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NetSquared London: Human connection in a time of social distancing


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With a catastrophic reduction in the F2F contact many charities are going to have with their beneficiaries over the coming months, the direction towards digital services is a clear route that many will take.

However, as we do this it is essential we take into account the negative impact the lack of F2F will have on beneficiaries and staff members alike.

Designing digital services that meet the need for meaningful human connection should to be a priority for us all.

Led by the team at the relational design studio, Deepr, this interactive workshop will jumpstart a process where we learn and share:
- what we know already about achieving human connection in digital and F2F services
- how we can begin to apply this to the new digital services we're urgently designing and developing
- opportunities for us to work together to embed meaningful human connection in live projects

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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NetSquared London: Human connection in a time of social distancing

  1. 1. Human connection in a time of social distancing Meetup – April 7 2020
  2. 2. Intros Holly Matt Zahra Share slides Sharing Monitoring responses & qns 12.05 / 5: HM
  3. 3. We design services, cultures and systems that optimise for relational wellbeing.* Say * ‘Relational wellbeing’ is a term we use to deal with the ambiguity of ‘human connection’. When we use the term human connection, we’re referring to an interaction of some kind that can result in a benefit to relational wellbeing.
  4. 4. Housekeeping & format Heads up: we're recording! The way we’re working ● In the open ● Radical transparency ● Everything’s in alpha The tools we’re using today: ● Zoom – etiquette (video on, mute audio) ● Google form for responses, thoughts, questions (we'll be responding to it periodically) ● This Google deck (follow along with us)
  5. 5. 1-min Check-in [Stop sharing screen] Warm mugs* ● Please switch your Zoom view to ‘gallery’ (so you can see a grid of people on your screen) ● Raise your mug/cup and hold with both hands (so as to feel the warmth) ● Look around the group. Who’s here? (30 seconds) ● Come back to the mug and the warmth (The End) *If you don’t have a warm mug - don’t worry, simply put your hands together for a firm, warm handshake :-)
  6. 6. The context During this Covid-19 pandemic, many charities are rapidly moving their IRL services into a digital space. 12.10 / 5: MM
  7. 7. The problem There is a risk that the relational benefits of services charities provide will be lost. This can negatively impact on the wellbeing of their beneficiaries.
  8. 8. The opportunity How can we rapidly ensure that charities’ digital services are optimised for relational wellbeing? We’re looking at: ● Services with the primary goal of boosting relational wellbeing (e.g counselling) ● Services those that have different primary goals (e.g giving legal advice) but which might also incidentally boost the relational wellbeing of beneficiaries.
  9. 9. Heads Up We're funded by Catalyst to do this work, including supporting charities as they develop digital services. Please drop us a line if you would like our support at We're also keen to work with designers and other digital professionals as we do this. We want to pool the wisdom & insight of the sector, then codify it into something actionable.
  10. 10. Why we are all here We’re here to: ● Start a process where we design in public (and in real time, with you, if you’re willing) ● Share with you our current learning (and hear your responses, challenges and insights) ● Get an understanding of the problems charities are facing in terms of relational wellbeing (and see if we can help) ● Leave you with three tools you can apply tomorrow (if you choose to) ● Why are you here?
  11. 11. Let’s warm up We’ll pop you into groups of 5 in a mo. Introduce yourself and share your answer to this question: How has Covid-19 impacted your sense of human connection? We’ll have 10 mins to do this - so you have 2 minutes each 12.20 / 10 MM
  12. 12. Exercise 1: Human connection in services Reflect on the following questions. ● What tech for good services successfully develop human connection? ● How specifically do they do that? Go to this Google form & type down your responses. Take 3 minutes to do this. 12.30 / 5 MM
  13. 13. Exercise 1: Human connection in services Let’s hear from Zahra. What came up in the form? 12.35 / 5 ZD
  14. 14. The background to this work Time for Matt to share… Please pop your comments, thoughts & questions into the Zoom chat :) 12.45 / 10 MM
  15. 15. ● Dr Susan Pinker - The Village Effect ● Human connection = physical + mental wellbeing
  16. 16. ● Acknowledged equality ● Autonomy with responsibility ● High degree of presence / system 2 attention
  17. 17. Imagine for a moment... ..all the smiles, all the chit chat, all the cups of tea and all the biscuits. All the relational wellbeing developed every day by almost 200k charities in the UK The tap has been turned off
  18. 18. Our nuggets thus far Some very early findings of some things we’ve found that promote relational wellbeing. We’re going to try a few out in a mo… Just so that this has been said: - Speak to your users about their needs - Prototype the smallest version of your service with your users at each stage (even each component of the service) - Make changes based upon your learning 13.00 / 5 MM
  19. 19. Top down. Bottom up. Two approaches to developing relational wellbeing within services: 1. Top down - from our rational, mammalian brain. (e.g. two way feedback in services gives a high degree of equality to an interaction) 1. Bottom up - from our nervous system bringing visceral, physiological reactions in people. (e.g. holding a warm mug of tea)
  20. 20. Our nuggets so far ● Physical warmth & touch by proxy (hot drink, self-hug, hand on heart, eye gazing, hand holding, mutual silence) ● Synchronous activity (singing, dancing, clapping and breathing together in synch) ● Asynchronous human connection (voice messages, reciprocity, tone of voice, meeting expectations, real names / faces) ● Managed vulnerability (the right level of sharing, radical transparency,
  21. 21. Bonus nuggets ● Peer Power (Engaging your beneficiaries as peers with you and with other beneficiaries - e.g. Groundforce and Enrol Yourself) ● Connection starts with you (Your internal culture will manifest with your beneficiaries. Take time to develop that with whole person check-ins and 3 Golden Rules)
  22. 22. Our nuggets so far 3
  23. 23. Nugget Feedback ● What came up on the Zoom chat? 13.05 / 5 ZD
  24. 24. Let’s try two… Holly to demo, everyone to follow Stop screen share
  25. 25. Self-hug Holly to demo, everyone to follow
  26. 26. Self-hug Thumbs up, thumbs down? How did that feel for you? [Matt screengrab]
  27. 27. Synchronous breathing Holly to demo, everyone to follow
  28. 28. Breathing together Thumbs up, thumbs down? How did that feel for you? [Matt screengrab]
  29. 29. Exercise 2: Individual reflection & response What have we missed? What have you come here to learn or share that you haven't? What are your needs? What's happening in your world right now that could benefit from this work? What are the problems you're interested and exploring? What issues to you foresee? What are the challenges & barriers in your work to building more human connection into digital services? 13.10 / 5 MM
  30. 30. Exercise 2 Please enter your responses in this Google form You’ll have 5 minutes to do this.
  31. 31. Exercise 2 What came up on the form?.
  32. 32. Key takeaways Here are some meaningful first steps to act on from tomorrow. 1. Whole person check-ins (with colleagues, with beneficiaries) 1. Silence in a digital space emphasises a sense of togetherness. 1. When sharing information via a web tool, consider leaving voice notes as well as text. Low fidelity is fine. 13.25 / 2 MM
  33. 33. Get in touch if ● You work for a charity and need our help ● You are a designer or digital professional and want to collaborate ● You want to attend some of our Catalyst training on human connection in remote working charities Please let us know using the same Google form ● More of us will report back in 14 days (priming / vagus) ● We’ll now break you into your groups in case you want to follow up there for around 20 mins 13.27 / 3 MM
  34. 34. Thank you _🙏🏽_ Meetup – April 7 2020