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West Of Boston Legislators Want Continued Remote Access To Government

They cannot rely on casual encounters or lunch in the cafeteria to cement new relationships. Pay special attention to anyone who is new to the team and is suddenly working remotely. You might need to have more meetings with new workers or set up meetings between them and teammates proactively. If you’re thinking, “Yes, but this has always been true,” you’re right. But as noted above, working remotely tends to expose in-person practices that are already problematic. If there is one thing you should do right now, it’s to examine your meeting culture, and your assumptions about what good looks like.

remote meeting rules

I am a deeply collaborative worker and find it difficult to get work done unless it’s with someone else. Leverage online collaboration tools like OneDrive for Business to take notes, share content, and collaborate real-time. Be prepared to leverage good meeting practices, such as sending an agenda in advance; having a meeting facilitator, timekeeper, and note-taker; and sending out minutes after the meeting. People want to be heard, seen, and respected during an online meeting—just like they do everywhere else. How to engage meeting attendees, whether they’re online or in person, introverts or extroverts. How encouraging casual team conversations between meetings can make your actual meetings more productive.

Give Everyone A Job

A great approach is to use a shared document, like a Google doc, and use it for both the agenda and for taking meeting notes. Since it can be hard to participate and take notes at the same time, make it a team effort and have people that are not talking in the meeting, at any given time, help take notes. Additionally, once you know the agenda, you can prepare your speaking materials to match that agenda , jotting down questions you need clarified. If you join the meeting without seeming to know what it’s about or why you’re there, you can give other attendees a bad impression and make them feel that you’re wasting their time. Without an agenda listing essential points to be discussed, your team might veer away from the meeting’s objective.

remote meeting rules

It’s important to keep everyone engaged during remote meetings, including the team members who might not be the most vocal or outspoken. You may disagree with someone but you shouldn’t interrupt while they’re speaking or try to talk over them. The proper meeting etiquette is to allow the participant to finish making their points before you speak.

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If you follow these and other common sense rules, your meetings will be well-run and effective. To host an effective virtual meeting, it is important to have a set of ground rules for all participants. When everyone knows what to expect from a meeting, they can be more productive and courteous, communicate more effectively, and avoid distractions. If the team isn’t used to speaking up, try changing your approach. For example, encourage people to use the chat function to ask questions or rotate who leads the meeting. Use humor and informality to get people talking, but just like in-person meetings, don’t force anyone to speak or put anyone on the spot.

remote meeting rules

Especially now, you might need to increase your individual meeting cadence to ensure everyone is okay and feels included. It’s your job as a leader to ensure everyone gets heard and dominant voices don’t overshadow the introverts on your team. This is just like in-person meetings, but this situation can be exacerbated on remote working channels.

Keeping Remote Team Members Engaged During Online Meetings

This works best for geographically distributed teams, where one person is looking at snow and another at a palm tree. Any light-hearted way to start the meeting can help set the tone of exchange and feedback that you want. During the COVID-19 era, many companies have embraced the remote-work culture and increased their reliance on virtual meetings, using audio and video chat tools like Zoom, Google Meet,Skype, or Slack. Virtual meetings enable remote workers across different time zones to hold daily stand-up meetings, weekly reviews, project presentations, and other events from the comfort of their home location. When you work with an in-person team, there are plenty of opportunities throughout the day to stop, chat, and connect.

If you notice that someone on the team is trying to contribute but getting overshadowed by more extroverted team members, carve out time for them to speak . Some team members may still be reticent to pipe up during a digital meeting. Take the time to schedule a one-on-one to get that person’s insights on how you can make remote meetings a more inclusive space for them. Even better, create a communal space or document online where people can add their thoughts, insights, and suggestions following the meeting.

Establish an understanding among participants of when and how to interrupt. For example, have people raise hands or otherwise signal that they want to speak. When videoconferencing with many sites, start your comment or question by stating your name. If remotely joining via low-bandwidth or slower internet connection, it may be necessary to disable video in order to improve audio reliability. Once all attendees are present, take a minute to conduct an audio check.

