Meetings are a controversial topic. Some people think they're a valuable, productive use of their time, while others believe they're the reason why humanity won't ever live up to its full potential.
Here at X-Team, we believe that meetings are a valuable way to communicate with people. But they shouldn't be the first thing you resort to when you want to speak to someone. Here's what we mean by that...
Progressing to a Meeting
Before filling up someone's calendar with meetings, we consider whether we actually need to speak to that person in real time. You'd be surprised at how often we realize that we don't have to.
These are the tools at our disposal before we schedule in a meeting: asynchronous communication via Slack, a Google Doc, and Loom or any other screencast tool. If none of these options suffice, we move to a one-on-one meeting or a multi-person meeting. Here are a few scenarios:
Have a couple of simple questions? Just ping someone on Slack. If it's urgent, make sure to let them know it is. Otherwise, X-Team strongly believes in asynchronous communication. No messages in Slack are considered urgent unless explicitly said so.
Have a big idea? Don't throw a wall of text at someone on Slack. Either use the
create new post feature on Slack or a Google Doc to explain your idea. Making comments on a Google Doc is significantly easier than replying to each separate small point on Slack too.
Need to teach something to someone? Consider a Loom message where you can show someone your screen and guide them through a step-by-step process. Loom works particularly well for feedback too. When recording your face, you'll be more conscious of your emotions, and seeing the microexpressions on someone's face when they're giving feedback helps process and understand the feedback better.
Exhausted all the above options and still reached no decision? Definitely time for a meeting. We have some tips on leading meetings in a remote development team here, but what's most important is that you decide on the purpose of the meeting and what the desired outcome would look like.
Need to brainstorm or kick off a project? Yep, meeting again. Meetings are a great way to brainstorm as a remote company. The only thing to keep in mind here is time zones, as these types of meetings tend to take a few hours.
Need to bond as a team? Meeting! Whenever we allocate a fixed time to meet with all X-Teamers, it's usually to have a lot of fun. Examples are our annual Town Hall: Rise and X-Mas parties. We get together, play games, and get excited about big company announcements (#carbonneutral in 2020 🌲!).
Of course, the best way to bond as a team is to meet physically. That's why we also organize the X-Outposts, where X-Teamers meet up in a hackerhouse to work together, get to know one another, and explore an exotic location, and the annual X-Summit, a three-day epic adventure with all X-Teamers.
Meetings are a great way to communicate with someone. But they shouldn't automatically be the first option. Instead, consider Slack, Google Docs, and screencast tools before moving to a meeting. Not only will this lead to significantly fewer meetings, but the meetings you do have will be more impactful as a result.