The work environment has recently witnessed new challenges and changes as a consequence of the COVID-19 outbreak. Many companies have been left with no option but to transition a great part of their activities, if not all of them, to a virtual environment and embrace remote working. While some companies have done this before and are thus equipped with what it takes to run remote activities effectively, others have entered a significantly new stage of working and are faced with the need to adapt to this new work arrangement.
Thankfully, the latest technological achievements have made it possible to carry out a variety of daily work-related tasks entirely online. The many tools and programs available these days simplify this transition to virtual offices. If your company is new to remote working, and you’re interested in how to run remote meetings and do so effectively, here are a few tips to get you started.
Read more about the technology propelling remote work.
Keep remote meetings the same structure as your face-to-face meetings
In some respects, remote meetings are not different from their face-to-face counterparts. Planning is still their foundation, therefore, start by planning your next remote meeting carefully. Identify the need that calls for a meeting and set the date and time based on the nature of this need, whether it is urgent or not.
Next, invite only the members you cannot do without, those whose role is crucial in approaching and solving the new challenges. Of course, since this is a remote meeting, you can also allow other members of your team to participate and thus also send some optional invites.
Make sure you assign meeting roles and let the team members you invite know about them beforehand. By doing so, you will keep things organized. Not to mention that the participants are more likely to stay engaged knowing that they have a specific responsibility. Once you’ve checked all these boxes, it’s time to send the e-mail and invites.
Get the needed tech to run remote meetings smoothly
If the structure of a virtual meeting is very much the same as the one of in-person meetings, the setting is not. Luckily, there are many programs you can choose from to get all your team members together in one virtual office, although scattered in real life.
The technology you use holds great importance when it comes to making this transition to virtual offices a successful one. Therefore, identify the software and tools that best serve your needs in this regard. The type of your meeting will help you narrow down your list of options.
If you’re interested only in voice conferences, then you can use common programs such as Skype. You are likely to need video conferencing software at some point, though, and here is where the list is quite generous.
Skype does a great job here as well, but you can also consider other programs such as GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts Meet (specifically developed for business meetings), BlueJeans, Lifesize, and Zoom Meeting, just to name a few. Some of them are free, while others require a monthly fee.
Prepare tech in advance
The program you choose depends entirely on your budget, whether you have previous experience using it, and so on. However, you need to make sure that everybody attending the meeting is familiar with the conferencing software.
If it’s a new tool added to the ones your company uses, make sure that you let your employees know about it, give them the required access information, and a bit of time to familiarize themselves with it before the meeting takes place.
If the tech part is a bit challenging for some of your team members, it is a good idea to hire an IT expert to create a tutorial and then share it across your team. Such a tutorial might already be available online. Just make sure everybody has the needed tool installed and running.
Be an effective online meeting moderator
Moderating the discussion and directing it toward organization are your responsibilities as a manager or team leader. Since you might experience a slight delay and people might get your message a split second later, you might find yourself with several members speaking at the same time. To avoid that, you will have to become a moderator and appoint or name the people who should answer a certain question or express their thoughts on the topic of your meeting.
Make sure that nobody attending it feels ignored and ask all members about their opinion to keep them engaged and find out more possibilities to approach and solve a problem. Seek feedback to see if everybody is OK with moving on, or if there still are things that need to be further discussed.