Zoom Virtual Team Building
Mammoth Biosciences Injects Fun
“Thanks for a great time today with the Zoom activity! … the feedback is great!”
Mammoth had 6 teams of about 5-6 people each. Our event was 35 to 40 minutes long and the teams successfully solved 10 of the 12 puzzles each round in about 5-7 minutes, with about 2 minutes between rounds to chit-chat (and gloat). Teams finished within a 2 minute span so the competition was very close every round. Teams 1, 2, 3, & 6, all won one round, team 5 placed 2nd & 3rd, but it was Team 4 who took the overall victory with three 2nd place finishes for a total of 6 points.
Zoom worked well for this event because it makes dividing a group into smaller teams very easy. Zoom automates the process in the “breakout room” feature which will do it for you, offering a suggested number of rooms and people per room, or let you organize the breakout rooms manually anyway you want. We chose to download the Widji Round PDF into the general shared space, and have each team download the document before being sent to their breakout rooms. Alternately, we could have momentarily joined each breakout room, uploaded the file, and then left and went to the next team.
Widji puzzles are great at encouraging and inspiring team discussions because you have to verbalize out loud to have success against the other teams. Hearing your teammates guess at the puzzles is a key to solving them, one idea truly inspires another in this event. Zoom works extremely well at spontaneous conversation. Teams are able to guess, and comment, and chat, without the awkward pauses we have all been used to with video conferencing.
Zoom was not reliable as a document sharing solution. We often uploaded documents which were not visible to all of the participants, even though many of us could see it and download the document. Mammoth used Slack as an easy back-up to distribute the documents, and the fact that only one person on each team actually needs the document (they screen share) makes the odds good that every team will have the document regardless.
The one annoying feature of Zoom is the chat feature. It does not allow sub-threads, so all communication is jumbled into a “latest post at bottom” format, rather than the option to organize responses by topic. Worse yet, the conversation disappears when people leave the room, and you only see chats that are written when you are actually present in the room. For Speed Teams, this is not as relevant because it is mostly a verbal activity, and each round is new. There is no connection between rounds so the disappearing chat is not an issue.
However, to take advantage of the best practices of virtual team building, having a consistent and permanent thread is critical. This is what allows for asynchronous communication, and allows for complex problem solving rather than just real time reactions. One way around this is to use a third party shareable document, like Google docs, or whatever your company uses.
A huge thank you to Mammoth Biosciences for a fun, fast moving, and entertaining virtual team building!