Remote working is quickly becoming the most desirable style of work, with up to 74% of US companies either already implementing, or planning to implement a hybrid work model permanently.
From an employee perspective, the benefits of working from home outweigh traditional brick-and-mortar jobs. This shift comes from a mix of greater flexibility, no daily commute, and fewer distractions compared with the traditional way of working.
If your business is looking into bringing in a permanent hybrid work model, one of the concerns you might have is how to organize your virtual meetings and keep the effectiveness of these high. Having the right tool kit in your arsenal will help establish an effective remote working environment for both employer and employee.
This article gives a rundown of everything you need to know about creating the most effective remote working environment. Understanding how to prepare a virtual meeting involves time and technology. Follow these simple guidelines to create a plan that works for the whole team.
How to Plan a Virtual Meeting
One of the most challenging things about having a team that works remotely is to find a meeting time that works for everyone. This can be especially difficult if you have a team that works in different time zones.
Give ample notice to everyone on the team, so they can plan their time and day accordingly. One way of doing this is to send out a poll with three options for times that all participants must fill out according to preference. Go with the majority.
Once a time has been set, the next stage is to set up the meeting room and send out a link with an agenda in advance. If this is the first time you have done an online meeting, then send out details and instructions to each participant on any software they may need to download.
On the day of the meeting, send out a reminder email, or set up an automated email, with the agenda and meeting link attached as the previous one may have gotten lost in the emails
Guidelines for Running a Productive Virtual Meeting
There are several techniques available to ensure your web conferencing doesn’t become a constant disruption to the workday. With staff more or less in charge of their own schedules, it can be hard to keep track of when team members are free to talk. For this reason, it’s good to follow a few simple practices to make sure meetings are a valuable use of time.
Make Sure There Is an Agenda
It’s just as important to have an agenda that states everything you’ll be discussing in the meeting. This not only helps to keep the meeting focused but also gives a heads up to team members about what important topics will be covered. Therefore it’s a good idea to share the agenda with participants before the meeting start date.
This also gives time for participants to prepare any material, or resources they might need, such as progress reports, or information about clients. Knowing the topics covered in advance also gives the participant time to think of any other relevant questions or the opportunity to bring up problems.
Time Block Each Section
When you schedule online meetings, it’s also worth time blocking these out. Part of the joy of working from home is that you’re in charge of your own agenda, and flexibility means that each person has planned a day’s worth of work around their own time.
Block out a meeting and stick to it. If you’re planning on just an hour, then make sure you keep to this. Delegate a set amount of time for each part of the agenda, and stick to it. Make notes and follow up with an email if it’s important and if there’s not enough time to cover everything or if it’s for a nonurgent topic, then bump it to the agenda of the next meeting.
Mute Their Microphones When Participants Are Not Speaking
If you have the benefit of quiet office space in your work-from-home setup, then this isn’t too much of a problem. However, a lot of people are working in shared spaces. It can be irritating for other participants if all they can hear is background noises whilst the meeting is going on.
Muting your microphone except when you are speaking demonstrates good etiquette and helps to ensure that there are minimal distractions.
Don’t fall under the illusion that just because you’re at home, you can focus on two things at once. By trying to multitask you will naturally be distracted from the meeting. Not only that, it looks a bit rude when your colleagues are speaking to someone who isn’t paying attention.
By multitasking, you could also mean you miss out on vital pieces of information in the meeting. As a rule of thumb, think about how you would behave in an in-person meeting. Things like scrolling through your phone, or replying to an email would be a big no-no.
Don’t Interrupt, Allow Others to Finish What They Are Saying
As tempting as it might seem, try not to interrupt others before they have finished speaking. Just as you would do at an in-person event, you should still be polite to other members of the meeting, even if you don’t agree with what they are saying.
Wait for them to finish, first. It can also sound incredibly chaotic if everyone starts peaking at once, and it can be more difficult during a virtual meeting to keep track of who has said what.
Keep Your Video On
It can be difficult to remain focused on an online meeting if some of the participant’s screens are turned off. Twin this with a muted microphone, and you might wonder if they are even there at all. Keep your virtual meeting more engaging by keeping the video on.
Just because you’re not physically in the presence of each other when you can see each other you can still interact and see expressions and body language. Working remotely can also be a lonely experience for some, and this might be the only contact they get with other people, and it can help build relationships and a rapport between team members.
Be Presentable and Dress Appropriately
One of the perks of working from home is that you can wear whatever you like. As much as the temptation to turn up in your pajamas is, you shouldn’t do it.
No one is expecting you to wear a suit, but equally, not getting dressed into something more presentable just looks lazy. Depending on who the meeting participants are, such as the company owner, or clients, it’s worth putting in a bit of effort. If you give the impression that you don’t care about your appearance it can quickly be associated that you don’t care about the quality of your work.
Tools for Scheduling a Virtual Meeting
Not sure which tools to use to host an online meeting? Here’s a list of some useful tools which will make your video conferencing experience run smoothly.
- Microsoft Teams installed
- A head mic
- Web camera (if you don’t have one built into your device)
- Desk lamp or ring light
- Laptop stand
How to Avoid Virtual Meeting Pitfalls
To make sure your remote meetings run smoothly, there are a few things you can plan. The best way to avoid pitfalls during your meeting is to check that everyone has the correct software installed on their device. They will have to do this ahead of time.
Ensure that everyone has the link to the meeting, and any relevant passwords or login details. Send this out before the meeting, a good place is on the agenda. Then sent a reminder email link just before the meeting takes place. Schedule this email so you don’t have to think about it on the day.
You will also need to check the video camera and microphone. If you’re in a noisy environment, then it could be worthwhile investing in a head mic set so that you can hear and be heard by other participants.
Is Your Company Remote Ready?
Is your business ready to make the transition to hybrid working? Have you got a strategy in place to plan a virtual meeting that benefits the whole team?
We’ve given you lots of tips in this article, but if you’re looking for more help to manage remote workers on your team, then find out more at Remote Work Made Simple.
Our knowledgeable staff can help you turbo charge your remote worker productivity. Book an appointment with us to discuss an actionable plan today.