The Zoom Boom: Yoga, cookery, piano - and even dispute resolution

Online yoga session with Lynne Denny

Online yoga session with Lynne Denny - Credit: Shelley-Anne Salisbury

The future is virtual. I’ve seen it first-hand.

My mediation practice is now conducted exclusively on Zoom. Initially, the idea of an online dispute resolution service seemed nigh on impossible. Surely people needed to sit face to face and see the whites of each other’s eyes?

But, as it turns out, not necessarily.

Virtual mediations have been nothing short of brilliant; they have dispensed with the costs of travel, the hiring of venues, the stress of arriving on time, those formal attire dilemmas and, of course, the high-level anxiety caused by actually facing the “other side”.

Online offers a literal and metaphorical screen and, in my opinion, the parties are more relaxed and forthcoming much earlier on in the process which often results in quicker and easier resolutions.

The availability of online platforms has generated enormous creativity, unleashing unimagined opportunities in so many areas.

Shelley-Anne Salisbury, Hampstead Garden Suburb

Shelly-Anne Salisbury has been living in a virtual world - Credit: Shelley-Anne Salisbury

As co-editor of Suburb News (the Hampstead Garden Suburb’s local paper), I have received emails from so many HGS residents writing about their virtual lockdown opportunities.

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One resident completely reinvented her previous in person cookery classes and catering business, literally overnight, into a full scale online delivery service and now gives online cookery classes from her kitchen. Business is booming.

Another resident, who has been shielding since last March, has been able to fulfil a lifelong dream of learning the piano at the age of 82 - all lessons are online. Another resident has been providing her popular yoga classes virtually and has found them to work extremely well. And these are just a tiny fraction of such examples. I could go on.

Yes, there are the irritating bandwidth and connection issues but as our use of virtual platforms increases, these are becoming far fewer, especially with the roll out of high-speed broadband services.

It seems after the initial wobbles, we have all fast become comfortable with the tech, which is just as well, because online is “where’s it’s at” - for the foreseeable future anyway.

Whether that’s a good thing in the long run remains to be seen but that’s a whole other column….

  • Shelley-Anne Salisbury is an accredited mediator, panel moderator, writer and co-editor of Suburb News.