Best Remote Meetings Practices in 2021!

  • December 30, 2020
  • by Ola Rybacka
  • No comments

Last times aren’t kind for the face to face team meetings. Remote work significantly affects how co-workers communicate, especially in the case of those who so far have been used to doing all the things face to face. Even if we can meet in public, we barely see each other because of wearing masks. It’s really uncomfortable, yet necessary to make sure everyone is safe and sound. Luckily, we live in an online era that allows us to hold virtual meetings – sure, they’re different, but still super effective.

It would seem that the contact of people working at home may be limited, but nothing could be more wrong. The widespread access to the Internet meant that remote teams’ communication does not differ significantly from those whose attendees meet in the office every day. By joining the virtual world,, we can create a “virtual office” for our team to ensure all the employees have access to information during company meetings.

So, how to ensure our remote team productive virtual meetings?

First, why do we meet?

The meetings when an entire team gathers are rare – especially if a company hires many employees. This applies primarily to Christmas meetings and those celebrating important company events like anniversaries or milestones. They take place only a few times a year, and regardless of the form in which they are held, employees should be informed about them in advance. Everything to choose a date that will suit (at least almost) everyone.

However, we usually conduct a remote meeting in a smaller group of people responsible for a particular project. Thanks to that, no one feels wasted because all the participants are familiar with the meeting topic and have something to say about it. Such meetings can be planned, but it also happens that there is a need to meet on the go to discuss urgent issues.

Many companies also practice team meetings within one department. During these, participants discuss their plans for a specific period of time or share their latest work results while reporting on what they have done over the past week. Such meetings can be planned periodically (be sure they can be found in the company’s calendar).

Read also: WFH – The Complete List of Remote Work Resources.

Not all remote teams are the same.

Efficient work of remote teams is a bit different in those teams, which before the pandemic consisted of 100% of employees staying in the office. These people know their work style well and know what they can expect from each other, even if they don’t see each other every day anymore. The way they perform their duties will probably not fundamentally change because they will perform them in a slightly different environment.

This is different when it comes to a mixed team, where only some of the participants work in the office (and only during the pandemic they decided to work from home), while the rest are people for whom the home office is their daily bread. There is a chance that the entire team has never met in the real world. Especially since today’s employment documents can be easily submitted and signed online, there is no obligation to show up at the home office. However, nothing stands in the way of such a team performing their duties efficiently and communicating effectively. Let’s not forget about these teams that work fully remotely – they also exist and are doing a great job!

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Whether a team will be able to work efficiently by working 100% remotely depends on many factors. One of them is conducting effective online meetings. Let’s have a look at their pros and cons!

Advantages of remote meetings

The main advantage of online company meetings is the wide range of technological solutions to use. Most videoconferencing platforms offer real-time participation of many team members in a meeting and allow the meeting record. Thanks to this, we don’t have to think about what kind of ideas were given, even if nobody saved them – watch the recording. Moreover, these tools also allow you to share the screen, upload files, and take notes in real-time, which the entire team can see.

Online company meetings can also be held regardless of the location of employees. All you need is internet access and a computer, phone or tablet. Meeting tools are also available in a mobile version, so nothing stands in the way of joining a meeting, even if we are far from our main work tool. So, regardless of whether the employees are in Krakow or Wroclaw or maybe even in a small Masurian village, the whole team can participate in the meeting. The meeting’s findings can still be entered into the task management tool during the meeting, and then, using the time monitoring program, the likely duration of the tasks can be determined.

There are remote teams whose employees operate within different latitudes and time zones. For them, remote meetings are the main way to discuss the project and company topics. All you have to do is agree on a time that will be reasonably acceptable for all team members. Fortunately, such meetings do not take place every day, so we do not have to be afraid that we will be sitting up to 21 at work every day just because one of our partners lives on the other side of the globe.

Remote meetings also seem to be more effective. Employees do not sit next to each other, so the possibility of not talking about and distracting participants is limited. Keeping the agenda set, the team can go through all the points smoothly, shortening the meeting time to a minimum.

Disadvantages of remote meetings

Among the most frequent charges against conducting online meetings is the lack of direct contact between participants. This fact is mainly complained about by those who previously worked in the office and were used to meet in real-time. However, let’s face it – we know very well that a computer or a mobile device is only a means of communication; it cannot replace a living person. If we want to meet with our co-workers, we can do it just as well after hours, keeping an appropriate social distance and sanitary requirements.

Managers also often have doubts about whether team members of their teams are fully focused during meetings. It is good to turn on the camera so that participants can see each other. However, we can see each other only a fragment of our reality, captured in a small rectangle hidden among others. So you can’t be sure if a participant who has nothing to say at the moment doesn’t peek at a series on Netflix or cook dinner at the same time.

It also happens that remote meetings are simply not taken seriously by employees. Many people come up with fictitious reasons why they cannot actively participate in the meeting. During this time, yes, he logs on to the platform used in the company, but turns off the camera and microphone and does something completely different. The manager has no control over it, and the employee feels like he or she is arbitrary.

Many teams are also afraid of connection problems during meetings. Of course, if someone lives in the forest where internet access can be restricted, some difficulties may occur, but mostly the connection is pretty decent. What is more, modern remote meeting software is working well even if the access is low – even if we can’t handle the video, sometimes the voice is the only thing we need to discuss during the virtual meeting.

So how to make the online remote meeting not only efficient but also effective?

Best practices during remote meetings

Prepare a good plan for your virtual meeting

As in the case of meetings in the real world, let’s make sure that the remote meeting is conducted according to a strict plan. This agenda should be given to employees to familiarize themselves with all the points and prepare for the presentation in part containing their speech. Such a plan is beneficial during cyclical meetings – remote team members remember the order of points over time, and everything happens almost automatically and thus quickly.

Let them speak!

If possible, let’s allow each participant to express his or her opinion. A sufficient amount of time should be planned for everyone. This will significantly affect the level of employee engagement in the discussed matters and focus on the meeting topic.

Find time for fun

Although distractions from unrelated conversations are harmful, nothing stands in the way of including a moment for team integration during the meeting itself. If time allows, we can plan a few minutes for a small talk about current issues, in which the whole team will take part. This will successfully replace the talk over coffee, which we were used to before the pandemic. In turn, remote employees who did not have the opportunity to see their colleagues live will introduce themselves and make contact with the rest of the team.

Keep your team members enjoyed

A remote meeting does not have to be only about company topics. We can also bet on team building, arranging from time to time the integration through a video conference, the aim of which will be simply having fun together. During such a meeting, team members can:

  • solve puzzles – tools such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams allow you to assign a specific number of people to one room. Each group shares the same task: who does it faster, wins, and receives a nice gift. It’s a good way to get to know each other and see how your colleagues think, build deeper relationships,
  • participate in the webinars – workshops conducted virtually have one big advantage – they are much easier to prepare! There is no need to look for and rent a room for several dozen people or organize catering. Attendees join them while sitting on the comfy couch, logging in at a specific time with an instructor’s link. A great way to provide both education and entertainment for your team – your colleagues, can later exchange their experiences and observations (and no matter the time zones your employees live in, they still can participate!)
  • just relax after work – if possible, we can use video conferencing platforms to see colleagues after work hours. Talking while sipping your favorite drink, even online, is good for team integration and is a cost-free idea for team building. Who knows, maybe you’ll talk about your favorite series or your passions all night long, and having fun will make you want to repeat the online integration many more times?

And you, what kind of ideas do you have for your team building online? Please share them in the comments!

Ola Rybacka

Community Manager at TimeCamp, Ph.D., and speech therapy student, full-time otaku. よろしくお願いします!

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