About Distanced Gathering

The Distanced Gathering is a monthly one hour event that is fast paced and convivial with one-to-one and small group discussions. A guest slot is included together with an opportunity to ‘shout out’ events you’re holding, help you need or opportunities you can offer.

Distanced Gathering is held on Zoom, and we usually have about 40 participants.
Laptop on a kitchen table with the Zoom application showing participants of a previous Distanced Gathering. Photo: Eve Georgieva.

The aim is to help people broaden their networks, build relationships, share experiences of how we are adapting to new challenges and reflect on positives.

Distanced Gathering is facilitated by Lorri Smyth of Sopra Steria, together with Barbara Mertlova and Mike Press of Open Change.

These gatherings started as a way of connecting people in Scotland’s service design community – but you don’t have to work in service design and living in Scotland is optional.

The Distanced Gathering is open to anyone. Participants come from all sectors – local government, business, the third sector, consultancy, education, NHS, housing, Scottish Government, finance and others. Many are from Scotland, but we have others joining us from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and The Americas.

It is held on Zoom and there is no cost.


The Gathering always opens with Wade in the Water by Ramsay Lewis, and finishes with an appropriate tune. All the music we’ve used up to the summer of 2021 can be heard on this Spotify playlist. You can also get an Apple Music version. Enjoy.

‘Now That’s What I Call Distanced Gathering vol 1 is available as a Spotify playlist.


​“Thank you for always being the refresh button of my Thursday :)”

“The energy! The structure! The great conversations! The music! I had a great time. Thank you :)”

“The Gathering is setting the bar for online meet-ups for me.”

“I have loved the virtual coffee trials and have enjoyed some really amazing chats with people.”

Conversation records

Browse outputs, shared resources, contact information of our Guest Speakers and conversation records from all previous sessions in this sharable document.

Slack space

Join the conversation – email Barbara to join the Service Design Scotland Slack community.