Business as usual often looks very different these days. The persistent presence of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses to confront new challenges and come up with innovative solutions in order to run a successful, profitable business while managing the health and safety of employees, contractors, clients, and others. Fortunately, advances in technology have made it easier than ever to conduct business in a safe, virtual space. Business can be conducted collaboratively, bringing multiple parties together on a virtual platform, while everyone remains physically distanced. In fact, many businesses have turned to virtual mediation to resolve business disputes over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Virtual Mediation During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Mediation uses the services of a neutral third party to help facilitate disputing parties in reaching a mutually acceptable agreement and resolution to designated issues. It can be both an effective and efficient way to resolve disputes. It is particularly favored as a means to avoid costly, time-consuming, and stressful litigation. This is not to mention the fact that mediation puts parties in a win-win position as opposed to a win-lose position. Furthermore, parties are given more control over the process and the resolution when they turn to mediation as opposed to battling it out in a courtroom.
During COVID-19, conducting business may have changed and evolved, but business disputes still arise. If anything, the pandemic has put a strain on business relationships on a number of levels which has led to new disputes arising. The difficulty then lies in how to resolve these disputes in an effective and efficient manner while balancing the social distancing and safety concerns of all parties involved. This is where virtual mediation has stepped in.
Virtual, or digital, mediation brings traditional mediation to an online forum. The mediator and disputing parties are connected via a secure and private online conferencing platform. While everyone may not be in-person, it still brings parties safely face to face through the online conferencing platform. Skilled mediators can continue to draw on their skills of reading people’s mannerisms and facial expressions through the online platform and assist in guiding the parties to a mutually agreeable resolution of the dispute at hand. All of this can be accomplished without the parties ever having to meet in the same room. This makes virtual mediation more convenient and considerate of everyone’s varying comfort levels during COVID-19 times.
Online conferencing platforms continue to develop and have many helpful features. Not only can the disputing parties and the mediator conference altogether, but the mediator can hold private breakout sessions with each party as well. Additionally, some conferencing platforms also allow for legal documents and agreements to be electronically signed. This means that the parties can not only reach an agreement through virtual mediation but that the agreement can be signed by all parties as well.