Overview with tools, software, best practices and alternatives

What is a remote team meeting?

Remote team meetings take the place of standard status meetings when remote working teams are involved. Distributed scenarios such as the working environment of remote workers necessitate the implementation of remote team meetings as the standard way to file and receive reports for the remote worker.

The Internet phenomenon has given birth to the telecommuter, also called virtual or remote worker. And along with their coming into the virtual industries, remote team meetings as the standard way of getting updated also came into practice. With devices and technologies on hand, distributed workers easily participate in project status meetings, offering and receiving inputs for all the different tasks involved in the project.

A great number of Internet tools and mobile technologies abound in the market today, for helping remote working teams (also for non-remote workers who happen to be travelling and far away) to set about doing their status updating sessions. Email reports, virtual Scrum meetings, video chats and many other technologies enable remote workers to file their reports and receive updates conveniently, simply and quickly without having to leave their working places. With only log-ins as requirements most of the time, remote workers are enjoined into the remote team meeting process in a manner most compatible with their free will. For team members are usually reluctant to take part in meetings which require many formalities.

It is essential for the remote team meeting to contain every relevant data that a standard status meeting conveys. Sometimes even the aura of having the team in the same room can be approximated for the benefit of the whole team. A same room effect that is felt by all the members of the remote working team can enhance the flow of information and promote camaraderie and rapport among the team, thus building a strong team spirit.

Who does remote team meetings and why?

The simplest answer to the question above is the remote worker. Remote workers stand to benefit the most in remote team meetings. Not only do they get more time for work (as their living locales are already their workplaces), they also obtain time for families, recreations and other pursuits. They can further their studies while working as a member of a remote working team for example. Or in the case of mothers, take care of family while at the same time earning income from the multitudes of part time virtual works that are available in the market today.

But even company personnel who are not remote working can also benefit from this new trend in the workplace. Managers, who are frequently out on business trips can also take time to participate in remote team meetings. While in their travels, they also get the same benefit from remote team meetings as the remote worker.

How to do remote team meetings

The starting requirements for a remote team meeting are the capable hardware and software that will house the procedures of the remote team meeting. The company and its executives decide on what hardware and software to utilize for this operation, but it is the project manager and the team who will do the recommendations.

When the technological tools had been chosen, the project manager then begins setting up these tools in order for them to be usable to the team. Depending on what methodology the project manager has chosen, the team will conduct their remote team meetings from that set up.

After the technology has been set up, the members of the remote working team are also oriented on the procedures of the chosen method for conducting the remote team meeting. All the members of the team must pass the qualifications of using the technology behind the remote team meeting so as to ensure the smooth flow of the program.

Advantages and disadvantages of remote team meetings

Obviously, there is an advantage in time for remote team meetings over those that are done traditional way in status meetings. Remote workers do not have to prepare for a meeting (aside from preparing the actual report itself), and are left with plenty of time to follow their own program. In tune with the principle of having workers do their own things, this could be beneficial as it is the worker himself who best knows how to approach the task assigned to his specialty.

Project managers do not have to micromanage remote working teams but only needs their status reports submitted on time. They are left to concentrate on managing the overall picture of the project’s development and progress rather than on specialized details best handled by team members.

On the negative side, remote team meetings go against one of the principles of good Scrum meetings. Scrum meetings emphasize the importance of the face to face communication as the way to facilitate the exchange and natural flow of ideas between team members. Remote team meetings ( those that are done without the video chat capabilities) preclude that option to be exercised by the team, and thus lose some value, albeit just a little, in being the standard way of updating for remote workers.

Best practices for doing remote team meetings

Remote workers in a distributed scenario are subject to the discrepancies in time and culture that the process of remote working brings. Some members of a particular remote working team could be at a disadvantage if they are put on schedules tantamount to having hangovers.

To remedy the time differences, all the members of the team should practice “pain sharing”. Pain sharing is the process of having all the members of the team to adjust in their time schedules so as to accommodate those who are on the too early or too late time zones. This fosters rapport and builds good team spirits for a better functioning team.

Teamreporter, for better remote team meetings

Teamreporter is a web based email application that takes the place of regular status meetings for remote workers. It effectively gathers individual member reports and sums those all up into an overview for the whole team. Status updates are accomplished by Teamreporter in the following ways:

  • Creating questions that the team members will answer.
  • Tailoring the questions to be asked to fit project needs
  • Scheduling the sending out of email queries.
  • Team members replying with their status reports.
  • Upon receiving individual team member reports,scheduling of overall status updates to every team member.
  • Adopting preset business scenarios.
  • Prompting team members who forget their reports.
  • Arranging an archive of team status reports

It has the following advantages:

  • Ready in 5 minutes
  • Free startup
  • Accessible even to novice users and managers
  • No IT software or hardware requirements
  • Only email login required for team members

Simplicity and ease of operation can make Teamreporter stand out as a remote team meeting tool.

Alternatives for remote team meetings

Email digests can be an alternative to remote team meetings for those members or workers who are unable to participate in meetings. Email digests containing all the relevant information of the meetings and sent to those unable to participate can also make everyone updated on the latest project events.

Email digest is a collection of all the emails that a person normally receives individually; but with email digest, they are summed up into just one email.

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Teamreporter is free for small teams (up to 4 members)