Until further notice, working virtually will be the ‘new normal’ for millions globally. As a team that has worked virtually throughout our existence, we thought we’d provide some tips that have served us well.
Yes, rumor has it there is a global ‘bug’ going around and it is affecting the lives and work of just about everyone on this planet in one way or another. In the wake of recent events, one of the most common changes we are seeing is the rapid transitions to remote work forcing us all to start working virtually. In turn, this transition will undoubtedly put extra emphasis on virtual meetings as the main focal point of adjustment for millions of professionals worldwide. While this article won’t help you log into audio for your next zoom meeting (godspeed to you first-timers out there), it will provide some tips for conducting inclusive and productive virtual meetings in a remote workplace. The hope is while we face some uncertain times, our work can still go on (somewhat) as normal as usual while in the safety of our homes.
Tip #1: It’s okay to over-schedule virtual meetings
We understand that the traditional sentiment in most workplaces is that meetings can be unnecessary exhaustion of time and resources if overdone. But when working virtually, it becomes a necessity to over-schedule virtual meetings to maintain fluid lines of communication between your workforces. Innovation happens when we are equipped with the ability to interact with others, even if it’s through a weblink. Without the face-to-face energy that transpires when people are in close proximity, scheduling more frequent meetings, especially with a video interface, will help.
Tip #2: Ask for input… then ask for it again
While the modern marvels of technology allow work to continue beyond the confines of a traditional office, lines of communication naturally diminish in a remote workplace. Making every second of your virtual meetings count is vital and a huge aspect of that comes down to soliciting input from your attendees. In other words, make sure all the ideas and cards are on the table, both because it’s more inclusive to do so and because it’s more efficient to get all planning accomplished before executing ideas and initiatives.
Tip #3: Engage your attendees before and after your meeting
It is natural for engagement and attention in virtual meetings to diminish in comparison to live ones. Multitasking (an inevitable bi-product of virtual meetings) can reduce productivity by upwards of 40%. Engage your attendees before a virtual meeting by expanding your agenda to address what you hope each individual can contribute to the discussion. From an inclusivity point of view, this will also give the introverts and quieter voices a chance to plan for their contribution. Afterward, you can reach out to the attendees of your meeting individually to get their feedback and ensure they understand the importance of their contributions. You might need to set up an automated system to help remind you of these important tasks because it doesn’t often come naturally.
*We like this tip so much we think you should consider it even when things (hopefully) return to normal*
Tip #4: Monitor participation more than usual
With all the above-mentioned points, it’s important to keep an eye out on participation and be sure to bring out those who don’t traditionally contribute during meetings. As we mentioned, every second of a virtual meeting can be a delicate line between success and a ‘waste of time’. Success is predicated upon keeping a pulse on the proverbial ‘room.’
Tip #5: Insist on using video when working virtually with your teams
From experience, the simple dynamic of adding video to a virtual meeting can do wonders for productivity and engagement. While this may seem trivial, its impact cannot be understated. In areas of the world where others may be using English as a second language, there are already several non-verbal communication cues that are already being lost. Video conferencing helps to close that gap as well as increasing a sense of inclusion on the call.
Why it’s important to focus on inclusion in the virtual workplace
This rapid shift facing our workplaces adds an extra need for us to incorporate inclusive behavioral tactics to our interactions starting with virtual meetings. Being able to actively and strategically incorporate these behavioral tactics will be crucial to navigating these uncertain times and can be instrumental in expanding your team’s success when things return to the new ‘normal.’
Finding ways to embed these tactics within our day-to-day is the biggest and most important challenge to overcome. Let us know what you think and share some of your own tips with your fellow readers below! Times like these call for more collaboration than ever.
Thank you all for reading and sharing. Regardless of these times, our world will always be #bettertogether. Best of luck to everyone for their upcoming virtual meetings!!