M eetings in a remote team can be hard: it’s difficult to find the time when everyone’s schedules are all different, and it can be hard for everyone to make their technology work and to be able to talk to each other as expected. That being said, there are many tried and tested methods to optimize your remote meetings and ensure they are the most productive that they can be.
We’ve selected a few of the best insights around meeting each other remotely, and provided them below.
Many companies fall into the hole of having meetings just for the sake of having meetings. But, that takes up a lot of people’s time, sucks a lot of energy out of employees, and takes money directly out of the coffers of the company. While recurring, regular meetings do serve to provide a useful cadence for the people that attend them, it defeats the purpose if you have nothing to talk about and address.
A great way to think about this, then, is to figure out what you are trying to accomplish, and how frequently you’ll need to meet to discuss it in order for it to be a success. For many projects, this will not be weekly but could be biweekly or even monthly with short work chat check-ins as each member of the team works towards the goal. If you think about what you want the end goal of all of the meetings to do be, it should help you determine both the frequency and length of the meeting itself. This will save you the effort of going about a month or so in and realizing that you did not need to be having meetings so frequently, and have actually wasted quite a bit of each other’s time.
Once you’ve determined the frequency and cadence to your meetings, stick with it. There is nothing worse than being a remote employee and shifting your schedule only to have the meeting be canceled at the last minute. It’s important for everyone to respect each other’s time: once you’ve scheduled something to try to stick to it and avoid rescheduling. If you do have to reschedule, do so fairly far in advance so that other people that are joining in on the meeting know about the shift before they hop on to join and end up not having to be there.
Whether you are creating a culture with a lot of scheduled, regular meetings as a part of your framework or you only have a few meetings sprinkled here and there, it’s important to create an outline for the meetings you conduct. There’s a great example in this post from Groove. Their doc elucidates all of the time-frames for everything that they are going to talk about, as well who says it, and the cadence at which it occurs. That sets both the speakers and the attendees up for success by ensuring that they have a timeline to follow during the meeting and that the meeting won’t go over.
If it’s possible to not have a meeting, that is always going to be preferable. The people over at Help Scout did a really interesting thing where they created a weekly video update, instead of holding a company-wide meeting and sent it around for people to view asynchronously. The benefits of this are many. First, people can watch it on their own time, and maybe be more focused on the content than they would have been if the meeting was at a time that was difficult for them, or didn’t fit into their schedule. Second: people can rewatch the content through the week to refresh if they need a reference for the metrics or something else discussed. Third, the video is likely going to be much shorter than a meeting would be, so it frees up all the time of all the people that would have been in the meeting to do other things. Depending on the size of your company, that could be huge. Think about how much time that is!
All of our meetings at Chatra happen in Slack. Our developers and founders make group calls several times a week to discuss current and upcoming tasks. Once or twice per month we hold an all hands meeting where we share news and updates, listen to the customer feedback collected by the support team and come up with ideas on what to do next to make Chatra even better. This cadence means that everyone on the team is focussed on what needs to happen next — and exactly what our customers need to be successful. Learn more about how we’ve built the best messaging tool for your website — whether your team is remote or not!
Have at least one meeting that is just meant for fun. Whether that be an hour-long optional session each week for people to just socialize, or scheduled randomized donuts like mentioned in the previous section — allowing your remote team to have fun together, even when not on an offsite, is super important. Create something in your meeting structure for that, otherwise, you miss out on an opportunity to better cultivate an amazing and inspiring remote culture.