Verksamhetsberättelse 2020/Story: Digital events and ways of working
In this Story we are focusing on how digital changes to internal processes and meetings were introduced as a result of COVID-19 and how this turned out and what will be useful post-pandemic.
As a result of COVID-19 Wikimedia Sverige has had, like so many organisations, to switch over to using more purely digital workflows. While this was a change which we had initiated already before the pandemic the emerging situation forced us to both fast track some of these changes as well as making some processes digital which we had not intended on making digital at all.
The most significant change was that Wikimedia Sverige's Annual General Meeting (AGM) took place fully online for the first time. Limited digital participation has been possible in previous years but voting had not been possible for these participants. Making changes to such a central process as the AGM requires due diligence and to ensure this effort had the most benefit we ensured both our pre-meeting analysis, event planning and our post-mortem were shared in an easily re-usable format. The participant evaluation showed that the vast majority of participants enjoyed the format and found it suitable for the purpose, many highlighted how going digital made attendance easier. The negatives were focused on the social aspects that were lost when not meeting in person. Having the meeting be digital also allowed us to record it so that it could also be accessed asynchronously, allowing for greater transparency.
Another central process which changed to fully digital were the meetings of the Board of Wikimedia Sverige. This resulted in more frequent, but shorter, meetings. As a result of the changed format, more supporting documents were formally prepared by Wikimedia Sverige staff and shared in advance of these meetings. A benefit has been that some of these documents could also be shared publicly, allowing for more transparency into the workings and processes of the organisation. The new meeting format has been considered successful by the board as they have been able to work effectively during a year where a lot of important decisions have been made. The negative impact has mainly been on the lost social aspect of the meetings.
One of the digitalisation tasks being fast tracked was establishing a routine and supplier for digital signing of documents and digital submission of receipts for reimbursement. These two changes have reduced the number of staff needing to work from the offices, and the frequency by which they need to be in the office. They have also eliminated a lot of the delays and risks associated with sending important documents via post, this is especially true for time sensitive board documents which used to be sent on a tour around Sweden. We continue to identify more paper based processes which we can make digital instead.
Having switched all internal meetings to be fully remote has allowed us to identify multiple issues both technical (such as sound quality) and around meetings styles which had previously been endured by remote staff without fully impacting the remaining staff. Staff who were already remote before the pandemic have in fact highlighted both how much better the meetings work and how they are more fair and equal now that everyone is participating on equal terms.
During the pandemic we have both participated in, and hosted, digital events, workshops and conferences. While many of the more formal parts of these have worked fine, and even benefited from the digital change (ease of access, ease by which results could be disseminated and ease by which developed materials could be reused) the informal parts such as the conference mingle and spontaneous discussions between participants between sessions have been harder to recreate. Of particular note however are two events we organised or prepared during the year, Wikipedia day 2020 and the Wikipedia 20 celebration which, together with the weekly office fika, experimented with recreating the more social aspects of offline events.
It is important to keep in mind that even when things return to normal many of the digital transitions which have been made will remain integrated parts of how we now work. At the same time as some other meetings and events move offline again we need to ensure it is not done at an undue cost to the benefits the digital alternatives brought in transparency, fairness, ease of access and reusability.