Improving Work Productivity
April 23rd, 2021

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Whether full time or part time, more companies are letting employees work from decentralized locations. But just because your flex workers don’t come into the office every day, that doesn’t nullify the need to hold regular meetings with them. If anything, regular meetings become even more important for flex workers.

We live and work in an age when technology allows us to clearly see and talk to coworkers who are halfway around the world with video and sound so clear, it sometimes feels like you're back in the office, sitting across the conference room table from your colleagues.

Of course, that's until someone's microphone cuts out, your video freezes, or a constant string of email notifications pops up on your screen and distracts you from the meeting at hand.

Although nothing replaces a face-to-face sit-down, the next best thing is a well-run meeting that uses tech and good planning to address the downsides of collaborating remotely.

Improve communication with flex workers

To run successful meetings with flex workers, you’ll need to follow best practices for the typical in-office meeting, like having solid start and end times and sending out an agenda beforehand. But standard meeting rules alone aren't sufficient when looking to improve communication with your distributed workforce.

On top of those practices, the following tips can help make meetings with your flex workers more successful.

Tip 1: Fewer words, more images.

We’ve all been in a meeting where someone dumped a bunch of text onto slides and then just read straight from the slides during their presentation. It isn't very interesting and doesn't inspire employee engagement or a very productive meeting. It can actually have the opposite effect, prompting attendees to respond to emails or check their LinkedIn messages rather than pay attention and participate.

If you want a productive meeting, don’t tell attendees what you’re trying to say; show them. Rather than slides packed with small text, opt for visually pleasing slides that include diagrams, graphs, photos, or even funny gifs or videos to keep attendees engaged and the meeting mood light.

Visuals help attendees better receive and remember the meeting’s information. The human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text, and visuals help people make sense of the content they’re seeing so their chances of recalling the info increases.

Ask yourself how you want employees to feel when they're in the meeting, think about what type of engagement you'd like them to have with what you're sharing, and present the information accordingly.

Tip 2: Use technology to improve flex worker participation.

Once upon a time, videoconferencing systems were costly, low-resolution,  and sometimes didn't transmit audio. It wasn't until the early 1990s that  video conference systems worked on PCs. Following some major growth during the early 2000s, perhaps the most significant advancements made in these systems came in recent years.

There's several factors that have contributed to the rise of remote meetings, starting with the fact that from 2010-2020, there was a 400% jump in the number of employees working from home one or more days a week. Today, the global workforce has experienced work from home during the year since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.

For the past decade, having the right tech tools made managing a remote workforce easier. They allowed you to schedule inexpensive and impromptu face time with everyone who needed to be involved in a conversation, significantly decreased the time spent coordinating meeting times, and kept everyone on the same page.

Some common conference room tech tools include:

  • Enterprise-level video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Bluejeans, for video calls that are easy to spin up.
  • Slack lets remote workers send chat messages to their co-workers during meetings, whether it’s to “raise their hand” in advance of chiming in, or to share tidbits of info relevant to the discussion without verbally interrupting.  
  • Poll Everywhere allows attendees respond to poll questions via their phones, Twitter or their web browser. Live responses can be seen during the meeting.

Tip 3: Encourage engagement during flex hours.

When remote employees call in to a meeting, it’s harder to get them engaged in the meeting compared to the people there in person. And with so much variety in flex work schedule options these days, it's can seem even more difficult. The good news: It’s difficult... but not impossible.

As the meeting leader, consider actively encouraging participation from your remote attendees by asking them for their input or opinion during natural lulls in the conversation. Even with a good video conferencing system, it can be hard to make eye contact to show that they have something to say.

Or plan in advance to pass the mic to some of your remote attendees so they can lead certain parts of the discussion.

Tip 4: Get feedback from meeting attendees.

One of the best tips we can give you for more effective meetings is asking for feedback from attendees later that day or the next day. It’ll help you discover ways to make your hybrid meetings better and more valuable for everyone involved.

Follow up with everyone, but specifically reach out to any flex workers you noticed weren’t actively participating and find out the reason. They could’ve been having technical problems that can be solved or maybe they'll surface some issues that need to be addressed before the next meeting.

Either way, people appreciate feeling heard and valued. If leaders have a reputation for listening,  it can even benefit recruitment and retention goals. After all, who doesn't want to work for a company that cares about their employees?

Commit to better flex work experiences

Your workforce — especially your flex workers — would like the opportunity to engage with colleagues and participate in meetings, and they deserve to have it.

Be deliberate about supporting flex work

If leaders look at hybrid and remote work as an opportunity to help people work better and enjoy work more, then there's a responsibility to enable flexible work practices that keep employees, the business, technology, information, and the workplace connected.

A majority of businesses are expected to implement a hybrid work model. If your organization is one of them, Teem can help you focus on creating better experiences for your flex workers today, plan for the future, and adjust your strategies based on your utilization data. 

Learn more about returning to the office with Teem.

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