In this instalment on the challenges of working remotely, we look at how to communicate over a distance in a way that boosts productivity and morale. While the physical human element is sadly lacking, overall, the pros outweigh the cons.
Benefits of online meetings
By now, even those who otherwise shy away from tech have become used to attending online meetings, whether they involve two people or twenty.
The most obvious advantage of this new method of meeting must be the ability to take part from anywhere in the world where there is an internet connection. No time wasted travelling or dressing up either, and no resources squandered on fuel or office space.
At an immediate, practical level, users furthermore benefit by being able to share their screens for all to see; exchange files; chat via text on the side without interrupting the meeting; communicate using digital whiteboards, with someone noting down ideas while participants are able to give real-time inputs; and allow any number of passive viewers to sit in on proceedings.
Popular software includes Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts, with some functionalities only being available under paid subscriptions.
Online ‘presence at work’ has also opened up another door, namely the ability to appoint employees from any remote location – not just those within travelling distance from the office. This means access to a vast pool of talent from across the globe, something which Express Employment is well placed to facilitate.
It is useful to keep in mind that online communication can also be applied to reach out to customers and other stakeholders. This can take the form of webinars and various marketing events as well as, for instance, providing live customer support.
Getting the right setup
The first requirement is, of course, a stable internet connection. Online meeting software, by its nature, is optimised for efficiency, but it’s a good idea to ask everyone else using the same connection not to start streaming a movie, play a game or download large files while you’re in a meeting.
Your laptop’s camera and mic should suffice, but if you attend lots of meetings it might pay to invest in a good webcam and microphone, especially if your equipment is a bit older.
Make sure the lighting is good. It can be really annoying if a participant looks as though they’re sitting in a cave! A nearby window should do, or get yourself a purpose-made webcam light. In the same vein, some meeting apps will also allow you to improve your appearance at the touch of a button.
And then, we’ve all had a good laugh at presenters falling victim to embarrassing background moments, like the cat grooming itself in the wrong places. You can either make sure the room is properly contained, or you can upload a suitable background to hide what you don’t want others to see.
Staying in touch with others
Apart from meetings to facilitate workflow, there is also the aspect of human interaction to boost morale. Regular check-ins in the form of short meetings, even if only for ten minutes at a time, can encourage positivity and cooperation and are useful for keeping a team spirit going.
Regular interaction with and among employees is crucial and deserves even more attention in the era of working from remote locations. It is a good investment to establish a meeting routine that keeps operations flowing and good relationships going.