The workplace is experiencing a substantial shift toward flexibility. According to the State of Remote Work 2017 report, 52% of employees work remotely at least once per week.

Hearing this makes me wonder. 


If more than half of the working US population is spending at least ⅕ of their working time out of the office, why are our corporate and working policies designed to serve onsite employees exclusively?

If you are among the companies who allow remote work today, that’s great -- but you aren’t off the hook yet. Your next step is to decide how best to support and enable those remote employees. And as Rome wasn’t built in a day, I want to offer you a low hanging fruit opportunity that’s sure to drive a big impact for your flexible workers.

How? Improving your meetings for your remote workers.

How to Support Your Remote Employees During Team Meetings


Here’s an interesting fact. According to Atlassian, the average employee attends 62 meetings per month. That’s a lot of opportunity to drive substantial collaboration among all your employees across all locations.

On the flipside? If the nature of your meetings aren’t designed to set up your remote or work-from-home employees for success, that’s a lot of opportunity to make your remote team members feel ignored and excluded.

Ouch. How do you know if this is happening at your meetings?

Take a minute to picture your meeting experience from the perspective of the person calling or logging in and ask yourself the following questions to assess:

  • What can remote attendees see? Can they see substantially less than the people in the room? 
  • What can they hear? Is it easy to follow the conversation or is it a struggle?
  • How often do remote people participate vs. the in-room employees? Is it balanced?
  • Can people see the faces and body language of the people in the room? Is it easy to read the room?

Got a picture?

What you should be assessing is to what degree does the meeting experience favor your onsite employees. It’s your job as the leader to make it as balanced as possible and that the meeting experience doesn’t put the people joining remotely at a disadvantage.

 

So what do you do? The first step is to understand what elements are necessary for successful communication.

You May Be Missing 50% of Context Necessary For Effective Meetings

Research by Albert Mehrabian breaks down communication into three components:

  • 55% comes from facial expressions and body language
  • 38% comes from vocal inflection and tone of voice
  • 7% from words themselves

That’s huge! You’ve probably experienced what it feels like to miss facial expressions and body language yourself on a call that used audio only. Ever experience that awkward moment where you accidentally talk over each other, or maybe had a terribly strange silence while waiting for the other person to talk? That’s because you’re working with half the context. You’re missing all visual communication.

So does this mean a manager can include a camera and video conferencing and you’re good to go? Not quite.

Here’s a rough fact.

Simply turning on a camera does not guarantee that the remote person is getting the visual context to have a successful conversation. 

The majority of video conferencing cameras give the person a visual, but not the right visual needed to show the body language and facial expressions that Albert Mehrabian told us were so essential. Instead, managers need to use video technology that prominently shows the faces, emotions and body language of the people in the room.

The Meeting Owl video conferencing camera was designed to fix this very problem. Truth be told, we love him and we’re biased. However you should check it out and decide for yourself if it could help your team.

The Meeting Owl gives your remote team members an experience that nearly feels like being in the room by capturing all visual context cues that the in-room participants can see. 

How's it work? In short. It is a 360° camera, mic and speaker that shows a full panorama view of the room.

The really cool part is how it shows people’s faces. The Meeting Owl is an intelligent little camera that learns where everyone is in the room, and then it will automatically focus the camera on a person when he or she starts speaking, while also showing the reactions of the other people in the room.

One remote employee who uses the Meeting Owl said previously meetings were like "a bad TV version of her meeting" and now they've become nautral conversations where she could actually connect. 

If you were dialing in remotely, which experience would you prefer?

 

Here at Owl Labs, we're 40% remote ourselves and we get the pain and frustrations of being at the disposal of the onsite employees to have an effective experience. We’re on a mission to make the remote and flexible working world just as great and effective as being in the office one meeting at a time.

Want to see the Meeting Owl experience yourself first-hand?

Get a live or recorded demo of the experience or fill out the form below.