Do you know how to run an effective remote meeting to manage online workers?
Meetings (including remote meetings) can be a great way to keep workers organized, productive and happy. Meetings are a great way to connect and build camaraderie, keep everyone on the same page and ensure that all deadlines are met. But meetings in general (and especially remote meetings) can also be a waste of time if not conducted correctly.
When you hire a virtual group of five or more workers, remote meetings are essential. Because workers aren’t sitting in a cube outside your office, you need an effective method of communication. Remote meetings are the best way to create concrete weekly goals for workers and set your business up for success.
If you follow these strategies and tips, your remote meetings will not only be effective but also an amazing way to maintain a powerful group dynamic that ensures your business remains profitable.
Set up Recurring Remote Meetings with an Agenda
There are several benefits to setting up and running recurring remote meetings when you have a virtual environment. These meetings mimic the typical “staff meeting” you’d expect in an office setting.
- Virtual workers will know the routine and expect your remote meeting when they are set up on a recurring basis.
- When you have a pre-set agenda, workers will be able to prepare in advance for the meeting. This allows your meeting to flow smoothly and be productive. Last minute meetings rarely produce results as workers aren’t given the opportunity to do the necessary prep work.
- Workers will have an avenue to bring up concerns, provide feedback and keep you informed of any changes to schedule or budget.
Technology for Remote Meetings
There are some unique challenges to conducting remote meetings as compared to your typical office meeting. Instead of reserving a conference room, you’ll be hosting your meeting over the phone or online. Luckily, there are many options available at all price points for your consideration. Utilizing the correct technology will ensure your meetings are productive and effective. For example, do you want the ability to have video calls? Share screens? Record meetings? Here are a few examples of options available for use.
- Skype – Skype is the app that I personally use to conduct my own meetings. It provides video capability as well as chatting ability. Skype has a both a free and paid version for your choosing. With Skype, you can share screens and video conference multiple people at the same time.
- GoToWebinar – This online conference tool allows you to conduct virtual meetings from anywhere. You can create your own business account, complete with your own logo which adds a professional flair. You can also record sessions and hold webinar onboarding for workers as well.
- Google Hangout – Google simplifies the process of virtual meetings with Google Hangout. It has a speedy interface and intelligent engagement system. With a couple of easy clicks, all workers can join your remote meeting. It integrates with Google Calendar, Gmail and G-suite making it efficient and easy to use.
Many software choices exist so always do your research. Most offer a free option or a free trial so you can try it out without committing. Test it out. If you don’t like it or it doesn’t meet your needs, choose another option.
Frequency and Timing of your Remote Meeting
The frequency of your remote meetings will vary greatly depending on the individual needs of your company and the number of workers you have. While some workers will meet as often as daily, others may only need to conduct biweekly, monthly or even semi-annually. The frequency will depend on the specific goals you set up and what you’d like to accomplish during the meeting.
Many business owners choose to set up their weekly remote meeting on a weekly basis in order to set concrete goals on a weekly basis. This is a great way to keep in frequent contact with each worker and diffuse any issues before they gain any momentum.
So, if you decide to conduct weekly meetings, when should you conduct them? Again, the timing will ultimately depend on you and the workers. Most weekly meetings are held on Mondays because it is the start of the week and a great time to motivate workers and get ahead of any impending challenges. Sometimes, virtual workers are spread out across the country or even across the world. Time zones can be an issue with remote workers. If this is the case for workers, make sure you are fair. Vary the meeting times so that if people must be inconvenienced, that inconvenience is shared with everyone. Alternatively, poll workers to find out if there is someone who doesn’t mind an off hours meeting each week. Whatever you choose, make sure the meetings are scheduled in advance and reflected in workers’ calendars along with associated reminders.
What Should be Included on the Agenda for your Remote Meeting?
While it is a must to have a pre-set agenda for your remote meetings, the items on the agenda will vary greatly on your individual needs and the goals of your business. Here are some overall ideas that are highly beneficial for most businesses.
- Ongoing Project Status – Allow each worker to brief you quickly on the status of all current work assignments one at a time. Individual updates are better than simply asking ‘How’s everything going?’ to the workers as a whole because it encourages even the quietest workers to speak up. This is the place where you discuss the previous week’s goals and if those goals were met.
- New Project Work and Assignments – If there is any new or upcoming work, take a few moments to quickly brief workers and make assignments.
- Schedule – Go over deadlines and make sure every project is on schedule.
- Issues/Help Needed – If anyone is struggling with any aspect of their work, bringing it up at your remote meeting is essential. Keep in mind, though, that your meeting is not the place for problem solving – only awareness. You want to avoid wasting time by problem solving during your meeting. Set up a separate meeting, if needed, inviting only the required people.
- Weekly Goals – The overall objective of the meeting is to set weekly goals. These goals can be on an individual or group basis, but make sure each person knows what he or she will be held accountable for. Assign a recorder for the meeting and make sure the weekly goals are captured to follow up on the next week.
- Feedback (What is working and what is not working) – Ask for feedback from workers during the remote meeting. Encourage everyone to let you know what is working for them and what is not. Be sure to handle negative feedback professionally and always try to improve when warranted.
- Inspirational Words/Recognition – Always try to end every meeting with some inspirational words to encourage and motivate workers. You want workers to feel valued and recognized for a job well done. If a particular worker did something amazing that week, publicly recognize them for it.
How Long Should the Remote Meeting Last?
Depending on the number of workers you’ve hired and the goals of your business, your meetings could range from 15 minutes to multiple hours. The length of the meeting might have to be tweaked over time to ensure you cover all of the required agenda items. The key to running effective meetings is to keep them moving so that they are as short as required to cover what you need to cover and reach the goals of the meeting. Some meetings may naturally run longer than others.
In order to determine the length of your meeting, consider the following:
- Number of workers
- Experience level of workers
- Complexity of work assignments
- Meeting budget (after all, you will be paying workers for their time)
Don’t spend too much time worrying about the length of your remote meeting. You can always adjust it over time. Poll workers to find out how the meeting went and if it should be shortened or lengthened. Honing in on the correct amount of time and then effectively running the meeting will ensure you get the most value from your time and workers’ time.
Conducting weekly remote meetings to solidify concrete weekly goals will help ensure virtual workers work to the best of their capability. As a business owner, it is important that you organize and run effective remote meetings to manage a virtual workforce. Just as with office workers, meetings are an essential piece of running a successful business.
What tips do you have for conducting effective remote meetings with workers? Leave them in the comments!
Melissa Ricker is a nuclear engineer and a professional freelance writer specializing in career growth, technical writing and online entrepreneurship. She writes a blog, Engineered Motherhood, for working mothers who need help balancing career growth and time management.