Working half of the pre-draft process in a virtual setting, the Buffalo Bills and other NFL teams learned out of necessity how technology and remote work could transform a front office. NFL staffs are known for being insular and following tradition, but would the 2020 coronavirus shake-up leave lasting effects? Bills general manager Brandon Beane knows at least one change he’ll make to his annual process: embracing video calls with his staff.
“There’s been some calls with coaches that I normally just had a phone, [I’ll] say ‘hey, let’s jump on a Skype or Zoom or whatever. I can see him and get those non-verbals,” said Beane on a conference call with reporters last month.
Clearly, the peer-to-peer face time is a cornerstone of Beane’s work with the Bills. That forced the team to make compromises at the time. The long-term separation of the staff did have some negative fallout that the Bills weren’t able to fix with technology.
“I missed us being able to watch film together,” Beane added. “Everybody would have to have some really good hard-wire or Wi-Fi to do that, and we just don’t have that.”
The Bills, like everyone else, are raring to return to a world where they can meet together and operate like they did before the pandemic. But if there’s a silver lining to this whole ordeal, it’s that it showed the team how they can keep the humanity of a face-to-face conversation even during the grind of long-distance scouting trips.