May 2020: Q and A with Nosipho Twala, Educator and Facilitator at Labour Research Service (LRS), South Africa

May 2020: Q and A with Nosipho Twala, Educator and Facilitator at Labour Research Service (LRS), South Africa

Where are you working at the moment?

From home, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Has your work been strongly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic?

Yes, it has.

How has it been impacted?

We’ve had to cancel contact sessions, face-to-face meetings and workshops.

How have you managed these changes?

With lots of online meetings and phone calls!

What are the challenges?

Data and connectivity. It’s difficult to connect sometimes, especially for people in areas that do not have fibre. LTE light is good but it has its limitations. We have challenges with the technology sometimes.

Does this change the way you operate and plan, and how? What are you doing differently?

Our internal staff online meetings and reflections are going well. We meet regularly on (the online platform) BlueJeans for our project-related work. When having online meetings with our partners, we’ve found it’s essential to do a ‘dry run’ to familiarise participants with the technology we are using, before the actual meeting. It’s good that children are at home now, because they are able to help their parents to connect and can easily troubleshoot if there are challenges! The other thing is that we’ve found it’s important to provide space for people to check-in when we meet, because most people are not communicating during the lockdown. Overall, we are continuing with our work and are convening focus group discussions online.

Can you give us some examples of positive aspects of your work at the moment? Are there good things that have happened?

Staff check-in meetings. Focus group discussions. Campaigns and planning meetings.

What advice and support do you have for others?

Online meetings are draining, keep them short. Preferably do not go over two hours. It’s good to start with a short check-in. The meeting host should assist people who are still familiarising themselves with the technology. For example, mute and unmute them.