NIDA Corporate tackles the challenges of the virtual workplace.
We are living in a new virtual frame, says NIDA Corporate Course Manager Nina Allinson. In recent months, NIDA Corporate has been delivering screen-based communication training to companies in the human resources and legal sectors to assist them in overcoming unique COVID challenges.
Recently, the NSW and Victorian bar associations both held interactive training sessions with NIDA Corporate to help barristers adapt to virtual hearings in the courts after COVID-19 hit Australia in March. The NSW Bar was first with a two-hour workshop, while Victorian barristers also tapped into NIDA Corporate's expertise.
Sydney barrister Michael McHugh, SC, the senior vice-president of the NSW Bar Association, said it was crucial to engage individually with each person in court. The NIDA Corporate session covered a range of skills essential for communicating online from vocal and breathing exercises to lighting, head position and minimising background distractions. Even a torch on a mobile phone could be used to improve lighting.
Victorian barrister Kat Brazenor has appeared remotely in cases in the Supreme and Federal courts, and when acting for the state of Victoria in the bushfire royal commission. She said the workshop helped make barristers ‘acutely aware of the fact that we are now operating in a much more condensed field of view’.
There was ‘great value’ in learning from actors, who were ‘completely well-versed in being able to play to this small square’ on screen, she said recently in the Sydney Morning Herald.
New challenges in team management
For many the initial novelty of working from home has worn off. Managers are beginning to report challenges in maintaining staff motivation in a virtual environment where contact is occurring primarily over a screen.
‘Clients are approaching us and letting us know that their teams are feeling alienated online, and that they need help changing the way they approach engagement and connection,’ Nina Allinson told HRD Magazine.
To this end, NIDA Corporate has designed new courses specifically for leaders overseeing an online workforce.
‘Actors are very comfortable appearing on camera and using screen-based technology,’ said Nina. ‘But these are skills that can be taught to non-actors as well, and brought into the business world with great results. They can enable more productive conversations, or be leveraged to make employees feel more valued, for example – whatever the situation requires.’
NIDA Corporate’s new courses have been specially reworked to accommodate the unique circumstances of the moment.
‘Our courses are based on NIDA’s acting techniques, reframed for the business world,’ said Nina. ‘Adaptability is obviously one of the big considerations at the moment. Once the core techniques are taught, it’s an opportunity to leverage them further in the workplace to get communication flowing and keep staff connected.’
‘Communication is something we do every day, but it’s not always something we actively consider on a conscious level,’ said Nina. ‘Remote working is making many leaders think about their own communication style, and its intent versus its outcome.’
‘Enhancing interpersonal skills by keeping communication alive and well is critical to that process,’ said Nina. ‘If morale and motivation aren’t there, you can’t push the business forward.’
For more information on NIDA Corporate face-to-face and online courses, please visit nida.edu.au/corporate