Online Meeting Hygiene to Keep Remote Teams Healthy
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, how we work has forever changed. As a result, more and more businesses are switching to remote working, or, Work From Home (WFH) policies to limit its spread.
While WFH may already be the reality for some, the switch to remote working, video conferencing, and digital-only connection is new to many.
Setting good hygiene around remote working is imperative when you’re transitioning into a new routine. It helps us keep our meetings, cultures, and organizations healthy and thriving. While we find this to be especially important now, these are good habits to keep in mind when we come back to the office as well.
In an effort co-lead by one of our Strategy Directors, Matt Sim, our team at Sub Rosa has generated few ideas to get you and your teams started on remote work best practices.
Video conferencing is more intentional than in-person meetings; so it’s critical to be clear on your meeting objectives prior to dialing in. Below are the three most common meeting objectives you should define and communicate to your team as early as the invite.
These are meetings where team members will need to come prepared for constructive discussion to reach a consensus or decision. They tend to be more focused on completing work and getting things done, rather than socializing. In these meetings, members need to focus on efficient communication and coming to a decision.
Team members should be open to contribute ideas and prepared to be generative. Imagination and lateral thinking are important in these kinds of meetings; communicate to the team to embrace moments of pause, reflection, and silence, as you would in person.
It’s critical to create connections and cultural moments, especially when social teams are suddenly forced to work remotely. These meetings are open and have no agenda. Tell your team to come as they are and there’s no need to prepare.
Good remote working hygiene is all about safeguarding against smaller missteps that can feel amplified through a 15” computer screen.
MIC CHECK, ONE TWO
Ever been screen sharing with colleagues only to have a slightly embarrassing notification pop up? No? Well, we have, and it’s not fun. Be sure to turn off notifications and close sensitive tabs before a meeting. Also, check that your microphone is not on mute to save you from embarrassing lip-syncing moments.
MIND THE DECIBELS
Be sure to alert your team to possible distractions in your environment. For example, while the construction happening outside may feel quiet to you, it may sound like a volcano erupting through someone’s speakers. It’s always best to call out noises or interruptions like pets, construction, and kids to practice empathy.
Awkward moments feel even more cringe-worthy through a computer screen. Be sure to state and reaffirm roles for specific members of your team. For example, you could signal roles by saying “now I need your participation”, or “ I’d like you guys to observe this and then tell me your thoughts.”
BREAKOUT, NOT DOWN
While it’s a little more challenging, it’s definitely not impossible. Consider setting up messaging channels (Slack/Teams/Whatsapp/Gchat) for smaller teams to use for brainstorming moments on your call.
PROMPT & PROD
Awkward silences happen far more on video conferencing than in person and while they only last a few seconds, they often feel like an eternity. To avoid them, come prepared to challenge, prompt, and prod during a conversation. From experience, posing a question or challenge to a group every 5-10 minutes is enough to keep the group engaged and the conversation moving.
I’M GOING TO ( )
This one’s pretty simple and a good way to wrap a meeting. To be sure that everyone is clear on their roles and responsibilities after the meeting, ask people to go around and state what they are going to do between now and the next time the team convenes.
Consider these points to ensure your hard work up to this point doesn’t go down the drain.
SIGN OFF + SCREEN OFF
Have you ever been on a conference call or video where the other party thought they had hung up but hadn’t? Embarrassing right? It’s the equivalent of receiving the accidental Reply All, except you’re watching the person hit send in real-time. Be sure to properly exit your tele- conferencing program (a good, old fashioned forced quit will work if you’re not sure if you’ve left) and be sure to turn your microphone off before blasting Spotify.
WE SAID, WE WILL
This is good hygiene in general, but especially important when working remotely.
Once you’ve finished your meeting, be sure to recap by summarizing what was said in notes and what tasks need to be accomplished before the team reconvenes.
While it looks like WFH will be our new reality for the near future, it doesn’t have to be something of which we should be afraid. In fact, this may be the disruption we need to innovate and build new habits and ways of working – leading to more empathic and brighter outlooks for our organizations.
As seen with these few simple meeting hygiene examples, perhaps this is the sort of change that helps us realize a better, more inclusive and collaborative culture in our workplaces, and in our lives. Take good care of yourselves, and each other.
All Rights Reserved for Michael Ventura