All Posts

The Pillars of Remote Meeting Culture

Andrew Nelson
February 4, 2021

Welcome to the second entry in Remote Velocity’s Remote Meeting Culture series! Over the next several weeks, we are exploring the best practices of Remote Meeting Culture and diving into some examples that can help your organization. In today's entry, we are exploring the three pillars of remote meeting culture.

High-performing Remote-First organizations thrive on flexibility.  To make this work requires maximizing the value of meeting time. Open collaboration and detailed planning are overarching goals for all meetings.

The three pillars of remote meetings are Daily Check-Ins, A Balanced Meeting to Work Time Ratio, and Defensible Meetings. Together they serve as patterns that encourage collaboration and optimize time.

Daily Check-ins - Keeping Alignment and Performance in High Gear

Think of your Daily Check-In as the glue that binds the team together. It is a critical pillar where teams can adjust and re-align as needed. A time to help them stay on track as they move towards their shared goals. You can keep it focused by asking the group, ‘why is the highest priority work-item not completed?’

When oversight and a proper format are missing from daily check-ins, they can become unstructured. They instead become a "three statement meeting: what I did, what I plan to do, and what I need from others. When this happens, teams lose their focused energy and alignment.

Here are some tips to maximize the value of daily check-ins:

  • Try focusing on Impediments (barriers, obstacles) to identify and discuss things that may be slowing progress. 
  • Identify when there is a need for a detailed meeting and who should attend.  When these come up, create an action item and assign it to one person.
  • If your current format has your team in a rut, try focusing on backlog items’ status to change things up.
  • Interrupt rambling updates by agreeing to raise hands or wave as the signal to move on.
  • Maintain focus on the current sprint.  When the discussion turns to grooming or planning, suggest scheduling a separate meeting.

Balancing Meeting and Working Time

Remote work can seem “always-on,” leaving blurred lines between work and meetings. In this environment, it can be challenging to carve out large blocks of uninterrupted working time.  When meeting schedules become to interrupt work-time, here are some tips to try:

  • Enforce time-boxing meetings
  • Break-up meetings by having more frequent, shorter sessions
  • Practice transparency - draft meeting minutes so that everyone can find information.
  • Limit attendees - do not include 'keeping in the loop' invitees.
  • Reserve large sections of the daily schedule as 'no meeting zone' time.

Defensible - Is this Meeting Required?

Wait, didn’t you say that meetings were essential for remote work success? - not at the end of the day when you're trying to get something done.

Long unproductive meetings can crush meeting and company culture.  Does your team really want to watch someone walk through a document over video for 60 mins? How does that impact team productivity?

Thankfully, there are many tools to help organizations and teams find their Remote Meeting footing. Some of these tools help determine when, in a project, to have a meeting. Others can help your team prioritize talking point in a meeting. Owl Labs has created a checklist that the Remote Velocity team uses daily and with clients.

The Meeting’s Purpose - Why are you pulling the team together?

Assuming a meeting is necessary, defining and communicating the meeting's purpose is essential. Consider using one of the following categories:

  • Decision-making
  • Idea generation
  • Gaining alignment
  • Sharing status
  • Preparing for
  • Problem-solving
  • Connecting

Proper preparation, documentation, and adherence to time management ensure that the group's shared time is efficiently structured and optimized.

How is your team employing the Pillars of Remote Meeting Culture? What are some hurdles and solutions that you have encountered?

In the next part of the Remote Meeting Series, we will explore the different kinds of meetings and the optimal time to deploy each.

Stay Tuned!

Learn more