Remote work is the future. Large companies like Apple, Amazon, IBM, and Intuit have embraced remote work and its benefits. But that doesn’t mean that remote work doesn’t come with its fair share of challenges. One of the most common complaints about remote work is that it hinders communication and collaboration.
Whether your team is fully remote or some of your employees happen to be working from home on a particular day, running an effective remote meeting is easier said than done. It’s simpler to communicate with people face-to-face because you can gauge their reactions and how they are feeling.
Typically, in-person meetings are perceived as being more productive than remote meetings, but it is possible to have an effective remote meeting with the right technology and processes in place. Here are some tips that should get you off to a productive start.
Make Sure You Really Need to Have a Meeting
Meetings can be a great way to get remote attendees on the same page, build consensus, and make progress on a project. However, you should only schedule a meeting if it is truly necessary.
Before scheduling a meeting, ask yourself what the objectives of the meeting are and make sure that they are clear. If you are unsure about a meeting’s objectives or they are still somewhat vague, you might want to think twice about booking a meeting and taking up people’s time.
Who Needs to Be There?
It’s difficult to hold large meetings remotely because of the limitations of technology and also because it’s hard for each attendee to contribute to the meeting if there are too many people involved. Ideally, there should be no more than 4-7 people in a remote meeting.
Introduce everyone at the beginning of a remote meeting, or have each attendee identify themselves. A simple, “Hi, Kate here,” helps attendees identify each other’s voices. People are usually more willing to participate if they know who is on the call. Don't hesitate to make some small talk at the beginning of each meeting to break the ice and make everyone feel comfortable.
Get the Right Remote Meeting Tools
Using collaborative software like Google Drive, WebEx, GoToMeeting, and Skype for Business ensures that all participants are viewing the same thing at the same time. Using video is always recommended because it helps people feel like they are in the same room as you and allows them to view people’s reactions and facial expressions. Video also prevents participants from multitasking because you can see what each person is doing.
Whiteboarding solutions are important because they allow participants to brainstorm, share thoughts, and collaborate more easily. If you work with designers, you may also need access to a tool like InVision or Zeplin to share and comment on designs.
Meeting software is typically designed to work over an Internet connection, but it’s best to provide participants with the option to dial in because some of them may only have access to a telephone at the time of the meeting.
If you are setting up remote meetings for attendees across time zones, it’s helpful to have a time zone app to ensure that you’re scheduling the meeting at a time that works for everyone involved.
Get an Early Start
When you have a remote meeting, get online five minutes before the meeting starts, so you can get everything set up and ready to go in advance. It’s important to know your hardware and software well, so you are able to use the tools effectively and resolve any problems that arise.
Prepare an Agenda
Put together a detailed agenda for your remote meeting and send it to all attendees in advance. This gives people time to digest the discussion topics and come prepared.
If attendees are planning to share materials with others during the meeting, it is ideal that they send them to participants in advance so that everyone has time to review the material and come up with questions ahead of time.
When starting a meeting, remind everyone of the meeting’s goals and objectives. Encourage all attendees to participate in the meeting by asking them questions and requesting their contributions. This will help keep everyone engaged.
These are just some ideas for making remote meetings better. If you’re looking for a tool to help you seamlessly book meetings with remote colleagues, consider Resource Central. This meeting room booking system for Microsoft Outlook®, Exchange, and Office 365 also allows you to book video conferences and meetings across multiple time zones.
Sign up for a free trial today to learn more.