Make a coffee, grab a beer

When you’re collaborating at a distance, you lose the spontaneous hangouts that happen naturally in the physical world. But this stuff is important! We all know that’s where a lot of the work happens. Bumping into someone in the hallway, sharing lunch on the steps, having a shared meal: these unexpected moments of connection can be lost in the world of platforms and screens. It takes time, intention and creativity to find them.

It’s the morning coffees and the beers after; it’s like the breaks and the fucking muffins. When you’re in the conventional rehearsal model, there’s a condensing of time where the other people are basically, I’ll call them, “my only boyfriend for four weeks.” They’re the only people I see, they’re the people I hang out with. The project is the only thing I do. And we can’t do that over the computer. I can’t. My brains melt.

— Christine Brubaker

Things to try on: tools, activities and resources

  • If there are participants who aren’t actively working at the moment, they might choose to observe the work, but another option is for them to make themselves a cup of tea and go into a breakout room with others who are not active at the moment.
  • Have a social break all together.
    • One project in Chicago, where they were meeting with people doing a residency together [who didn’t know each other]. And what they did was they hired me to DJ on their breaks so the breaks became social breaks so that people could turn the camera off and go and do whatever, but they could also dance or talk to each other or do stuff that you would normally do in the room on a break before you come back to the room. — Syrus Marcus Ware
  • Give people a reason to connect on their own time outside of the scheduled meeting time.
  • Go for a walk together on a portable device.
    • We did this in pairs where Person A called Person B on the phone, Person B stayed home and got comfortable, closed their eyes and didn’t speak or ask questions, just listened. Person A went for a walk and described what they saw around them. Being the listener was surprisingly intimate — relaxing and listening like that, and the simple walk with a beginning and an end and characters along the way ended up feeling very narrative. — Sherri Hay