As many remote workers have come to realize, the culture of sitting with “cameras on” all the time just isn’t sustainable. It’s hurting our health, productivity, and making it harder to have real relationships with our remote teams. Perhaps you’ve noticed that when the ease of screen-share is always there, every one-on-one meeting very quickly turns into a working session…which is not what 1:1s are for.
That’s why we’re building Spot, the first audio-only meeting platform made for walking. Walking is proven to benefit physical and mental health, creativity, and focus. And now we’re working to prove how walking meetings on Spot allow remote workers to form deeper connections with each other.
Eager to switch your jam-packed calendar of video meetings to an audio-only platform? Check out our recommendations for the best meetings to take while walking on Spot.
A 1:1 meeting is a recurring check-in between two people at a company, most often a manager and their direct report. The 1:1 can be considered the most valuable and impactful meeting because it goes beyond surface-level updates. The one-on-one meeting is an opportunity to give feedback, dig into any issues or challenges that might be going on, and build trust between the two participants.
Keith Kolomichuk, CEO & Founder of Kolo Capital, implemented recurring 1:1s with his remote team after facing communication challenges from not working in person. “It takes intention to keep building deep relationships and paying attention to things that could be going sideways; when remote, [issues and challenges] could present much later than in-person.” By taking his 1:1s on an audio-only platform like Spot, Keith feels that he’s in a much better rhythm with his direct reports.
“Audio-only one-on-one’s facilitate a relationship-building moment, just like a real in-person conversation.”
Spot features to use during recurring 1:1 meetings: Agenda and Private Notes.
When teams are distributed, it can be challenging to know where different projects stand. Therefore, status update meetings are imperative to have (and keep) on the calendar. When done effectively, these meetings can be short and to the point especially when the conversation adheres to a checklist or agenda. Interestingly, when status update meetings occur on video platforms, it’s very easy for meeting participants to share links and screens, turning the meeting into a working session or demo. But when done as an audio-only call, the meeting participants can stay focused on the discussion rather than jumping into the work.
While going through the list of projects to provide updates on, it’s important for managers to give their direct reports the opportunity to address blockers and ask any questions that may impact the progress of each project. Kristin Chen, CEO at Top.gg, suggests that any questions that can be handled asynchronously should not be asked during the meeting. Instead, use the time together to “...focus on strategic decisions, prioritization, navigating trade-offs with your team, problem-solving, and providing coaching, mentorship, or valuable feedback.”
Spot features to use during status updates meetings: Agenda and Highlights.
Need to quickly sync with your team? Developer stand-ups and other check-in meetings like it are perfect to take on Spot.
The key to an effective stand-up is to keep it succinct, therefore set an agenda and stick to it. For developers and other employees who may be required to sit at their desks for most of the day, this meeting should be a respite. Encourage them to get fresh air, go on a walk - you could even implement some friendly competition and see who can walk the most steps during the meeting too.
Depending on the size of your team, Rachael King, CEO of Pod People, suggests rotating the order that updates are shared so the same people aren’t always rushing at the end of the stand-up.
Spot features to use during developer stand-ups: Agenda / Task list, Highlights, and Step Tracking,
One of the biggest challenges that remote workers face is keeping their attention focused during their meetings. Screens, email, and the incessant ping of Slack are distracting and should be avoided to have effective brainstorming sessions.
Carlosfelipe Pardo, founder of SabidurAI and Despacio, has been part of the remote workforce for over a decade. For him, audio-only calls on Spot are not only perfect for brainstorming sessions but for any meeting where concentration is key.
“If you’re going to be in the meeting, then really be there. That’s why the idea of Spot is very positive for me because we can finally have meetings where we can talk and pay attention.”
Myrna King, a consultant and executive coach, encourages her clients to break free from their desks especially when a brainstorming session is on their calendar. “Sometimes we need a tool with no boundaries so we can think beyond an agenda or a shared document, where we can just be enhanced and focused – a blank canvas that allows us to feel like the sky is the limit.” And given that walking can increase creativity by up to 60%, take your next brainstorming session as a walking meeting on Spot and watch the ideas pour out of you.
Spot features to use during brainstorming sessions: Transcriptions and Highlights.
