lessons from quarantining: on virtual communication

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Over the course of the last many weeks, some of us have been deploying code while wrapped in our bathrobes, taking meetings from the sunbathing heaven of our balconies, uncorking a bottle of wine to celebrate that 5pm meeting. Just me? Didn’t think so.

This global health crisis has quickly restructured our modern workforce. We have changed the way we collaborate at work, the way we communicate progress & how we spend our days. We are learning new ways to speak to each other, and I wanted to take this moment to share some of the learnings quarantine-induced virtual communication has left me with.

  • Don’t stop or drop volume mid-sentence: people don’t know if your bandwidth just summersaulted or if you’ve experienced a brain aneurism. Though it’s generally possible to hear a wide range of intonations in real life and still capture the content, the same is not true in the cyber vortex.
  • Don’t take shortcuts: flesh out your thought & expand your formula. It’s harder to express uncertainty or confusion over virtual conversation, so I find it more helpful to be explicit about communication that happened in a different interaction while not repeating myself within the same conversation.
  • Don’t get caught on your mindless scrolls: If someone sounded clear to everyone else, you sound like an asshole when you ask someone to repeat the question they just asked you. It’s obvious you just weren’t listening. Don’t do us like that…
  • Computer microphones are the nemesis of mutual understanding: do you have a bluetooth headset? I’m trying to get into the habit of using mine on calls. It’s annoying to put it on and I feel like a cyborg but the conversation flows better. And it’s more respectful to fellow co-working partners.
  • Background noise might as well be satanic spells: put yourself on mute when you’re not talking. Nuff said. (Band)width matters: look up your router’s range & don’t disobey the captain. Choppy audios make for awkward conversations. Get a signal propagator if you must work from your backyard to get some bronze on those ghostly legs.

Happy virtualizing! ​