From an HR perspective, remote meetings should be held via videoconferencing wherever possible. In the current lockdown situation, it is inevitable that discussions around new ways of working, business continuity and critical thinking will be taking place.
Using videoconferencing means you can actually see people articulate their thoughts, and greatly reduces the possibility of miscommunication that comes with email or instant messages.
During this period of lockdown, people managers may be required to have one-to-one meetings with employees who might be upset, angry or anxious. Video meetings enable the conveyance of empathy and support far more easily than a telephone call or an email.
Many businesses will already have used, and be comfortable with, video meeting software. But if you haven’t, the best advice is to keep it simple. Find a tool that’s user friendly and simple, but make sure you also offer training to employees who want it – not everyone will be comfortable using it.
As we’re in a unique situation, traditional rules on remote meeting etiquette can be relaxed. Typically, you would treat a remote meeting as you would a face-to-face one and dress smartly, and have minimal interruptions from children and pets. Under lockdown this is not strictly applicable or appropriate, as your employees have been forced to fit their home life around their working life and are potentially also juggling childcare, so allowances should be made for this. It is crucial to be flexible and understanding of everyone’s needs. While professionalism should be maintained, leeway from both sides is essential.
It is important, however, to still make sure your colleagues are prepared for remote meetings, and not throw all the usual rules out of the window. An agenda should still be created, someone should be leading the discussion and a note-taker should be appointed. Also, punctuality still applies, as being late is not acceptable in person or online.
Judging the tone of the meeting is also key. While a relaxed approach – with filters or backdrops – might be appropriate for a casual team discussion, it may not be suitable for an important meeting with senior management or clients.
The key to a successful remote meeting is the understanding that we are all treading new ground, so gathering feedback from those using this technology is important. Make sure you create open channels of communication where staff can relay any information to improve future meetings.
Claire Williams is director of people and services at CIPHR