2020 is the year we all learned to meet virtually. It took a little adjustment, but we found our way: we were able to strategize, collaborate, learn, explore, facilitate, negotiate, and even dance in online platforms.

At Spring, we had a conversation about this: here’s what our colleagues said about what virtual meetings made possible:

“In a virtual space, I don’t have to come to you, nor you to me. We are each in our own spaces. There is something very equalizing about that.” – Caren

“Being able to simultaneously learn, collaborate and share while hanging out with many incredible humans doing indispensable work around the world.” –Archana

“We bring our whole self to the virtual space.” – Amany

“I can travel across the globe in my pyjamas.” – Mo

“Introverts have an easier time participating. The chat function is perfect, and even when I talk on camera I don’t become the centre of attention like I would during in-person gatherings”. - Zawadi

“Having cats, dogs and children attend our meetings.”  - Gill

“No need to use fossil fuels to attend.” - Nancy 

“Travel from Jakarta, via Nairobi to Mexico City without getting jetlag.” – Marieke

“I don’t have to smell fruity perfumes, and I can invent myself with every new zoom.” – Lucia  

“Being fully at ease in my own space and able to relax and meet others in whatever way they show up” - Amis

“I love that I can rush in, put my headphones on, and say casually “ hi, sorry I’m 2 minutes late” rather than “OMG I totally forgot about this meeting!”  ;-) “ – Caroline

"People in my virtual meetings can get to know me based on the space that I've thoughtfully curated around me. I bring my home into the meeting." - Mirusha

And this story, from Remko:

"I had been working online with this team for months and we had become quite efficient:  being selective about 1-2 topics that REALLY need discussion. When we were finally able to meet in the summer in person, it’s noteworthy how our behaviour translated offline. Almost as if we were still in our little zoom-boxes, we were more disciplined and listened better. People sought depth on the essentials, and then relaxed about the details that used to derail us.

After 3 hours, we had gotten through a programme that would usually take us days. I asked the group. “We have never been so efficient …we should treat ourselves to a break!” So we did. We went to a park and walked together. People laughed and shared. I heard depth. I witnessed play. I experienced appreciation. No facilitation needed at all.

Vaccine or no vaccine, there will be no return to any kind of old facilitation normal, at least not as far as I am concerned. I cannot imagine myself returning to flying around the world, from session to session. Too exhausting and unnecessary. I hope to meet more groups again in person, and when I do, I am going to make sure we preserve that online focus for getting stuff done, so that we can invest more time together in our relationships and experiencing beauty, fresh air, and the uniqueness of every moment together.”

Looking forward to seeing you again virtually in 2021.