The first crack of breaking chocolate. The scent of a roasted cocoa bean. And then pinning the flavours you taste on a flavour wheel with 18 other people… is not what most people are expecting when they join an online event.

The global shutdown has most businesses and event organisers scrambling to make their events ‘virtual’. Every meeting is a Zoom call and conferences all converted to a plethora of free webinars. But simply recreating what we used to do in the physical world is a recipe for boredom.

We couldn’t meet our favourite clients face-to-face over dinner and we couldn’t stroll down to Honest Chocolate for an after-lunch hot chocolate. So, we brought the two together. Partnering with Honest Chocolate, a Cape Town-based artisanal Bean-to-Bar chocolate factory, we invented the Honest Chocolate Virtual Tasting!

Boxes of chocolates were hand-delivered to everyone’s front door with strict instructions to keep their hands off them until the event which 70% of them managed to do.

After introductions and agreeing the etiquette for the session, we kicked off with an icebreaker exercise. Everyone logged into a shared online doc and dragged their flags onto a world map to show where they thought the most cacao beans are produced.

interactive map

West Africa: (Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire) is correct by the way.

This is the same mechanic we use for online brainstorming and interactive learning workshops. We learn by doing, not by sitting back and listening and being remote, sitting back includes answering email, helping kids with homework and shouting at the dog.

With a Zoom Poll, everyone answered a few questions about personal flavour preference proving that we experience tastes differently. Through the rest of the experience the co-founder of Honest Chocolate, Anthony, took us through a journey of different experiences – a live video tour through their factory, a bit of history about cocoa, the Bean-to-Bar chocolate-making process, and tasting nine of their chocolates in between.

Tastings were also mic-on, camera-on, interactive moments when we chatted and pinned what we tasted on the flavour wheels. In many cases, this showed again how we could all interpret the same flavour in different ways.

Honest Chocolate Coconut Blossom

This was a fun experience that involved a lot of chocolate so not a lot could go wrong; but 5 years of working for clients all over Africa, Europe and India with a distributed and diverse team prepared us well for the remote working. Forced by lockdown to cancel client workshops and group training sessions, we converted easily into shared online whiteboards and immersive, interactive ideation sessions.

Part of a ten-week Design Thinking course with Red&Yellow we adapted a full day workshop into two three-hour online sessions. By switching modality between talks, slides and interactive boards—with sticky notes and voting mechanisms—and applying tight time constraints, the workshops feel quick, energetic and highly productive.

One of the biggest learnings from this is that all of the tools you need are readily available, taking advantage of what simple tech can do and changing what’s perceived as acceptable and normal is where teams and companies need help.

And don’t be afraid to experiment!

Remote Working resources:

To support newly remote teams, we published a free ebook and a Remote Team Maturity Assessment:

Me.We.Us ebook: Download the ebook

  • ME. Mastering Self: organising your workspace and headspace for optimum remote performance.
  • WE. Mastering Remote Social Interaction: learning to communicate effectively within a remote team.
  • US. Mastering Teamwork & Managing Distributed Teams: using the “Remote Team Agreement” and “Meeting Formulas” to unlock your team’s remote working potential.
  • We provide you with a toolkit of practical templates that you can use to improve your team’s remote working capabilities.

Remote Working Maturity Assessment: Take the test

  • A snapshot of your team’s remote capabilities
  • A benchmark for your team’s remote working capability
  • Highlighted areas at risk

 

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