The COVID-19 crisis has turned the way of working upside down. Home office instead of open-plan office, couch instead of ergonomic office chair, cosy family breakfast instead of daily commuter traffic jam.

We coaches and trainers are also strongly affected: How can one conduct a training, a workshop without meeting other participants in a suitable room? Does my business even have a future?

One group still prefers face-to-face events in which one can sense the right atmosphere between the participants and react very specifically to certain sensitivities. Others have discovered online training as the right way to keep in business and do not want stop working with zoom and other tools. A third group is undecided and does not know where the journey will go.

A new future?

In mid-March 2020 I had a wonderful workshop day in Berlin with five colleagues and over 80 participants. Filled with the overwhelming results I returned to Munich and only one day later all possible opportunities came to a full stop. And with that also the hope to hold this kind of workshops again in the near future.

What to do? What does my professional future look like? I had to react, renew myself a bit, take new paths. The first private zoom sessions followed and I learned how effective and energetic such meetings can be, even in virtual space. The function of break-out rooms gave me new ideas. I got to know tools like Mural or Miro and suddenly a new world of possibilities opened up.

New chances

It didn’t take long before I got the chance to help shape a series of coaching sessions and workshops as a facilitator. Together with a colleague, I was the Remote Innovation Coach at a digital one-day design thinking workshop, as a Remote Facilitator I accompanied several one-day seminars to train as a Systemic Coach and I was host and facilitator of several zoom meetings with up to 60 participants.

In the beginning I was more than sceptical, especially concerning the commitment of the participants. What about the attention of the participants? How many breaks must there be? Are longer online workshops perhaps an obstacle to a sustainable transfer of knowledge? What prerequisites and preparations are necessary? There was a lot to learn and experience, but already now I can say: This will be the future. At least for me. So here are my three insights for all coaches and trainers.

What conclusions do I draw from this?

My first conclusion: It works. Much better than expected and in some aspects even more intensive, effective and focused than in real life. Of course it depends on the tools used (here, less is not necessarily more, but a lot can be done with few but extremely helpful applications).

My second insight is that even participants with strong reservations can be taken on board quickly and fully, it is important to get everyone on board patiently, then the fears melt like the first ice cream after the lockdown.

And aha-exclamation number three: It’s better when you’re two. The dream couple in digital space is called coach/trainer and remote facilitator. While the one mediates and coaches, the other ensures the smooth running and sustainable use of the tools used. This allows everyone to focus on their own area of expertise and the participants can concentrate on their input. It is best to alternate between trainer and facilitator, which gives each workshop the necessary salt.

All in all, it can be said that the new framework conditions open up new possibilities. Where only a short time ago there was a state of shock, new possibilities are now open. They open up completely new worlds, both for coaches and trainers and for the participants.

What are your experiences? Describe your experiences in times of Corona as a coach and trainer. I am curious about your views and look forward to the exchange.

Your Armin Schobloch

P.S.: What you should consider, which hurdles can get in the way and which tools help, I will explain in the next days.