Many of us are obliged to work from home because of the current situation. Without diving into the pros and cons of working remotely, let’s just be positive and get the best out of it. Even if you are used to having the perfect work from home set-up, your plan probably never included ninjas playing run and scream games all over the place.

Online meetings are theoretically great, but practically if not run properly, they can be excruciatingly awkward. Talking to our computer screens offers none of the helpful feedback of face to face communication and we tend to forget the human behind the screen.

Although we are all in this together, there are some guidelines for virtual meetings we cannot mess up with. You can immediately implement these guidelines to show courtesy and increase your productivity while working from home.

If you have kids, Bribe them!

Bribe your kids before, during, and after an online meeting or an important task you need to accomplish.Before your meeting, communicate with your kids that working from home still means “working”. Explain to them that once you’re done, you’ll come out and check on them but till then, they need to solve their problems by themselves.

During this tough time, don’t necessarily stick to screen time. Be a bit generous and allow for extra screen time, at least till your finish your online meeting.When you are done with your meeting, don’t forget to acknowledge good behavior (if you witnessed any). Reward your children, fulfill your promise and maybe spend more time with them.

Heading to your Meeting

My top tip for a successful virtual meeting from home is to institute “ heading to meeting” routine. Make the effort to do your bed, shower, dress, etc. Set aside a corner of your home to be your workspace. Don’t conduct a virtual meeting from areas dedicated to relaxation like your couch or bed. The whole idea is to set clear boundaries between work mode and home mode. When you need a break, please do walk away from your work station. This will let you mentally leave work behind.

On social media, memes are popping up of people conducting virtual meeting while wearing formal attire from the top, and shorts or pjs from the bottom. Dressing appropriately is not just important for how others perceive you – many studies show that the clothes you wear affect your mental and physical performance. So whether you are attending an online meeting or not, make sure to dress appropriately. If you want to increase your productivity, feel confident, and convince your children that you are working, please take the time to dress like you would in a normal working day.

Guidelines for the host

Just think of an online meeting as a real meeting not a virtual one. Both must not be conducted unless there is a real need. Common types of business meetings include status updates, decision-making, problem-solving, and emergency meetings.

As a host, you should follow certain guidelines when conducting an online meeting:

  • Set a clear meeting agenda and guidelines and send them to your team 24 hrs in advance (key talking points, who will attend, relevant documents that each team member needs to bring, etc.). Always remember that failing to plan is planning to fail.
  • Invite only essential people, don’t just waste everybody’s time.
  • Have everyone introduce themselves at kickoff.
  • Make it clear who is invited, no surprises please.
  • Include a bit of small talk to break the ice.
  • Give everyone a job or they will lose track of what’s going on (eg. Have one member write questions that come up, another one would take notes, etc.).
  • Always remember that for introverts, virtual meetings can be more intimidating. Carve out time for them to speak and make sure the rest of the team are listening.
  • Always lead the conversation back to the main topic.
  • Be courteous to everybody’s time and keep an eye on the clock.
  • Check with the attendees how well the meeting went to make future meetings more effective and inclusive

Guidelines for the participants

Successfully participating in a virtual meeting can be overwhelming but it’s as simple as that; people want to be heard, seen, and respected during an online meeting just like they would in a face to face meeting.

  • Announce yourself when you join. It is awkward to hear the “someone just joined” ding followed by silence.
  • Leave the keyboard alone. Your laptop’s microphone is so close to your keyboard which makes the sound of typing so distracting and annoying.
  • Dress like you’re going to work.
  • Mute your microphone when you are not speaking to avoid echo noise from conflicting microphones.
  • Before the meeting starts, eat, go to the toilet and bring your glass of water. Do every effort to remain seated all the time.
  • Use attentive body language, sit properly, don’t smack gums or click pens, and resist the temptation to check your inbox…. Stay Present
  • Don’t be afraid to raise your voice, other attendees will appreciate being able to hear you without having to strain their ears.

May the new things we learn in the current tough situation be of an added value in our professional as well as social life. Stay healthy, productive, and entertained.