Imagine if a businessperson had suggested in 1950 that one day people around the world would be able to participate in a conference call by simply making a phone call. The idea would have been met with disbelief and ridicule. However, the reality of today is that virtual boardrooms are increasingly used for important business engagements. According to Skype.com, users accumulated an astonishing amount of talk time during the app’s first decade, with even higher figures in recent times.
Skype and other comparable services offer significant advantages to organizations, enabling them to involve members of their team who are situated remotely in important corporate meetings. For managers who realize the value of keeping in touch with their remote staff, this is excellent news, as well as for remote employees who are eager to keep up with developments. Teams can utilize these services to communicate with one another via video or voice, enabling remote members to access information and join in discussions.
Establishing and adhering to a routine schedule is crucial to ensuring that employees feel comfortable and recognize the value of their contributions, as well as ensuring that their ideas and concerns are being listened to.
Now is the moment to start contemplating the most effective way to communicate with your remote team. Even if you already excel at hosting virtual meetings, have you ever considered whether your remote workers are able to achieve their desired outcomes? Surprisingly, despite the array of virtual resources at our disposal, we may still be neglecting those who work remotely. Keep reading to learn what to look out for and how to avoid it.
The Art of Speculating
“Those who assume make an ass out of themselves” was a saying used by my grandmother, although she never actually used the term “ass.”
It can be simple to presume that when all team members are physically present in a meeting, remote workers are likewise keeping up, but this presumption can result in misunderstandings. As indicated by Hurleywrite, it is one of the most common reasons for confusion in the workplace, stemming from the assumption that others already comprehend what is required, that a need is self-evident, or that everyone sees an issue in the same way.
Prior to ending the meeting, it is crucial to confirm that everyone, including those who are not in the same physical location as the rest of the group, comprehends their responsibilities. It’s essential to recognize every individual’s contribution and encourage anyone who may be uncertain or have concerns to express themselves. If they have access to visual aids, it’s simple to locate those who may be feeling lost. This is why we emphasize the importance of face-to-face video conferencing in our essay, ‘Why Face to Face Video Is Still the Best Way to Communicate’.
To prevent making assumptions when communicating with remote employees, Shirley Taylor recommends keeping in mind the following six guidelines.
- Be patient and wait for your turn to speak
- Listen attentively and take in what is being said
- Keep a record, especially if your remote team is expressing uncertainty
- Rephrase for clearer comprehension.
- Avoid getting distracted
- Take a moment to reflect.
West.org made a significant observation when they noted that “Humans form all their assumptions based on prior experiences that have produced similar outcomes”. When conducting virtual board meetings, it’s crucial to keep in mind that remote teams may function differently than those in an office setting. As a result, it is critical that both parties communicate effectively and frequently to guarantee the team’s successful operation.
Signs in the Digital Realm
It has been previously emphasized that regardless of the context, face-to-face interaction is always preferred as it allows nonverbal cues such as body language and eye contact to convey information effectively, whether it’s a business meeting or a conversation with a school principal. In our paper titled ‘Body Language: Does It Really Matter To a Remote Manager?‘, we thoroughly explored the relevance of body language to remote managers. One of our conclusions was that even though remote workers may only have a view of a person’s upper body, their gestures can have a significant impact.
When attending a board meeting, it’s crucial to be aware of both internal and external cues, particularly if some participants are joining via video conferencing. Therefore, it’s essential to closely listen to remote workers’ contribution and be attentive to any signs of distraction, such as looking down or away. Doing so can help ensure that everyone is focused and engaged in the conversation.
Providing remote employees with the confidence to ask for assistance when required is critical. Despite video conferencing being used, understanding what is being conveyed in the room can be difficult as nonverbal body language cues cannot be seen. Therefore, it’s vital to be attentive to other audible signs, such as sighs and grumbles, to comprehend the sentiments of the other participants.
Being aware of situations where those in the physical meeting room may be monopolizing the discussion, thereby preventing remote workers from having a chance to contribute, is crucial. To ensure that all participants have an opportunity to share their thoughts, it is recommended to explicitly ask if any remote workers have any input to offer. If it appears that someone wants to express their ideas, it’s essential to explicitly identify that person and give them a platform to speak.
Participating in board meetings and conference calls can be highly advantageous. Our article, “Integrating Remote Workers,” underscores the significance of inquiring about the well-being of remote team members when the rest of the team is co-located. Celebrating success stories and overcoming challenges can uplift spirits and increase team members’ engagement with the group’s goals. However, using exclusive office jargon and inside jokes should be avoided. When remote members join the discussion, it’s crucial to welcome them and ensure their inclusion, as it’s common to limit relationships to coworkers seen and interacted with frequently. It’s important that everyone, regardless of their location, feels like an integral part of the team.
Being mindful of the following points will ensure success in the virtual boardroom. The most crucial aspect is to communicate attentively and ensure that everyone’s contribution is valued. It’s important that remote workers have equal opportunities to participate in meetings. Once these measures are in place, success is apparent as it starts to manifest in other avenues.
Introducing remote workers to your boardroom team can be beneficial, especially when all members are based in the same location. At Works, we can assist you in this initiative. Please don’t hesitate to contact us, and we’ll provide you with all the required information on how to get started.