Zooming in on Teams Dynamics

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collaborative team

By Lee Ann Liska

“Can you set up the Zoom for this weekend?” “Let’s do a Teams meet.” “Should I call you on Google Hangout or should we have a Google Meeting?” “Mute yourself!” “You have to mute your computer so there’s no echo.” “You’re breaking up – move to the other side of the closet for a stronger connection.” “You should probably turn off your video.” “Where are you this week?”

All of these phrases and more are things I’ve heard in the last four months, and they are very different from the way we used to start meetings pre-pandemic. I would have limited conference calls, and almost no calls with video. And when I wanted to see family or friends I would give them a buzz on a Sunday, or pop over to their house for a quick chat. Since we’ve been in lockdown, though, we’ve have had countless “Zooms” with friends and family and most of my work days have been spent on Microsoft Teams calls. And while I can’t wait to see people in person again, I’ve loved getting to connect with colleagues and friends virtually. I can’t imagine being in lockdown 20 years ago, when instant messaging was the closest we’d get to a digital connection. 

This is what my first Zoom meetings were like in March.

I’ve enjoyed adjusting to the new reality of work meetings on various platforms – and I’m thankful I’ve been adjusting alongside my colleagues and friends, so we can all laugh at our missteps without judgement. I’ve shared laughs with friends and colleagues over some of their escapades, like these: 

  • One of my colleagues really enjoyed our twice daily COVID-19 Incident Command Center meetings, including while on vacation. He insisted on keeping his camera on, so we enjoyed working with him on long bike rides and had the pleasure of his dog joining as an active member of our meetings.
  • During most large group meetings on Teams we’ve learned the “mute all” function and how to maintain control of the shared screen, so that no one can accidentally turn their microphone on. However, this does not prohibit camera use …. you know where that’s going … 
  • During a large system meeting, one of our colleagues had her camera on, without realizing it, while in her office. Mid-meeting she left her office, traveled through the hospital, stopping once to put her camera on a surface, face up. I personally prayed that she wasn’t visiting a bathroom! Thankfully, her phone was muted, and after a few minutes, she returned to continue on her route. It was a bit distracting figuring out her locations …
  • My dear physician friend was virtually attending a medical grand rounds. She didn’t realize her camera was on when she removed her shirt revealing her sports bra!  Thankfully, her colleague texted her, so she was able to turn off her camera immediately. She still feels so embarrassed, even though she only flashed the crowd for a few seconds … 

Despite some gaffes, I’ve found virtual meetings to be convenient and productive. For our physician-focused meetings, attendance has improved! And I’ve loved my evening meetings, because I’m getting my steps in by walking outside throughout the meetings. 

Personally, I like Teams for work meetings and Zoom for family/friend get togethers. With Teams we can validate attendance, which is a bonus. With Zoom I like seeing all the silly backgrounds – I’m sure you’ve done your own Google search for backgrounds to make your friends laugh. 

I wonder if most meetings will stay virtual beyond COVID? However, I find personal energy in the company of others and hope we can get back to some meeting in person soon. 

What interesting moments have you experienced in your meetings?

About Lee Ann Liska

Lee Ann Liska is a CEO with over 30 years of integrated health systems management experience in successful provider organizations.  With a background in hospital operations, physician practice management, and ambulatory services in academic and community health systems, she shares her expertise on leadership and patient experience at leeannliska.com

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