Boostability is closely following the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, and tracking how the illness is affecting working relationships. Like many other employers, Boostability has transitioned to our employees working from home. This means our usual in-office birthday parties and team meetings are now being held as online meetings. This change, like lots of others, is taking some getting used to.
In this article, we’re sharing our favorite ways to make online meetings productive. Lots of us are staying at home for the foreseeable future. Here’s how to make the most of it.
Set an agenda.
Because you’re no longer meeting in person, having an agenda is a good idea, even if it’s not something you usually provide. Without the ability to interject as easily as you could face-to-face, people may forget they have something to share or be unable to indicate they’d like to speak since everyone is joining remotely. Ask staff members what they need to bring up and be sure to include it some kind of document. Share it with everyone before the meeting starts, and if you anticipate last-minute additions, make everyone aware of an alert feature or build in time at the end of the meeting to catch anything you might have missed.
Use the video feature wisely.
The video feature on most online meeting platforms can inspire some pretty heated debates. Tread wisely on determining how and when you’d like to use it.
Lots of people are uncomfortable on camera, which means mandating people use the video screen during a meeting may not be the best approach. Make it optional if you can, and don’t pressure others to share their video feeds if they don’t want to.
If you still feel like sharing faces is key to hosting a good meeting, make sure everyone knows well in advance. Sometimes dress standards can be a little lower for employees working from home. Make sure everyone has time to prepare themselves and look how they’d like.
Allison Green, the creator of the highly successful Ask A Manager blog, has lots of great tips for video conferencing, especially for those of us who don’t care for it.
Allow for (some) socializing.
One of the biggest drawbacks to working remotely is the lack of camaraderie between employees. Even for the introverts, missing out on key chances to develop relationships with coworkers can lead to a serious drop in morale.
If you’re able, find ways to allow for socializing during meetings where the team gets together. You may decide to allocate five or ten minutes at the beginning of the meeting to sharing personal news, or allow team members to join the meeting early or stay in the virtual meeting room after business has wrapped in order to catch up. While it’s hard to adjust remote work to truly mimic in-office experiences, find ways to use your online meeting platform to bring a sense of normalcy to a very abnormal situation.
When employees who generally don’t work remote start doing so, there are bound to be a few changes as team members make that transition. Be mindful of these, and do what you can to mitigate them.
Check in with meeting attendees and see if you need to adjust standing meeting times due to new schedules related to child care or other commitments. Ensure your video conferencing has options for those who may be commuting during the call, or who need to join late or leave early.
Consider enabling a chat feature if you’re able; that way team members can add something to the discussion without interrupting the speaker, which can make the conversation hard to follow when everyone has joined by phone.
Email a follow up.
With remote workers so spread out, follow up important meetings with an email or other written form of communication. Most conference calls have the ability to record meetings for later playback. But most team members won’t have time to review an entire recording to find the items they discussed related to their work. Summarize the next actions team members should take once the call ends and make sure everyone ends up with a copy. If you want to kill two birds with one stone, do it in the same document as the agenda!
Remain true to your core values.
Even though your team may be working from home, remember your company mission. No matter if you’re in the office or sitting on your couch, your overarching goals will remain the same. For us at Boostability, we’re still trying to live the Boost method. This includes being excellent to everyone and getting “next action.” We’re still focused on kindness and productivity, no matter our circumstances. Examine your motto and see if you can do the same.