So here we are and the corona virus pandemic as still on going and very far from being over. Some of us have not been adversely affected by this situation. Am some of you reading this, have had no issues at all and work has had some resemblance of normalcy despite this pandemic. Yet, we also know people who have not yet gone back to normal work stations since the first case as announce here in Kenya on 15th March 2020. However (oops this is not a word that we Kenyans like to hear these days), work has had to go on and the rest of us have had to leave our office space and WFH – (Work From Home). This has been a very interesting experience especially for me since I have had to create an executive corner office at home. Don’t ask for details at the moment – just incase you realize what this means.
Allow me to put this here … online meetings have been going on for a while even before we knew it … I have a happy face on this one. If you know you know 🙂
This therefore means that I have still been on duty and once on a while I have had to attend both official and social meetings online. Let me dwell on the Official ones since they seem to have a certain level of professionalism in the way they are conducted. I have had so much fun being both a participant and a convener of these types of meetings. Some pretty embarrassing while others very successful and I have logged off feeling a heroine that I know I am. Even as we continue to see these online sessions, allow me to share some of the things I have learnt while conducting these meetings. This has been very personal for me and I continue to learn every other day. I have also researched on various sites online and indeed they have assisted with the pointers below.
Ensure that :
- That you figure out IF you really need to have the meeting. We are having people get excited about this online stuff and thus why not have this. Agree with your team whether this is necessary and then set it up. Is there a reason to call it up in the first place?
- Agree on the platform to use. We have seen many of these platforms that have a time limit, other are open ended while other even have a limit of persons they can accommodate. They are so many from Zoom, to Teams and now Hang out – just to mention a few I have used.
- The gadget to be used needs to in good working condition – test the sound and video before hand. will it be a phone or computer?
- Agree on the participants of the meeting. Please allow only those who need to be in the meeting to attend.
- Send a meeting request and the agenda for the meeting before hand. Surely, this is not the time where you walk into peoples desk and call them out asking .. “Are you busy?” and drag them to your office !
- Confirm the email addresses for those you intend to be in that meeting – office email needs to have been re-configured to the device they are using.
- Ensure the team members log in at least 10 minutes before the meeting. We see alot of those who still attend physical meeting late are the same ones who will long in late and begin to ask other if they are on line ?
- Conduct the meeting in a professional manner since indeed it is an official meeting. Ensure the ideas of discussion are well documented and everyone has understood what they need to do. Have someone ensure the agenda is well followed and minutes are shared the soonest time possible. This will allow those with action points to still be fresh and thus work on them ( hopefully ) before the next meeting.
- Where possible ensure all staff participate in the meeting. You know those people who are LOUD … literally in speech and also presence? They are still the same ones in that meeting. So learn how to monitor and keep them on check. You may find that those who were quiet in other meetings are now able to open up well, share and contribute great ideas during this meeting. One then wonders, does it mean that the office setting was not good enough for them to think this way, or where they feeling intimidated in any way? Just a random thought.
- Your speech and intonation needs to be heavy with consideration. Most if not all of your team is affected if not already having someone infected by the virus. In view of this, one needs to be very careful how they handle the team. This will allow you to respect and possibly respect / understand the current mental health of the team. This is a topic on its own and I shall deal with very soon. Your team are made of humans who feel and they need to be felt – even if separated by the screen. bottom line – PLEASE BE NICE 🙂
- Assume all staff have access to the internet when you are starting the meeting ask the team confirm this to you. You should actually facilitate this tool of trade and not assume they paid this service for you.
- Allow too many people rights to run the meeting – as a host take full charge. There are cases where everyone seems that they can mute/unmute/remove/ add / etc
- Assume that staff know how to use the gadget. Ohh dear please do not try this. Please tell them to try it out first before they log in. The audio needs to be just right. As for the camera, know how to show and un-show video. I have heard cases of crazy things happening when the cameras are on eg – changing clothes from pjs to a shirt or someone waking up and they have boxer shorts !!!
- Allow staff to stay unmuted during the meeting unless they are contributing – gosh the things we hear during these meetings – from fathers having eaten the left overs, or asking others to ensure food is not over boiled or even those children their parents to go out and play !!! – am serious.
- Allow the team to be shabbily dressed just because they are at home – it is still work eg I was in one meeting someones hair was totally unkept in the name of being home, while in another, I have seen one where a staff is in boxer shorts – this one was shared on line. What a laugh. Just remembered I was in a meeting and one of the participants had a towel wrapped around them! Yes i was in total shock. infact eventually managed to walk away and come back when dressed up in a jogging hoodie. I love my job 🙂
- Allow staff to disregard general hygiene standards of looking neat and well-groomed eg – too much make up looking like one just sucked up into the Maasai pot of gold read – pot of fresh blood or shiny face like you are part of the just concluded INEOS challenge marathon!!!
- Allow undue bickering with each other during the meeting even if they do not agree with the matters at hand. It is still an office meeting and arguments need to be dealt with in an amicable way. Before one can walk out of the room but here, what .. leave the meeting?
- Eat or drink excessively during the meeting – a mug of coffee or tea will do but not an entire meal with soups and desserts – Gosh please don’t not chew gum and blow bubbles even if the meeting is boring- remember you still work for that company. I was in a social zoom meeting where – oops I actually had my entire dinner and dessert as the meeting went on. Now I realise it was rather silly and rude since the video was still running!
- Overly extend the meeting – people have other things to do. There are times when people who have no strict agenda feel like we need to catch up and give stories. However, even if it is an office meeting, please there is life beyond this meeting. There are those who ask, can I take a few more minutes? Little does one know that these end up multiplying into another 30 minutes and since it is the boss running it, one cannot leave the meeting, the host will know. Stick to the proposed time even if the platform in use has no time limit.
- Allow the team to behave inappropriately eg – use derogatory hand signals or facial expressions or even their mother tongues even if majority of the team may come from the same community this is just rude. How horrible can a meeting be when just because the team members speak one ethnic language they chose to engage in the same. If that happens in face to face meetings, they are called out to behave so please … even here BEHAVE
I can confirm to you that the above is not exhaustive and there are many more things that we are expected to do and not to do. As a professional person that you and I are, we need to maintain some form of decorum when conducting and or attending these meeting. What a new norm we are having at the moment.
How has your experience been like? Please share.