has always been a walk in the park – either because we share the same ecosystem, role or project – or because a few drinks always help. When placing a screen in between participants interactions require planning and structure.

Virtual doesn’t mean interactions are dead, they just need to be more creative.

While bearing in mind the key factors above, the way in which virtual interactions come to life and are made usual in our ecosystem must respond to the clear changes in format, logistics and analytics:

Format

Introducing diversity in digital moments helps keep participants interested. Different slots bring different behaviours and promote interaction.

  • Icebreakers: With the lack of corridor chit-chat, we’ve lost some opportunities to get to know each other and create network. Use this moment to get people talking, generate laughter and create a comfortable setting. We’re all in this new reality together, let’s try to make it work.
    • Examples: Pick an image (popular, controversial etc.) ask participants to create their own caption and then open a voting session, use Mural. Discussion and laughter guaranteed.
  • Pitch: We’ve still got a lot to learn from each other and listening to others has never been so easy (literally a click away). Grab subject matter experts and create moments of clear knowledge sharing.
  • Discuss: Bring diverse thinking to the table – you will certainly have different opinions within your team: pick a hot topic and let the magic happens.
  • Teambuilding activities: Activities that reinforce team spirit have been around for years and their relevance remains of the utmost importance.
    • Examples: Showcooking – pick an easy recipe and create the same drink or appetizer together – include your own secret ingredient and tell others about its function in the recipe;
      Through an object – ask participants to bring an object that says something about themselves, (e.g) their favourite musical instruments, or a favourite book – you’ll be surprised about how much and how easily you can learn about your team.

Logistics

Planning transportation, picking the best coffee breaks and venues in town have been removed from our to-do list. However, there are still a few things to guarantee:

  • Tools: Depending on the format selected one option may be preferred versus another:
    • Microsoft Teams Live Event: One-to-many communications broadcast video and meeting content to large online audiences.
    • ZOOM: Interactive sessions for icebreakers, discussion and teambuilding activities
    • Mural: Easy to use! Online Virtual Collaboration Space, Designed for Teams. You can Post Stickies, Share Ideas, Brainstorming
  • Connectivity: While you can’t control everyone’s internet connection, schedule dry-runs to guarantee speakers and hosts’ connectivity is the best possible.

Analytics

Measuring the impact an event had on participants has always been crucial. Interestingly, knowing how many participants attended, receiving feedback and recommendations for future sessions, etc, has never been so easy.

  • Attendance: Exact number of active participants per session in real-time through participation engagement reports available on the platforms referenced above.
  • Feedback: In-context, in-the-moment feedback is powerful. For example, ZOOM gives participants the power to, without leaving the app, share their thoughts through pools.

While the way we interact has changed, whether these moments take place or not is unquestionable. As social creatures the sharing of knowledge, experiences and beliefs come as common nature and should therefore be treated as such.

However, promoting these gatherings in the different aspects of our lives needs to consider the new normal – a term we have become familiar with in recent months. And while believing virtual brings endless opportunities, in my opinion, the new normal must include a balance between the two because the power of eye-contact and body language are undeniable.