Because remote employees are not physically at the conference table, they miss the non-verbal cues and side conversations, while those attending in person often forget who’s on the other end of the speaker phone.
To make your remote colleagues feel connected and valued, here are 8 ways you can help them feel like they’re in the conference room along with everyone else.
1. Make it mobile-first.
The first step toward changing this dynamic is to provide remote employees with the right tools. They need the ability to join meetings from any device with a single click – mobile, tablet, desktop – and any operating system.
2. Set a clear agenda.
A UC solution with a built-in agenda capability enables you to send the meeting plan with the invite. This way, remote employees aren’t at a disadvantage. Everyone is on the same page from the get-go.
3. Establish meeting ground rules.
For instance, one person speaks at a time with no interruptions. Have everyone say their name before speaking to help remote colleagues who are not in the room. This also serves to remind everyone that remote colleagues are on the call.
4. Start with introductions.
Have everyone say “hello,” give their name and role, and explain why they’re on the call. Small talk can help make everyone feel included, especially remote colleagues. If it’s a video call, make sure everyone is on video – not just audio. If someone can’t be on video, ask them to post a photo of themselves.
5. Invite participation.
Since it’s easy to forget who’s calling in, it’s the job of the facilitator to make sure everyone contributes. Keep track of who has spoken – and who has not. Ask direct questions to those who haven’t contributed.
6. Speak clearly.
It is important that the facilitator speak clearly and slowly, with more pauses to make sure everyone is following.
7. Make it visual.
Use collaborative conference software that allows anyone on the call to share their screen. Use visuals to keep everyone engaged. Ask different participants to share documents.
8. Break it up.
When planning the meeting, be conscious of keeping it interactive. For instance, stop after three slides to ask questions. Assign different items on the agenda to each participant. In this way, the remote worker feels like an important contributor to the meeting.
Conference calls have always been challenging, but with more team members working remotely, it’s essential for businesses to make sure they contribute and feel included.
Let TCI help you choose a cloud business communications solution that gives you the tools to create an inclusive, collaborative workspace. Contact us today: (703) 321-3030 or firstname.lastname@example.org.