The Coronavirus has presented enormous challenges, and the HOPE team is no exception. As we move forward with disseminating the language of HOPE, the logistics of social distancing and travel bans have changed our ways of working and engagement. Our scheduled presentations and workshops throughout the United States during March, April and beyond just won’t happen in-person on time. With the help of our partners, we have made quick adjustments to continue our work virtually. We are rapidly learning about the intricacies of giving presentations, holding workshops, and facilitating breakout groups using online platforms.
So what are some of the challenges of HOPE going virtual?
Technical glitches! Bad internet connections, cameras and/or microphones not working, meeting links not opening; we have experienced them all. Now, with our equipment working and our comfort with distance tools improving, we can look back at this challenge with a sigh of relief.
Kids and pets – Kids want attention? Dogs barking? Whether it is HOPE team members or virtual participants in meetings and workshops, we are all facing the challenges of carrying on with kids and pets in our ‘home offices.’ We need to allow for real life, and try to welcome and accommodate these extra participants.
Missing face to face interaction – Virtual meetings are great, but they just don’t offer the same level of personal interaction as a face to face encounter. With a purely virtual meeting or workshop, we miss out on those side conversations where we have the opportunity to get to know people at a different level.
So how is the HOPE team working to maintain relationships and foster engagement while still heeding the advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?
HOPE team daily check in with video chat – the next best thing to being in the office together. Committing to a daily ‘face to face’ meeting vs. just keeping in touch via email or phone is helping us to maintain a feeling of being connected to and engaged with each other.
Keep reaching out – We are actively trying to maintain regular contact with our partners as well as forging new relationships. We want to keep HOPE moving forward as much as possible and foster connections with people to combat any feelings of isolation or despair.
Recognize the importance of self-care – We encourage each other to take some time for our well-being by getting outside, taking a walk, and reaching out to loved ones.
COVID-19 has changed work and home life for all of us, and we still don’t know when things will return to normal. The HOPE team is determined to be innovative and remain flexible during this unique time to keep moving forward with our important work.