Many of us are spending a lot of time in Teams meetings. One challenge of remote working is the reduced ability to express, and pick up, subtle body language and facial cues, which can contribute to difficulty communicating – even before broadband connection comes into play.
Microsoft launched Reactions in Teams in December, which allows us to show a reaction while someone else is talking.
This is great, and people in meetings I’ve been in have found it really helpful. However, there are currently very limited options to emote. We can either like (thumbs up), love (heart), clap or laugh. Or put our hand up.
Great!…but we can’t use it to express different emotions. In particular, all the reactions are positive. This may contribute to pleasant team meetings – but risks contributing to ‘groupthink‘. The ability to convey uncertainty, or dissatisfaction, or frustration, are important social signals often communicated through subtle facial cues, which on a Teams call may be impossible to spot. If I’m not feeling comfortable for some reason in a Teams call, my only options are to speak out verbally, or keep schtumm, or use the comments (which a speaker may not see).
I was recently in an excellent session on Challenging conversations – having a visual way to challenge statements, may add to verbal intervention as a way to signal that something is not OK.
Zoom and Slack have a much wider range. Taking Zoom as an example – more, still quite positive, but with the ability to thumbs down or say ‘No’:
So how we do extend the range of emotional expression in Teams? Microsoft say they’re working on extending the range, but there isn’t a timescale.
Someone has created a technical solution, but it needs to be set up by sysadmins in the organisation (example).
I’ve come across other ways for signalling emotions, including non technical – for example, some teaching staff encourage students to use their Teams/Zoom background, or even their clothes, to signal how they’re feeling (red or amber for different shades of ‘I’ve got some concerns’).
From a discussion at a team meeting I decided to try and solve this problem, using Snap filters. The brief here was to create a filter that allowed a wider range of emotes, presented in the same style as the existing Teams reactions, and in particular to plug the gaps in current reactions around expressing uncertainty or concern.
I present – the Emoji Board! Use the link to access, or scan the following with Snapchat:
Using this with Snap camera allows the following emotes, presented in the same style as Teams reactions (appear on screen for 3 seconds, centred, transparent background)
The filter should be usable on mobile phones but is optimised for use with Teams (or Zoom) on a laptop. To use, it click on the sides of the Snap camera screen to pop out the emotes.
–originally posted on Vincent’s blog