Rachael King feels that sitting on the computer for strategy meetings can be detrimental to critical thinking. “For meetings where you want true connection while problem-solving or working through anything creative, it’s so much better when those meetings are not done on a computer. I feel strongly that hosting those meetings on a platform where everyone can be outside and avoid the distractions of Slack, etc. is so valuable.”
Over the last month, Rachael has transitioned both her 1:1s and strategy meetings with her leadership team to audio-only meetings on Spot. Audio-only creates a space for open discussion so she and her team can really work through high-level topics and plans. Rachael and her team utilize Spot’s transcription and recording features so that they can put their phones in their pockets and just walk, trusting that Spot is taking notes for them.
If you’re unable to go out for a walk during audio-only strategy meetings, Rachael does suggest doing some sort of activity on the side like cooking or putting away the laundry. “You get little endorphins from feeling productive. This encourages you to be productive on a higher level, impacting your strategic thinking and snowballing into something bigger.”
Spot features to use during strategy sessions: Transcriptions and Highlights.
A feedback session is a formal meeting between a manager and their direct report where the discussion is focused on the employee’s recent performance and short-term goals. Feedback sessions are held in private and should be part of your company’s formal process for performance reviews. These types of meetings are perfect to host on Spot. Audio-only eliminates the confrontative, interview-like aspect these conversations can take and avoids putting the employee in the hot seat. When feedback sessions and performance reviews are done on Spot, managers and their reports will have access to the notes taken during the meeting (Transcriptions and Audio Recording) which they can reference later on to document growth and progress.
Kristin Chen feels very strongly about dedicating time for performance reviews and career growth conversations. “Unless the employee brings up a performance question during the 1:1, performance reviews should always be their own meeting or have their own dedicated agenda.”
She also encourages leaders to prioritize alignment. To ensure that all meeting participants know the objective of the meeting, especially during conversations about employee performance, she recommends setting an agenda beforehand.
Spot features to use during feedback sessions or performance reviews: Agenda, Private Notes, Transcription, and Audio Recording.
As more companies adopt remote-first or hybrid cultures, they must implement onboarding processes for their new employees. According to Gallup, only 12% of employees feel that their organization does a great job onboarding new employees, therefore there is a huge opportunity for the companies who do it well to lead the way.
Introductions, connections, and communication are required for a successful onboarding experience, and all can occur on a recurring basis on Spot. One of the first meetings that a manager should have with their new hire is role expectation setting. This conversation is an integral part of the onboarding process, as it will ensure your new employee is set up for success. Max Weisbrod is the CEO of Baton, a fully remote company that aims to improve People Operations processes including hiring and onboarding. For remote managers, Max recommends that onboarding conversations about role expectations should last about 30 minutes. “Keep it informal, honest, and be open enough to receive feedback.” He suggests doing these onboarding calls on Spot; voice-only, camera-free meetings flatten hierarchies and are much friendlier than communicating over e-mail.
“The simplicity of just walking and talking is the first clue of what type of culture you want to promote with your team.”
And given that onboarding can impact employee retention, why not set the tone for your new employees by hosting your meetings on a platform that encourages them to break free from their desktops?
Spot features to use during Remote Onboarding Meetings: Agenda, Private Notes, Transcription, and Audio Recording.
Sometimes during the workday, you just need a quick answer from a teammate. You could send them a message and wait for an asynchronous reply but that could lead to a back-and-forth that goes on for hours. It is so much easier, and faster, just to pick up the phone and chat it out together. So do that on Spot. When you and your meeting counterparts are connected as Contacts on Spot, you can call each other directly just like an old-fashioned phone call. But unlike the phone call, Spot’s platform takes notes. Audio recordings and full transcriptions are available after every conversation.
Spot features to use during phone calls: Transcriptions, Audio Recording, and Highlights.
Remote work has changed us. Video conferencing makes it possible to collaborate with anyone anywhere, but creating real human connections remotely is hard to do. We recognize that video meetings certainly have a time and place - seeing your teammates’ faces every now and then is important! But we want to challenge you to switch some of those videos meetings to Spot. And let us know how it goes.
This article is part of a series highlighting expert voices in remote team leadership. If you’d like to contribute your perspective, please email Salo@meetwithspot.com.
Want to foster deeper relationships with your remote team? Be a better manager and take your 1 on 1 meetings on Spot, the first audio-only meeting platform built for walking. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a walking meeting demo.
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