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Coronavirus: Four ways to hold a virtual meeting

·Writer, Yahoo Finance UK
·3-min read
Work from home is the new norm as governments try to contain the coronavirus pandemic. (Getty)

People across the UK are working from home to avoid spreading coronavirus and because of this, virtual meetings are becoming the new reality for workplaces.

Online meetings may be a normal part of a team’s working day, but how to make them work without being face-to-face can be a challenge. Whether it’s finding the right technology or keeping everyone engaged and productive, there are certain aspects to virtual meetings that can be tricky.

So if you are hosting a team meeting, how can you make sure it is efficient?

Find the right technology

There is an array of apps and platforms that make online meetings easy – it’s just a matter of finding the right one for you and your employees.

It’s important to remember that most benefit from an online meeting tool that has video and audio, as being able to see who you are talking to recreates a traditional meeting. Using a conference “dial-in” can make it more difficult for people to engage and focus on what is being said. Zoom, Skype and GoToMeeting are just some of the tools available.

Make sure the meeting is necessary

A 2018 survey of 2,000 people from the UK, France, and Germany found employees waste almost 13 days a year in unproductive meetings. The average employee spends an astonishing 187 hours in meetings every year — the equivalent of 23 days — yet more than half of these (56%) were deemed unproductive by workers.

Read more: Five apps to help you work from home during coronavirus crisis

More than a third admitted to switching off during meetings that lasted too long, while almost a quarter (23%) of those surveyed said they had witnessed someone fall asleep in a meeting.

Pointless meetings are a no-no when it comes to working remotely. First of all, it will be difficult to keep people engaged and focused on work if you force them to join in a lengthy Skype call that could have easily just been an email.

Second, many people are working from home while looking after children – and they simply don’t have the time to spare for a pointless meeting. It’s unfair to force employees to sit in on an unnecessary meeting when they could be getting their work done. If you can, schedule virtual meetings in advance.

Assign a facilitator

If you aren’t leading the conversation, assigning someone to facilitate can help keep things on track. It can be harder to manage a virtual discussion than if a team is sitting around a table, so having someone lead allows the other participants to focus on the content.

According to a study by the University of North Carolina suggests how workers feel about the effectiveness of meetings is linked to their job satisfaction. The report suggests doing just four things can make a big difference: Setting clear objectives for a meeting, having a clear agenda, involving small numbers of people in meetings, and using visual stimulus.

Read more: How to avoid cabin fever when working from home

Make sure everything is set up before you begin

A trial run can be a good idea if you’ve never hosted a virtual meeting to make sure the connection works. After all, there’s nothing more painful for employees than having to waste time waiting for a meeting to begin because of technical issues.

It’s also essential to get to grips with the technology you are using, so you can troubleshoot any problems that may arise during the call.

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