Aug 4, 2020
Recent years have seen a gentle increase in people working, learning, and communicating remotely. Now, unsurprisingly with the current COVID-19 pandemic, online coaching has been pushed into the spotlight. Due to standard face-to-face coaching having become impossible or impractical while restrictions were imposed in many of the worst affected countries, more and more coaches have been pushed to find opportunities to maintain their coaching work in an online setting.
This crisis has triggered an increased need for professional services such as coaching and mental health professionals. People are looking for external help to find tools and techniques to reduce stress and increase resiliency; they are looking for coaches to help process and make sense of what is going on at this time, to help them get unstuck and to move out of a fixed mindset they may currently have.
People are also questioning purpose and meaning as a result of the crisis and look for someone to help them learn reflectively about themselves. For some, it has also been the opportunity to make major work or life changes and coaches are often the most efficient way of removing old habits hard-wired into the brain and to identify our needs and put what we want into action.
The fact is that online coaching has been around for well over a decade and it’s perceived benefits have been in numerous articles even before the start of the pandemic. Those that have been noted, even in previous online coaching articles on this website include:
So, in light of all this, why has online coaching not caught on in the same way as online learning has. The truth remains that there are still a number of blocking points. One obvious important requirement is the need for coaches to have enhanced their technical capabilities, to learn how to maintain empathy whilst working ethically and in a goal and solution oriented manner in this virtual space.
However, the probable main cause for the slow evolution of this area if coaching is down to the coaching community themselves. In basic terms, the majority of coaches have a much greater preference still for face to face coaching over online coaching. One of the main researchers in this field of online coaching, Dr. Harald Geißler, notes that in a 2015 German survey of 450 coaches showed that an overwhelming 85% of respondents stated that they preferred face to face or “presence” coaching. In fact, only 7% preferred telephone coaching and less still those that used video systems.
One of the main reasons that have been given for this state of affairs in the past is that any form of online coaching suffers from “limited interpersonal proximity” where the coach and client lack the ability of “complex feedback and mirroring” and which creates a negative impact to the coaching process. However, research on this topic does not really appear to back up this preconception. In fact, “attachment experience has less influence on the coaching outcome than the task and goal aspect of the partnership”. The more likely reality is that we (both coach and client) are currently more familiar with the face to face environment, although recent months has changed that for large swathes of the population, and that the reluctance to embrace online coaching more is down the frictions caused when using these technical tools that can frustrate and create anxiety in equal measures at times.
Increased comfort of technology forced upon both coach and client during the coronavirus period may help to negate the hard-wired preconception by coaches and coachees that face to face coaching is the ultimate and only truly effective method of receiving and delivering good coaching. In fact, anecdotal evidence has shown that Covid-19 is forcing us all to become more digitally aware and this in turn may lead to shifts in thinking when indeed we do return to the “new normal”. As coachees become more comfortable in these new digital environments, it may lead to an uptick in demand for the reasons outlined earlier in the article. Coaches will no doubt need to develop their technical skills but also be able to adapt their coaching style when appropriate to adapt to this new medium
There is also a fact that market forces may soon force coaches to become more tech-savvy and involved in being able to provide their coaching services online. The truth is that there continues to be an ever-increasing demand for personal coaching services, for example, the US has seen a 6.7% increase year on year currently.
Here at Outplace Yourself we have been looking to reimagine online coaching even before the current crisis. As part of the arsenal of tools provided by our coaches during the career coaching program, we have created a collaborative platform between coach and coachee (a virtual workgroup if you will) where both parties are able to communicate both “online” & “offline” which not only allows for a dialogue to continue before and after each session but also gives the client more time to reflect and aide in building a forward momentum to each coaching journey.
The use of a coaching platform also allows for the integration of tools other than just video communication, including instant chat, screen sharing, and access to a wide library of coaching resources which can help in enhancing the collaboration between both coach and client.
Of course, the skill of each coach to guide someone through to their desired objective remains the primary factor for ensuring a successful partnership between the parties involved but this new technical environment can provide fresh inputs to the guided journey.
If you have been looking for coaching over this period and would like to investigate get more information, why not book a free 30-minute Discovery Call with one of our certified career coaches who will be able to answer any questions you may have and to suggest the tailored program that would be suitable for your needs
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