It's not always easy to be on the remote side of a conference call. Your on-site colleagues might interrupt or talk over you and it's challenging to coordinate who's speaking next. "Oh no, you go," is a frequently used phrase. Plus, technical challenges can arise and you could wait 9+ minutes for the meeting to be set up.
And above all else, there's nothing worse than waking up early, getting your ideas all outlined, organized and ready to roll – and then no one even acknowledges your presence for the whole call. As if you're not even there.
The mayhem has to stop, people! Here are some tips to ensure that your remote workers are acknowledged and included.
It may surprise you, but turns out it's really easy to ignore someone if you can't … see them. When you can see those in your meeting, you're able to take their body language and audiovisual cues into account before speaking. You won't talk over other team members accidentally and will be able to get more productive conversation completed.
You want to make sure it's really easy to tell if someone keeps opening their mouth to speak but you keep cutting them off anyway. This way, when they raise their hand to speak, you'll be able to see it. No one wants to squint to see who's on the other side of the call or what data is being presented to the team.
Before you start your meeting, make sure all speakers and microphones are turned on and working correctly. If your audio keeps going out, you'll distract those on your call and won't get anything done. Use the proper equipment, and shoot for a system that has all these devices in one.
Are you muted? Are they muted? Does screen sharing work? These are all questions that you should run through before you set up your meeting. Nothing's worse than opening up a meeting with your email inbox accidentally shared to everyone those in attendance because you forgot to turn off screen sharing. A quick check goes a long way.
Nothing makes your coworkers want to leave your meeting quicker than a faulty internet connection. A bad connection will likely end your meeting early without discussing your points. You'll either have to waste everyone's time to figure out how to get it working, or scrap the meeting entirely and set it up for another time. Get it done correctly the first time and make everyone's lives easier.
A video conference without showing peoples faces is no better than a teleconference. People need to see each other to know when to speak and work effectively. Plus, it's nice seeing the happy faces of everyone on your team when you all get together.
Really this is best practice for all meetings, not just remote ones. But an agenda allows for remote workers to know where their sections will be. It's hard enough to be disconnected from your team, so having the right section to speak where you won't be talking over someone is essential.
Who in the meeting can have the role of calling things out if something isn't going right for the remote folks? This makes it easier to catch things when they happen, and you won't have people waiting to point something out from the fear of speaking up. Any problem that does arise will be fixed quickly, so you can get back to your meeting. We love you meeting heroes. Thank you for your service.
If you're leading the meeting, make sure you throw the conversion to the remote folks once in a while. The conversation should be balanced. Listen to everyone's ideas, especially those that are remote that might not have the benefit of taking the reins with their body language. You'll help remote folks feel included, which is one of the largest problems for remote teams. When everyone feels like their opinions are being valued, it makes them that much closer to the team and ready to create high quality work.
This can help solve for remote workers feeling left out of the conversation. It's easy to give someone praise when you see the presentation they've been working on being built right next to you. But it's hard to see the hours of work that someone is doing when they're not in the office with you. Let everyone know what their contributions mean to the team, and you'll satisfy those in the office and remote equally.
If your company has a happy hour on Friday's or a product launch event, it can be easy to forget to invite remote workers. Although they can't be there in person, the bonding and excitement from these social activities are just as impactful in building a team. Set up a video monitor that they can call in from and be a part of the celebration. When they're included and invited, they'll get to know your team members and love their company.
You should do this with all of your employees, but it's especially key for remote workers. Remote employees can feel on the outs occasionally, so it's important to see what they need to do their jobs. Not being in the office physically can be a bit of a barrier to ask for what you need without sounding overbearing. Make it easier on them to submit feedback or ask for things with forms or surveys sent out to your company channels.
Remote workers are just as valuable as anyone else on your team. By focusing on them, you'll bring your team closer together and work more effectively. Leaders can help their teams feel more included by building a culture that values openness and honesty. Pay attention to feedback your employees give and use it to make your organization as best as it can be. To improve your culture further, check out our tips for a more inclusive team.