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Coaching in a Remote and Hybrid Working Space

Thanks to a turbulent few years for us all, there are fewer – or in fact no moments to catch up in the staff kitchen or at the water cooler. Supporting your remote-working employees through coaching has never been as important as it is right now. 

Coaching has traditionally been carried out face-to-face. This has tangible and intangible benefits. Privacy for the coachee can be guaranteed. It’s intimate enough for body language, however subtle, to be readable. Silence for reflection seems natural.

Now we have Zoom, Teams and other platforms which are readily available and well-known to businesses and their employees. These have created a virtual proximity that has helped reduce the limits of physical distance. One-to-one meetings can happen with a relative air of intimacy and team meetings can take place with fairly sophisticated use of breakout rooms, and white boards for collaboration.  It’s important to extend this so that leaders coach their remote team members using online platforms with the same ease that they have their meetings.

To support leaders to do this, the 4Cs of coaching will enable them to have coaching conversations as well as just great conversations to keep connected.  Let’s remind ourselves of them: 

  • Connecting – This involves making a connection, building trust and rapport with each other. 
  • Contract – The contract part will agree how you will work together, what you want to work on and how and when you will review the actions. 
  • Conversation – This is where the actual conversations will happen. We must create a safe space that enables the coachee to think for themselves, reflect and explore. 
  • Conclusion – The conclusion will gain commitment to action, agreeing the support needed and by when.

When thinking about coaching conversations in-person or online creating psychological safety is critical. The key principle of creating psychological safety is to ensure that people feel comfortable sharing what they are thinking and feeling, asking questions and voicing their opinions without being judged. For one-to-one conversations there is no reason that an online video call cannot still create this feeling. It’s clearly essential that it’s ‘cameras on’ for all calls of this nature. When providing team coaching and helping a group develop in a safe environment, we suggest you create a few ground rules on how members interact with one another, particularly to ensure that each person gets an opportunity to have their say and be listened without fear of being judged or spoken over.  We have virtual break out rooms. They can allow more introverted team members to speak out confidently within smaller groups. 

Physical contact and distance doesn’t have to stand in the way of human to human connection. It’s about what and how you communicate, not physically where you say it.