Tune in to the Low Fidelity signals from your team in a remote setup
Vinyl record lovers. Analogue film camera shooters. There is plenty of love for (comparatively) low fidelity equipment in this high fidelity digital world. Originating from the world of music, lo-fi represents a way to capture music with less detail, and more imperfections compared to hi-fi. For certain people, there is a certain charm to be found in these imperfections. It delivers the content in a different way, the imperfections add more meaning, instead of less. Like many of us, I am coming up to a year of working fully remote.
Before Covid-19, I already worked remote for most of my time, but I often travelled into the countries that belong to my area of responsibility and had the chance to connect with teams offline. Not being able to do that has taught me just how much valuable lo-fi signals get lost when you work via virtual meetings only.
Technology has dramatically improved the quality of our hi-fi signals in a remote setting. Emails, workflows, chat systems, report KPIs and analytics, this all flows independently of the physical location and setup of a team. But the lo-fi components are hard to capture. For example, you could pick up lo-fi signals from the body language of a colleague, tucked away in the corner of the room. This could lead to discovering this team mate is worried about the progress of a project, even though the high fidelity information flow does not (yet) show any red flags.
Or a simple glance between team mates during a physical meeting could have more information in it than an hour long virtual meeting. This lo-fi information is incredibly hard to replicate in an remote setup. That means we need to look for alternatives to expose the lo-fi signals in teams and let it flow so that it provides the necessary context for interpreting the hi-fi signals that are better than ever.
You will need to check in with the team in an online setting much more than you would in a face-2-face meeting. The simplest way to do this is to ask for confirmation and feedback during meetings. Discuss the issue of losing out on lo-fi signals and ask the team to actively express their state of mind. Whatever tool you use, there are ways to facilitate this. For example, in Microsoft Teams you can use the ‘applause’ function for direct feedback that the message you are broadcasting is resonating. You can use the chat function and let people use emojis to express themselves. I like to use poll questions in my meetings to get a quick read on a topic. Plenty of options to get more feedback from a group.
The downside of all this is that you are still not able to tune into all the lo-fi signals that are not actively converted to a signal in a virtual meeting. It's just not the same. But discussing ways with your team to look to express lo-fi signals in virtual settings is still is better than not addressing them at all. It takes effort to take a photo of a scene with a film camera, and develop it. Especially if you have a constant digital ultra HD stream of the same scene accessible for you 24/7.
But the analogue and lo-fi capture of the scene might tell you something the digital stream won't show. It's worth figuring out what that could look like for you and your team.