Home working tips, how to stay sane!

Home working tips

For some of us switching to home working has been very straight forward, for others not so much. Here’s some home working tips to be productive and more importantly avoid going insane!

Home working is now the new normal for most of us. For some it’s business as usual for others it’s a whole new world. But, there are things you can do to make it a whole load better. Here’s our favourite home working tips and remember keep having better meetings!

Create a schedule

It sounds kinda obvious but having a schedule and sticking to it helps keep work-life balance in check. It’s all too easy to overwork and get into bad habits. Don’t, it will kill your productivity. Why not try something like RescueTime it’s a great tool for keeping track of your time.

Set some ground rules

This is especially important if you have kids. It’s important that everyone in your space knows when you’re working and they give you the space you need during these times. But, don’t be surprised if the kids dive in when your Zoom has overrun into family time. It happens to the best of us 😉

Have breaks and stick to them

When you’re in the office the amount of breaks you have is huge. Whether that’s structured like your lunch or the 5 minutes you grab to get coffee and chew the fat with Dave in accounts. Breaks matter, they allow your mind to relax even for a short time. It’s incredibly difficult to stay focused for long periods without a break and the quality of your work will deteriorate if you try to.

Create a space to work

If you can use a separate room from the other people in your space. That’s difficult especially right now when whole families are home on lockdown. Having a space to concentrate free of distractions will help your day run smoothly. The kitchen table on the other hand can be problematic especially if you’re sharing it with a 7 year old’s art project.

Keep in contact with people

Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you’re cut off from colleagues. Jump on Slack or better still drop your work mates a quick call to check in. It’s important not to coccoon yourself into a bubble, just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you’re alone.

Don’t miss meetings

Just as you wouldn’t turn up late or not at all to a meeting face to face then you absolutely shouldn’t do this remotely either. If you’ve got your schedule down meetings play an important role in decision making and business as usual. For a lot of us the realisation is dawning that we can do our roles equally as well from a laptop in the shed as we can in our offices.

If all else fails!

If all else fails you could do what this guy did and make a fully functioning spiderman web shooter. We’re guessing he may have missed a few meetings along the way though!

Above all give it time, we’ve been on lockdown for a few weeks at most depending on where you are. If you get a routine in place quickly you’ll soon settle into a rhythm.

Amazemeet’s a great tool for running meetings, especially online.

Try it Free.

How to have great online meetings

how to have great online meetings

As many of us are now working from home, this week we share some tips on how to have great online meetings.

Most of us assume that online meetings run exactly as their face to face counterparts do but that’s not always the case. Over recent years the amount of online meetings has grown exponentially, making them a much more viable option for all kinds of businesses not just the kind of people you’d expect. Technology has played a role as has a changing work place environment and businesses general attitude to home and flexible working.

As I’m sure you know we’re all about better meetings and there are nuances to meeting online that it’s worth considering before you dive in.

Pick a platform, there’s lots.

This is the point you’d expect us to bemoan how the technology has facilitated our failing meeting culture but, we’ll skip that for this article 😉

A quick web search will throw up a large number of platforms available for online meetings, there’s loads out there, from the basic freebies to super sophisticated (i.e. expensive) software options. Our advice? Do your research. There are so many options, so take the time to work out exactly what your business requirements are and select a solution accordingly.

Once you’ve made a choice, take the time to fully understand the platform and its functionality. As with all areas in business, it’s imperative to plan and be prepared. So be sure to do a few practise runs with friends or colleagues, before your first actual meeting. Not being on mute when the dogs barking can be a little embarassing with clients in the meeting!

When you’re confident you know what you’re doing, here’s our advice for running an engaging and productive online meeting.

Communication is key.

Communication is key. This isn’t just regarding the meeting itself, but in the run up to it. Firstly, make sure you let ALL the expected participants the exact date and time. There is nothing worse than a bunch of people sat looking uncomfortably into their webcams waiting for someone to join who actually has no idea their supposed to be there in the first place.

As with all types of meetings, make sure you create and circulate an agenda for the meeting beforehand. Allocating time limits to each section can help keep things on track and stop breakouts that wander off at a tangent and throw the whole meeting out. Pulling everyone back on track is much harder online than face to face, so ensuring the agenda is followed is key. Time limits also stop sections rambling on and people becoming disengaged.

Assign a facilitator.

It’s a really good idea to nominate someone to lead the meeting (usually the person who has requested and set the meeting up, but not always).

