Only the meetings we need
Every fortnight, the entire TypeTogether team meets online for about an hour. We all get a glimpse of what everyone else is doing, talk about team plans, and importantly spend some time together, even if remotely. Since we all meet in person only once a year, this check-in has all the more value — it helps us stay connected as team!
But our all-team meeting is not the only one we have in a fortnight. We meet in twos, threes, and small groups whenever something is better discussed in a face-to-face conversation instead of a long written back and forth. In our experience, meetings are great for two categories: the big-picture discussions and for talking about the nitty-gritty, micro details. For everything in between (and there is a lot!), we write meticulously — whether it is project changelogs, to-dos, or feedback.
Moderators and minutes
It really helps us that Veronika and José moderate our full-team meetings. Having someone keep us on track ensures we don’t meander too far from our priorities. They are careful about what conversations need to happen with everyone and which ones can be moved to separate meetings. Prioritising helps us all stay interested and engaged, which can be a challenge when a meeting is happening remotely. Keeping written minutes for team meetings is very helpful too since it helps keep track of decisions, and if someone misses a meeting they can consult the minutes to get updated.
Embracing the uncertainty of technology
If a dozen people are going to gather online, the chance that someone’s internet connectivity could be less-than-perfect is to be expected. Someone’s video will lag, or their voice will break up. There are times when a person can best communicate during the meeting through text chat only. It is all okay! We have learned to take technological glitches and uncertainty in stride and do the best we can. Better to have the meeting and then catch up whoever is dropping off (just like one would do if a person couldn’t join a physical meeting) rather than spend an hour bothered about something we know we won’t be able to fix.
Having a meeting spot
We use Whereby for our meetings, and Elena has written about why we like it here. One of its big advantages is that just like physical meeting rooms, it allows us to have a couple of fixed spots to meet. Everyone knows where to show up, and we don’t waste time before every meeting to figure out how and where we will chat, who will create a new “meeting link,” and whether or not everyone has it.
Balancing fun with work
We are a truly remote team, and that means online meetings are also one of the places where we have fun. We enjoy discussing the vagaries of the weather where we live, saying hello to Josh’s adorable puppies, and brainstorming how to save Roxane’s plants from an unknown pest. We like to warm up to meetings by catching up with each other before talking shop. That not only makes us all more comfortable talking to little faces on our screen, but also keeps up our team spirit.