Delivering social enterprise support during a lockdown

Like many social enterprises Social Enterprise Acumen (SEA) has had to adapt to the current environment to continue to provide its services. The organisation was in a strong position to do so as it moved its IT operations to Microsoft 365 in 2019 so was already using collaborative tools such as SharePoint file sharing and Teams video chat before the Covid-19 lockdown in March. Since then we have continued to use these routinely and have also subscribed to Zoom to increase our capacity and flexibility to work with others. 

Moving forward we believe that we will all increasingly rely upon digital tools to deliver services, and we wanted to share an example of how we have incorporated this approach into working with our customers.

Last week we delivered a social impact measurement workshop with a group of nine participants using Zoom. We began with a short PowerPoint presentation which we shared with all participants using the ‘share screen’ function. This enabled participants to read slides while the facilitator spoke. After an initial group discussion, we split participants into smaller working groups using the ‘breakout room’ function online, and then asked a representative from each group to feedback to all parties. After debating a series of opportunities, we used the ‘poll’ facility to enable participants to vote on their preferred option for moving forward.

We believed that this approach provided the same opportunity for debate and interaction as a face to face meeting would have, but we tested this theory with participants. They too enjoyed the workshop, found the Zoom meeting easy to join and navigate, and were delighted with the chance to see and speak to each other. Moreover, they felt that the digital workshop was an effective use of their time, enabling them to focus and reach consensus on the topic being addressed.

Of course we all enjoy meeting face to face, but we at Social Enterprise Acumen have always embraced the digital tools available to help our organisation to deliver services, and with the positive feedback we have received, we will continue to use these throughout the Covid-19 lockdown and beyond.