Remote work is becoming the go-to model for many businesses. Even companies that aren’t ready to take the full dive have begun implementing work-from-home strategies. This nomadic option to work from where you live is attractive to many employees and employers, but the shift doesn’t come without its hang-ups. Below, we present the pros and cons of remote work and provide a list of 10 remote meeting tips that are essential for success.
Remote Teams vs. Traditional Office-Based Local Teams
- The pool of talent to choose from broadens when you remove local restrictions.
- Your team develops a work-life balance that prevents burnout.
- You cut overhead costs because you don’t need to rent a large office.
- The time spent commuting to and from work is eliminated, freeing up schedules for family and friends.
- Some employees may not be able to thrive in a remote work environment.
- Company culture isn’t as refined when working remote.
- Different time zones can make communication more challenging.
1. Choose the right tools for managing a remote team.
Remote team management requires a shift that relies more heavily on communication tools. Equip your team with instant messaging tools to keep communication channels active and open. For calls and demos, choose software that allows for video calls and be sure to invest in cloud software to house all your data files. Ensure you have project management tools that keep your employees on track and allow you to have visibility on their progress.
2. Start conference calls with explicit instructions
Remote meeting etiquette is important. If you’ve ever been on a conference call during which the mute button was forgotten, you’ve probably listened to the rhythmic sound of heavy breathing or worse – dogs barking in the background. While this does affect standards of professionalism, these external sounds also cause distractions, preventing others from devoting full attention to the matter at hand (so let people know they should be on mute when not speaking).
3. Use website blocking software when needed.
Not all companies have strict policies regarding social media access on work computers; however, if you notice your team’s productivity slipping when working from home, you may want to employ software that blocks certain websites between specific hours. This way, your team is not tempted to check that Facebook comment or finish reading a Reddit thread that caught their eye.
4. Choose happy mediums when working with multiple timezones.
A 7AM east coast meeting initiated in New York may prove unreasonable for someone working from home in California, as that would mean they’d have to be up and ready by 4AM. Consider your team’s time zones when brainstorming ideas for remote meetings and schedule meetings that fall at a reasonable hour for all attending. A tool like Every Time Zone, which has a nifty slider that provides time zones across different locales, can help you coordinate this.
5. Set an agenda and stick to it.
In-person meetings allow for the expression of non-verbal communication, which often affects the tone and direction of meetings. However, with body language removed from remote meetings, you’ll need to set a clear agenda to ensure the proper flow of an optimized meeting. Provide your team with the agenda beforehand and encourage them to save their questions for the end of the meeting. This way, they know what to expect, team leaders can each address their points, and any questions left unanswered can be addressed at the end of the call.
6. Incorporate casual conversation in the remote meeting.
Without an environment that makes rapport building easy, you’ll need to make more of an effort to ensure employees feel connected and engaged with one another. Making time during a remote meeting for casual conversation lessens pressure and allows you to bring humanity into an otherwise hyper focused, robotic interaction. Remember, you still need to tend to the human needs of your employees and when working remote, this must be done intentionally.
7. Assign specific tasks to each remote employee.
To ensure your team members feel as though they are contributing, assign specific tasks for the meeting before starting the call. For example, have someone take notes on key discussion points, request updates on specific projects from different employees, and assign slide progression to someone else to assist you during your presentation. This way, you have everyone’s attention and engagement, preventing employees from becoming bored or disengaged throughout your time together.
8. Always follow-up after remote meetings.
To ensure a successful remote meeting, always follow up with a set of deliverables and next steps. Include deadlines for each action item and ensure who each task is assigned to is also clearly outlined. Schedule a follow-up call to keep everyone on track and looking forward to the next check-in.
9. When sending invites, make it ultra-clear how to access the meeting.
As team members adjust to remote meetings, make sure you clarify if the meeting is just a call or if they will be connecting via video as well (all these other remote meeting tips are useless if your employees can't join the call!). If they will be connecting via video or will require screensharing capabilities, be sure to identify the link that will connect them to your call. On the other hand, if you are just looking to have a call, make sure your team understands they do not require a link, only a call-in number.
10. Limit how many people attend remote meetings.
Calls can quickly get out of hand if too many people are trying to speak at once. You can avoid this by limiting how many people are on a call at a time. If you are holding a meeting that requires all employees be involved, try holding two or three separate calls, either on the same day or spread throughout the week. This way, you can give enough attention to each batch of employees and prevent overwhelming the call. This also helps with potential bandwidth issues (as home workers might not have connections good enough to deal with 20 HD video streams).
The way teams are collaborating is shifting as technological advances make it easier for us to connect from all over the world. With a few preparations, you too can create and enjoy the pros of running a successful remote team.