The challenges of leading a distributed team are enormous and one of the biggest to overcome is encouraging teams to share a common identity; meetings can help overcome this as they give colleagues the opportunity to work more closely together. Companies need to make make it a priority to encourage their teams to learn about their colleagues’ work cultures; in our experience it makes the decision making process smoother and in some case speedier.
Take the time to match the technology you choose to the communication and information needs of the situation. Although spread across multiple locations, time zones and cultures, it is important to consider what dynamics of a traditional meeting are essential to keep in place even through new technologies. For example, can a chosen technology allow you to all work together from a single document, schedule across people’s calendars and distribute agendas to all requested attendees?
If you are not sure when to meet face-to-face and when to collaborate virtually then the key is to flesh out the purpose of the meeting, which will help you to identify the appropriate method. Videoconferencing is an excellent tool when you need to see each others’ faces and expressions; the visual and auditory clues help colleagues to establish meaningful relationships. This interaction is critical to build relationships, which are especially important in the early stages of a project or if you are trying to get consensus on a critical decision.
Video conferencing is changing the face of meetings, tools widely available on the market are becoming mainstream technology, and this is shaping the way that people meet. Video meetings are not affected by travel disruptions and save companies the time and expense incurred with face-to-face meetings.
Business need to be equipped to cope with the increasingly fast pace at which they work, decisions often need to be made quickly and video conferencing can radically speed up the decision making process. However, companies need to appreciate that there are processes to follow to make meeting this way work effectively.