With the advent of increasingly virtual workspaces, it’s becoming increasingly important to take advantage of them. Team leaders need to know how to establish productive communication with remote colleagues.
The online meeting space is the essential new work environment that needs to be further explored so that you, as a team leader, know how to get everyone to your meeting and how to make it run as smoothly as possible.
Just because your colleagues are scattered doesn’t mean that their work has to be disorganized due to a lack of participation in team meetings. Here’s some advice on how to make sure your colleagues attend your online meetings and how to make those meetings as informative and productive as they should be.
Select the best meeting tool for your needs
The first thing that any team leader should do to jumpstart a productive remote collaboration is to choose a meeting tool that works for everyone and matches the needs of your work.
For instance, if your remote team is a marketing or sales team and you’re working on a new pitch or collaborating on a press release, why would you use video conference software? You would all be talking to each other face-to-face on the internet, but not engaging with your work. Instead, opt for Google Docs or another document sharing program.
Or maybe you need to collaborate verbally and observe your team’s reactions to your proposals. In that case, video conferencing software could be a better bet.
Knowing the tools at your disposal and using them to connect with your team in a way that will make your work easier will help convince everyone to attend your meetings, prepare appropriately, and make them as productive as possible.
Setting a plan is perhaps the single most important thing that a team leader can do to get their remote colleagues on the same page regarding the content of each meeting. By helping your colleagues come to meetings prepared, they are more likely to feel understood by their team leader and responsive to the content you have proposed for that particular meeting.
This was especially significant in my time at All the Stuff. The agendas that set the priorities and delegated the responsibilities of each meeting were instrumental to their productivity. As any retailer or marketing firm will tell you, an agenda can make or break an online meeting by keeping people informed about the responsibilities asked of them for each meeting.
If your colleagues know what will be covered, they’ll know how to prepare.
Utilize trending e-learning techniques
Not only has the meeting space migrated to the internet, but people also use their phones more and more for their work – the technology itself is essentially the new conference room. Knowing some of the newest e-learning trends can help you as a team leader stay on top of your colleague’s capabilities and expectations.
Understanding how collaboration differs when performed through technology will help you better prepare your team for having productive meetings in that space. Look at the online meeting tools you have available and select one that utilizes techniques to help a team learn and grow together with technology.
For instance, you need to assess the usefulness of certain features to choose the right tools to equip your team and get them all on the same page. You may need screen-sharing in order to keep your project flowing, or the ability to record parts of the meeting for later reference by your fellow remote workers.
Whatever the needs of your team, you have to know them. This is why the abundance of e-learning knowledge in conjunction with the right online meeting tools can ensure that everyone attends your meetings, is prepared for the work, and ready to collaborate.
Connect your team members
One of the biggest challenges facing a remote team leader is that when your team is dispersed over a large area (sometimes thousands of miles), it can be difficult to make them feel comfortable enough with each other to share their ideas.
Why is this important? A research study for Harvard Business Review found that team members were 26% more likely to share ideas in a meeting when they had previously shared a funny story about themselves with the same team.
This familiarity is a byproduct of real interaction that you don’t have in a remote workspace. This is why creating a digital space to serve as a kind of “watercooler” for your team members will make them more receptive to meetings and more productive during them.
Setting up a team break space in Slack or Google Hangout can go a long way towards meeting attendance and efficiency.
It can be difficult to coordinate the digital workspace when your colleagues are miles apart from each other. Getting them all to the same meeting is half the battle: you also need to make sure that you’re using the right software with the right capabilities for your needs. Allowing your team to collaborate personally beforehand is a great way to make them think as a team and one who attends the same meetings together and gets stuff done.
Whatever your techniques, acknowledging the benefits and limitations of the online work environment is the first step to using it to your advantage, getting everyone to your meetings, and making them as productive as they should be.
Priscilla Rodriguez is the content manager and chief of media relations for Table Knight. Having worked in different positions for many websites, she has learned that writing, next to her husband and three little rascals of children, is what really makes her happy.