How to Keep a Remote Team Engaged During Meetings?

10.06.2021

How to Keep a Remote Team Engaged During Meetings?

With many organizations slowly returning to the office, whether on a hybrid or full-time basis, it’s still likely that Teams meetings will continue to play an important role in shaping team dynamics. 

Affording interaction possibilities and providing opportunities to reinforce employee engagement and motivation are all facets of office life that can be taken for granted by managers and team members used to having face to face, in person, contact with their teams for every working hour of the day. But with more teams working remotely than ever before we find many team leaders asking the question “How to create office culture with remote teams?”

Office culture

Office culture is recognised as a critical factor in talent acquisition and retention strategies.  An attractive office or workplace culture, is one that gets people out of bed, one that creates an environment that people want to be in, one that people want to join and stay in. 

Different tactics may be needed for new teams vs established teams. If the team have formed bonds over many months or years of face to face project delivery they likely know each other very well and the transition to remote working is less onerous for the team leader.

Whereas the challenges facing a team leader seeking to integrate new members or build a remote team from scratch are very different. Once team behaviours are repeated they become engrained and if those behaviours are not ones that encourage constructive dialogue, transparency and sharing of ideas, the success of the team will be that much harder to deliver.

Motivating remote teams 

This is why we encourage team leaders to take time to consider strategies that they can employ to motivate their remote teams and to think about the remote team culture that they want to foster.

It goes without saying that motivation is far easier if teams are successfully delivering to quality and time expectations. If team members are doing a great job tell them.  And as a team leader, tell your peers too. If you’re starting out with a new team, ensure team members understand their roles, their objectives and the value that they bring to the team. This is especially important if you have a hybrid team with some team members working from home combined with some office-based staff.  This is especially common for international teams at the moment.

Engaging MS Teams meetings tips

Here’s our top tips for managing a remote team and motivating them during MS Teams meetings.

1. Start the meeting 5 minutes early

This allows team members to interact before the meeting. Replicating the traditional office meeting ritual of the transition from the desk to the meeting room, often via the water cooler or coffee machine. It’s also practical, serving to help start the meeting on time.

Allow time for the coffee machine chat – let staff interact and form or reinforce relationships.

Feed off macro events – just because you’re working remotely doesn’t mean the team won’t want to talk about major world events. Remember, it’s not unknown for workers to spend more time with their colleagues than their families. Major sporting events are well known to bring cities and countries together. Invite your team to share their views on the latest technology or blockbuster movie release.

2. Communicate agendas and objectives

Be sure to share the agenda in advance but also the objective of the meeting. 

Communicating the objective of the meeting ahead of the meeting immediately establishes collective ownership and engagement. Consider rotating the role of chairing of the meeting throughout your team and do ensure that each team member is invited to share their view.  A check-in with each team member before advancing to the next agenda point ensures everyone has opportunity to express their views.

This not only allows you to manage expectations of the meeting but also ensures the team know what is expected of them.  This is critical to establishing a company team culture and productive working environment across distributed teams.

3. Utilise MS Teams backgrounds

The dynamics of each team is different and we do not recommend seeking to artificially engineer fun into every meeting via an agenda point but there are tactics you can employ to encourage a culture that invites fun if your team is struggling to forge the office culture that you would be more comfortable evolving when working face to face in an office.

The best Teams backgrounds can act as great icebreakers and can stimulate discussion from even the most introverted team members. They can also be used to signal the tone of the meeting. If you’re having an online pizza party to bring the team together, encourage members to show their fun side. If your sports team and won the championship, use a background that conveys this.

Best of all, using a Teams meeting background requires your team to turn their cameras on. Collaboration works best when you see each other.  Virtual backgrounds are also ideal for team members that do not have a dedicated home office or may not want to share their home environment with their colleagues.  Be sure to set the example yourself.  Join the meeting with your camera on.

National flag MS Teams backgrounds

We’ve provided our own collection of themed MS Teams background images to help you stimulate the conversations amongst your remote team that would no doubt be happening if you were working in the same office during this summer’s celebration of football.  We hope that these will help you channel some the positivity that fans will be introducing into stadia into your Teams meetings.

Browse our selection of national flag football themed backgrounds

England themed home office MS Teams background

Like our virtual backgrounds and want to get the look yourself? No problem. Our Leitz range of home office carboard storage boxes and plastic storage boxes with lids and Leitz COSY stationary is available in wide array of colours and styles letting you create any look you want.

For more advice about managing remote teams read our essential business guide to establishing a remote workforce.

For some styling tips check out our guide on how to use colour to lift and refresh your workspace.

Trendy home office MS Teams backgrounds

If your team are not the biggest sports fans, there’s definitely an important discussion to be had about home office design and the impact of colour on mood that our Teams backgrounds will trigger also. Try our COSY themed home working background.

Leitz COSY Modern Home Office MS Team background

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