Making the best of remote meetings during this Covid
Published on: Sunday, November 22, 2020
By: Catherine Chen
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Credit: remote.co (For Ilustration Purpose only)
REMOTE work has been there for a long time, but Covid-19 speed up popularizing remote work in the corporate world. One of the most significant changes this year for many workforces is teams, and employees start to work from home. 

Unfortunately, many managers use the regular remote meeting in a wrong way to foster a relationship between team members, which result in employees burnout in a remote meeting. It’s necessary to have an excellent strategy to prevent remote meeting burnout, which affects employees’ productivity and morale. 

Send meeting agenda to your team

In a remote working environment, when managers cannot meet with employees daily, some managers may scare of losing control of the work progress. So they schedule a daily meeting or even morning and evening meetings for their teams. Even though managers may think all the remote meetings they plan are crucial for them to track progress, it’s critical to develop a good meeting routine for the whole team. 

Planning a meeting agenda and sending it to your meeting participants can ensure the meeting can make fair use of everybody’s time.  If you don’t make your regular remote meeting productive for your teams, it will add further challenges to support your employees during remote work. And some times, after you foster the habit of having an agenda before you start the remote meetings, you may even realize you do not need so many meetings to achieve your team’s goal. 

Practice Results-driven meeting structure

According to Christina R. Wodtke, the author of Radical Focus: Achieving Your Most Important Goals with Objectives and Key Results, a useful meeting framework can guide the team to achieve its goal productively. She suggests that every meeting’s time can be divided into four quadrants. The first quadrant is Objective progress discussion, which shows the most critical goals the team needs to achieve.  Followed by objective, the team review Key Results status, which indicates how we know we have completed the objective.

The advantages of having objectives and key results discussion in meetings can enable the manager to quickly navigate the team’s performance: are we getting closer to our objective, or are we off the track?

The second quadrant of the meeting time is called Health Metrics discussion, which means those routines we have to perform to keep business running. 

The third quadrant of the meeting time is called Plans of this week, in which you can discuss three to five key things you will do this week to contribute to your team’s objective. That’s how you can make sure your team is working on the right thing, not working on more unproductive hours. 

The fourth quadrant is called the Next Four Weeks Plan. The reason to keep reviewing the next four weeks’ plan is to prevent “set the goal, forget the goal.”  

Having a results-driven meeting structure ensures all your employees are actively involved in the journey to achieve your team’s goal without wasting their precious energy and time during a remote meeting. 

Don’t mix team-building meetings with check-in meeting. 

Employees feel disengaged when they are forced to join the so-called “socializing” part of the remote meeting.  Managers think it is an excellent opportunity to do some relationship building by having casual chatting during check-in meetings when everyone is there. The opposite is true. 

The intention is good, but there are two essential things managers should not ignore. First, the span of attention is short for adults, especially in a virtual environment. Your employees will be very tiring and lose focus if they are glued in front of the computer for more than 1 hour. So a laser-focus meeting will work better to retain your employee’s attention.  

Secondly, your employees are not the same. Some of them have children and families. They are interested in sharing their tips in teaching their kids at home or improving their cooking skills during remote work. At the same time, some other team members are young and single. They may lose their interests to listen and join those conversations. What’s worse, if wrong “social conversation” is chosen, individual team members may even become disengaged from the team. If managers really want to improve team bonding, there are many other useful ways, such as Friday celebration meetings or one-to-one coaching. 

When implementing remote work effectively, it can bring considerable benefits to both employers and employees. Perhaps at the initial stage of remote working, as a manager, you are frustrated. Use three tips to help you get the best from your remote team meeting and improve your confidence to combat employees’ burnout in a remote meeting. 

- Catherine is a human resource practitioner and training facilitator for talent development

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