Ensure that your meetings are inclusive, effective, and well-run to reduce frustration and build team camaraderie during challenging times. When possible, avoid interrupting others as they are speaking. Many online meeting systems have a voice-activated switching feature to automatically move the camera to the active speaker. Interrupting another speaker may confuse the voice activation. Setting a clear meeting agenda and guidelines will help ensure that everyone is on the same page before the digital meeting takes place.

remote meeting rules

If the room is too dark or there’s too much ambient noise, you might miss important parts of the discussion and you won’t be able to participate effectively. Choose your location wisely and test the lighting, noise levels, and background visuals before you sign in. During the meeting, one of the discussions may lead to an off-topic discussion.

The agenda acts as a guide to ensure you discuss all points in order and in a reasonable amount of time. It also makes sure you don’t accidentally leave out important points. You should share the agenda with all attendees before the meeting so that they can adequately prepare; this ensures better participation. Remote meetings have the potential for public officials to “stifle public conversation, to limit public comment, and to really restrict the ways in which the public can engage with them online,” he said. Remote work can be difficult, and remote work during a pandemic has its own set of needs.

Prior to that, there were always these roadblocks that were put up so the public couldn’t weigh in,” said Paul Craney, spokesperson of Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. Depending on the culture at your place of work, you might need to set some rules about video and what people should wear. Eliminate “admire the problem” meetings where everyone gets together to talk about the problem but not do anything productive. This looks something like a meeting where you state the problem, comment about why it’s a problem, lament the fact that it is a problem and move on to the next problem. A good rule of thumb is that if the in-person meeting is terrible, the remote version of the same will be exponentially more so.

Ground Rules For Virtual Meetings

In 2019, Lewis said his office received about 30 calls from constituents regarding unemployment, but during 2020 and 2021, it received 450 calls from constituents about unemployment. He credits the increase in call volume partially to his office’s efforts to reach constituents virtually through targeted Facebook advertisements, and their “re-doubled” social media efforts throughout the pandemic. When you ask a question or request information, allow time for slightly delayed responses because the system may experience slight transmission delays. Avoid quick movements, which make it difficult for cameras and microphones to keep up with you.

  • Do you need everyone to watch a presentation or demo in real time?
  • “Meeting people where they are in a way that they want to interact is essential to doing this job successfully,” he said.
  • If your presentation is visually dense or contains video, consider distributing it to participants in advance.
  • Use these 7 ground rules to keep your virtual meetings efficient and productive.
  • And although every team is different, they all benefit from an online meeting tool that has both video and audio functionality at the very least.

As of 2019, the state placed last nationally in financial transparency, according to the Pioneer Institute, a Massachusetts organization that conducts public policy research. Don’t forget about the appreciation and motivation that should keep coming from managers/peers, even for small acts of success. Different kinds of meetings are affected in different ways by remote work. Make meetings 50 minutes long instead of an hour, or 20 minutes rather than a half an hour. This provides a more complete interactive experience for the meeting. “You want to make sure that everyone enters with clear guidelines of expectations and knowing what going to be doing and how to manage the digital space,” says Galindo.

Timebox All Out

Otherwise, the other attendees may not be able to fully focus on what either of you is saying. Also, if you’re quick to interrupt, you might not be fully listening to the other speaker and may miss part of what they say. Use these 7 ground rules to keep your virtual meetings efficient and productive. Make sure you have meetings with each of your team members often. Some people find more than once every two weeks is invasive and unnecessary, and others need multiple calls per week.

The point is, introverts deserve to be just as engaged in online meetings as anyone else, but it may take some work on the facilitator’s part to get them there. There is an abundance of technology out there that makes the process of running an online meeting easier, faster, and more collaborative—the key is figuring out which of these tools is right for your team. Mute that phone (and other must-do’s for successful remote meetings). Attendees are better able to interact with each other when they can see each other. Having faces to match to the voices helps build relationships among remote team members and gives more life to the meeting. If participants have their video on it makes for a much more engaging experience.

