Maybe I need to do more coffeeshop meetings? Photo by Alejandro Escamilla

Team Meeting Dynamics

Or how I accidentally discovered subtitles on Medium

From Weekly

In my previous work place, we held weekly department meetings. It helped us keep in-the-know with what other teams in the department were doing, but overall, it wasn’t really a productivity booster or even a conversation starter since often times people on other teams really didn’t have anything strongly connected with the work on another team.

But since I was often a team unto myself, and I usually did service endpoint APIs, I found them to be somewhat useful and it kept me a little more connected with the rest of the department. It served its purpose, though I doubt in the way the manager running it intended.

To Daily

At my current workplace, we do daily meetings. We still have our separate tasks that we sometimes silo, but as a whole, since our team is small and we all work on the same product, there’s still a lot to talk about and learn from what’s going on. Plus, often times, one part will have something to do with another, so it can make sense that we all touch base.

Sitting around a conference room table isn’t too bad, once in a while. Photo by Breather.

But that isn’t to say we’re only in contact during those meetings. We’re all remote working in different parts of the country so we use tools like Slack to ask questions and throw out ideas during or times other than the daily meeting (which we currently do as a Meet/Hangout meeting).

We use the daily meetings as a time to talk about our progress and to surface any questions or concerns that we’ve run into. It’s useful when you do have things to talk about, and despite it feeling like a bit of pressure to showcase a new status update, it’s lax enough to be understood that sometimes progress isn’t really something that’s too exciting to talk about in mundane details… or as it sometime happens, you have to take a few false steps in the wrong direction before you go in the right one. And so sometimes, no progress.

I’ve worked from many different locations, but mostly because I move, not that I do so from coffeeshops. Photo by Andrew Neel.

But that idea to free yourself from expectations of a daily status call can be a little overwhelming at first. It simultaneously puts pressure on you but at the same time offers a nice way to bring up any issues you might have.

And sometimes, as all teams need to do, it’s just a time to get together and shoot the breeze for a bit before going about our own way for the rest of the day.

And also Semi Annually

But at either company, we’ve usually had an in-person all-hands meeting. We’d try to pick a date and fly out to a location and meet and socialize and in general, help to establish more personal connection with team members. While I am a strong supporter of remote working, I cant deny the fun you can have when people are in the same room together. I can’t absolutely be certain that we get day to day work done better, but we can certainly use the time to get more conceptual work done (planning and strategy seem to be easier than literal programming help since tools like ScreenHero are far better than even being there in person trying to huddle around a screen). And there’s always the “watercooler” effect at work when you can get together (though Slack again has plenty of that and perhaps doing it better than a literal watercooler).

Doing something fun as a team is important too. Photo by Margarida CSilva.

From a cost to production ratio, and from a bean counter’s viewpoint, it’s definitely not quite as productive as you might want it to be, but there are so many intangibles that come into play. And part of that is also because these meeting are infrequent, as opposed to being commonplace at a physical watercooler, so there’s a lot more effort to really make use of the time and put effort into it to build a team or to solve a long term strategy. And it’s social and fun, which bonds a team together.

There are definitely uses for physically-present team meetings, but sometimes it’s really because they offer a difference from the norm or working remote. Though I may be a bit biased working remotely from all over the place for almost my entire career.

How do your teams structure your meetings? Daily? Weekly? Monthly?

And do you feel the pressure to present something at those meetings?

Do you also set aside some time with your team to make sure you connect in more personal ways? I often hear of after working gaming time or other social outings… what has been the case when you’re either all remote, or especially partially remote?

So many team dynamics to have to consider just to get work done!

(btw, if you want to join our team, we’re always looking!)