As a consultant that has often been required to host sessions for candidates outside of South Africa, I have historically not enjoyed online encounters. Particularly when it comes to conducting simulations (or otherwise known as role-plays), I always prefer observing the candidate’s body language in reality.
However, Covid pushed many Consultants and Health Care providers into an alternate reality in offering sessions online. After having little to no choice during our heavier lockdowns, we were all forced to adapt – and results have been varying. Some businesses (Holistan included) have embraced the many positives of having a more remote business. Time and cost spent traveling to client’s sites and our own business premise has been minimised; overheads have been drastically reduced by working from home; more flexibility can be offered PLUS we have developed more of an appetite to accommodate international clients means we have been able to scale our business globally.
Barbara Kugal, a Registered Psychometrist in Johannesburg, has expressed many positives during the New Normal. Given that the assessment process has become increasingly digital, exact details, consent forms and sending links leaves little room for misinterpretation – and also minimises a mammoth paper-trail. She states, “With proper planning, the online process is relatively easy and straight forward… Online assessments do feel different, but with training, the same quality feedback can be received and given”.
Sindy Bartlett, an Industrial Psychologist based in Centurion, cautions that it can be a hurdle to build a connection with the person you are working with. Barlett expresses “Given that you can't make eye contact, it may be difficult to read body language and background noise also has an impact”. Therapists and consultants are encouraged to communicate a brief to their candidate or patient, prior to their sessions, to ensure everything runs smoothly.
The candidate’s or patient’s experience has also been mixed. Obviously, the biggest challenge of having a session at home, especially if one is part of a family (who may be the very topics of discussion in therapy), means it may be difficult to find a completely private spot. Load-shedding may also be disruptive, alongside young children who may need attention.
The positives, however, are that many clients may not feel as uncomfortable in a therapeutic or assessment environment. Being able to engage in sessions in the comfort of one’s own home may give one the added advantage of remaining calm during a test, or to present a more authentic version of oneself during the therapeutic alliance.
“Online coaching provides an opportunity to meet safely, without having to wear masks or other protective gear”, according to Helena Nel, an Industrial Psychologist from the Northern Cape.
Here are some tips to ensure your online sessions work for you – and your client:
What further advice can you offer to support your peers?
Written by, Marzenna Almendro (Registered Psychometrist, Licenced Coach, Author, Entrepreneur and Thought Leader).
Our contributors collectively boast a wealth of experience in assessments, HR, organisational development, change management and more!