The word “meeting” tends to elicit groans from expected participants. But while it can be in everyone’s best interest to limit their number or take advantage of other methods of communication, situations still exist in which gathering remote staff for a video chat or group conference call pays dividends.
Here’s a look at five reasons to have a meeting when working remotely:
Group meetings allow people to bounce ideas off of one another and feed on each other’s energy. Thus, when you need to strategize or problem solve, meetings can be highly productive.
“In my experience, brainstorming sessions are a good reason to come together via phone or video,” says marketing strategist Jaclyn Schiff. “There’s that old saying that two heads are better than one—and this is especially true when you’re working remotely. While the freedom of working away from an office is great, one of the well-known downsides is the creative inspiration and interaction that results from working with talented colleagues. So when a meeting is intended for this purpose, it can be especially attractive to remote workers. Also, because people can be in vastly different environments, I’ve found it tends to elicit even more creativity because they’re not exposed to the same ideas all day in the same office.”
2. Issuing Wide-Ranging Information
Emails are a great way of conveying things all members of the team need to know. However, if the nature of the message is emotional or if you want to be sure everybody hears news at the same time, a meeting is a more personal, timely alternative.
Likewise, if a new company policy or similar issue seems destined to require clarification, a group Q&A saves managers from repeating themselves over and over.
Need some major input on a topic? Give everyone a pre-meeting heads-up on what you want to cover, and tell them to come prepared for focused conversation.
“It’s true that although people try every day, email is NOT the place for a group discussion,” says Maura Thomas, author of Work Without Walls: An Executive’s Guide to Attention Management, Productivity, and the Future of Work. “This just leads to bunches of emails for everyone involved to wade through, much of which is a waste of time.”
4. Building Company Culture
Slack channels offer numerous opportunities for remote workers to get to know each other and communicate regularly. However, periodic meetings using a method that mimics face-to-face as closely as possible helps to develop a sense of belonging that promotes dedication and job satisfaction. Consider a video chat when a new person joins the staff so that everyone can connect names to faces. Or maybe schedule a monthly virtual get-together just to enjoy each other’s company over lunch.
And whenever sensing tension among the team, a meeting can clear the air. Observing body language and tone aids a leader in “reading” people better than relying solely on words on a page.
Finally, who says that meetings can’t be a source of happiness? Whether you want to recognize achievements, mark a milestone, convey good news, or ring in the holidays, bringing the remote troops together to share joy bridges the miles.
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