Online dispute resolution from the mediation experts.
There are few industries that have remained untouched by digitisation, and the field of dispute resolution is no exception. Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) is being used to resolve a variety of civil and community cases – and it is proving to be a useful tool in workplace settings too.
TCM Online offers your employees a choice about how best to resolve their differences. If they are working remotely, or if they would prefer not to meet face to face, TCM Online offers the benefit of a highly effective mediation model with the parties safely ensconced in their own office or house.
TCM’s mediation team used used to be sceptical about online mediation. However, now that we have seen it work, we recognise that it is an important addition to our portfolio of dispute resolution services.
TCM Online is flexible and highly effective.
Sometimes, it simply isn’t possible to get all the parties involved in a dispute in the same place at the same time. In an increasingly global business climate, teams are frequently dispersed across continents. Managers may be leading people they only get to meet once or twice a year – and team members may never have met each other at all.
Virtual project teams, which bring together specialists from around the world to develop new products or services or tackle a business challenge, are also increasingly becoming a feature of working life. Of course it may just be that a workplace dispute involves extremely busy people who are finding it difficult to co-ordinate diaries or free themselves up for mediation during normal working hours.
On-line mediation can also be helpful in highly charged, emotional situations. If an allegation of sexual harassment has been made, for example, the victim may feel intimidated by the perpetrator and reluctant to sit in the same room. The same situation can apply in cases of bullying, particularly if the perpetrator is more senior and there is a power dynamic at play.
Putting the parties in complete control of the process
A mediation conducted in the virtual space can help to put people at their ease, speed up the resolution process and when facilitated professionally, can achieve the same results as a face-to-face mediation. Online mediation can act as a precursor to a face to face mediation meeting. As illustrated in the examples above, it takes time fo the parties to become confident to meet. Online mediation can be an important part of building that confidence.
Key benefits of online mediation include:
- Faster resolution – it is often possible to get parties together more quickly on-line than it would be face to face, meaning that cases can be resolved speedily and participants can get back to their jobs.
- Cost effective approach – no need for expensive travel, accommodation or venue booking costs.
- More comfortable environment for cases where individuals are feeling vulnerable or stressed. The virtual environment can help to level the playing field and reduce animosity.
- Global reach – individuals based anywhere in the world can be brought together.
It’s still FAIR Mediation, only it’s done online.
An online mediation works in exactly the same way as TCM’s FAIR Mediation Model™. The main difference is that the parties are brought together in a virtual environment, most commonly a Zoom meeting.
There is no need for complicated equipment or technical expertise. The facilitator sets the meeting up and all the parties need to do is log in via a computer or mobile device.
Participants can be put into virtual breakout rooms so that the facilitator can brief them individually, or to enable them to have a private conversation with a Trade Union rep or supporter, if the involvement of other parties has been previously agreed.
It is also possible to share screens and annotate documents if necessary during the process. Blended mediations, where the process begins in the virtual space and continues at a later date face to face can also work well in some cases.
Q. Surely it is better for people to meet face to face rather than online?
A. That’s a great question and one that we ask ourselves a lot. However, we have found that online mediation meetings are at least as good as face to face mediation. In some cases, they are even better than face to face because the parties know that they are in complete control of the process – they can literally pull the plug at any time. This is important in more serious allegations such as harassment or discrimination.
Q. How can you ensure conversations and documents shared in the virtual space remain confidential?
A. All parties sign the TCM Agreement to Mediate form before mediation commences. This binds them to the same levels of confidentiality that are an accepted norm in all other forms of mediation
Q. How widely is online mediation being used in a workplace context?
It is still early days, however, we are seeing more and more organisations showing an interest in TCM Online. Online mediations account for less than 10% of all mediations that we undertake at TCM – but we expect that figure to increase rapidly in the next 12 months.
Q. How much does online mediation cost?
The fees are the same for our face to face mediation services – starting at £1,495 per case. Discounts are available for not for profit bodies.
Managing Conflict. A practical guide to resolution in the workplace (Kogan Page/CIPD)
David Liddle’s new book, Managing Conflict (CIPD/Kogan Page), provides a detailed overview of the mediation process. It includes numerous toolkits and checklists to help you embed mediation into your organisation. It also includes case studies from Tesco, Arcadia Group, The Metropolitan Police, Capgemini and many, many others.
‘Managing Conflict is a well-structured and hugely practical insight into understanding, preventing and resolving workplace issues. From understanding mediation to positive psychology, David covers relevant topics in a thorough and accessible style, completing the book with an invaluable resource section.’ David D’Souza, Head of Engagement and London for CIPD, Experienced HR/OD/Change leader
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