“Be the chess player, not the chess piece”- Ralph Charell

Companies which will survive the COVID-19 crisis will be those that are resilient and innovative enough to convert regular teams into effective remote teams. For your meetings to be productive and effective during this period of social distancing and working remotely, we gathered the best tips and tools to make this a reality.

1) Choose The Right Tool For The Meeting

When it comes to communication with remote teams, keep in mind “write the same way you would have come to your colleague to share your thoughts” to maintain the same style of communication.  Therefore, you can use some internal communications tools such as Slack, Twist, Basecamp, Skype or What’s App groups. Do not hesitate to pick up the phone if you would prefer to talk about a sensitive topic in more detail.

If you are a moderator and need to organize a team meeting, the first thing to choose the right tool is to ask yourself key questions; what is the key functionality you need for the meeting to be successful? Do you need to see all the participants and share a document? If the answer is yes, you can schedule the meeting on a videoconference software, like Hangout, Zoom, Skype, GoToMeeting (amongst others).

Do you need everyone to be able to work on a document collaboratively? Google Docs, Paper by Dropbox, Smartsheets, or Miro might be the right tools. Do you need to launch a communication on a specific project or follow-up on pending tasks with the team? Then we would recommend Trello, Asana, and Notion which help in organizing tasks and keeping track of the workflow allowing everyone to modify documents in real-time. If you would like to create a social connection within your remote team,  Know your team is a great app dedicated to managing remote teams.

2) Plan The Meeting In Advance

Once you have chosen the right medium, the key to making the meeting efficient is to prepare for it ahead. Starting from the beginning, if you are the organizer of the meeting, set a date and time suited to the team’s schedule. Does David have a child at home during this period? Is everyone in the same time zone? By defining the most convenient time for the team, you will secure each member’s attention during the meeting. Timeanddate, World Time Buddy are useful tools that help you find everyone’s best timing anywhere they are around the world.

Once you have set the time and date, take time to set a clear agenda. Creating a list of topics to be discussed and sharing it ahead of the meeting allows you and the team to stay focused throughout the allocated time. Endless meetings might lose some of the attendee’s focus, who are even more likely to check their emails.

Preparing or participating in a remote meeting always requires planning a plan B. Since the success of this type of meeting depends on external factors (internet connection, operation of the webcam, microphone), technical concerns are not impossible. Ideally, share a backup solution with the other participants: a phone call instead of a video meeting, a written brief instead of an oral presentation… Anticipating and sharing a backup plan will avoid stress and frustration whatever happens.

3) During The Meeting

Naturally, when we are not in person, it is more difficult to remain socially connected to your team or fellow team members. For this reason, let’s take a few minutes to be connected with everyone at the beginning of the meeting and asking how everyone is holding up. Keeping the link between colleagues with the conversation going is key to bolstering the company culture.

4) What Happens After The Virtual Meeting?

At the end of the meeting participants “leave” the meeting room and go back to their occupations. There is no natural space for post-meeting conversations, clarifications or any last question. In order for a remote-meeting to be effective, it is even more crucial that every person walks out with clear action points. The key elements to consider are deliverables and next steps.

  • Who is responsible for following up on each item or task?
  • When are the deliverables due?
  • When will the next meeting take place?

The best way for making sure that all key points were discussed is by sharing a report on the email of what was discussed and what the next steps are. A written record also allows participants to refer to it any time and avoid any misunderstanding or loss of information. One last thing, since the process might be new for many people, we encourage managers to send a follow-up survey to find out whether the meeting platforms are effective for the team. This can be done through casual one-on-one conversations or by sending out a simple and anonymous feedback survey.

Remote meetings can be very efficient for everyone if used the right way. If you keep these 4 tips in mind, your virtual meeting is likely to be more effective than a regular meeting. This should give us all a good reason to remain positive during confinement, right?

Published by

Cécile Hourse,

Project Manager Kipawa+