Everyone does remote meetings nowadays! The culture has changed from having a room with people, drinking coffee, typing at their laptops and guiding discussions through the multitude of subject matters that they have to cover and resolve to… them doing the same thing BUT through their screens.
It’s an unusual change of environment, which can be daunting. Especially if the people in question are not very technically inclined.
However, remote meetings are replacing office meetings (and home-gatherings) all over the world. So, for the time being at least, we can all find relief that everybody is going through this, everybody is adopting this “trend” (or rather, necessity) and it is new ground for everybody.
However, this article is meant to offer some tips and act as a helpful guide, so here it is, a list of things to bear in mind, while scheduling your next catch-up meeting:
Human interaction is a basic necessity for humans. Period.
Not only on a social level, but even more on a business environment, where companies go forward, adapt and evolve as a result of people getting together and discussing pressing topics and relevant issues. It has been like this since the dawn of time. People have worked in groups and have sustained and improved their lives through collaboration. This cannot change.
Even though face-to-face communication it is very limited due to conditions of the pandemic and safety regulations, the next best thing is keeping the interaction alive and keeping the connections (and relationships) up-to-date.
There is no question if it is better to reconnect, speak your mind, and consult with your colleagues, or post-pone business until thing get back to normal. Because things don’t get better on their own.
There is a number of software that have been adopted by people who plan out the meetings. In the end it comes down to preference. New software is always coming out, trying to top the status quo with new features.
The best feature possible is the people attending the meeting getting along and having a smooth and enjoyable experience.
Zoom is the most popular software for conduct online meetings. There is no doubt about it. Their advantage is that they started early and have built their popularity through word-of-mouth …and memes.
Its strength lies in its simplicity. You can create a chat room and share a link to your friends to join in. It’s that simple. Its streamlined well enough that if you don’t have the application installed, it takes you through the process effortlessly and with minimum involvement, Whether you are on a mobile device or on you computer.
If you’re not sure which app to use, go with zoom. It’s the safe choice. Chances are, your teammates have already used it before.
Zoom is clearly the knig of virtual conferencing. Take a look at the statistics below:
Hangouts has been around for a while, but it hasn’t had the volume of people coming onboard the virtual meeting space before the covid-19 lockdown.
Since it has been developed by Google, you know it’s a safe choice and that the quality of the app must be good. It’s purpose was to replicate Zoom’s utility.
It can be confusing to know which Google app you should when there is a full suite of them: Google Meet, Hangouts, Duo.
Microsoft also attempted at having their own join-by-link virtual meeting app. It’s basically Skype but improved.
The catch with this one is that it is made for users who wish to delve into the Microsoft ecosystem and use their suite of tools. This can be extra head-ache for people who just want an easy-to-use tool.
However, I have heard people praising Microsoft Teams, and I believe that it comes second in popularity after Zoom
This one is aimed at conferences with a large number of people, like webinars. It does its job and the quality is good.
Slidoo is pretty much the same as Blue Jeans, though it has a slightly more modern-looking interface. It is aimed at webinars and large gatherings. It is a good tool trusted by big companies.
Facebook Groups, although isn’t positioned as a professional work-oriented tool, like Microsoft Teams, is still a handy tool to reach colleagues and update everyone on project statuses. Since everybody is on facebook it can work for small projects and teams which don’t mind using their personal facebook accounts for keeping in touch with teammates and holding project meetings.
Using a more personal tool for meetings is an quick-and-handy way of keeping on top of things. If your team needs to decide on what cake flavour to choose or colours for the new website, they can just start a usual video call and add others to the group.
The main advantage is the time-saving aspect, since teammates don’t need to share links or install extra applications on their phones.
Just because meetings are remote, that doesn’t mean that the business goals change or even people’s personalities. And in order to keep everybody on the same page it’s necessary to have everyone be comfortable with each other, make a connection and make their opinions known.
The “busy traffic” excuse cannot be used anymore. But you shouldn’t need to prolong meetings anyway! Getting it over with and moving to the next issue at hand will keep things flowing.
And allocate some 3–5 minutes for the basic check-ups (can everybody hear us? did you receive the meeting link, shall I email it again? etc.)
Being on time will keep your activities on check and will keep unnecessary delays at bay. Also, your colleagues will appreciate it!
Bear in mind that you are building a business relationship. It must feel like it’s getting somewhere. So keep notes!
Notes on where you left off, notes on further objectives and their states, etc.
The idea of the meeting is to get a good feeling of the state of the company and its activities in order to plan for the week/month.
The clearer the subject matter and the issues at hand are for the members of the call, the better the whole conference will go, because there will be clarity.
So, it is usually best to start off the meeting with listing the subjects that need to be discussed, and then go through them one by one, until the list is finihed.
By the end, you will have a regular meeting that doesn’t take too much time and that sets everyone straight onto their next objectives.
Just because the meetings are lacking the face-to-face element, doesn’t mean that people have lost their energy that they had before. Most people enjoy seeing their colleagues and catching up on each other.
The sole of the company is made out of the people and their relationships, so eliminating the social aspect is NOT an efficient way of running things.
The more personal these conferences get, the better. Bear in mind that people are more efficient if they can have other colleagues help them out with tasks that are new to them, or have them proofread or verify some work that they had done.
It’s all about team work. And without a close-knit team work fades.
Just like I mentioned in point 5, it’s instrumental for members of the team to have a grasp on their current position as a company to be able to gauge on expectations and possibilities, so they can decide on the best course of action.
The company is divided into departments with diverse specialisations and expertise. They all have different perspectives on things and see different risks. There is never too much updating, because at any point, there could be an important detail that changes requirements, task priorities and even opportunities. In order to have the management take into consideration such details, constant updating and catching up is required, at least at each meeting so that everyone is aware how much the situation has progressed.
Did the meeting go well? Proceed to the next step!
Plan for the next meeting. State what the purpose for the next meeting will be. Will it be about elaborating a different topic of the business? Will it be you presenting a sample of your product?
In this way, meetings will build on top of each other just like your teams projects and results. Don’t leave the next meet-up time ambiguous, decide then and there! Times can be rescheduled and amended. It’s useful to have the meetings connected one to each other and to maintain a sense of continuity.
The more you interact the better, but at the same time it’s very important to make sure that each meeting is useful and felt like a step forward in the business relationship.