Zooming in and Zoning out: Remote Deliberation Impairs Team Decision Quality

Anoop A. Javalagi*, Alexandra M. Harris-Watson, Leslie A. DeChurch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The sudden shift to remote work offered a unique opportunity to investigate the effect of meeting modality on team decisions. We present data on classroom teams solving a classic team decision task type, the hidden profile, where members each have unique information that must be combined to arrive at the correct solution. Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, we collected data on teams solving hidden profiles in-person, over Zoom, and then in-person while wearing face masks. We first demonstrate the efficacy of the decision task, a space-themed hidden profile where team members bring to bear data on exoplanets to choose which of three planets can best support human colonization. Once validated, the task was implemented as part of a team effectiveness course over four years: two years before the COVID-19 pandemic (2018–2020), one year of remote work (2020–2021), and one year of masked in-person work (2021–2022). Students were randomly assigned to teams and roles within each course and deliberated for 30 minutes to choose the best option. Examining the quality of team decisions shows marked differences based on the modality of team deliberations. Teams deliberating in-person had the greatest chance of solving the hidden profile, followed by teams meeting in-person with face masks; teams deliberating over Zoom were least likely to solve the hidden profile. Practical implications of team decision modalities for hybrid work design are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGroup and Organization Management
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • face masks
  • hidden profile
  • remote collaboration
  • team decision making
  • virtual teams

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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