How to Run Effective Remote Meetings

How to Run Effective Remote Meetings

How to Run Effective Remote Meetings

Many office workers are continuing to work from home with hybrid working being the norm for most organizations.  With Gallup's 2023 survey advising that worldwide employee engagement levels are at 23%, the one action that line managers can take to improve the lives of remote workers is to limit the number of online meetings each day. 

Booking up the whole day with meetings means that team members end up having to process emails and work tasks after ‘normal’ office hours, which impacts their workload and has a negative impact on their work-life balance.  Sitting in the same position at a laptop every day with barely time for a drink or comfort break is not conducive to high engagement  and productivity.  Instead, a day full of online meetings can cause resentment, lack of motivation, and result in feelings of stress and ultimately in worst cases burnout!  Having informal catch-up coffee mornings and afternoon tea sessions to check in on your team’s welfare for up to 30 minutes is a great idea, but diarising back- to-back meetings online isn’t.

Aside from the negative impact on health and well-being, there is the associated cost of managers attending meetings all day, with some software packages estimating that management team meetings cost around £500,000 annually.  In order to create a positive remote company culture it’s up to leaders and managers to change working practices in order to improve productivity and engagement.  In most surveys regarding engagement during meetings, almost 70% of attendees will admit to not being engaged, instead they are actively multitasking, answering emails, making notes on other matters, writing reports – or even shopping lists!  The same percentage regards internal meetings as unproductive and up to 90% of remote participants on video conferences admit to doing something else whilst on the call.  It is no coincidence that some of the most successful global organizations hold very few meetings.

So, here are some tips for a more effective meeting culture:

For the Meeting Organiser:

1. When you are about to arrange a meeting, ask yourself if it is really necessary. 

2. Ask: What is the objective?  Can this be achieved by a group email or in short 1:1s instead?

3. Block off time in your diary to prepare.

4. Follow the advice of the CEOs of some of the tech giants:

  • have virtual stand up meetings
  • hold 5 minute meetings
  • have ‘walk and talk’ meetings
  • limit the number of attendees to 10, unless it is a ‘Town Hall’ type meeting or conference, for example, to launch a new product

5. Circulate a short agenda in advance and ask for any comments to be emailed back.

6. Ensure that the meeting is not focused on operational updates as these can be circulated by email, but do ensure that strategic initiativesstrategy alignment and strategic reviews appear regularly on the agenda.

7. For longer meetings, start them at 10 minutes past the hour to give people time to arrive on time and hold them for 45 minutes.

8. Block off time after a meeting to action any points or circulate notes.

9. For larger meetings:

  • ask team members to submit concerns anonymously if feasible
  • use ‘break out’ facilities online to encourage discussion
  • rotate the Chair
  • have a panel of leaders to provide answers and updates regarding any challenging issues, which is even more important during times of  Change

10. To ensure engagement and foster a culture of innovation, ask each attendee to chair an agenda item.

And for the Meeting Attendees:

When you receive a meeting invite, ask yourself and the organiser if it is really necessary that you attend or can you delegate attendance to someone else in your place, email an update, or be sent any action points after the meeting.  Again, block off time to prepare and action any of the points assigned to you.

'Being new to line management and remote working I thought I needed to check in all day with my direct reports.  Thank you for talking me through the pitfalls of having days full of meetings and highlighting the benefits of empowering my team.  They're now much more motivated and the quality of both their work and our meetings has improved greatly!'  Manager

About Jill Maidment

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