Thanks to COVID-19 the global digital transformation strategy recently put in place for everyone, life in an office is looking a bit different these days. The ritual morning coffee run is replaced by standing half-asleep over a Nespresso machine and talking to your teammates is unfortunately no longer as simple as tapping them on the shoulder or walking over to their desks.

The fundamental question we’re now faced with is “how do you work with other people while not being around other people?” – thanks to a plethora of communication and collaboration tools, this new way of working has been easier to adopt than expected.

But what about meetings? For those of us facilitating meetings with groups of people, it can be significantly more challenging to do this remotely – here are some tips to get the most out of your remote meetings.

Start On Time, Leave Early

Something that has become apparent of late is the sheer amount of screen time we’re all now undertaking. Under normal circumstances, meetings are held in a designated room/location in the office – you’d physically get up, walk there (perhaps grab some water or a coffee on the way) and sit down and listen. Now, our meetings are exactly where we do the rest of our days – at computers.

This sharp increase in screen time can be draining for those of us who have multiple back-to-backs or a high frequency of meetings throughout the day.

So, it’s key to start on time and to leave early – take 10 minutes off the end of each meeting to allow participants to get up, have a stretch, grab a drink and be away from the screen for a moment before needing to jump back on to go into another meeting or continue work. It’s not much, but it’ll help in the long run!

Clock showing numbers moving fast

Set An Agenda

For a meeting longer than a Daily Standup, it’s important to have an agenda and have the team aware of that agenda prior to the meeting.

By creating a clear running order for the meeting (who is in attendance, key talking points, action items, etc), you can ensure maximum focus from the team, there is a clear direction and structure to the session.

Let’s face it, long remote meetings can get tedious and dry – by providing the team with a structure, you can minimise wasted time and ensure everyone is attentive and providing valuable input where needed.

Have Fun With It

Just because we’re all working remotely, it doesn’t mean that the usual banter and non-work-related conversation shouldn’t seep into a meeting. In fact, someone bringing their dog into view of the camera or discussing Tiger King with your team should be highly condoned as something that will keep the team feeling together and positive.

Try designating a block of time in longer meetings for some social/casual conversations – even collaborative web games like Skribbl can be a great way to bond as a team and lift the mood and morale.

Tools like Zoom also provide the ability to set a Virtual Background – our team has had many laughs with some hilarious custom backgrounds that make us all feel a little human again in this strange time.

Pro-Tip: if you want to really up your Zoom camera game, check out Snap Camera – it’ll add Snapchat-style filters to your camera and is guaranteed to get a few laughs!

"...have an agenda and have the team aware of that agenda prior to the meeting."

Be Seen and Heard

I love working with my teams. Coming into the office and having a laugh or a joke with the awesome people at Tigerspike makes every day great. However, now that we can’t physically be in the same space, it’s a little different.

If you can, utilise your video and audio capabilities to be seen and  heard in meetings – actual face time with the team will make everything feel a little more normal and it’s much easier to facilitate conversation when you can see someone’s body language and read the room a little better.

Remote team meeting

Get Everyone Involved

It’s easy to switch off in remote meetings – some genius irresponsible student was even busted recently for using a selfie as his Zoom background and ditching his class.

So as the facilitator of the meeting, it’s ideal to involve everyone in the session – delegate jobs (minutes, noting actions, etc), ask how their day is going, ask them to provide an update or if they have any ideas on the topic at hand.

This will ensure that everyone in the room feels validated and important (hint: they are) and are thus more likely to contribute and feel connected with the wider team.

Eddie Abed

Project Manager,Melbourne

Eddie Abed

Project Manager,Melbourne