Aiming to Improve Virtual Teamwork

The state of virtual teamwork, why our current meeting cadences are awful, and what we're doing about it.
November 2, 2022
Ben Parkison

The move to virtual and hybrid work brought about a new wave of tools, as well as updates to existing tools, to support individuals continuing to operate as their organizations moved to fully distributed models.

Video conferencing, chat, and tasks management tools embraced virtual as the primary model. Web-based collaboration tools took center stage, with purpose-built solutions like Figma filling the gap that opened when we could no longer create in person. And with all of these new tools, we even discovered that in many ways we could achieve more, with these tools giving us new ways to create, collaborate, and share to complete tasks.

But something was lost. We often talk about missing the “water cooler.” About not being able to just jump on a whiteboard. Or even just feeling less connected to the people we work with. And we’re finding it more and more difficult to understand how our work fits into larger company  objectives and values. At Trelliswork we believe what’s missing is far more tangible than that.

In moving to a virtual model we’ve flattened the wide variety of interactions we used to have with our teams everyday, big and small, into a single model: The task-driven virtual meeting. We’re on video, we’re aligning on tasks in our favorite work management tool, we’re running through an agenda, then we’re on to the next meeting. We’ve gotten by by trying to fit the many different needs of teams and individuals into that single model. But that’s not good enough. And we’re seeing the cost in misaligned teams, disengaged workforces, and decreased job satisfaction.

Thriving in a virtual model not just as individuals, but as teams, is still a work in progress. But as long as we recognize there’s still work to do, then we can begin building the model to regain our ability to intentionally craft teams into more than just the sum of their parts.

For the next few weeks we’re going to explore how we use meetings today, what’s missing in the virtual and hybrid model, and what a better model could be. We’re going to explore the interactions that used to come for free in an in-person setting, and how we can build those back. We’re also going to explore new opportunities that exist for different approaches in a virtual environment.

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