On Monday we held our first Casework Committee meeting during lockdown, with the assistance of Zoom video conferencing. We feel it went very well; we received lots of helpful feedback from the Committee members and we reached clear decisions on all cases. Interestingly, various features of Zoom suited different types of cases, with the ability to raise hands enabling us to reach a consensus about whether we should support listing applications, whilst more nuanced comments about planning proposals filtered in through the chat. As usual the Caseworkers prepared slides to accompany our presentations which we shared with attendees via screen sharing. It can be difficult to replicate the relaxed atmosphere of certain meetings when the normal dynamic is replaced with a grid of thumbnails, but we’ve found that small gestures like interesting virtual backgrounds help to lift the mood.
We’ve heard that many local authorities are also holding their planning committee meetings virtually, which will help to keep the industry going in these extraordinary circumstances. Adapting to a new style of working means we’re learning new things every day and constantly picking up tips from each other about how we can use new tools effectively. It’s now clear that we can work almost as usual in our current set up, and we will be lucky enough to return to the office with ideas about how we can mix things up long-term as well.
Grace and Clare