Faster Than 20

experiment platform

Virtual Office Hours

March 23, 2020 – March 27, 2020

How might we...

  • How might we learn more effectively from each other?
    • How might we develop the habit of sharing our learnings with each other more frequently?


Practitioners in my community want unstructured connection time.


Invite people to virtual office hours. No agenda, no need to show up at a particular time, and no need to stay on for the whole time. It’s just an opportunity to say hello, reconnect, and talk for as long or as little as you’d like about whatever you’d like to talk about with whomever shows up.

Send invitation to Colearning, my newsletter, and Bay Area practitioners list.


How many people show up?

Where are they located?

Where did they hear about this?


People came! Metrics from where listed below in the comments.

The dynamic was definitely a little bit awkward, but people were great about it and went with it. Ideas on how to adjust below.

There are a few opportunities that might emerge from this conversation (also see below in the comments). One is for more intentional network weaving, which wasn’t one of the original goals of this, but might be a fun outcome.


Repeat this experiment one more time. This time, try advertising on social media as well to see if that pulls in folks.

Use a shared display to help moderate, get people caught up.

sheet (perhaps via Google Presentation):

  • Name?
  • Photo? I could do a screen capture.
  • Where you’re calling from?
  • How do you know Eugene (and from when)?
  • Whom else here do you know?

Maybe do it video off?

See if folks are interested in a tech buddy matchmaking system.


How best to advertise?

How to prevent trolls?

How to reconcile with all the other office hours offerings in these crazy times of COVID-19?

Working agreements?


  1. Holding first office hours on Thursday, March 26 from 10am-12pm PT. Created a calendar entry with Zoom info, but also included it in my invitations in case folks just want to drop by.

    Five people have RSVPed so far: one from Colearning, one from my newsletter, and three from my Bay Area practitioners list invitation.

  2. Some thoughts from an exchange with Aman:

    • Lots of people are starting to do some form of this in reaction to COVID-19
    • Possibly aggregate these into a shared Google Calendar? If so, make it public so that people can add themselves.

    I’m excited for the experiment, and I’m worried about the dynamic if a bunch of folks show up at once with different goals. I know that some folks will have specific things they’ll want to chat about, and others will just want to catch up with me. I’ll likely need to do lots of expectation-setting and be prepared for breakouts. May need to establish a set of written expectations and norms for future ones.

  3. Final participation breakdowns: 11 people showed up

    • 5 out of 7 who RSVPed
    • 8 from Bay Area (1 SF, 1 North Bay, 6 East Bay), 1 each from Montana, Paris, and Florida
    • 3 were on call right from the start, 3 more in the first half hour (1 drop off), 3 more in the second half hour (2 drop offs), 1 more in the third half hour (everyone dropped off), 1 more in the last half hour
  4. Some takeaways from our conversation:

    Participants were safe, healthy overall. Talked about our respective experiences, including urban vs rural-ish areas, situation in India.

    Work-wise, some are relatively unaffected: work is continuing (with some transitions to virtual). Others have had lots of canceled or frozen work. Lots of uncertainty either way.

    Transition to virtual:

    • Lots of people scrambling. Some practitioners are jumping on this, offering services / trainings on remote collaboration. Mixed feelings on seeing this for a variety of reasons. Concerned about people moving urgently without thinking it through, making decisions about going remote or virtual in brute force ways without really stopping to ask why and to consider what they really need.
    • Some folks here are comfortable with technology, applying it in their work. Others not so much. Regardless of where we lie on this spectrum, we’re all going to learn something about how to do this well that we’ll be able to take back to whatever we were doing before.
    • Zoom fatigue. Are people’s assumptions about the value of video correct? It’s tiring being on these all the time. Whatever happened to the good ol’ conference call? On the other hand, nice to see people’s homes, people wearing PJs, kids and pets. We’re all human, less performing. Also, Zoom backgrounds = Snapchat for grownups. Playfulness.

    Potential opportunities:

    • Connect more tech-savvy practitioners with practitioners who’d like some guidance
    • What are needs that we could be addressing more in alignment with each other, perhaps a collective service offering? Vs everybody just scrambling to offer remote facilitation or helping people help their teams or events go remote.
    • Practitioner playground. Can we create a space where we all can play and exchange ideas?
  5. Feedback from one of my participants:

    I felt bad coming late and leaving early. So, etiquette rules would be helpful. I therefore missed the prompts and key questions you were working on, if any. Perhaps put them on a different screen so if folks are late they can orient? Was great to see you and the others. I liked the connection, though I’m rapidly getting tired of being in front of my computer…

  6. More feedback:

    it was funny how the meeting felt friendly even though I knew nobody, virtual is in fact sometimes easier to break barriers

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Accountable Eugene
Team Eugene
Modified April 2, 2020
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