Work Remotely Like a Champ

As the world evolves to a more remote-based virtual-meeting culture, these tips should be help you participate in meetings like a Champ!

  1. Utilize the right equipment
    • For virtual meetings there are a slew of options: USB based speakerphones, headsets, or webcams; Built-In options for microphones, speakers and cameras; Hands-Free options for your mobile devices like ear pods.
    • Choose products that you are most comfortable with and work best for your environment.
  2. Test your equipment before you attend your first meeting
    • This cannot be overstated. Many make the common mistake of spending several minutes getting their audio or video controls working while everyone else is already on the meeting waiting. Do not be that person! Set up a test call with a trusted colleague or your manager in advance if you have doubts about how to make it work.
    • Test your application controls in addition to the equipment. Each video conference application (Skype, Teams, Zoom, etc) has different controls to manage the audio / video equipment.
  3. Find the right physical location for you to attend your meetings
    • Choose a place that is free of noise and distraction if possible. A room at home that you can dedicate exclusively for your virtual meetings is ideal.
    • If you are going to be doing video calls try to find a place that has good lighting facing towards you and a background that looks professional.
  4. Strong Wi-Fi
    • As you will now be transmitting audio (and possibly) video via your internet connection, be sure you have a strong enough Wi-fi connection to begin with.
  5. Avoid feedback on audio calls
    • Most video conference applications will allow audio via the application and via a phone call. Test to see which works best for you.
    • Avoid this common mistake: Dialing in to a phone number while the audio controls on your video conference application are still active. This will result in feedback and an infinite echo to all participants on the call.
  6. Get familiar with the mute button
    • Despite picking the best spot for your meeting, you may still have unwanted noise in the background (e.g. barking dogs, noisy children, coffee shop noises, nosy domestic partners). Get used to hitting the mute button when needed.
    • Mute if you are prone to typing loudly and your microphone is next to your keyboard.
    • If you are prone to breathing or sighing heavily, either move the microphone away from you or mute as necessary.
    • When you are on mute, practice taking yourself off of mute before you need to speak. Avoid this common mistake: Forgetting to unmute yourself when you start speaking.
    • Only mute yourself when there is background noise – do not make it a habit of keeping yourself on mute constantly – this can be construed as mentally checking out of the meeting.
  7. Get familiar with the video button
    • Many video conference applications will launch your video camera capability by default. If you do not want video to be enabled, get familiar with the video button.
  8. Dress appropriately for video calls
    • If you are going to participate in video calls remember to dress appropriately for the meetings.
    • Avoid this common mistake: Dressing appropriately only on your top half can result in embarrassing situations. If you walk away from your video for a moment, you may end up transmitting what you have worn on your bottom half (in other words: avoid showing off your PJs).
  9. Join on time!
    • Virtual meetings have a much stronger requirement for starting on time than in-person meetings. In-person meetings have the luxury of ‘small-talk’ at the beginning of the meeting prior to everyone arriving. As this is not easily replicated with virtual meetings, awkward wasted time can be avoided by starting on time.
  10. Pay attention during the meeting
    • Turn off all other screens and applications.
    • Do not mute yourself for the entirety of the meeting – restating again: This is akin to mentally checking out of the meeting.
    • Engage and participate in the discussion.
    • In the absence of visual cues like head nods and eye contact, provide audio cues that you are engaged. Statements like ‘I understand, Gotcha’ are helpful, as are audio cues like ‘aha, hmm, yup’. This also lets the speaker know that they are not speaking into a void.
    • Avoid this common mistake: Asking questions that have already been discussed in the meeting or not knowing where the discussion is at when being called upon!
  11. Be sure to accept or decline all meetings so that virtual hosts know if you are going to attend in advance.
    • A virtual meeting host is more likely to track down attendees through Instant Messaging, Email, and Text Messaging v.s. In-Person meeting hosts. Do them a favor and let them know if you can’t make it in advance.

Tips for Virtual Meeting Hosts

  1. Start on time. Virtual meetings, more so than in-person meetings, have an awkward beginning if no meeting leader is present.
  2. Make use of Instant Messaging to contact those participants that are delayed on attending.
  3. Solicit feedback from those participants that are not participating equally.
  4. Monitor those that are on mute for the entirety of the meeting – they may not be necessary participants or have checked out of the meeting.
  5. For mixed meetings where some participants are attending in-person and some are remote, be sure to solicit feedback from remote participants as they may not feel equally engaged.
  6. Take live notes if possible – screen share what you are capturing for notes and action items so that all participants can follow along and stay engaged.

Benefits of Virtual Meetings work culture

  • Time saved not having to commute across office buildings or to a physical work location.
  • Ability to screen share and collaborate with everyone instantaneously.
  • Equal participation for all attendees as opposed to in-person attendees having a larger voice than those that are remote.
  • Germ / Virus free environment.
  • Great equalizer as participation is based on input and ability to communicate v.s. job titles and in-person demeanor.
  • Ability to record meetings to share later (useful if needed for missed participants, capturing notes later, or utilizing as training material).
  • Ability to recruit for talent anywhere for organizations that are exclusively remote based.

Drawbacks to Virtual Meetings work culture

  • Inability to read body language unless video capability is enabled.
  • Lack of attention across all participants.
  • Inability to engage in close proximately small talk.
  • Team building requires focused effort and will not come organically.
  • Participants each utilizing different conferencing equipment can play a role in inequal levels of engagement.
  • New skill set and new organization culture is required at all levels of organization to be effective.

If you have more tips / ideas, please comment below. Want more support – We run a full service staffing and recruiting firm. Please reach out.

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