Despite awesome tools like as Zoom, Skype or Hangouts, remote teams still struggle on deciding when to meet and what subjects to cover and companies bemoan the loss of engagement opportunities for their employees.
A recent study by Gallup revealed that while remote workers tend to have higher morale and lower stress levels than those that work in the office, but they can miss out on critical social interactions and collaborative opportunities that are vital to the well-being of the business.
Using a well-thought-out system of remote meetings, you can help keep operations running smoothly, ensure every team member is on the same page, and keep your remote workforce feeling they a part of the big corporate family.
As a remote worker for the past 5 years and a member of a fully remote company, the following 5 meetings are ones that I’ve found to consistently provide the most value.
1) Meet-and-greet Sessions
Whether you’re bringing on someone new or just keeping your current team updated, a virtual meet and greet is an excellent way to bring every team member up to speed.
Meet and greets should always be 1 on 1 or maybe 1 on 2 with the goals being different if you’re a manager or employee:
- As an employee, these sessions are perfect to get to your know teammates a bit better and connect over your current projects.
- As a manager, you not only want to use these sessions to get to know your team a bit better, but to also solicit questions and feedback about the company.
Regular meet and greet sessions are a highly effective way to close the gap between long-distance working relationships and we recommend trying to have at least one per week.
2) Mentorship meeting
Remote mentorship isn’t much different from mentoring employees in person and can help your teammates to understand their role and how to execute it more effectively.
While mentoring people who are working outside of offices can create geographical challenges, technology has made strides in improvement over the years.
With a proper managing of mentorship goals, expectation, and structure, mentorship meetings can be done regularly as a means to offer feedback, answer questions and recognize the efforts of the mentee.
We recommend these meetings be held once per month with quarterly reviews.
3) Team progress meeting
Keeping team members in the loop on the latest goals and projects is a quintessential part of any business operations.
More impactful than emails or chat, regular progress meetings can keep teams up to speed on roadblocks and things that are coming up next.
Progress meetings should always be led by managers but, depending on the size of the team, you can include 1-2min per person for updates and questions.
We recommend these meetings be held weekly, either at the beginning or end of the week according to how your company approaches planning.
4) Monthly all-hands meeting
All-hands meetings are the ideal way to disseminate key company information and updates throughout your organization, thus ensuring everyone is in sync regardless of location or time zone.
While keeping employees engaged in one room is tough, doing the same thing remotely with a global team can be equally challenging.
As with most things in business, the right amount of preparation can help you better run your all-hands meeting and we also suggest allowing employees to submit questions for the leader to address.
When all-hands meetings are conducted well, remote teams gain greater clarity towards the health of the company as well as guidance on the goals currently driving decisions.
All hands meetings should be held monthly or biweekly – keep in mind that it might be difficult to get timezones to cooperate so feel free to either offer multiple sessions or record the meeting for those who can’t attend.
5) Q&A session with management
When employees are working remotely for extended periods of time, rumors and concerns can arise if communication is absent amongst management and employees.
Before your remote team ends up in a game of Chinese whispers, you should hold a Q&A session to let them find answers straight from the horse’s mouth.
Regular Q&A session gives your remote workforce the chance to learn more about pressing issues and seek clarification on various business-related matters that they usually can’t ask.
As a manager, you can also take this opportunity to set the narrative straight for your team and to get a feel of the team’s sentiments towards the company.
When you are taking the lead in your next Q&A session, always announce your upcoming meeting in advance to allow participants time to come up with questions and feedback.
The main objective is to identify all the crucial questions that are giving your team cause for concern, but to also keep things moving in order to cover as much as you can – you can always revisit a question afterwards to provide greater detail.
Tips to help you hold better remote meetings
Regardless of the format, remote meetings are not easy to pull off and you’ll likely find yourself revising them over time. Here are a few tips to help you get ahead of the curve:
a) Set a time limit
Putting a cap on your meeting duration can dramatically boost your productivity and help everyone stay focused.
For example, setting a 30-minute meeting and assigning 5 minutes to each agenda ensures the discussion stays on point.
b) Provide meeting notes
As remote meetings tend to be less impactful due to the lack of physical presence, a set of notes should be sent to all participants after each session to ensure everyone remembers the details.
Such handouts can be in the form of written notes, drawings, charts, text chat logs, audio/video recording or presentation slides.
Once you have sent your handouts to your team members, check back and see if they have any follow up questions or concerns.
c) Prepare in advance
To ensure a smooth and delay-free session, it is a good practice to ask your meeting participants to perform a full system restart on their devices at least 15 minutes before the start of the meeting.
Inform the participants to check and test that their attached peripherals are functioning properly.
Encourage them to enter the virtual meeting room about 5-10 minutes in advance so they can perform a quick test before the meeting goes underway.
d) Take advantage of the text chat feature
The chat feature in your conference software is an invaluable tool for your remote meetings.
One key feature is that it allows quick communication between team members without detracting from the meeting discussion.
For example, participants can quickly submit questions using chat, without distracting the presenter. Other non-speaking participants can use the text chat and chip in their answers on behalf of the speaker.
Once the presentation has finished, the organizer can scroll through the chat and answer any open questions, thus cutting down on the overall meeting time.
While text chat may potentially distract the participants during the meeting, you should always leave the chat room option enabled by default unless things start getting out of hand.
Creating a remote workforce brings excellent benefits for your team’s performance, but it’s not without its drawbacks.
With the right level of interaction and collaborative efforts done through remote communication, you can mitigate the pitfalls of running a remote team, and create a win-win situation for the company and your employees.