10 ways remote work is changing your Monday meetings
Remember the days when everyone piled into the boardroom for the 9 o’ clock Monday briefing? For many, if not most businesses, those days are long gone. The rise of smart and cloud technology has transformed the workspace and the way we work, giving rise to the 21st century’s biggest work trend: remote working (or telecommuting to some).
The actual layout of offices are changing to accommodate this shift in work culture too. Many companies, for example, don’t require a boardroom because so many of their employees work remotely, whether from home, on the move or in a coworking space elsewhere. In some instances, breakout spaces double up as more informal meeting areas.
70 percent of professionals work remotely at least once a week, according to data from 2017 – so the figure is probably even higher now. It’s easy to see why so many businesses are embracing it. Offering flexibility can help attract talent and retain existing employees, reduce employee stress and drive up productivity which has a positive effect on the bottom line.
But how is remote work changing the way we conduct meetings, exactly? Also, what can we do to optimise online meetings with remote employees?
1. Investing in AV technology
To get the most out of your meetings with telecommuters, having good audio visual equipment in your meeting room is key. The first thing to think about is a display screen that enables you to see participants in other locations and screen share from additional devices. Other things to investigate are good quality microphones, speakers and cameras.
2. Working around time zones
When scheduling one off or recurring meetings, select times that will work in everyone’s time zones. Scheduling is also really important in this respect; make sure you send out invites well in advance to avoid overlaps and missed appointments. Hint: 12pm New York time equates to 9am in LA and 4pm in London.
3. Rethinking etiquette
It can be easy to forget basic etiquette when conducting meetings with remote workers, but there are certain practices you should follow to ensure it runs smoothly and professionally. Be sure to introduce everyone and allow them to contribute. Also, communicate the agenda clearly at the beginning, turn all notifications off (as you would do in a face-to-face scenario) and avoid working on other tasks during the meeting.
4. Allow for casual conversation
Casual conversations are crucial for rapport building and can help keep people engaged when the conversation finally turns to business. Spend a few minutes catching up with with everyone at the beginning of the meeting – how has their week been and what’s the weather like there? Simple questions can go a long way and will help you to establish a team culture.
5. Arranging online follow-ups
It’s important to give remote employees a clear objective at the end of the meeting. What are the deliverables and next steps? When’s the deadline? When will the next meeting be? It might even be worth getting participants to feed back on how you’re doing in terms of leading a remote meeting (through an anonymous form, for instance).
6. Choosing the right software
There are a number of high functioning conferencing programs out there today, including the likes of Skype for Business, Poly and Zoom. Most of the platforms out there today integrate with Google and Outlook, making scheduling easy.
7. Keeping everyone engaged
We can use our body language to engage people in a face-to-face context. Without this, we have to think of alternative ways of keeping people engaged. Directing questions at individuals, including everyone in the conversation and sharing your screen with relevant visuals on it can all help.
When looking at potential online meeting tools, find out whether they include additional features like screen sharing and recording so that you can share the meeting in full (or highlights) with participants afterwards. This will enable them to focus on what you’re saying without worrying about taking notes.
8. Introducing everybody
It can be difficult for people to keep track of who’s in a meeting if there are lots of people involved. Get everyone to introduce themselves at the start and be sure to introduce any newbies too. This will help you to establish an inclusive online space where everyone’s voice is heard – and will help keep people engaged too.
9. Giving everyone a role
There’s nothing worse than attending a meeting and having absolutely no idea why you’re there. To avoid this, make sure every participant has a clear purpose; one team member might be responsible for taking notes, another might be compiling a list of actionable points throughout. Either way, interaction is key.
10. Swapping Monday for Wednesday…or Friday
Monday might not work for everyone, or most people! Don’t be afraid of flexibility and experimentation – even if that means breaking habits of a lifetime.