Remote Meeting Chaos
At this point in time, you’re probably a master at remote meetings. You know how to schedule, how to make sure your mic is up to the task, and your meetings are so much more productive than they had been in the office. Of course, if that’s not the case, you’re certainly not alone! We at Veeya know the struggle of the remote office transition, as we’ve seen it play out not only within our office, but also within many other organizations that we manage. These past few months, we’ve learned some invaluable tips for ensuring that our remote meetings are meaningful for all involved, and we would like to pass those tips on to you.
Let’s start with some basic meeting etiquette. While it’s likely been some time since you’ve seen the inside of a conference room, some of these should (hopefully) sound familiar. It’s quite simple to translate these directly to the remote meeting!
- Have an agenda and stick to it.
- Designate one person to lead the meeting.
- Keep distractions to a minimum. This can be much more challenging when you are using your computer or phone to attend the meeting; how easy would it be to mute yourself and watch an episode of your favorite show on Netflix (hypothetically, of course)? To keep the meeting on task, close those browsers and put your notifications on mute so you’re not tempted to do other things.
- Don’t invite more people to the meeting than necessary. Your team is busy, and too many meetings can infringe on their work. If they don’t need to be in the meeting, either don’t invite them or designate them as “optional” instead of “required.”
- Don’t schedule too many meetings back-to-back. In the office, it’s polite to give people a buffer between meetings to get some water, check their messages, and “commute” to their next meeting. While the remote “commute” is much shorter (all they have to do is click “Join” on their new meeting), that time should still be appreciated so that your team can tend to other business.
- Follow-up on meetings with notes and any deliverables for the attendees.
Moving on, meetings have changed due to both the limitations as well as advantages of the specific platform used. Whether you’re using Teams, Zoom, or another application, the following tips can help make sure you’re using the platform well:
- Test your mic, video, and network settings before the meeting. You should only have to configure this once per platform, so if it’s your first time using a new platform, try to arrive a few minutes early so you can make sure your settings are correct. If you’re experiencing performance issues due to slow internet, forgo the video portion.
- Put yourself on do not disturb. This can help you focus in on work and it can also create a disturbance-free environment when you’re in a voice or video meeting, especially if you’re leading the meeting or sharing your screen.
- Mute yourself during meetings with three or more users as it can be distracting if everyone has their microphones on at all times. Try to keep yourself muted unless you are speaking. If the application has push to talk, you may want to consider that alternative.
- Be mindful of your environment. If there is anything distracting in your background, you may want to blur it or choose an alternate backdrop. That being said, try not to change your backdrop so often that it is distracting.
- Record meetings. When you conduct video meetings, the platform may offer the option to record them. Let other users know if you will be recording, then grant them access to the video later so they can re-listen to anything they may have missed.
- Familiarize yourself with the meeting toolbar. Know how to control video, voice, screen-share, and chat. If you’re familiar enough with one platform, you’ll probably be able to pick up on another platform’s toolbar rather quickly, for example if a client invites you to a Zoom meeting when your office uses Teams.
- If the application has a chat or “raise hand” feature, consider using that to ask questions instead of speaking over someone.
- If using video, position your camera so that you are facing it directly. If you have multiple screens, you may want to move the recording application so that it is below your camera. That way, when you look at the screen, it will be as if you are looking at the camera.
- Create a casual meeting space where team members can go to talk about non-work topics. Think of this as your “water cooler.” For example, you can create daily lunch meetings or weekly happy hours where everyone can unwind for a bit and check in with each other.
- Start each meeting with several minutes of casual conversation rather than diving straight into the agenda.
Finally, some general advice that we think will help your team as they work remotely:
- Be empathetic toward your team’s situation. Work may not be the most pressing thing to them at this time. Communicate expectations and be willing to make adjustments that will help them thrive.
- Maintain the expected schedule. While cutting out commute times can allow workers to start their day earlier, it is unreasonable to expect them to maintain more than their usual workload (unless they ask to shift their hours a bit earlier, of course).
- Check in with your teammates. We’ve mentioned it a few times, but right now everyone can use a bit more kindness in their lives. Ask them how they’re feeling, how their families are, if there’s anything you can do to help them (and not just how productive they’re being).
Keep in mind that all of these tips and tricks will remain relevant even after the work force returns to their offices. Now that we’ve seen how working from home can succeed with the right tools and mindset, you may consider creating room for remote work in your future business strategy. Whichever direction your organization goes, we hope you feel more confident in your ability to conduct remote meetings. If you have any questions about the tools we at Veeya use, both to connect with each other internally as well as the tools we support and maintain for our clients, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.