Have video meetings changed the way your teams communicate and behave?

By Carl Genatossio
May 15, 2020

Have video meetings changed the way your teams communicate and behave?

In our own way, I think we have all experienced something positive from the COVID-19 pandemic. In the face of losing so many simple pleasures, we are gaining a new appreciation for ones we previously took for granted.

Likewise, those who have moved from in-office to full-time remote employees while consenting to home-quarantine have had to evolve to a new virtual workspace enabled by Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, etc.  But how, exactly, have we evolved?  What has changed?  Consider this.

Have you noticed more professionalism, more efficiency, less argumentative behavior, or a real sense of harmony among your coworkers? Have team members mentioned that they miss seeing people from other teams? While there will always be exceptions, the upside of all this seems to be that it’s teaching people accustomed to working together in person some valuable lessons about collaboration and teamwork.

Are they just “performing” for the lockdown camera?

Since the quarantine began and many companies have shifted to full-time remote work, I have seen an acceleration of presentation skills. It’s as if having limited access to others is motivating team members to come to meetings well-prepared, ready to share, and wanting to give their best “performance” on camera. 

I have also noticed communication has become more efficient because of improvements in the amount and quality of information given in meetings, in the written specifics of project tasks, and in day-to-day touch points. The conversations flow easier, and there is a real feeling of human connection coming out of isolation. Was it not there in person, or were we so accustomed to it that we didn’t notice?

When the in-office situation was suddenly taken away, there was a sense of losing touch. As a result, it seems we make our points with more impact knowing we have a small window of opportunity in a fixed-length meeting.

Real human connection is coming out of coronavirus isolation.
Was it not there before, or were we too accustomed to notice?

The medium, the message, or something more?

Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase “The medium is the message” in his classic 1964 book, Understanding Media: The Extension of Man. McLuhan believed that the medium of communication—and not merely its message or content—had direct effects on our thoughts and behavior.

Can it be that when our teams see themselves on screen—through the medium of video while presenting their message (by way of their character and “content”) to others—that they have found a way to filter out their negative tendencies and only present their best characteristics?

Will it outlast remote working?

We’ve been working remotely for about two months now. Is this enough time to learn this habit of working more efficiently with more professionalism?

In the 1950s, American cosmetic surgeon Maxwell Maltz began seeing a pattern of behavior in his patients. After an operation, he noticed it usually took them about three weeks to get accustomed to their new face.

After considering his own behavior changes, Maltz realized it also took him about three weeks to form a new habit. He wrote in his subsequent book, Psycho-Cybernetics, “These, and many other commonly observed phenomena tend to show that it requires a minimum of about 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to jell.”

But forming a new habit is not all or nothing. Luckily, researchers have found that slipping up here and there does not significantly alter the formation of the new habit. So, I hold out hope that this trend toward more compassionate and professional conduct continues once we see each other face to face again.