Before 2020 hit, the Work from Anywhere (WFA) model was on the rise for many organizations. Technological connectivity allowed us to stay productive anywhere work or life took us. But, when the pandemic forced almost every firm to rethink their way of work on a daily basis, organizations turned to powerful digital tools to keep workflow and communications going. For many, it’s been a bumpy ride ensuring teams have everything they need to WFA and host effective meetings. While technology has given us the ability to host meetings, how to host productive meetings is another conversation entirely. At Jackman, we implemented this WFA model way before the world changed in 2020, and our insights could inspire your workforce to stay connected, productive and motivated.
We’ve always been a collaborative group at Jackman, and the WFA model has been a part of our culture for quite some time now. But, shifting to a WFA culture is no easy feat, so I thought I would share what has and IS working for us. Setting clear expectations, becoming efficiency experts, and enabling better engagement are what we, at Jackman, attribute to hosting better meetings.
Set Clear Expectations
When everyone has a clear understanding of each meeting’s purpose, everybody is prepared to perform.
• The need for clear meeting expectations must be defined, adopted and applied. Some questions to consider: What type of meeting is this? What is the expected outcome and deliverable? Establish norms so everyone is on the same page.
• Determine the type of engagement. This is different for every organization, but also for every individual and level (org-wide, department, or project team).
• Is this a brainstorm? A share-out?
• Which key meetings will be in person?
• Who is mandatory versus optional?
Become Efficiency Experts
What’s right for your team and individual project? Use your time wisely to create a seamless workflow for your teams.
• Consider unconventional meeting times. Instead of 30-minute meeting blocks, would 15 or 20-minute increments work better for you? Establish a clear, detailed agenda with an end goal.
• Consider pre-reads and a moderator-style approach versus the need to always share screens.
• Invest in the right tech. From advanced video conferencing and collaboration tools, Staples Professional can help your team stay connected. And its dedicated team of technology specialists are always available to help, which means less downtime.
• Re-define your IT necessities by leveraging third-party platforms and software to help with different meeting scenarios (brainstorms vs. annual reviews, etc.).
• Outsource solutions that allow your employees to focus on business priorities.
Recreate Connectivity in Different Ways
• Think outside the Zoom box. We are hardwired to engage and connect on deeper levels. In fact, our work is closely linked to how we feel in meetings.
• Remember the days of water-cooler banter? Try to channel some of that connection by setting aside five minutes at the start of each meeting to have a ‘clearing’ — an opportunity for people to clear the air and chat about things that are on their minds.
• Coffee chats are an easy way to stop and take stock with your team. Your team will feel relaxed and ready to engage. It’s an effort that will not go unnoticed.
• We all engage differently. Ensure whether it be at-home, in the office or on the road. Focusing on individual needs not only boosts morale but empowers teams to perform.
• As Zoom fatigue becomes the norm, look at ways you and your team can think outside the box to connect. Explore things like:
• Picking up the phone – not everything warrants a Zoom call.
• Weekly in-persons at Staples Studio, which present an opportunity to learn and engage.
• Meet up for lunch! There’s no reason why your stir-fry Fridays can’t continue with your work buddy.
Need insight on what’s working and what’s not working with your teams? Look no further than the people that make your organization run. Take a moment and get employee feedback. Most likely, your teams are brimming with questions and ideas, so ask them pointed questions to get the inside scoop on what’s working or not. Don’t be afraid to experiment and pivot where needed. Like people, organizations need room to grow and evolve.
Joe Jackman is a member of the Staples Work from Anywhere Advisory Council, a collective of industry experts and thought leaders across the fields of tech, productivity, design, ergonomics, and more. The Council supports our community in the new world of work with expert insight, thought leadership and informative content to work smarter, learn more and grow every day. Find out more about the Staples Work from Anywhere Advisory Council and its members here.
Article Author: to Joe Jackman