With coronavirus now accelerating our move into the home office, Christopher Parker, Senior Product Manager, Sharp Europe, outlines some key steps every business should follow to make remote working an even stronger part of their business delivery and strategy today.
We hold meetings for a wide range of reasons, from imparting information, decision making, to brainstorming ideas and merely socialising. Research conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Sharp Europe found that the average office worker spends 17 hours a month in meetings, costing the business around £3,000 per worker per year – just on meetings.
So, we know that meetings are important elements to any business. However, as we have seen with the recent coronavirus outbreak, the nature and location of modern meetings is changing. This has resulted in a large increase in the update of remote working, as well as training staff how to use it effectively.
1: Choose the right technology
Having the right technology in place is vital. This means having a fast internet connection, and more importantly access to high quality video and audio conferencing capabilities - as being able to see, and not just hear, who is on the call is vital for engagement and interaction.
Dr Nigel Oseland, Environmental Psychologist, Workplace Unlimited, who worked on the research for our report, believes this to be fundamental to the success of any meeting. He told us, ‘When you just have a teleconference call, meetings tend to have a different dynamic. It is not only easier for people to become distracted, but attendees are also more likely to miss out on the visual clues of how people socially interact when they are on video compared to in person.’
It’s not only those attending the meeting who can make the most of video – the presenter also has a role to play. Being able to see your audience allows you to see whether you are getting your point across and whether you need to emphasise or re-state information that has already been shared.
So, choosing the right technology for your remote meetings will enhance verbal and non-verbal communications, so leading to a better meeting experience.
2: Set an agenda
You want your online meeting to be as productive as possible. To this end, make sure you define the agenda before the meeting and that everyone knows the key points to be discussed.
An agenda also keeps the meeting on track. There is a lot of research - for example from Tony Schwartz and the Energy Project – that we can only maintain peak performance for 90 minutes. In Sharp’s research, most people said they couldn’t concentrate for more than 45 minutes. If you need to have a longer meeting organise a variety of activities and meeting leaders and build in breaks for people to digest what has been said. No-one wants to be in one of those two-hour meetings where by the end of it we’ve forgotten what was said at the start.
The agenda should also highlight who will cover each talking point. By assigning each attendee a role, everyone will be an active part of the meeting. Not only will attendees prepare for the meeting in advance, they will also feel more engaged and collaborative.
3: Have the right number of people
Many meetings become unproductive because there are too many people invited, or the right people aren’t invited. This becomes even more problematic when it’s a virtual meeting and it’s harder to follow who has joined and who is speaking.
Try and limit the meeting to the essential number of attendees. Meetings of four or five people will be more focused with fewer distractions and create a better culture of collaboration. Think about the agenda and what needs to be discussed and only invite those who will actively participate.
Sometimes people are invited to meetings out of courtesy, not necessity. If you are tempted to invite someone purely because of their seniority, instead ask if they would prefer to see the minutes afterwards to review. Then it’s up to them. Some people feel they can’t decline a meeting invitation, even when they suspect the meeting will be a waste of their time. Be a responsible meeting attendee as well as a responsible organiser. If you’re not sure you need to be there, ask for the agenda.
4: Etiquette for remote meetings
No two meetings should ever be the same and while some are less formal than others, it is key to have a few ground rules in place, ensuring they run smoothly for all concerned. Before the meeting, the technology (camera, audio and network connection) should be checked.
All attendees should strive to arrive on time, so as not to delay proceedings. Before proceedings begin, find time for attendees to socialise and generally catch up with the others on the call. The meeting should officially begin with a reading of the agenda and for those in the meeting to introduce themselves.
Common sense will dictate how people should act, but it is key that no one interrupts or speaks over others when they are speaking. This is common courtesy but also practical, as there can often be a delay on a networked connection.
5: Post meeting follow-up
Once the meeting is over, follow up with an assigned list of action points, deliverables and deadlines. This should be sent to all attendees so they know the next steps they should take.
Finally, all meeting materials should be stored online, along with any documents generated by the meeting’s next steps. This repository should also hold a recording of the meeting itself, so that any non-attendees can bring themselves up to speed.
By following these simple rules, meetings that include remote workers should run as smoothly and effectively as if everyone were in the room.
Creating that perfect meeting room environment, whether working remotely or in the office, should be an integral part of a business’ strategy. Click here to download our report which reveals some interesting insights into the impact of meeting room conditions on meeting success.
Christopher Parker, Senior Product Manager, Sharp Europe
- If you're interested in seeing how you or your business can benefit from working from home, join us at the Working From Home Show this summer, Thursday 30 - Friday 31 July. To register or enquire about sponsoring, visit https://www.workingfromhomeshow.com/