As a general rule, if you wouldn’t do it at an in-person meeting, don’t do it virtually. To help ensure you don’t get distracted, turn off notifications in Slack and on your phone. Even though “remote access has been a game changer and attendance has increased,” in-person access allows another level of accountability that can’t always be achieved remotely,” said Silverman. Lewis said he heard from fewer than three constituents over the course of the two years the State House was closed due to the pandemic, and that the “only” people he heard from that were “disappointed that the building remained closed” were lobbyists. Historically, Massachusetts has ranked low in terms of government transparency and accountability. In 2015, the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington-based nonprofit investigative journalism organization, gave Massachusetts an “F” for in public access to information, lobbying disclosure and judicial accountability.

In a remote environment, meetings are your lifeline, your connection, your glue to the rest of the team. You don’t need in-person meetings to create social cohesion as long as you run fun, un-soul-destroying remote ones. Ideally, each team member’s job is something they need to do over the duration of the meeting so that they’re engaged from start to finish, rather than being assigned a “one and done” task. Spend a few minutes at the beginning of the meeting checking in with everyone, catching up, or just having small talk about what’s going on in the office. Not only will it boost engagement, but it can also strengthen culture and deepen your relationship with your team.

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As a leader, your goal in a team meeting is not only to inform. Your job is to make the team meetings as valuable as possible, which means making them a vector for social cohesion, as well as a place remote meeting where hard decisions are made, especially now. Hearing from attendees may just give you ample ideas on how you can make future meetings even more inclusive and efficient for everyone involved.

Set An Agenda And Agree On Remote Meeting Guidelines

But those are all moot if the team isn’t engaged when it comes time for the actual meeting. The tools that are most effective for a one-on-one digital chat aren’t necessarily the same tools as those that are most effective for running a meeting with 20 remote workers spread across different time zones. Make sure the meeting software you choose can accommodate a large number of attendees without going haywire. And although every team is different, they all benefit from an online meeting tool that has both video and audio functionality at the very least.

Advocates and legislators seem to agree that virtual access has improved equity and access, especially for those who had barriers in the way. “Where we were initially worried about how government would continue to function and how we could maintain the same level of transparency and access, the virtual and remote participation was a huge win,” Foster said. Remote access to all levels of public government bodies was “a huge success” that “removed long-standing barriers” and resulted in an “increase in public participation,” said Geoff Foster, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts. If you’re geographically distributed around the globe, the chances are that different teammates are experiencing different circumstances, some in total lockdown, others emerging from it and still others yet to experience COVID-19 directly. Given the current state of the world, many meetings will begin with everyone touching base about what’s going on. But be aware of the fatigue that can create in certain geographies.

Having everyone introduce themselves at kickoff is a good way to help everyone keep track of different team members and how they’re contributing to the meeting. I’ve been writing software and leading both co-located and remote software teams for 20+ years. While the remote governing during the pandemic was a “win-win for the public and the government,” there is “no substitute for in-person deliberation by elected officials,” Foster said. “Meeting people where they are in a way that they want to interact is essential to doing this job successfully,” he said.

Such enthusiastic interaction is good, but an off-topic conversation could overtake the meeting, causing your team to lose focus and unnecessarily extending the meeting time. If you’re the host, you need to monitor these types of discussions and prevent them from derailing the meeting. With increased virtual access, advocates emphasize the importance of both remote and in-person access for government processes. In light of the virtual access to the Legislature, Craney said it’s “funny” that everything is on Zoom now. He noted that prior to the pandemic, there were “years of lawmakers voting against streaming their committee hearings” because they “didn’t have the technology for it,” so it’s a “good thing the hearings are broadcast” now. Always remember and acknowledge when there are remote participants.

However, trying to multitask distracts you from the meeting, and you might miss crucial points. That distraction also prevents you from contributing meaningfully to the meeting. If you are participating in a meeting, request an agenda if the meeting host invites you without one. It confirms that you should be part of this meeting in addition to helping you prepare for it.

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