With the advent of the internet coupled with challenges caused by horrible traffic and pandemic threats, companies are resorting to implementing work from home schemes for their staff. Numerous benefits come from having telecommute options such as cutting out commute time, saving costs on office space, and happier and more productive employees. A study from Stanford even found productivity levels increasing by 13 percent for remote workers compared to their in-office colleagues. They are also less likely to avail of vacation leaves when critical home errands like air duct cleaning need to be accomplished since they can work at home.
One of the biggest challenges in remote work is how to have productive and engaging meetings. Dealing with technical difficulties can break the momentum of the meeting or prevent it from starting in the first place. Environment audio, like barking dogs, crying babies, or ambient noise from a café, can also disrupt the concentration of participants. Some might even zone out and feel excluded from the ongoing topics unless prompted by the moderator. Here are several ways you can adopt to rise above the challenges of online meetings.
Send the agenda and relevant documents ahead of time.
You will save time when participants are properly briefed about the topics and decision points to be discussed. They will also be more focused instead of reading the materials in real-time or even putting the finishing touches on their own projects. Send an email containing the meeting link and all resources upon participant confirmation with a reminder 20 minutes before everyone goes online.
Share and rotate meeting roles.
Give people tasks that require active listening by assigning meeting roles such as moderator, timer, and scribe. Change the roles every time between meetings through games of chance or other creative ice breakers to keep everyone on their toes. Don’t forget to confirm with the person and orient them of their roles and responsibilities.
Encourage team members to print handouts and other materials.
Their screens will be pretty crowded with the video conferencing window and the multiple documents and tabs they need to have on hand as a reference. Prompt your team members to print out resources to avoid pressing Alt-Tab too many times. Physically writing down notes is also better in retention compared to typing everything in a Word file.
Be ready 20 minutes before the meeting.
Make sure the meeting room is already functional and ready to accept participants ahead of time. Don’t wait until the actual start time to give ample duration for troubleshooting technical and internet difficulties. Being the first person in the room with a friendly smile can also help participants feel at ease and excited about the discussion.
Use live polling to engage participants.
Use live polls once in a while to re-engage team members and avoid them zoning out to your litany of to-dos. Break the ice or collect their insights with word clouds, ratings, or multiple-choice polls to prompt them back to the topics at hand.
Being prepared with the right tools and techniques can lead to more productive and engaging virtual meetings. You can create and build an online environment that is just as good, if not better, as face-to-face interactions. Companies might as well adapt to the trend of working remotely since it is here to stay.