SpeedHomeOfficeMeeting – Corona Edition

SpeedHomeOfficeMeeting – Corona Edition

"I'll send you a team invitation."

"Check out my cool background!"

"You're still on mute!"

"Why don't you turn on the camera so I can see you?"

"Let's take a group photo. What do you think?"

Phrases that have probably accompanied many over the past few months. Sentences that we are perhaps also getting tired of. Tired of because:

"Hey! We're having a meeting, everybody focus and put the cell phone away! Thanks!"

Lack of control, too much distraction, not enough variety.

Something I also got tired of after quite a few lock-down weeks. Hours of sitting, being bored in front of the camera. Talking for a short time, then silent for a long time, 90% of the time not even listening, but working on other things or even sleeping.

After all, the goal would be: efficiency, diversity, and targeting. Here you can find out HOW!

Carneval 2020 – it sounds a tiny bit like the past. However, a topic that was already current at that time still shapes us today. C***NA, C**ID 19, SARS-C*V! – call it what you like. Meetings since then like to take place digitally, from the home office, separated by two or more screens. With endless possibilities:

  • Microphone: on / off
  • Camera: on / off
  • Background picture: original / funny / boring
  • Background noise: loud / louder / unmistakable

Not to forget the obvious distraction possibilities:

  • The bed, still warm from getting up too late.
  • The streaker, depending on the number of people in the household.
  • The full refrigerator, filled with temptingly delicious breaks.
  • The cell phone, permanently exploding with messages from other home office people.
  • The neighborhood kids, needing to show off their skills on the drums.
  • Retired walking troops shredding their vocal cords while complaining about today's youth.

I know it could be worse. Feel free to share your favorite home office story with me in the comments. Maybe I'll pimp this blog with your input.

But, "Hey! It's blog post time, focus on the topic Camille!".

But why? The above points are essential to a 180-degree turnaround in my eyes. I would be happy to take you on a journey. Get on board and join me on the three stops "lack of control", "too much distraction", "too little variety" on the way to success with online meetings.

Lack of control

Lack of discipline, lack of efficiency, lack of attention.

Specifically, how do I maintain control of the meeting?

  1. Set clear rules and communicate them clearly to your team.
    1. Everyone logs in on time.
    2. Everyone has the camera on.
    3. Everyone, except the person speaking, has the microphone off. With various online tools, there are technical ways to raise your hand so that interruptions can be kept to a minimum.
    4. Everyone puts the cell phone away.
    5. Everyone puts away other documents, digital and analog, and focuses on the meeting.
    6. The chat function is used for comments and information that should not affect the flow of the conversation.
    7. If possible, eat before or after the meeting and visit the restroom. Drinking is allowed, of course. I think it is clear here that only non-alcoholic delights are meant.
    8. Of course, these are only suggestions, and you are welcome to modify, shorten or add to them.
  2. Define a certain duration, the meeting must not go longer. Experience has shown that it pays to keep meetings short and to schedule several if necessary.
  3. Set goals together at the beginning of the meeting, which in turn will be checked together at the end.
  4. Draw up an agenda and determine which items are to be discussed and which are to be noted. If needed, feel free to share the agenda items with the team prior to the meeting so everyone can prepare.
  5. Record in writing what was discussed. The document can be sent to all participants and anyone not present after the meeting for summary and information.
  6. Appoint someone as moderator, this can easily be yourself. The moderator does not take on a debating role, but ensures that everyone stays on topic and that the schedule can be adhered to. Another task of this role is to get everyone talking so that decisions can be made in a representative way.
    –> I personally find this point one of the most important!

Too much distraction

Too much noise, too much private things, too much at home.

In concrete terms: How can I ensure that my employees can participate in the meeting with as much concentration as possible?

  1. Give your employees / work colleagues tips on how to work at home in general. This can be done in person or in writing. Tips such as the following:
    1. Set up your workstation in a room that can be closed off.
    2. Make sure you have a large desk so that all work equipment has its place and you have enough room to take notes.
    3. Make sure you have good light sources, a comfortable office chair, and a way for fresh air to enter.
    4. Have a large bottle of water, a small snack bowl with nuts, chocolate, already cut fruit and whatever else your heart desires at the desk you tidied up the night before. For me, for example, always central to good work quality: a coffee!
    5. Take deliberate breaks. After 2 – 3 hours of work, it is worth leaving the room for 15 – 30 minutes, getting up, airing the workplace and allowing yourself some oxygen while standing. For some people, maybe also some time to take care of the caffeine or nicotine balance.
    6. Enforce a clear routine. Determine when to log in, when to take a lunch break, and the approximate end of the day. Sure, flexibility is important and may see its implementation in action, but establishing a reasonable framework probably doesn't hurt.
  2. Now we can work with the framework on online calls. Ask your employees to work with you to ensure that the potential for distraction, especially in calls, can be reduced as much as possible. Do this with measures such as:
    1. Close the door(s) of your @home office.
    2. Air out the room before the meeting and then close the / windows for the meeting.
    3. Inform any co-habitants that you are now attending a meeting and do not want to be interrupted if possible.
    4. Allow enough time before the meeting for a pee break, authorizing a coffee and refilling the water jug.
    5. If possible, use headphones to spare meeting participants from neighbor disputes, mailman bells, and oven peeps.

Many points of the first stop, are essential to the current. Interaction works, as it does in most companies. Individual walks are bumpy. The same here.

Too little variety

Too few methods, too few breaks, too few ideas.

Specifically: How do I make my online meetings more interesting?

We all know the standard meetings. Someone talks, someone gives their two cents, someone decides, and someone writes down this valuable discussion word for word. In some cases, that's effectively the only sensible way to go. For all other cases, here are a few ideas and methods.

  1. Before we even get to the ideas and methods: PAUSES! If a meeting has been going on for over an hour, consider taking a break. Sure, time is money. I know that! But what's the harm in 10 minutes of fresh air, 10 minutes of shaking out your legs, 10 minutes of collecting thoughts, if afterwards the meeting is filled again with great inputs, important memory points and more energy?
  2. Now the ideas: Make a meeting exciting by, for example....
    1. ...all meeting participants prepare and present an agenda item.
    2. ...using interactive online tools such as Miro-Board, Mentimeter, Kahoot, WheelOfNames, sildo, tricider, ParrotPolls and many more.
    3. ...you as organizer / moderator stand out motivated, in a good mood and active.
    4. ...certain topics are discussed in smaller groups and then presented in plenary.
    5. ...compliments are given for good ideas and input.
    6. ...methods such as "save-your-company", "prioritization matrix", "utility analysis", "ABC", "team timeline", "pitch", "brainstorming", "linked, learned, lacked, longed for" are used. Many methods can be found on the Internet.

End of the trip

The last few words.

Finally, one last tip from me:

Don't be embarrassed to circulate a short – by short, I mean really short – survey after the meeting. Find out from the participants:

  • What did they like?
  • What would they improve?
  • Could you tell a difference?
  • And whatever else is on your mind.
  • Or simply what interests you as a meeting organizer.

PS: Multiple choice is usually filled out with more enthusiasm than empty text fields.

So, now I must continue to work in a concentrated manner. I hope that I have been able to give you something new to take away with you in the last few minutes and that you will be successful in implementing it. Let me know in the comments if you have any further tips or if you could form an opinion about mine.

Camille Peter

Camille Peter

Project Manager

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