Biz Platform

How to Engage Remote Workers During Routine Meetings - Biz Platform

17 Aug 2018 - 15:27 |

How to Engage Remote Workers During Routine Meetings

Employees both enjoy and dread routine meetings. They get important information and updates to move projects forward and stay current with company goals. However, routine meetings can also induce yawns and mass tedium.  

Remote workers who participate in meetings via video or telephone conferencing may feel the same as in-house staff. The only difference is that remote workers can check out more easily with fewer “eyes” on them. As an employer, you may not even realize these remote workers are texting friends, shopping on Amazon, answering other emails, or playing Words with Friends during a routine meeting.

Focus on designing regular meetings that help remote workers feel so engaged and connected that their minds don’t drift. Here are seven ways to increase employee engagement in routine meetings:

Shorten the Sessions

Routine meetings typically cover the same types of information. Keep the repeated agenda succinct with three or four items that can be discussed in as little as a half hour. A Harvard Business Review article found that 30 minutes is a magic meeting length that helps maximize attendee attention spans and productivity levels. If necessary, set a timer to track progress so the meeting does not exceed the goal time limit.

Encourage Comments

Conversation keeps people engaged and makes listening more interesting, because there are more perspectives and ideas to ponder. An ideal way to keep meetings from running past their allotted time while encouraging feedback is to use a meeting engagement tool like GoWall. It lets meeting participants converse with each other via typing on their “Walls.” This allows participants to share comments without interrupting the speaker. As an added bonus for any remote workers who are introverts, this is a comfortable way to stay engaged in the meeting without speaking out loud. At the end of the meeting, each person can retain these notes for future discussion.    

Rotate Meeting Leaders

When the same person leads each meeting, everyone knows exactly how it will go. That predictability triggers disengagement and boredom. Instead, try putting a different person in charge of each meeting to maintain interest for everyone. Don’t forget to include remote workers in the rotation. Leveraging different personalities keeps the meeting tone, flow, and vibe fresh. Each meeting is different and no one can predict with certainty what will happen next, so everyone stays engaged, including remote workers.

Assign Other Meeting Roles

Another excellent way to keep workers engaged is to give them interesting things to do during the meeting. That includes assignments that vary from meeting to meeting. These roles can involve tracking meeting time or taking notes. Alternatively, you can ask different people to update their projects or take the lead on an idea that’s up for review.

Pick People at Random

The key to these tips so far has been to remove any of the “routine” from the meeting. Everyone knows the order of people at the meeting’s virtual table. To change it up, pick people at random to speak. This keeps everyone on their toes because they don’t know when it will be their turn, even if the agenda shows a certain order. Suddenly, they will be hanging on every word to make sure they are ready when called upon.  

Include Visuals

The old maxim of “Show, don’t tell” can be a powerful approach. It’s why videos are loved by consumers and businesses. That’s why using programs with screen-sharing tools like Mikogo, Linkchat, Google Hangouts, and Skype can be a great idea for keeping meetings fresh and engaging. Providing visual explanations for the remote team to focus on rather than verbal explanations helps them maintain interest. Try sharing short video clips from a social media campaign or a new product video introduction. Ensure your visuals are relevant to the agenda and offer new insights for the team to enjoy.

Use Alternative Platforms

There’s a joke about companies having meetings to discuss when to have another meeting, Beyond the joke is a serious problem: meetings are often viewed as an overused channel. Instead of scheduling meetings for the sake of scheduling meetings, try holding fewer formal meetings to increase engagement. To make this simpler with remote teams, use alternative online platforms that accommodate quick updates and team communication. There may be some weeks where simple announcements can be made via a discussion on Slack, Skype, or some other collaboration tool like Basecamp, rather than taking a half hour of the team’s schedule.

In implementing these ideas for routine meetings, you may find that in-house and remote workers alike enjoy these new approaches. They’ll feel more involved and may even head back to work more creatively energized.