The necessity of remote work is still growing as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and business reopenings are canceled. Remote collaboration is now a vital tool for success, even for businesses that previously thought they would never have a remote working culture.
Remote meetings and working sessions function differently than in-person working sessions. At Useagility, we facilitate remote working sessions with clients all the time, so we put together a few tips. If you are looking to improve remote conversations, use these guidelines to figure out what to stop, start, and continue doing as we work together apart.
Don’t save big design reveals for working sessions. Provide content in advance so attendees can have time to absorb it and think through their feedback rather than asking them to react in the moment. When the group gets together, hit the ground running.
Stop worrying about minor disruptions. Once in a while, a cat will walk across a keyboard, a dog will bark, or a child will overshare before an attendee can mute. We’ve all seen it happen, and it’s okay. Just smile and move on.
Check your connection. Don’t be caught with a weak signal while facilitating a 20-person working session. Ensure that you have enough bandwidth and router points for all the devices running on your network (especially if you have other internet-hogs in your home). Also, test your sound (microphone and speakers). You don’t want your brilliant insight to get missed because no one could hear it.
Listen for cues. We rely on our eyes for feedback. If working session attendees are unwilling to share a video stream of their face or are limited by network strength we have to rely on audio cues to work together. There may be some ‘No, you go ahead’ back and forth before a session finds the right pace of conversation.
Slow down. Remote sessions do not move at the same pace as in-person working sessions. Allow enough time in your agenda to complete the work on the agenda and then some, especially as you account for new conversation patterns.
Practice new technology. Working remotely often means new technologies for teams and participating clients. Share any tools you will be using in advance with a few tips and tricks, including encouraging participants to log in and test the tool in advance so you don’t have to delay the start of the conversation while someone gets set up. When the session starts, use the new tool for an icebreaker question to get everyone contributing before the working session really begins.
Review. At the beginning of the remote session review overall project goals and working session goals to make sure everyone is grounded in why they’re there and what you’re trying to accomplish.
Accountability. At the end of any working session, establish next steps, responsibilities and timelines. Send them out in written form, then set reminders to follow up.
What other tips and tricks do you use to maintain and facilitate meaningful remote conversations?