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FMCS Investment in Virtual Mediation Paying Off during Coronavirus Outbreak

Tuesday, May, 5, 2020

Mediation is one of the most effective ways to resolve disputes between management and labor, but doing so in-person is nearly impossible at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily, it is possible to conduct mediation sessions virtually.


The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) has experimented with virtual mediation before the health crisis and has been offering phone and video teleconferencing mediation options for more than five years. A third of the company’s mediators were equipped to conduct virtual mediation using at least one video conferencing platform. Now, those efforts have paid off.


According to Josh Flax, chief strategy officer for FMCS, “We dipped our toe in early, and we started experimenting with some different video conferencing platforms. We eventually settled on a few different ones that we work with. Obviously, like a lot of other agencies and organizations, what we had to do in the national emergency condition was to move our entire workforce to the virtual state. But because we had a decent background in it, it is been going pretty well.”


At this moment, all 150 federal mediators associated with FMCS can use virtual mediation and at least one platform for video conferencing. And as of recently, mediators with the company have conducted more than one million mediations online within the last 30 days.


Those offering mediation are not just fumbling through the process as new users, either. Mediators can host private, confidential meetings with just one of the parties. The goal, eventually, is to convince traditional clients to adopt virtual mediation long-term because it is convenient and easy. The company hopes that mediations will continue to be conducted virtually even after the COVID-19 pandemic passes.