Many companies are discovering the advantages and challenges of remote calling these days. Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, video calls have become a popular alternative to physical meetings. Some organizations already have a lot of experience with remote calling, but for most teams it’s like learning how to swim in the deep. This is why we share our own recommendations to make your meetings more efficient.
At icapps, remote working has been part of the company policy for a while now. For the first time, however, all our employees started to work from home simultaneously. It soon became clear that we needed to provide some guidelines and recommendations to make sure each remote meeting would be pleasant for everyone involved. We are happy to see that our employees are following most of these recommendations. Moreover, we invite them to share their experiences and tips through several channels on Slack.
To make your meetings more productive too, we would like to share our own experiences in the form of eight useful guidelines for remote calling:
1. Choose an application that suits your meeting
There are multiple video applications available for virtual meetings. Many organizations have access to professional tools such as Skype or Microsoft Teams. Smaller companies might not have these resources, however, and therefore turn to different solutions. Google Hangouts for example has rolled out free access to advanced Hangouts meet video-conferencing. Slack has great functionalities to draw on your screen and share it with other participants.
Zoom is also an extremely popular tool for online conferences. Of course, we are aware of the security concerns about this application. After extensive analysis of the problem, we concluded that most safety issues do not apply to our own usage of Zoom. Instead of prohibiting our employees to use this application, we have taken some extra security measures. All meetings are protected by a password, the camera is not on by default and we advise against using Facebook to login.
2. Each participant should find a quiet place
Working from home and having remote meetings is not always easy. Think of crying children, barking dogs, loud music or family members that have their own virtual meetings. Disruptions like these can be very annoying for other participants of a virtual meeting. That’s why each participant should consider where to sit before joining the meeting. For example, by choosing a separate room and reminding any roommates not to enter during the meeting. Moreover, don’t sit directly in front of a window as incoming light may reflect on the computer’s camera.
3. The camera of all participants should be ‘on’
Never underestimate the importance of seeing each other’s face. It conveys a lot more information than just hearing the voice of a speaker. People are also less likely to be distracted when they know everybody can see them. We advise working with a two-screen set-up. This way, one screen can be used to communicate and the other for other activities.
4. make sure the microphone is working
The dynamics of an online meeting are just as important as during a physical meeting in the office. Having to point out that someone’s microphone is not working, can therefore be very disturbing.
5. A facilitator must be appointed
This is the person who orchestrates the call by communicating the agenda and deciding who can speak. This is even more important than during a regular meeting as things may become very chaotic when everybody starts talking randomly. If someone keeps disturbing the meeting, the facilitator should even be allowed to mute that person.
6. Make sure not to interrupt each other
Participants may sometimes feel the urge to take the floor or provide further explanation on a matter. They should do so without interrupting the speaker and warn the facilitator by raising their hand. It is then up to the facilitator to decide when that person can speak. This kind of video meeting etiquette is particularly important in sessions with more than 8 participants. Otherwise, proceedings could become very confusing.
7. Eliminate all distractions
Make sure no notifications on pc or smartphone interrupt the meeting. For Mac users, this is how you use the ‘do not disturb mode’. It is a good idea to turn off unnecessary screens and devices. Employees should solely focus on the meeting. Multitasking can be very annoying for other participants, for example when they literally hear someone typing.
8. Enter the meeting 10 minutes in advance
Nobody wants to lose valuable time, especially during a remote call. By entering the meeting a bit earlier, participants have a moment to check if everything works properly and fix any issues before the start.
Take your time and listen to the experience of your employees. Switching to remote working can be stressful and some people may feel less confident to participate in these kinds of meetings. At icapps, we invited our employees for a survey every two weeks about their new work conditions. Their recommendations will help us to improve remote calls and online conferences in the future.
Even after the end of this crisis, we are convinced that home offices will become more common as people are searching for a better work-life balance. By now, we start to see how remote calling not only presents us with new challenges, but also offers great opportunities to improve the flexibility and collaboration of our teams.