6 tips to make remote meetings more inclusive
May 4 2021 · 4 min read · Comments
So much goes into fostering an inclusive remote culture. It must be done deliberately, like tending to a greenhouse.
As an Engineering leader, I am committed to creating a safe environment in my team where everyone feels included.
One aspect of remote work, where lack of inclusion can really alienate your team, is meetings. So here are 6 tips on how to make them a bit more inclusive.
1. ✍️ Default to async
Async communication acts as a leveller. It's no longer about who talks first or loudest. When someone lays out a great proposal in writing, seniority starts to matter less.
Do you really need a meeting? Consider an async discussion on a Google doc, Notion page or Github RFC issue.
Aula, Gitlab and many other remote-first companies already encourage this.
2. 📆 Respect people's calendars
When setting up a meeting, check the attendees' calendar first and do not create the event if there is a clash, at least without asking first.
At Aula, we encourage everyone to be explicit and use Google Calendar as a communication tool by explicitly setting time for things like:
- 🕰️ Working hours
- 🥘 Lunch time
- 🏫 School run
- 🤸♂️ Workout
- ❌ ... Any unavailable time.
Respecting people's calendars is respecting their time and making them feel included. You're basically saying that it doesn't matter that they care for a dependent relative or live in a different timezone. They are an important part of the session.
If making calendars work is hell 🔥, default to async!
3. 📝 Send agenda well in advance
Not only will your meetings be much more productive, they will also allow more introverted folks, like myself, to prepare and participate more. We will thank you!
A meeting invite without an agenda can be extremely anxiety inducing. During those meetings, it's usually the red people who dominate the conversation. When that happens, you may be missing out on extremely valuable points of view.
4. 👀 Observe and pick up on cues
Picking up on certain dynamics during a remote video call can be more challenging than in person although it is just as important.
💬 Is someone dominating the conversation? Interject and give space for other voices. If it keeps happening, give them candid feedback 1-1.
🙋♀️ Did someone unmute and then muted on the video call? Maybe they wanted to participate but did not get the chance. Politely ask if they wanted to say something. Lots of video tools have a "raise hand" feature these days. Pay attention to raised hands.
🤐 Did someone not participate at all? You could ask if they want to add something. However, be mindful as not everyone may want to be put on the spot. The best is to check with them 1-1 whether that's something they would appreciate.
5. 👑 Rotate moderators
Depending on the scope of the meeting, it may be beneficial to rotate the moderator and let members of your team own the session.
Decisions made during these meetings will automatically get more buy-in and your team will develop.
6. ✋ Lead by asking the "silly questions"
It's easy to try encourage your team by saying "there are no silly questions". Sure, this is nice but folks can still be intimidated and may dread judgement from their peers.
We can do better.
Lead by example and be vulnerable by sharing what you don't know or are unsure about. Vulnerability builds trust.
You made it!
Any good tips to make your remote meetings more inclusive?