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Open laptop on a table with a virtual meeting taking place ©

Since going into lockdown at the end of March, the way we work at SITU had to adapt very quickly. Luckily our IT department had recently armed us with the tool we needed to make it happen: Microsoft Teams.

Having worked with Skype for Business in previous jobs, I was (to a certain extent) prepared with how a system like Teams works however, I had never been fully home-based before, so the past 10 months has been a learning curve.

The good…

  • Communication with colleagues is literally at your fingertips! They can get hold of you and you can get hold of them at the click of a button – really, really handy for the most part. However, I also think there are some downsides - but I’ll come to that later…
  • Scheduling meetings remotely, rather than face-to-face, has been dreamy in terms of logistics. For large, face-to-face meetings I no longer have to juggle travel arrangements, hotel/meeting room bookings, car parking, expense claims etc. for several attendees. It is now simply a case of finding a date/time that suits everyone and sending out a Teams invite. From experience, scheduling meetings without much notice tends to have a higher chance of success if it’s virtual, especially for busy clinicians who often can’t carve out the time to attend a meeting in person, in a different city.
  • The different functionalities in Teams are great and allows the needs of your meeting to be met. For example, creating ‘break out rooms’ has been good for meetings where groups need to discuss things separately.  

The bad…

  • Face-to-face meetings, particularly when meeting people for the first time (such as site research teams) are so valuable. ‘Putting a face to a name’ is something that can’t be underestimated and can leave a lasting impression and help build great working relationships.  
  • Sometimes with Teams, you can almost be too ‘available’. Your colleagues (and vice versa, you) can see when you’re ‘free’ and the temptation is to give you a quick call rather than message/email them first to check if they are busy or in the middle of something. I am definitely guilty of this sometimes but making a conscious effort to be more mindful.
  • While a video call or instant message to a colleague to ask a quick question is tempting, some things may be more appropriate in an email - particularly in trials where audit trails are our bread and butter. The longer I’ve worked from home, the more aware I am of what medium is best to communicate with.

Teams is a great way to stay connected on both a personal and professional level. However, when we come out of this pandemic, the key is knowing when to use it as much as when not to. A combination of face-to-face and virtual meetings, when balanced correctly, can only enhance the way we work moving forwards.