Remote Teams Require Virtual Team Facilitation

There is an overall positive impact of going remote for companies.

Data shows that remote work can lead to astonishing productivity, increases employee retention, decreases sick days, and increases workforce diversity, just to name a few benefits.

While remote teams have an overall positive impact on companies, remote teaming does create a few challenges. 

Facilitating a virtual team successfully means adjusting what you know about facilitating team meetings and makes a few changes in how you structure and facilitate these virtual team meetings. 

8 Tips for Remote Teaming Infographic

If you are new to remote teaming, here are 8 ways to start facilitating remote team meetings and achieve success!

remote team facilitation infographic

When first starting out facilitating remote teams, you might be tempted to copy the exact facilitation formula used for in-person meetings. While that is not a bad place to start, we’ve put together a list of 8 tips of small changes to implement starting with the fist remote meeting you are in charge of!

1) Build Trust Early and Often During Remote Meetings

Make time for frequent, short activities that foster connection in remote meetings. Activities that help people get to know one another as people, not just someone they rely on for information or to help them complete a task, subtly increase the level of trust in your team. While those activities might look a bit different in a remote meeting, the same principles and ideas do apply. Traditional Agile games and learning activities can be adapted to work during a remote team meeting. 

build trust in virtual meetings

2) Create Ways for the Remote Team to Connect Outside of Meetings

Use social and professional channels to keep people in touch with one another as they work. 

An example of this would be using an online application like Slack to create a sense of group unity. Slack’s motto is ‘Where work happens’. The tool is designed for intimate and direct group communication. 

A second example is using a social media messaging channel or group like a LinkedIn Group, Facebook Group, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or another messaging service. 

remote teams should connect outside of meetings

3) Design Virtual Group Meetings With Care

Think about what things really call for a team meeting, and intentionally design those meetings so people can participate actively and collaboratively. 

Creating an agenda and sticking to it is important! 

design virtual group meeting with care

4) Plan The Right Amount of Time for Remote Meetings Tasks

Don’t try to cram too much into a remote meeting. Take your time, chunk it up and remember everything takes a little bit longer to do well when it’s remote.

While technology is an amazing tool, not every team member will initially be as comfortable as the facilitator using this technology. Allow ample time for the sign-on process and be aware of potential glitches and time restraints. 

plan the right amount of time for remote meetings

5) Make Time to Hear Opposition

Plan for a rich discussion with opposing views rather than trying to rush the group into agreement because of time restraints.

You might find that you need to schedule more remote meetings than what you’d expect if the meeting were in-person. Go with it, don’t force the issue trying to fit everything in. 

make time in your virtual meeting to hear opposition

6) Level the Playing Field

Set it up so that if some people are remote, everyone is.

No one should be ‘left out’ or made to feel they are a burden or a nuisance for having to dial into a meeting. Instead, if one or two team members need to be remote, require everyone to dial in and access the meeting remotely. 

take time in your remote meeting to hear opposition

7) Let Go of The Belief That Virtual Is Never as Good as Face-To-Face

In truth, remote teams can be cohesive, thriving powerhouses, and virtual meetings can be productive and engaging.  If you’ve never tried to facilitate a virtual meeting or a remote team, just know it can be done by adjusting and tweaking a few things.

virtual meetings are just as good as face-to-face meetings

8) Never Ask ‘Does Everyone Agree?’ in a Virtual Meeting

That question is hard for people to answer because asking a group for agreement is a tall order and often it’s either rhetorical, meaning the facilitator is moving on regardless of agreement or the facilitator then needs to take time to hear a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ from everyone. 

Instead, use effective tools and methods for exploring options and making decisions that everyone can commit to. You might say “What are we missing?” “Is there anyone who is not ready to move on?” By phrasing it this way you’re inviting people to offer a different point of view and if no one speaks then you can move forward. 

virtual meeting wisdom

Take Our Next Online Workshop Virtual Team Facilitation

We invite you to check out our next online Virtual Facilitation Masterclass to learn more.

About Marsha Acker

Marsha Acker | CPF, CPCC, PCC, ICE-AC, ICAgile Coaching Track Co-Founder, CEO of TeamCatapult, LLC

Marsha coaches leaders and teams, who want to work in a more agile manner and lead change in their organization. She is a Certified Professional Facilitator (CPF), Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC), a Professional Certified Coach (PCC), and Certified Structural Dynamics Interventionist through the Kantor Institute and Dialogix. Her coach training is from Coaches Training Institute and Center for Right Relationships.

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