Randstad believes redefinining work is significant in sustaining the business. We would like to share some tips that we have learned from our remote work experience.
These are some tips which might be useful for you and your employees.
How to be Inclusive When You're working Remote
With the rapid spread of the coronavirus, many organizations, including my own, are encouraging people to work from home as much as possible. The less we're all gathering around in offices, the less likely we are to spread infection.
But if we're all sitting home alone, how can we continue to build community across our teams? And, how can we be mindful of building an inclusive culture when everyone is working remotely? Studies have shown that remote workers can feel isolated and left out, so we have to work harder to build trust and connections with each other. True collaboration doesn't happen by magic just because you have a video conferencing platform. Collaboration and inclusiveness come from how you use the tools you're given.
When You're meeting on remote
Create comfortable and cozy atmosphere
- People feel nervous when they start remote meeting, such as they don't know how to handle the video meeting or don't want others to be seen the background of home or don't want other to be heard life sound, etc.
- Create comfortable and cozy atmosphere and get people relaxed. Encourage people not to hesitate to ask if they don't understand how to use remote meeting facility or functions in advance.
- Make rules, such as find good place to do the meeting at home, share the agenda or document in advance, etc.
- Encourage mindshift to open to work from home.
Before the remote meeting:
Identify the Purpose
- What are you trying to accomplish by setting up this meeting?
- Do you even need a meeting? Maybe your goal is best accomplished in writing? Or a 10-minute phone conversation with someone? A meeting should be a last resort, not the default.
Make Everyone Remote
- Consider making the entire meeting remote. Having some people in a room together while others have joined via conference creates a difficult dynamic. The remote team members are at a disadvantage and are likely missing out on key elements of the discussion. Side conversations in the room are particularly problematic.
- Unless presenting, remote attendees often find it difficult to interrupt and join in so they disengage from the meeting entirely.
- If even one person can be remote, there's no reason the entire meeting can't be remote. The entire team will be more included and engaged this way.
- Consider 45-minute meetings (or shorter) instead of 60-minute, giving attendees time to take a break or reflect and pause before attending their next meeting. Just because Outlook encourages time blocks of 60 minutes, doesn't mean that's how long your meeting should be.
- Invite the right number of people. Smaller groups are more effective and more engaged, especially during remote meetings. Consider who is really essential to accomplishing your goal.
- When possible, schedule meetings to avoid conflicts and schedule them far in advance.
- Collaborate with other key attendees on the agenda. This helps build community and trust.
- Document and share the agreed agenda beforehand including:
- Key talking points
- Whether the meeting will be recorded or not
- Send out any supporting materials for the meeting in advance. This gives introvert thinkers and those who need more time to reflect an opportunity to come prepared with ideas they can contribute. Ensure that everyone has access to a shared space where all team content is available to everyone.
During the remote meeting:
Turn on Your Video
- Assuming that your conferencing platform supports video, turn it on.
- Video is one of the most effective ways to make people feel engaged in a meeting. Being able to see facial expressions allows us to better "read the room" and judge reactions and avoid misunderstandings. You might feel awkward at first, especially if you're in your pyjamas, but it's worth it to bring more interpersonal interaction into a call. It humanizes us and brings us together.
- But, top tip, ensure that your video doesn't automatically start when joining a meeting. Make sure you and your environment are prepared and then manually turn on your video.
- Controversial, I know, but sound is just as important as video when trying to establish rapport and trust with your colleagues. Imagine being able to see a bunch of people laughing at a comment you've made but you can't hear any of them. It's like watching a silent movie, awkward.
- Now, the same rules apply here as with video. Join every meeting on mute and then manually unmute when you're settled. This is easily done in the Audio preferences of your client.
- Don't silence the laughter.
"Laughter has the power to connect and bond us, to forge resilience, create trust and open up imagination."
The Joy of Work,
Make Time for Small Talk
- Allow time at the beginning of the meeting to chat and catch-up. If you're the host, you can even open the meeting 5-10 min early for people to connect informally before the agenda starts.
- Introduce and welcome everyone and set expectations that everyone can contribute.
- If you're on mute, don't have your video on, and are checking email and doing other things, why are you even on the call? Would you try to multitask in the same way if you were in the same room with your colleagues?
- Give your colleagues the same level of respect and attention when remote that you would in a face to face meeting. It's difficult to create empathy and trust with your teammates if you're busy checking your phone.
Give Everyone Time
- Keep the remote sessions interactive by giving everyone something to do and contribute. Facilitator, timekeeper, note-taker, split these roles across the team and rotate them for any standing meetings.
- Mediate and facilitate: keep track of who's talking -- and who's not. Prevent anyone from dominating or derailing the discussion.
- Ask people directly for input. Especially work to engage team members who might not be the most vocal or outspoken, give them opportunities to speak.
- Don't interrupt other people when they're speaking or attempt to speak over them (and if needed, interrupt the interrupter!)
After the Meeting:
- Despite your best efforts at scheduling, there will be people who can't attend but who should be updated on the meeting outcome. Especially if they've been assigned any follow-up actions!
- Ensure you send out a follow up which includes:
- Summary of key actions, next-steps, owners and due dates
- Recording of the session
- Date for the next follow-up meeting
- Sending out a meeting summary ensures that everyone has a common understanding of actions and gives everyone in the team the opportunity to feel included in the follow-up.
Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield (2017) , A Study of 1,100 Employees Found That Remote Workers Feel Shunned and Left Out,, Harvard Business Review Home, 2017.
Katherine Lightner (2020) , How to be Inclusive When You're Meeting Remote,,