Coffee Break

Virtual Coffee Breaks

3 min.

Summary

In times of corona (in virtual projects anyway always) communication within the team and also across close team boundaries (entire project environment) is essential for project success, but difficult to ensure. Telephone conferences can cover planned topics, but cannot bring up the spontaneous ideas that would otherwise arise in the coffee kitchen. We are all in more web conferences than ever before, but the coffee conversations are irreplaceable and therefore a few hints how to use them in virtual space.

How to do it

Just send out an calendar invite with webconference details and remove the ticks under Response Options for “Request Responses” and “Allow New Time Proposals” so that you are not bothered by replies. But leave “Allow Forwarding” ticked. But send it only to a random sample of team members and non team members ofter the wider project enviornment. Ideally initially to ~ 10 team members. Further will be receiving the invite by others. See sample text below.

With following text suggestion for the invite:

I currently have many more telephone calls than I do have meetings on site in London and I don’t get “real work” started until the evening. This is certainly not only the case with me. Nevertheless, I notice that we have far fewer contacts across provider boundaries and also across tower boundaries. That’s why I think we need more conversations that just happen to occur by chance. So please get involved in the following.
 
We just meet at the coffee machine in building C1 6th floor by chance and have a little chat. See rules and hints below.

  • Rules
    • You must join with your web cam turned on.
    • You need to have a coffee or tea prepared for yourself before joining.
    • You may forward this invite only to one further member of the Apollo program after you have participated yourself in the “coffee break.”
    • The first topic of conversation after you join the videoconference must not be business (instead, for example, homeschooling, weather in your home town).
    • The 10th or each additional participant leaves the coffee kitchen (the call) due to overcrowding and arrives a little earlier for the next appointment.
  • Notes:
    • I myself will probably not be around very often, but you can meet yourselves. When I’m there, I’m not going to host. Everyone should enforce the rules themselves.
    • You can run away from the coffee machine with everyone and chat in a small circle in the hallway (by making your own phone call).
    • I have set up 3 similar appointments. As it is known that these are distributed naturally, I am curious which of the colleagues has all 3 appointments in his calendar first. If you have all 3 coffee appointments of me in your calendar, take a screenshot of each of them and send it to me. The 10th entry receives a bottle of wine from my personal wine cabinet.
    • If somebody finds this idea stupid –> delete appointment in your calendar, but do not complain.

Your experiences

I would be interested in your experiences with such or different kind of virtual non-organized sessions. Please comment below.

Published by

Marc Widmann

My name is Marc Widmann, husband, father of two sons, enthusiastic amateur photographer and lives in Hattersheim near Frankfurt. In my daily work I manage projects and programs in the field of information technology. I coach project managers and audit projects. I have many years of experience in consulting and IT outsourcing with project portfolio management tasks. I particularly enjoy working with international teams at Tata Consultancy Services. I volunteer my time at the Gesellschaft für Projektmanagement (GPM-IPMA) as an assessor in project management personal certification. I myself am also certified as IPMA Level A Certified Project Director (GPM) and IPMA Level B Certified Senior Project Manager (GPM). More about me.

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