In the course of the last week it became clear that our daily routine will be different from Monday onwards. Since we are all on the road a lot, every team member has a laptop with a camera. In the last few months we have invested a lot of time to professionalize our online communication skills.

  • We have been using MS TEAMS for internal communication for months now. Most colleagues are used to the chat function. Everyone starts MS TEAMS immediately after the login. Instead of making phone calls, we use the MS TEAMS-Video Chat.
  • We have a “ZOOM” access for external communication with customers when they are not allowed to use MS TEAMS for “security reasons”.
  • We have recently started our own webinar platform, which is located on our own server and can therefore also be used by organisations that are only allowed to communicate via systems located in Europe.

We have been using the tools for a while and all team members are used to them meanwhile.
When it became clear last week that we couldn’t physically work together, the Coverdale Austria Leadership was on holidays and the preparation was done for a physical meeting.
Coming back home we quickly had to redesign our planned team meeting.

  • We split our two-day workshop into 90-minute slots.
  • Between each slot we planned a 30-minute break to clear our minds.
  • We changed the facilitator minimum once in a timebox.
  • We used MS Teams for 4 slots and Big Blue Button for 2 slots.

Our summary:

  • The first day was a hell of a lot of work to keep 10 people on topic.
  • Big Blue Button allowed us to work with 10 open video cameras at the same time without the line breaking down, with MS Teams you can only see four people at once.
  • The visualization during the meeting was a bit tricky. We used a white board where the facilitator was writing, and he could share the “writing rights” so others. Only afterwards did we realize that we could have painted directly with the pen on the screen (tablet function) – we’ll try that next time.
  • If you work with visualization programs, screen sharing makes a lot of sense (if one person writes) or working on the white board where everyone can write.
  • Listening and slowing down communication is very important. Because voice and picture are not always in sync, it is important to wait a bit before the next one starts to speak, because the interruption will completely hack the communication.
  • As two new team members were present, working with an open camera was very important, as they could not yet assign the voices to the respective names. But it is also possible to say your name before giving a statement.
  • Working in groups of 5 or 6 people when it comes to a specific task is a bit easier than with 10 people at the same time.
  • The facilitator must be more active than in presence formats. If he does not give a structure, the communication breaks down.
  • Fun is a must – even in online meetings. However, the facilitator is always needed to get everyone together again.

Tomorrow there will already be a first real virtual product development meeting, in which we as a virtual team want to rebuild a design together. We will report again on our learnings.
Let’s make the best of the situation together.

Would you like to profit from our experience?

Feel free to contact us if you need support. As specialists for leadership and collaboration, we support our customers working also dislocated. Our office manager Margit Darnhofer will be happy to help you: office@coverdale.at