With the changing circumstances comes a change in working styles. Rahul’s stint as a remote worker 7 years back is no longer seen as outrageous and revolutionary. Companies and employees have adapted remote working or working from home to a great extent. And yes, those statistics are correct. Remote working is directly linked to increased productivity. But there is a slight problem. Meetings or rather virtual meetings.
Video meetings are famous or rather infamous for creating problems in seamless remote working experience. There is more than one problem and it becomes difficult for employers to handle all of these problems at once.
So, what’s the way out? How do we solve these problems? We believe that the key to finding an optimal solution is to understand the problem first. There are countless examples of how people jump onto solutions without understanding the problem.
So let’s look at a few common problems that hinder virtual meetings. Also, we are going to look at solutions as we look at the problems.
Probably the most common problem when it comes to online meetings. A bad internet connection or a webcam not working properly can often derail a meeting and reduce productivity.
Some common technical problems can be-
- Poor wifi connection.
- Damaged hardware, webcam or the audio aux.
- Outdated software version.
- Poor performance of the system which ultimately leads to slow processing speed.
Fortunately, we can do a lot to solve technical problems.
The first step should be to ask every employee who is working from home to do a proper assessment of the systems they have at their disposal.
Collect these reports and estimate whether it will be enough to provide a seamless experience or not. If not, then you can always ask them to use the office’s systems. Using the office’s devices serves the purpose of not only providing them with efficient machines but also saves them from distractions from notifications and what-nots they are likely to stumble upon when working from their workstations.
Also, you need to do a prior assessment of the quality of Wifi connectivity at your employees’ disposal. With Wifi connections cheaper than ever, having poor wifi is not really a good excuse. Even if your employees cannot manage to procure a decent connection, see what you can do to help things out. Maybe you can reimburse a partial amount of the connection at the end of every month. But reimbursement is and should be viewed as a silver bullet. If you were to reimburse every employee data connection expenses, then it is very likely that you are soon going to make a huge hole in the company’s pocket.
Staying Focussed Without Distractions
The best part of remote meetings is that they can be conducted from anywhere. The worst part of virtual meetings is that they can be conducted from anywhere.
While you have the luxury of conduction virtual meetings from anywhere, things often go haywire when conducted from the wrong places. Distractions from family members, pets and the traffic near your house are very common in virtual meetings. Distractions often derail the tenacity and focus of the meeting. Sure some distractions can be quite funny(your toddler walking into the room) and can bring in a few waves of laughter to take the edge off. But more often than not, distractions often diminish the focus of the group.
This problem can be solved with just a bit of discipline and planning. You can advise your employees to find a quiet place to do the meeting. Also, you should try and minimize the duration of your meeting. It is a good idea to finish the meeting within 30 minutes. A short meeting helps your employees to find a quiet spot in their home without any distractions for a short period of time. The longer the duration, the more opportunities for distractions to creep into the meeting.
You can encourage your employees to use a background screen available to reduce distractions. Another important step is to ensure that all employees, who are not speaking, keep their mic on mute. This way you can reduce a lot of background noise and provide a seamless video conferencing experience.
The Video Conference Etiquette
This is one of those grey areas where people usually don’t like to be too vocal. With the new age companies being uber cool in their approach towards workplace etiquette, it might get tricky to dictate any strict terms for your employees. That being said, when your employees are munching on the toast in pajamas during the video conference, it is generally an indication that your employees are not taking the meeting seriously. This motivates even the more dedicated employees to slack off time to time and eventually you might even witness employees avoiding the meeting altogether.
This has an easy fix but it becomes tricky as you have to get off your leniency horse. Advise your employees to follow certain rules for a successful virtual meeting. Your employees should approach the virtual meeting in the same way as they would do in a face to face meeting.
For starters, you should at least have the bare minimum dressing code for your team members. It doesn’t mean that your team members have to be in formals but it helps if your employees dress the same way as they would do in a normal office environment.
One more important thing to consider is that most video meetings lag about 2-3 seconds. It becomes absolutely necessary that your employees speak and approach the meetings in a bit slower fashion as they would normally do in a face to face meeting.
Some more advisable etiquettes can be-
- Speaking courteously with others.
- Keeping body movement minimum to avoid any motion blur.
- Make eye contact with the attendees i.e with the camera.
Engaging employees during a virtual meeting can be one of the most challenging aspects. It is normal for employees to lose focus and end up checking their phones for notifications. This ultimately destroys the purpose of a personalized meeting.
Also, unlike a face to face meeting, employers are known to jump right into the serious part without a casual introduction. This ultimately has the potential to disrupt employee engagement.
Employers can ask every employee to introduce themselves. This acts as an ice breaker and gets everyone involved before the actual meeting begins. This adds a social element to the other ever boring real-time online meeting!
You need to ask questions that are specific. If you ask open-ended questions chances that are most likely to end in dead air. Better yet, you can ask your employees to prepare questions beforehand to make the meeting more engaging.
Making virtual meetings click is a really tall task. Even if you do take care of everything, chances are that some problems will creep up. For eg, what if some of your employees are operating from a different time zone? What if your new employees don’t have a good idea about your products and services?
Problems are bound to arise even if you keep track of everything. But when you keep on solving problems effectively, you get an idea of how to deal with any new kind of problems.