Traditional workshops require all participants to be in the same room. But the digital transformation is changing the way we work. Employees work from different locations and companies prefer to avoid having them travel to the main office for every meeting or workshop. Business trips come at a high price and often have a negative impact on the environment.
One solution is to hold workshops in the digital world, so that anyone, anywhere, can join them and participate to the discussion. This way, multiple teams and employees working from home can take part together in a workshop and contribute their ideas and inputs.
Thanks to the digital transformation of meeting rooms and individual workplaces, the scenario for effective digital workshops is becoming more and more realistic. The advantages of digital workshops are: to bridge geographical distances and make all contents digitally available anytime.
One of the best technologies for the digitization of workshops is the Microsoft Surface Hub, increasingly found in modern meeting rooms.
In-Person Workshops – Irresistibly simple, but limited
Workshops are often conducted with the aid of a printed template, depending on the chosen method, which is hung on a wall. The participants, guided by the moderator, add their ideas and comments to it on sticky notes or pieces of paper. The moderator groups the ideas and makes sure that everybody understands them. Conducting a workshop in this classic, analog way has numerous advantages and disadvantages.
The main advantage of in-person workshops is that all participants understand and can implement the working method right away. The disadvantage is that once the outcomes are taken off the wall, they are not dynamically available. Often, the results are photographed and shared as images to continue working on them. Holding a workshop in this analog way with participants connected remotely is very complicated and requires a creative video and audio conferencing setup.
Figure 1 – Example of an in-person Value Proposition workshop – Image: Michael Görög
Digital Workshops – Success with a pragmatic implementation
Conducting the same workshop on a digital board such as the Surface Hub introduces a few hurdles to clear, but also a large number of advantages.
The main obstacle is that moderator and participants need to learn how to conduct each separate stage of the workshop with the digital tools. This problem is drastically reduced by using the Surface Hub and software with a natural user interface. The participants do not need to master complex software or hardware. They can interact with a digital sticky note in the exact same way they would with a physical one.
Since everything happens digitally, teams and participants can connect and contribute ideas to the same workshop canvas from different locations. With a simultaneous videoconference, remotely connected employees are closer to each other and can easily communicate. Thanks to high-resolution cameras, the moderator has a good overview of the participants and how actively they participate to the workshop.
Figure 2 – Example of a digital Value Proposition Workshop on Surface Hub with CollaBoard – Image: Michael Görög
Advantages of Using a large touchscreen for Digital Workshops
The digital transformation of meeting rooms leads to the replacement of traditional tools such as telephone, flipchart, sticky notes and projector with large touchscreens and integrated video and audio conferencing systems. The number of touchscreens designed for modern meeting rooms has increased tenfold over the last 12 months. We tried many of them and concluded that the Surface Hub offers by far the best user experience and haptics.
With it, the Surface Hub offers a key advantage over other devices. The user acceptance is strongly improved by the natural, intuitive interaction with hardware and software. By that means, the likelihood that the Surface Hub will be more and more used for digital workshops increases.
Figure 3 – Business Model Canvas workshop on Surface Hub with CollaBoard. Image: Michael Görög
Can Remote Sessions Compete with In-Person Contact?
One thing is for sure: with the technology currently available we cannot recreate the same atmosphere of an in-person workshop with a digital one. But the opportunities of achieving equally good results with a digital workshop will continue to increase with new technologies such as the Surface Hub and other inking and touch devices. In the end, the numerous advantages offered by the digital world will prevail, and more and more workshops will be held digitally in modern meeting rooms