Arctic Consensus is the project manager for a three-year project, Nordic Arctic Rehabilitation, which has received funding from the Nordic Council of Ministers. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic there has been a need for a conversion from physical to digital activities.

The project sees Nordic Arctic participation through the municipalities of Tórshavn, Sermersooq, and Aalborg. All three municipalities are affected by demographic changes, and in terms of this, rehabilitation plays a vital role in resolving the challenges posed by the demographic changes.

The project has a large focus on the development of competencies as well as physical employee exchanges among the three municipalities and across professionals. Furthermore, the project contributes the municipalities in developing their best model for rehabilitation. A single round of employee exchanges has been held, where professionals from Tórshavn has visited Aalborg. Just before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. The development of competencies through physical employee exchanges is the main activity for the project, and thus a value creating alternative had to be found.

In relation to this, Arctic Consensus, as the project manager, in close cooperation with Katrine Schumann from Communicate2Innovate, has facilitated digital workshops as an alternative to the physical exchanges. The content and framework for the five workshops focus on securing that exchanges and knowledge sharing is not lost in the digital conversion. Planning of the process and conduct of the workshops has been through Katrine Schumann, who has many years of experience in, among others, communication, and organizational development.

A result paper based on the workshops that have been developed by Arctic Consensus, and it is clear that the digital conversion in the project shows to be creating a lot of value. Common for all the held workshops is that rehabilitation, knowledge sharing and exchange across professional groups and municipalities are central. Some of the advantages in having digital workshops are that the expenses are much lower, it is easier to meet more often, and it is possible to have a larger participation. For obvious reasons, the physical distance and travel expenses fades in the digital exchange. The digital meetings do not have a physical barrier as to how many are able to participate.

However, it is essential to create a somewhat fixed structure for the digital solution. To ensure that participants understand and feel comfortable, the fixed format is important. Adding to this, it also secures the best possible outcome, and that participants recognize the workflow of the workshop.

In the workshops of Nordic Arctic Rehabilitation, cases have been used to ensure that the professionalism of the participants is put in play. Katrine Schumann underlines: “There has to be something significant to grasp in the digital meeting. This is how you move from the abstract to the specific subject knowledge”.

In every workshop, the participants have worked in groups formed across professional field and municipalities. The work in smaller groups is possible using platforms that support e.g. “breakout rooms”. The evaluation and group work in the five workshops have made use of digital “posters”, where participants have had the opportunity to put post-it notes on a digital board. The digital board, from www.miro.com, has played an active role in evaluating and visualizing results from each workshop. These boards have also played a significant role in the following end report that will be produced by Arctic Consensus and sent to the Nordic Council of Ministers afterwards.

The participants have also described they have received a feeling of being part of something bigger, and that these workshops have created connectedness and colleagues across the Nordic. Furthermore, the evaluations also show that it has been of value to the participants, to exchange experiences and knowledge across municipalities and professional fields. Experiences and knowledge which has created inspiration for new ideas, in terms of pursuing the best model for rehabilitation in each municipality.

Even though some elements may be lost in not having physical exchanges, the digital conversion in the project has surpassed the expectations of the project management, steering committee, and participants. Digital exchanges can be very valuable, but it takes a well-structured and goal-oriented process.