For better or worse, remote work is here to stay, which means virtual meetings are also here to stay. However, meeting remotely comes with a host of communication challenges and potential pitfalls. Organizing and executing successful virtual meetings requires planning, intentionality, and an arsenal of tools. The right remote collaboration tools and processes allow teams to interact virtually as effectively as they would in person. Avoid wasted time and digital miscommunications by using some of the best communication tools and tips for remote teams:
1. Clearly Establish Scope of Work
Before you start setting up meetings, it’s important that everyone understands why they’re necessary. This is basically two bits of advice rolled into one:
Create an agenda for the meeting and don’t deviate from it. Use a remote collaboration tool like an agenda setter if you need to. This will help everyone come prepared for the meeting and contribute more effectively.
Meet only to execute work that participants can’t do individually. The common refrain, “this meeting could have been an email,” holds true in the virtual age as well. Clearly differentiating between collaborative work and individual work means you’re respecting everyone’s time and improving remote productivity.
2. Use the Right Conferencing Tool
Your conferencing platform is probably the most important remote collaboration tool in your arsenal. There are certainly lots of them to choose from — Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, and more. Use the one that works best for your organization. Think about conferencing features you might need, like breakout rooms, screen sharing, or unlimited recording, and more. You’ll find that using the right platform can unlock significant productivity for all the participants and help you get more done during your meeting.
3. Use Moderated Chats
Moderated group chats are one of the best communication tools for remote team collaboration. How often have you seen conversations on ‘work’ chat groups devolve into meandering personal exchanges and spam-fests? A moderated chat platform like JotCast is a great way to have on-brand, productive discussions that are still lively and engaging. There are a number of reasons why you should think about using one for your company:
You can moderate the chat content in real time. With JotCast, you can assign multiple people within a chat as moderators to police the content. You can even message someone privately for a one-on-one discussion that you don’t want to be made public.
JotCast helps improve engagement during webcasts and long presentations. Features like live Q&A, polls, and quizzes can help make your meeting a two-way interaction and allow you to quickly source audience feedback. You can directly embed a JotCast chat on your website and even customize the theme to mimic the look of your website.
A remote collaboration tool like JotCast creates value even post-meeting. You can export transcripts of your chat, making it easier to maintain meeting minutes. The tool also gives you access to meeting analytics so that you can review audience metrics quickly and easily.
Interactive features like the ability to add images, YouTube videos, and real-time tweets help keep the discussions fun and interesting. JotCast supports chat in 11 different languages, which is perfect for companies with remote employees distributed worldwide.
4. Implement Project Management
A good project and workflow management tool is critical for remote collaboration. If your company doesn’t use one already, you should consider investing in one. You’d be surprised at how much the tool can help avoid redundant check-in calls and emails, improve efficiency, and boost productivity. They’re broadly similar, although each will offer you a little something different. Canvas a few of them to see which one best suits your style of work.
5. Schedule Well
When multiple people are involved in a meeting across time zones, scheduling a date and time slot that works for everyone is half the battle. You can try doing it by email, like in the good old days. You’ll likely end up with a million back-and-forths and a line of nested emails to drive you up the wall. Try using a scheduling tool instead. Remote collaboration becomes a cinch when all you have to do is send out an invite and the tool automates follow-ups and scheduling for you. Create a link for your JotCast chat and attach it to the event so that your chat is easily accessible for attendees.
Don’t ignore scheduling etiquette either. Plan the meeting far enough in advance so that your employees have time to prepare and rearrange priorities. This is especially important if you have lots of remote colleagues and contractors working flexible hours.
6. Use Visual Collaboration
A visual collaboration platform is one of the best communication tools for remote teams to collaborate, brainstorm, and ideate together. It serves as a centralized reference point for everyone in the meeting. It’s particularly useful when you want to continuously record your work progress during a meeting and come back to it when you need to.
7. Follow Up Effectively
Once the meeting ends, make a note of discussion points and action items that you can share with everyone involved. Try to keep your meeting minutes concise. This will encourage people to actually refer to them to keep track of their to-dos. If you’ve had particularly long meetings or you simply need help maintaining an accurate record of everything that happened, consider investing in an auto-transcription tool. This helps remote collaboration in that nothing gets missed, and if people want a verbatim account of everything that was said, they can automatically receive an emailed transcript of the meeting once it ends. With JotCast’s built-in functionality, you can easily export and share transcripts of your conversations with coworkers or employees.
Make sure everyone’s on the same page when it comes to your collaboration technology. You could be using the best communication tools for remote teams and still struggle to see traction simply because some of your team members might not be comfortable with it. Invest in technology that improves engagement rather than dissuades it.
Try out JotCast’s moderated remote collaboration tool for free or upgrade your plan for a more advanced user experience. Learn more about the features that JotCast offers to drive productive conversations among your team members. Feel free to contact us with any questions.