New to remote work? Here’s how to embrace the virtual meeting room

If you used to work almost exclusively in an office environment but now find yourself working remotely, you’re not alone. For many of us, the onslaught of precautions surrounding COVID-19 has caused a major disruption in the work of employers and employees alike.

Whether you have modest experience working remote or are completely new to the landscape of virtual work, here are a few tips to help you navigate and enjoy your newly remote work life:

First, it’s important to remember our common challenges

Online conferencing is virtually (pardon the pun) less than a decade old. Much of this technology is still new and developing, as working professionals are getting acclimated to its capabilities. Not to mention, not everyone adopting this technology will have immediate access to everything that they need to work effectively in a remote environment which could cause stress levels to increase. Everyone will handle this monumental shift from in-person to digital collaboration differently so it’s important to remain patient with one other when trying to communicate.

So you have your devices in order — now what?

Every organization will implement different tools in order to communicate effectively, depending on the size or structure of your organization. Many workspaces have subscriptions to virtual conferencing such as Zoom, Google Meet, GoToMeeting, Cisco Webex, Microsoft Teams, among others. Some companies such as Google, Adobe, and others have provided businesses and schools free tools to help stay connected during this time of social distancing.

Other creative ways to connect virtually

Provided you have at least a computer, tablet, or cell phone at your disposal, there are boatloads of ways to connect with your business partners, fellow employees, and clients. If you don’t have any of the various software above, try FaceTime, Google Duo, Facebook Messenger, Skype, or Slack just to name a few. Be sure to find an outlet that works for both you and your counterpart(s).

Preparing for a remote meet-up

A virtual meeting room can be chaotic if not prepared for well in advance of the call. Here are some critical steps to ensure for online meeting success:

  • Schedule and invite participants with ample notice. Make sure everyone can readily access the login information they need to join the meeting — dial-in phone number, web URL, etc.
  • Set a clear meeting agenda that everyone can easily access and review ahead of time. Consider sending a reminder or two ahead of the meeting time.
  • Test all technology ahead in advance of the meeting. That includes your device’s audio, visual, and screen-sharing abilities.

Virtual conferencing best practices

  • Be aware. The virtual conference may or may not have a mix of video and phone participants, depending on the individual circumstances.
  • Be courteous. Treat a virtual meeting like you would an in-person meeting and avoid distractions such as checking email or answering messages during the session.
  • Silence your cell phone, if you’re using a computer or tablet.
  • Mute yourself when not contributing. This minimizes meeting distractions exponentially.

Final thoughts

While adapting to remote work can be tricky, it can also be seen as an opportunity to strengthen a team’s overall agility and increase empathy interpersonally. Don’t hesitate to reach out and support your colleagues and clients as they navigate this new digital environment. Remember — we’re all in this together!