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5 Ways to Run Productive Remote Meetings

How can I run a more productive – remote – meeting?

If you’ve been struggling with this question, then consider some advice from Cynthia Spraggs on steps managers can take to help their employees get the most out of online meetings. Spraggs is the author of How To Work From Home And Actually Get SH*T Done and CEO of Virtira, a completely virtual company that helps other businesses work remotely. Before taking leadership of Virtira in 2011, Spraggs worked with large consulting and tech companies while completing her MBA and research into telecommuting.

Given all that companies and employees are dealing with in these uncertain times, here are five strategies from Spraggs on how companies can maximize their remote meetings so workers can perform at their best…and feel better doing so.

Original article here.

5 Ways to Run Productive Remote Meetings

1. Don’t Overstretch Virtual Meeting Times

According to Spraggs, two hours straight is the longest time that employees should be tethered to online meetings. Longer meeting times mean that not only will people begin to experience physical effects such as muscle and eye fatigue, but they may also become more distracted with home-based temptations while working remotely.

2. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

Spraggs recommends using templates for meeting agendas, action items, business reviews, and other repeated elements of the workday to provide structure and keep things on track by acting as “virtual walls.” She suggests making these available from a central dashboard, and sharing clear instructions with all team members on where to find them.

3. Avoid Inviting People to Unnecessary Meetings

How do successful remote teams determine whether or not a meeting is warranted? One key, Spraggs emphasizes, is to carefully review and cull the guest list and avoid “inviting a whole host of people to a meeting who don’t need to be there.” If an employee doesn’t really need to participate in a particular meeting, then don’t tie up their limited hours by requiring that they dial in.

4. Document Meeting Decisions

While informal office-based meetings could be productive, Spraggs maintains that “loosey-goosey” meetings held online are ineffective if they don’t have a clear point behind them. “To accomplish anything of substance, set a strong agenda and stick to it,” she says. She also recommends soliciting opinions from the entire group, using anonymous input forms for those who are uncomfortable with sharing during the meeting. “Like a contract, you need to document what the team decided, and what the priorities are,” Spraggs explains. “Put those in the meeting minutes, distribute, and follow up on them.”

5. Cut Down on Distractions

Work-from-home distractions can throw off employees and managers alike. To improve productivity, Spraggs suggests setting some ground rules for all video conference participants, including turning off cell phones and notifications. “When managers ran meetings in a conference room, they could ban phones and have everyone’s attention,” she says. “With remote meetings, managers have lost that control.”

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