Coaching from the trenches - online vs. onsite workshops

My latest coaching experience with one of my clients revealed to me the major differences between online and onsite workshops.

The organization has been trying to get Scrum working for several years and lately, they experimented with LeSS. I was invited for a few weeks to see how well they are doing and besides a whole bunch of improvement ideas, one thing struck me: The huge difference between having large (15+ people) workshops onsite (physical) compared to online. What were my key observations? In the onsite workshop,

  • the level of overall energy was higher

  • Participants were more engaged, focused, and present

  • Team members who are typically silent were more outspoken

  • When the participants finished discussing a topic they could easily move to another area and contribute to that discussion

  • Participants could see the body language of others

  • Nobody was “be-right-back”

  • Nobody had a plastic bag over their head (equivalent to switching off the camera)

I hear some of you saying, well, the host needs to learn to moderate better. Of course, with more appropriate tools (i.e. not MS Teams with its current limitations in breakout rooms) it could be a bit better, yet the fundamental problem of disengaged participants is not tackled. It is so much easier in an online session to just sit and absorb, being distracted by all the other things happening on your screens. No blaming please, it is human and happened to me as well.


Overall, these observations made it very clear to me how inefficient large online workshops can be. I encourage you to make your own experiments, and observations, and adapt accordingly.

Coaching from the trenches – online vs. onsite workshops
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