Every weekday in my plan I have included a team or staff meeting, and this should be an important part of any business schedule. Getting together when working from home can easily be done thanks to online packages like Zoom and there is everything to lose if you don't do this. This is because, through the realms of technology, group dynamics can remain cohesive even at a distance.
We have already discussed early on in this week's material that there should also be time in the work day for staf or team members to have one-to-one time with Line Managers or emotional support from other staff or mentors to help during this difficult period. As a reminder, the uncertainty as to how long staff should remain working from home can increase anxiety; the shift from physical support from colleagues within the office to online support working remotely from home can also be stressful as it could be perceived as daunting working on own and the quick changing epidemic can also make colleagues feel uncertain. Supporting colleaugues mental health is always important (see other areas of the course), in this sitation it is more important than ever to have this help.
Although, the team meeting is not the right space for staff to reach out for assistance, instead there should be procedures in place to ensure that discussions can be more private, the meeting should be holistic as everyone attending will feel connected both to the business/organization and feel a sense of belonging to others. This is important as workers are working remotely, to not see other workers can be isolating and increase anxiety. Therefore, a daily team meeting can reduce anxiety as a sense of connectedness increases.
In my plan I have two different types of meeting: formal meetings three times per week located at either end of the week on Mondays and Fridays, to ensure objectives devised are met and a shorter meeting on Wednesdays to review and amend any objectives before the second-part of the week. Without regular meetings, work output will be low, which business owners and Management do not want. Moreover, expecting members to work from home without regular formal meetings is not good practice.
Formal meetings are necessary: this would include a formal structure which would include an agenda. Efficient work can only happen when the team reviews progress made on specific tasks or assignments, both considering united goals and individual tasks. The meeting runs on two levels: general considerations by all members and actions being confirmed by the Chair, Team Leader or Facilitator. This could include delegation, reviewing the roles of specific members and providng different tasks to different objectives. Although, team meetings appear simple they are more complicated than they appear and this compexity increases online and from home.
Try to avoid telephone conferencing as individuals may not know when someone has stopped speaking as visual cues cannot be seen. Use online software, which can help resolve these issues. Staff/team members can signal they would like to speak, and this means not interrupting someone else. If this is not possible, individuals should follow specific rules: listen to one another and leave it 2-3 seconds between speech to check an individual has finished speaking.
Formal means discussing business affairs, it does not mean members should be expected to appear formally. Accept that there should be flexibility, for instance, wearing relaxed clothes. Try to ensure all distractions from behind you have been removed; ensure that the area you are video-conferencing in is well-lit as it helps the other meeting attendees to see your face. It makes understanding peoples expressions easier. Some people find videocalling strange so members should be encouraged to focus on non-verbal communication, for instance nodding and smiling; by doing this, you are making the unusual situation normal and it shows that you are connecting with others. Another way to do this is for the Chair or Facilitator to open with everyday conversation such as peoples plans for the weekend. Conversations such as this would happen in the office and by doing this will normalise the discussion and briiing the group together.
Also, do something the group that everyone can share. For instance, all enjoying a hot drink and biscuits; even having the same type of snack it will connect the team together. Which brings me to a further tip: when working remotely have a mug that is just for your office. It is one of many strategies outlined in the course, which will seperate your home life and mark out your office in time and space.
The second type of meeting, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, is more informal. My suggestion is it does not have to be one unified group, rather smaller clusters. Conversation should be less about work, and it may be helpful to avoid discussing the epidemic. Situations like this are so important to working remotely, as it will relax staff members and create a feeling of integration and will result in better work output. More importantly, it is important to ensure workers feel satisfied and uncomfortable in their workplace, even when they are working from home. If a unified relaxed meeting amongst staff members is chosen, fun games may relax and strengthen group dynamics. For instance, For instance, use the desert island scenario and ask each team member to say what seven objects they would take with them. Nevertheless, it may be helpful to bring the team together for a session like this. Research indicates this will boost morale; just get into the right mindset!