Working online has many financial and practical advantages
Online mediation is not new, some have been practising this way for many years. What has changed is that the Covid experience has accustomed so many more people to doing business and socialising online and realising that they too can work and play remotely. Not only is it more acceptable but mediating online can have some definite advantages over meeting face to face. First, it saves costs and time, eliminating the need to travel and enabling the process to take place from whatever location is most convenient. Some have even been known to engage in mediation from their car, though this is not to be encouraged! It can also be more flexible and efficient because working on-line discourages time-wasting and saves energy.
Available platforms allow use of separate ‘rooms’ enabling private caucuses to take place in complete confidence as well as group meetings when all parties are present. Moving from one to another is easily done and it is also possible to draft an agreement collectively on-line.
In some mediations the nature of the existing conflict can discourage some from entering the same room as their opposite number and this can prevent mediation taking place. To a large extent this anxiety can be reduced by using an on-line process.
The principal point is that this is an extremely attractive alternative. It does not replace traditional meetings in person, and some will always prefer that way of working. What it provides is greater choice for all concerned.
Working remotely can also be a highly effective way to mediate
There are a number of factors that will make a difference to the effectiveness of an on-line meditation.
The first and most basic is to ensure that all parties have a decent wi-fi connection. Secondly there is a variety of platforms to use. The most user-friendly for mediation is probably Zoom but others are WebEx, Skype, Teams, Facetime and House Party.
Some also advise that if there are a number of participants on each side that it works best if each individual use their own screen and do not all appear together around the table. This will operate to reduce the concern that some have that working on-line reduces the ability to communicate non-verbally, which can be important in many mediations.
Key points for an online mediation
- Get the lighting right, your face should be well lit. Light should be in front of you and behind or above the screen
- Have an additional means to communicate on hand in the event of an interruption to the internet.
- Make sure, when working from home, that you will not be disturbed.
- Take regular breaks, it reduces tension and relaxes the parties.
- Ensure you are familiar with whatever platform you choose