The forced moving of meetings online has had profound implications for millions of people and businesses in the UK and worldwide. It seems likely that the coming weeks will see myriad discussions and negotiations between bosses and staff about a ‘return to the office’.
Family mediators too are beginning to ponder what lasting impact the pandemic’s forced changes in working habits will have on the profession in years to come.
Zoom’s removal of geographical barriers has had a significant impact on family mediators who suddenly found themselves able to conduct mediations with people who live miles away, and miles apart from each other.
There are of course downsides: the inability to properly read clients’ body language is one, as is the knowledge that other family members may be somewhere in the background during the meeting.
To what degree family mediation professionals return to routine face-to-face meetings with clients remains to be seen.
The role of video conference meetings has affected other areas of mediators’ work too. NFM quickly moved its continuing professional development (CPD) and training online. Mediators are now able to ‘tune in’ for online CPD webinars and take-up of our courses has rocketed in recent months.
When you stand back and think of it, it’s obvious, really – and perhaps should have been all along: no battling through traffic or train delays for hours, with all the expense that entails, to attend an event; just log on and meet.
Sharing best practice has become easier in many ways, and NFM’s monthly Support Webinars, covering different topics of interest to professionals have proved popular. They have helped mediators feel that the challenges they face are common to others too, and that a Zoom discussion can generate good ideas, leading to improved professional practice.
And of course the now-broken geographical barriers aren’t limited to our own country. International collaboration and sharing of best practice has become simpler to achieve. And that’s why I am excited by a free online event taking place on Thursday 10 June which NFM is co-ordinating here. It will bring together mediators from the USA, UK and Ukraine to see, through role-play situations, how practice in mediating financial issues differs. This will enable participants to relate their own practice to that of fellow professionals overseas, and take part in a discussion session about what they learn.
Any family mediation professional interested in registering for this free event and receiving Zoom joining instructions is invited to email TrainingSupport@nfm.org.uk