Collaboration App Enabled Company-Wide Solar Eclipse Viewing
At our virtual company-wide All hands weekly meeting last Friday the topic of the Solar Eclipse came up. We learned that Matt, one of our colleagues would have the best view of the Solar Eclipse. He offered to record the eclipse live from Sweetwater Tennessee so those of us not in trajectory to witness the eclipse in full totality could experience it. I was particularly interested in attending because I could not get my hands on Eclipse glasses anywhere- they were all sold out!We figured we could use the same collaboration technology we use every day to witness the Solar Eclipse together – sort of like a virtual team building experience. We have a globally distributed team at eZuce but thanks to our collaboration app we still meet face to face on a regular basis. Depending on the situation some dial in to the meeting with a voice call, some connect via their tablet or smartphone while others login through their computer. All the while the simultaneous group and sidebar chats bring us closer together as we can share jokes and comments throughout the meeting. You can usually spot who’s having a sidebar conversation by the various smiles you see when looking at the video streams.
After further inquiry Matt learned that tickets for the 3500 parking spots in Sweetwater TN had been sold out so he opted to broadcast live from his home in Georgia which was about 70 miles away from the Sweetwater site. So, at 2pm EST a good-sized group of us logged in to a Plenary meeting room so we could watch the Solar Eclipse as our colleague recorded it. I was at our NH beach house and my family, friends and I all watched the eclipse together (although we only had about 65% coverage as you can see in the map-which was not extraordinary especially without the proper glasses!)
I watched what Matt and others were sharing in the virtual meeting from my TV – I just plugged in my laptop to get a bigger view. I think the coolest part was seeing all the different streams and being able to experience the event all together at the same time from locations across the globe. We had someone screen sharing their view of the eclipse from Maine as Matt shared multiple screens with his view from Georgia, and someone else had the live stream from NASA which targeted in on multiple locations as the eclipse hit totality across the US.
Matt had set up 3 streams to capture the Solar Eclipse. The first live stream (accompanied by a playlist which of course included Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon) was fixed on Matt’s house which was cool because you could see the changes in light as the Eclipse neared. The second stream was a live shot of the Sun, and the third was a 5x magnified shot of the Sun. As hard as Matt worked to share the images, there is no doubt that the pictures were best captured by NASA’s team of photo experts (sorry Matt! ) – Well obviously NASA is better equipped and has all the lenses and gear needed to get the best pictures. I mean how can you compete with these?
But, overall the experience was still awesome - more because we all got to experience the Eclipse together.
Maybe we take the collaboration technology for granted as we use it every day, but there’s no doubt that enabling face to face interaction accompanied by live HD video streams, screen sharing, and chat really does make you feel more connected with team mates working from all over the world. As neat as it was to see the various stages of the eclipse from different vantage points, the more impactful part of the experience for me was the interaction amongst my colleagues as everyone could share what they were witnessing and feeling as we viewed the Solar Eclipse together in real time. I’m sure being there live and watching the Solar Eclipse must have been amazing but for those of us that couldn’t be there I think this was the next best thing!
Working in a company with many remote and geographically dispersed workers can be a challenge sometimes. Different time zones, multiple native languages, and diverse cultures could be potential hazards when looking to create collaborative and cohesive teams. We use our communications and collaboration app very day for team meetings, customer demo’s, one to one meetings or for virtual team building experiences such as the recent Eclipse viewing. I know the visual collaboration tool forges stronger bonds and builds better relationships. It helps that it’s mobile friendly and we can choose the best mode of communication and escalate from chat to voice calls to video conferencing as we see fit. It also works for us because we can use it anywhere whether we are working from a home office, one of our corporate offices or connecting remotely from the road.