I delivered some workshops this week on accessible ways of working and how to put these in to practice long term in a virtual and face to face setting.
It was interesting, as when scene setting I was asked to focus more on virtual ways of working; particularly as there’s no guarantee everyone will return to their place of work and if they will there’s certainly no set date.
The learnings and advice shared was very well received, however the interesting thing was that some people expressed concern with regards how they can ensure they are inclusive in a face to face setting, as they would have developed some “bad habits”. In fact they aren’t bad habit, just different ways of working which have been effective in a virtual world. For instance, being out of the habit of facing people when speaking to them, which will create barriers for anyone who relies on lip reading. Ultimately, being aware of this is the first step to ensuring continued inclusion.
There were also people in each workshop who joined the organisation during lockdown and so have never been on site or met their peers face to face. For some the thought of doing so was welcomed and for others it was daunting, as they wouldn’t know their way around or some ways of working and would effectively feel like day one all over again.
There were concerns raised with regards returning to site without sufficient seating or facilities. One attendee shared they had visited site and wasn’t sure how they would be able to hold their planned and advertised learning sessions as the rooms available no longer catered for the required numbers. They also shared that the equipment had changed and wasn’t consistent across all rooms, therefore as someone not confident with different technology, they were concerned this could reflect badly on them.
What a great point to raise! Even when we discuss accessibility, so many people only think about how they can do things differently to enable other people, we often forget that we also need to be enabled ourselves. In that instance, some proactive communication shared on room capacity and easy to use guidelines in each room (also available digitally) would remove the concerns and instil far more confidence in being back in the physical room.
I don’t really like to use the word normal, so to me when lockdown lifts there’s not a new normal, there’s a new real life. The past year has seemed pretty surreal and no doubt there will be legacy remaining, not all of it negative, and therefore as restrictions are lifted and people can be more confident about managing their health, I say we are going in to new real life. Let’s make it an enjoyable and productive place to be, by taking steps to include everyone and also remembering to consider and share our own needs.
I hope your current and new real lives treat you well.