Due to the recent coronavirus outbreak, remote meetings are becoming the norm for most businesses. While these meetings function similarly to those that would happen in a physical office, there are some differences that can hinder the success and efficiency of the meeting
Many remote workers report that online meetings result in poor collaboration, difficulty staying in the loop, and missing casual conversations. Psychologist Dr Paul Penn conducted a study in April of this year, when lockdown was in full swing. He established that ‘Zoom Fatigue’ was commonplace in many remote workers. He explained that ‘non-verbal cues’ such as facial expressions, gesticulation, and gaze trajectory, became ‘absent or distorted’ in online meetings. As a result, these cues become more difficult to respond to, and thus human interaction online becomes increasingly more draining. In fact, the term “Zoom Fatigue” has become one of the most searched keywords in 2020!
With remote working becoming increasingly more normal, and the trajectory predicting it to continue after the current pandemic, solutions to ‘zoom fatigue,’ must be established. Orbital explores some of the best tips to improve remote meetings for team members.
Give Everyone a Part To Play
By allocating all your staff members a role within the meeting, such as note taking, presentations, or moderating, you ensure that those involved are present and engaged. If the meeting is led by management, or one individual, it can be difficult to keep staff focused or freely contribute ideas.
In addition, allocating roles makes employees feel valued, which contributes to day-to-day productivity and confidence.
Delegate a Moderator Whose Job it is to Stay on Track
As the previous point mentions, delegating roles in meetings is crucial, and this is undoubtedly true for time management. Allocating a moderator role to a different member of staff each meeting ensures that meetings do not overrun, and stay on track.
While going off topic is sometimes useful, having meetings overrun is draining and inefficient for staff members. Moderating the call will ensure that all tasks or discussion points are covered in the allocated time.
Be Considerate of Timezones and Individual Circumstances
It is important to acknowledge the variety of personal situations across your staff before scheduling remote meetings. To start, businesses with international employees need to consider the timezones of their staff members. For very diverse international employees, it is important to have varied remote meetings so it is not always the same staff members who have difficult meeting times.
Acknowledging personal circumstances of staff helps ensure that meetings are being fully engaged with and have full staff attendance. Scheduling meetings when staff have other commitments or young children at home will cause disruptive meetings and low staff morale.
Plan the Agenda and Make Sure it is Visible
Prep the agenda before the meeting and share it to everyone in attendance. This allows for a structured and focused meeting schedule, and ensures staff can all prepare any notes beforehand that contribute to the meeting.
For longer meetings, schedule frequent breaks for your staff. Loo and coffee breaks ensure that when the meetings are in session, you have the full attention of your staff members. It also gives them a chance to stretch their legs and think freely about the topics discussed so far, and perhaps come back with some fresh ideas.
Start with an Ice-Breaker
Let’s be honest, online meetings can sometimes be a bit awkward and clunky. Staff members who have worked together for years might be a little awkward in meetings just due to the nature of them being online. Help staff relax and feel comfortable in meetings by starting with an icebreaker. It doesn’t need to be something that will make them feel more awkward, but just something simple, such as, the best thing they did at the weekend. Or what they had for breakfast.
Park “Distraction Topics” That Pop Up
It is easy for team discussions to go off on a tangent, and this is no different for online meetings. Ensure that any distraction topics are stopped by the moderator, and noted down to discuss in another meeting. This ensures that the meeting stays within the allocated time, and more energy can be focused on the task at hand.
Casually Direct Questions at Specific People
Aiming questions at individual people, and leading with their name, has a three-fold benefit for meetings. For one, it makes it easier to keep the meeting flowing, targeting one person makes them more likely to respond. Asking an open question to the whole group can often result in silence, no one wanting to be the first to speak. Secondly, aiming questions at individuals reinforces to them that their opinions are valued, so much so they were targeted directly. Thirdly, we all know that staying focused during a long meeting can be a challenge. Leading with their name helps ensure that there are no awkward requests to repeat the question.
Follow Up After For Feedback
We’ve all experienced the common feeling that a meeting wasn’t useful, or should have been an email. Feedback is crucial in order to improve on each meeting. As online meetings become the norm for most businesses across the UK, and globally, having consistent and anonymous feedback will help businesses improve.
Orbital’s audio-first, open-channel communication platform is the perfect way to innovate and mix up online meetings. The Orbital Galaxy allows your team to have the feeling of being in the same room, with the ability to move away or closer depending on if they want to be involved in the conversation.
Orbital provides breakout areas for small meetings and discussion groups. This innovates how we can work from home, as it reduces feelings of isolation and low-productivity. You can interact with your team members naturally.
Start your free trial and try it out for yourself!