Mediation and online mediation: through the pandemic era and beyondOctober 1, 2021
By Nicole Visedo, Senior Workplace Relations Consultant & Amanda Curatore, Associate
Facilitative mediation is a process undertaken to resolve disputes between two or more parties and can be used to achieve an outcome that also preserves the relationship between the parties. It is also a cost and time-effective alternative to formal legal proceedings. The Australian Mediation Association reports that “Unmanaged conflict is the largest reducible cost in organisations today, and the least recognised”.
Why use a mediation service?
Mediation is effective in resolving most forms of conflict between two or more parties, including in workplace or professional settings such as where the following exists:
- strained relationships between manager and employee;
- positional attitudes by two or more individuals, resulting in lack of or poor decision making;
- defensive behaviour by one or more individuals in situations where feedback is provided or consultation is required;
- employee disengagement is observed;
- employee damage or loss/theft of company inventory or equipment;
- employee or manager lax attitude towards workplace health and safety matters; or
- various other behaviours, either overt or subtle, that may indicate disagreement, discontent or dispute.
Human behaviour involves a complex interplay between a person’s actions, cognition, and emotions. The Australian Mediation Association reports that mediation resolves disputes 85 per cent of the time where it is facilitated by an independent and accredited mediator. Mediation involves identifying the issues and fostering a sense of understanding between the parties about their own and the other parties’ needs, interests and priorities. This can often be very effective at preserving relationships when compared to other forms of dispute resolution.
FCB’s accredited mediators utilise effective communication and knowledge obtained throughout the client briefing, intake assessment and mediation regarding the parties’ needs, interests and concerns to ensure that maximum human connection, constructive discussion, and flexibility is achieved to give all parties the greatest chance of reaching an agreement.
Our accredited mediators often field questions about the pros and cons of online mediation (via teleconferencing technology) as compared to face-to-face mediation. When considering whether it may be appropriate to use online mediation, we encourage clients to consider:
- their reasons for initiating a mediation;
- the key principles and process of facilitative mediation;
- the technology available to all parties; and
- any barriers or additional support required by a party to utilise technology or attend in person, i.e. cultural, disability, religion, etc.
Online mediation has gained constant traction since the 1990s and has been increasingly necessary through recent times due to pandemic restrictions to ensure that disputes are resolved within a timely manner.
Online mediation does have some downsides, generally similar to those experienced by employees across the globe who had to work from home and rely on telecommunications platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams to communicate. The interaction between parties (and the mediator) may find it slightly more challenging to interact, share ideas, establish trust, and evaluate each other, than they would do if they were meeting in person. For this reason, FCB mediators take additional steps and time to ensure that the principles of mediation and objectives of parties are met through online mediation.
It is our view that there is minimal difference in the effectiveness of online vs face-to-face mediation; and in contrast, online mediation can provide a more convenient, simple, and faster procedure.
With workplace disputes an inevitable reality for all businesses, FCB is proud to announce that it has extended its service offering to capture the ever-growing need for workplace mediations. FCB has the internal skills, expertise and professional qualifications required to conduct a mediation. Both Nicole Visedo (based in Brisbane) and Amanda Curatore (based in Melbourne) hold national accreditation as mediators with the Australian Mediation Association. Both professionals are highly skilled and experienced in providing workplace relations advice and assistance to clients in a wide range of matters, with a particular focus and interest in workplace disputes. Their passion for working with people to creatively resolve grievances and concerns motivated them to upskill in workplace mediations.
If you would like to find out more about our service or discuss whether mediation will assist a dispute you currently have on foot, please do not hesitate to contact Nicole or Amanda by calling 02 9922 5188 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.