In the past, meetings occurred in corporate boardrooms replete with dry erase markers, make-shift whiteboards, lots of coffee, and the occasional cigar. Today, virtual meetings are the norm. To be sure, remote work used to be a novelty, the province of artists and entrepreneurs. In 1973, Jack Nilles (a former NASA engineer) became the first person to propose the idea of “telecommuting.” His goal was to preserve non-renewable resources in light of the OPEC oil embargo. Today, with the advent of digital technologies, remote work has increased in popularity.
Recently, Microsoft Teams (a popular virtual meeting software) recorded 2.7 billion meeting minutes in a single day — shattering past records with ease. Here’s the truth: virtual meetings are here to stay. In a post-crisis market, 75% of CEOs believe that virtual conferences will replace conference calls, while 72% of employers say that virtual meetings have a positive impact on retention.
That said, the market for online collaboration is still evolving. So, how can you leverage virtual meetings to increase productivity, minus the bored stares and awkward silences? Below are three things to keep in mind when it comes to virtual meetings.
1. Choosing the Right Software is Critical
This is important: You need the right collaboration software. And, there are plenty on the market. However, at Entrance, we recommend Microsoft Teams to our clients. Typically, that’s because they already have Office 365 subscriptions. With Teams, you can leverage all of that rich data and incredible Office 365 apps to take collaboration to the next level. In addition, you’ll keep your workflows integrated and prevent the ever-feared “silo” from entering your remote workspace.
Outside of Teams, you have options like:
- GoTo Meetings
- Cisco Webex
We’re relatively tech-agnostic. But, we’ll offer a warning about Zoom. It has some pretty serious security vulnerabilities that have impacted businesses and public institutions across the globe. And, problems arose at the very height of the pandemic. On the other hand, Teams comes with enterprise-grade security features. Be sure to consider security when choosing your video conference solution. Remember that it takes over 300 days to remediate a data breach and the costs can run up to millions of dollars. In addition, hackers attack every 39 seconds on average.
2. Set Virtual Etiquette Policies up Front
Let’s be honest: virtual meetings can be awkward. But, they don’t have to be. It depends entirely on how you set virtual meeting etiquette. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Clothing and attire: Yes, remote working has its benefits. You can chill in a chair in your pajamas while you work. But, not while you’re in a meeting. So, be sure to set the required attire upfront. Otherwise, someone may show up in a bathrobe.
- Atmosphere: Make sure that everyone dedicates a workspace for virtual meetings. This cuts down on disruptions and distractions.
- Speaking order: Do establish a speaking order so that no one speaks out-of-turn. Keep things somewhat fluid, but try to limit unnecessary interruptions. It can lead to lulls and confusion.
- Muting policy: Have a muting policy! Nothing is more frustrating than asking someone a question only to have them respond 50 seconds later. The muting option should only be used when needed.
3. Set Roles Early and Create Positive Experiences Often
Virtual meetings are all about the experience. To get a positive experience, you have to define roles. Keynote speakers, employees, C-suite staff, managers, and everyone involved should have clearly defined roles. We strongly recommend that you set these roles early and follow them to the letter. Virtual meetings have downsides. You can’t touch, meet, and engage with people one-on-one. To compensate, create meaningful experiences at every meeting.
Make meetings value-driven, positive, and engaging for everyone involved. That starts with setting roles. The end goal is to make each meeting a meaningful — and not just a compulsory — experience.
Are You Ready to Maximize Your Virtual Meetings?
At Entrance Consulting, we help businesses create and maintain amazing digital technologies and processes. Are you looking to implement best-in-class remote features like video conferencing? If so, contact us. We can help you navigate the vast landscape of collaborative technologies and provide the needed information for informed decision-making.