Although you’ve spent the time familiarising yourself with the platform, assume no one else there has ever used it before. The meeting lead should explain how the platform works, as well as getting everyone to introduce themselves prior to kicking off the agenda.

Make up for the lack of face to face interaction.

We’ve all sat in those meetings. The really dry ones that seem to run forever and send you into a total stupor. Online meetings can especially suffer as there can be a lack of personality with not being face to face. Combat this with exciting visuals, video, sound and try to making the meeting as interactive as possible (remember, this is a meeting, not a presentation). Try and inject some humour (if appropriate) and encourage people to comment, questions and feedback. Many of the available platforms include the functionality for things like live brainstorming and polls, all of which help to ignite and sustain people’s interest.

Assign the follow up.

Finally, ensure you follow up the meeting with an email, summarising the main points of discussion, tasks and next steps. And, as always, thank everyone for their time and encourage post-meeting feedback.

Find a tool that helps you manage it all.

You may have noticed that running a great meeting online is similar to the a face to face. Albeit without the human interaction. A great way to ensure you tick all the boxes is to use a tool that helps you plan, run and action your meetings.

Amazemeet’s a great tool for running online meetings and the enhanced functionality that’s coming with the version 3 launch will build on this.

Try it Free.

The hidden cost of crappy meetings

hidden cost of crappy meetings

There’s a hidden cost of crappy meetings and some of us are starting to realise just how much this cost really is.

Hot on the heals of our recent ugly truth about meetings blog we wanted to explore this underlying cost the vast majority of us are paying. There’s a number of distinct sides to this, first and for most people most importantly is the financial cost. Second, there’s the cost to our wellbeing and there’s also the potential environmental cost. This week we explore each one in turn, hopefully it will open some eyes to what I guess a lot of you out there already suspect.

Meetings are unproductive, that costs money.

When surveyed nearly 70% of executives consider meetings to be unproductive. That’s more than two thirds and to put it into context the infographic we recently published put a figure on this, $37 Billion in the US alone. Let’s spin that on it’s head and assume we stopped having half of those unproductive meetings that could be nearly $20 Billion saved.

It’s estimated that across organisations the amount of time spent in meetings equates to around 15% for all employees. As you move up the ranks that increses dramatically to upwards of 50%. The meeting time is one thing but executives estimate they spend upwards of 4 hours on meeting prep. So again if the 70% figure for meetings being unproductive is true more than 30% of an executives working time could be considered unproductive, because that’s the time spent in crappy meetings.

This is quite frankly stark. It’s hard to pin down exactly what’s to blame. It seems somewhat of a cop out to suggest it’s purely down to the technology, a meeting run well via a video conference is still a well run meeting. What is apparent though, that like most technology we’ve adopted, certain practices have become commonplace without thinking about the wider context and the impact they have as a whole. It seems there’s a symbiotic relationship between the ease of facilitation and the effectiveness of outcomes.

As a marketer the psychology is quite simple to me, things that are easy are often assigned a low value and perhaps this is where we’ve gone wrong. Meetings used to be about productivity and outcomes but we seem to have shifted to a place where meetings are more about having meetings because it’s so easy to have them.

It’s a dangerous place for corporations to be.

Meetings impact on wellbeing.

Employee wellbeing is becoming more and more important to organisations. They realise that happy, engaged employees are more productive, more motivated and less likely to look for employment elsewhere. Crappy, unproductive meetings do nothing to assist. In fact multiple surveys suggest that having better meetings is a route to improving employee wellbeing.

It’s not to be underestimated. Count up the sick days, the drain on talent in an organisation and general lack of productivity and I bet you will find a correlation to bad meetings. It’s a survey that needs to be done, watch this space!

It’s sadly no coincidence that the phrase “A happy workforce is a productive workforce” is certainly very true. The quickest way to mess it up is to disengage the workforce and bad meetings are a quick way to do that. They aren’t the only factor but like many things in our working lives they contribute to the sum of all the other issues and can certainly tip the scales.

Jeff Bezos certainly thinks so. He avoids meetings before 10am, limits attendance to the number of people that can be fed by two pizzas and has banned Powerpoint!

What’s the environmental impact?

This is probaly harder to quantify especially as a huge number of meetings take place remotely. However as the technology has become a part of our working lives there’s always a cost. Server farms create pollution and we certainly need lots of those to power the tools we take for granted.

