Lockdown introduced us to video meetings in a big way. Where previously it had been a novel gimmick to be able to connect to people who missed their flight and allow them to join in on that important interstate meeting, we now see the situation of meetings via Zoom with people in the building next door as a reality.

Screenshot from a typical POWE Architects Teams meeting during lockdown. Our team found many creative ways to keep the video chats interesting.

Mastering the Videochat & Virtual Meeting

Agile organisations like ours adjusted quickly to the new situation forced upon us by lockdown. Platforms like Zoom and Teams became de rigueur as we found new ways to integrate the technology into our workflows.

The Powe Architects team found, in the early stages of remote working, that our meetings were more frequent and more focused. It was easy to get the team together for a quick design review or bring in a consultant on the internal meeting to assist with a difficult coordination problem. Getting technology into client meetings also became easier because we did not have to pack up a laptop, mouse, screen cable and the plethora of other peripherals to share a model or drawing on-screen in the client’s boardroom. You now had the full resources of your desktop available in the meeting no matter where the client was. And if you forgot to grab that document on your dash out the door, there was now the ability to just share it to the call.

There was also the ability to bring participants in to and out of meetings as need dictated rather than forcing a room full of consultants to sit around while other one-on-one conversations took up hours of their precious time.

Our clients and teams embraced these new paradigms of what a meeting should be and new ways of leveraging the available technology to achieve better outcomes for their projects.

Virtual & Videochat as the new normal

As we have come out of the lockdown, however, we are moving into the next phase of embracing the virtual meeting. It is no longer a necessity because of government health guidelines but it is persisting because we have realised the parallel benefits. Time-saving in travel and better sharing of hardware-hungry information being the easiest to identify.

It has changed the dynamics of our meetings, however, as sidebar conversations are all but impossible and some of the nuances of body language can get lost in the camera. As my colleague, Michael Ellis wrote, during lockdown, Zoom fatigue is now a real concern for those who spend their day running from one meeting to the next.

But on the flip side, we are seeing more focused meetings take less time overall and the ability to call quick gatherings without having to wait for everyone to travel to a single venue speed up the workflow of achieving design outcomes.

Heading towards the end of the year and festive season family gatherings, border closures are even making some of us look to online platforms as a way to connect with family and friends disconnected though the travel bans. We can only hope that our Zoom fatigue does not creep up on us like the alcohol content of Nanna’s rumballs as we try to sit through Uncle Stephen’s fourth retelling of his hernia operation story. At least we still have the option of blaming a poor connection and letting the call drop.

As well as driving POWE Architects project delivery teams, Matthew gets bored easily and experiments with his son’s collection of funny hats to pass the time on Zoom calls
As well as driving POWE Architects project delivery teams, Matthew gets bored easily and experiments with his son’s collection of funny hats to pass the time on Zoom calls.

See what else Matthew Johnson has shared:

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