Establish good habits around virtual meetings

Remote work will be a norm for the long haul, and with it, organizations need to sharpen how they make the best use of time and technology. Has your employer established a clear culture around how to get the most out of remote work meetings?

Establish good habits

Of course, many of us miss gathering in person. But remote work has advantages. Embracing a remote mentality allows organizations to bring many perspectives to the table. Employers can target the best talent to add to their teams, which helps everyone.

Effective remote team communication requires two basic things: thoughtful consideration and some adaptations for the virtual office. You can’t communicate nonverbally the way you can when you’re together with someone in person. Providing context for digital communication helps the person receiving your message better understand your intention.

Make the most out of meetings by anticipating the needs of your colleagues in advance. Here are some suggestions:

Invest in process: Make sure the proper meeting pre-work is done so people can be 100% focused on the topic at hand. Communicate meeting agendas beforehand, and come prepared to lead or contribute. When relevant, assign a meeting lead and note-taker to ensure key decisions are captured in writing.

What’s the point?: The host or organizer should start each meeting by explicitly stating the purpose and the goal of the meeting. Don’t assume everyone knows.

Document, document, document: Simple meeting notes should be captured for every meeting and shared to the group. We recommend aggressively and thoroughly documenting the history of projects, initiatives, and team processes so they can be referenced later. Each department, team, and project should have a repository for evergreen documents ─ for example, process documents, documents that explain structures, decisions, systems, or “why things are the way they are.”

Everyone should be seen: If you are using video conferencing platforms, it’s important that everyone gets in the habit of being seen. Phoning it in should be the exception, not the rule. By taking the step to turn your individual video on in a meeting, you are ensuring that each person feels their input is appreciated.

Transparency is a necessity: Project and team information must be accessible for everyone. That includes information on side chat decisions. Takes notes, and share information in live documents. Onboarding new people to a project or team should be easy.

Communication should be asynchronous: Don’t expect immediate responses. Recognize that variations in schedule are unavoidable, and plan ahead.

Share your celebrations: Especially because in-person interactions and celebrations are a challenge, find perks for distributed team members.

Respect the time: For meetings that run 30 minutes or an hour, keep the content to 25 minutes or 50 minutes, respectively. This avoids running out of time, and it gives people a breather to get to their next obligation.

The circumstances of how we work may change, but that doesn’t mean we have to lose direction.

Bob Helbig is media partnerships director at Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee survey company that helps organizations build and brand Top Workplaces. Energage is The Washington Post’s partner for Top Workplaces.

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