Technology requires power and for the most part we still rely on power sources that are not very green. Great steps have been made by corporations to buy power from renewable sources but it’s only the tip of the iceberg.

data centres in the U.S. alone are projected to consume approximately 73 billion kWh in 2020. Data center efficiency and sustainability is a universal challenge that transcends companies, geographies, and workloads – and there’s no simple solution.”

Colocation America

The technology infrastructure required to support these systems is immense. A large data centre can use more power than a small town. Sadly this way outstrips the capacity delivered by renewable energy. It’s a big issue that’s rarely reported because it’s to a large extent invisible.

It’s not all bad news.

Amazemeet aren’t alone trying to fix this. The hidden cost of crappy meetings is starting to be understood by a host of organisations for whom productivity is vitally important and meetings are squarely in their radar. We’re doing our bit because we know we have to have meetings, we want to make the unavoidable ones great and cut out the unproductive ones where we can.

Let’s get back in control of our meetings

Try Amazemeet, free

Meeting productivity tips what’s good, what’s bad.

meeting productivity tips

Despite the fact almost none of us actually put them into practice there are a host of great and not-so-great meeting productivity tips out there to help you have better meetings.

In true Amazemeet fashion we tell it like it is as we’re committed to helping you have better meetings. We’ve scoured the web and pulled together the best meeting productivity tips we could find and also busted a few myths along the way. There are a lot out there so we’ve picked on three from people you’ll hopefully recognise.

The New York Times sums it up pretty well with their three rules for running great meetings:

  1. Set the agenda. Define the purpose of the meeting and what the meeting is designed to achieve. Pretty obvious but we know from experiences that many meetings start without any clear agenda.
  2. Start on time, end on time. Again sage advice, ensuring all attendees start on time is good discipline, it shows people take the meeting seriously. Ending on time is also a great discipline, it focuses the meeting on objectives and hopefully ensures the meeting doesn’t veer off on a tangent.
  3. End with an action plan. What are the next steps, who’s responsible for the follow up and who will check if it’s done. Unless the actions and responsibilities are clear what’s the point of meeting in the first place.

These are simple meeting productivity tips and something to build upon but they focus on the key meeting elements. We’d give them a 6/10. They only fall down on the attendees side and time keeping. We believe it’s vital to ensure all attendee’s are there to contribute and employees feel empowered to say no to a meeting they can’t contribute to. We also suggest that specific discussion topics are assigned a section of the overall time limit, it helps keep the focus.

Next up is this offering from Forbes, 7 great meeting productivity tips. Let’s dive in.

  1. Make your objective for the meeting clear.
  2. Consider who is invited, can they add value?
  3. Stick to the schedule, assign discussion elements a time limit.
  4. Don’t let individuals dominate the conversation. Some people like to talk more than others but this can stifle the contribution of others. After all everyone in the meeting should be there to add value, otherwise why are they there?
  5. Start on time, end on time. We’ve seen this somewhere before 😉
  6. Ban technology, keep the focus on the meeting.
  7. Follow up. It’s vital

Great tips and getting there! The technology aspect is interesting because a little day dream can actual help the ideas flow. In fact we wrote a post on this, read it here. Overall 7/10.

Last up in our canvas of the best tips is from Slack. The guys and girls over there have really outdone themselves. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

First up they have some great advice to actually avoid having meetings. Focussing in on presentations and status updates. The former can be streamlined by sending slides in advance and taking time to engage the audience when most of the talking is being done by one person. The second they advocate scrapping and using a messaging service to accomplish what these meetings set out to achieve. It’s a great idea even if slightly self serving!

Next they advocate getting the agenda in place early, inviting the right people and asking them in advance if they feel attending will add value. They set out an easy way for people to say no. They then go on to say how you can keep people enaged through the meeting and how attendees should be assigned roles. This is agreat idea so you have a pre-defined facilitator and a note taker, especially important.

They also go on to describe the kind of time frames you should aim for and the environment you should seek out for the most productive meetings. They really think of everything. Lastly they describe the follow up, why it’s important and how it’s policed.

A definate 9/10. Great job Slack.

In most cases the advice on tap is pretty good. It misses some of the key points but it’s obvious how large organisations have cottoned on to the fact that meetings cost money and stifle productivity. Amzemeet is aiming to change this. A simple tool that helps you plan and execute better meetings, cutting out the crap and getting down to what really matters.

Tips are great but a tool that makes them easy to implement is better

Try Amazemeet, free.