Remote meetings (part 3) status-update meetings
Status-update meetings are indispensable for organizing teamwork. Co-workers often need to have discussions and coordinate with each other to work toward a mutual goal. At this point, we wish to examine a status-update meeting using virtual reality.
The primary purpose of a status-update meeting is to determine who is currently working on what. As such, the meeting should be as brief as possible. For a daily meeting, it is mostly just 10 – 15 minutes, but it is a bit longer for a weekly meeting. This meeting format is explicitly not intended for detailed discussions and disseminating information; there are information meetings for that.
Preparing a status-update meeting
Even if most status-update meetings take place in a very similar manner, there should be something like an agenda to guide the participants. One example is short key questions that are noted on a virtual whiteboard.
People who work with Scrum or Kanban will appreciate the virtual whiteboards in VR, because here you can draw a grid as usual and use virtual sticky notes in many different colors. Whiteboards and content remain intact when you leave the VR meeting room so you can simply pick up where you left off during the next meeting. Naturally, you can also export a virtual whiteboard as a graphic so that it can afterwards be made available to the participants.
Check-in in VR – meeting participants
After participants have dialed in, a check-in is performed. It serves to enter the (virtual) room and prepare oneself. One major advantage of VR meetings is that you can use interactive options for visualizing and engaging participants.
Tool: Mood thermometer
In many workshops and seminars, mood thermometers are used for check-in. And this is how it works:
- The moderator draws a thermometer on a whiteboard. A happy face, which represents a good mood, is drawn at the very top, and a sad face, which represents a bad mood, is drawn at the very bottom.
- Participants are asked to put their first name next to the thermometer at the spot that corresponds to their current mood.
- The moderator calls on the participants individually and asks them to briefly (!) explain their selection without going too much into personal detail.
- After everyone has said their piece, the moderator summarizes the overall picture again and then segues into the actual part of the meeting as positively as possible.
Having the moderator call on the participants is particularly important in remote meetings, because in this case, communication via eye contact is only effective to a very limited degree. In VR, participants are portrayed as avatars, and the names are displayed above the figure.
At the beginning, the moderator should always briefly explain that mood thermometers are about the general state of mind and not about personal or confidential information. One safe bet is to always refer to the company environment. Example: “I’m not doing so well today, because my favorite customer declined my offer yesterday.” Although participants are also allowed to state personal reasons such as a death in the family, you should stick to this statement because check-in is not intended for therapy.
Main part of a status-update meeting in VR
The purpose of a status-update meeting is to inform all team members about the current state of the project and work and, if necessary, indicate any obstacles and challenges that surface. As a result, the meeting is very brief. Employees are called in succession. The following key questions have proven to be effective:
- What have I carried out since the last meeting?
- What will I accomplish by the next meeting?
- Which challenges currently hinder me in my work?
If a challenge cannot be immediately overcome—e.g. with the assistance of a co-worker—the moderator asks the affected participant to discuss the problem after the meeting with a manager, scrum master or co-worker, depending on the organization form. For complex challenges, a problem-solving workshop may be the right tool.
If a whiteboard is used as a visual aid, then the moderator or the employee-in-charge can also immediately rearrange the virtual sticky notes. If that takes too long, then this step is postponed until the end of the VR meeting.
Check-out in VR
Check-out can also be brief. Every participant is called on by the moderator and, in a sentence, summarizes what they will do next, thereby concluding the VR meeting.
Following up on a status-update meeting in VR
After the meeting participants have left the VR meeting room, the moderator has the option of exporting the whiteboards and marked PDF documents as graphics and sending them to the participants via e-mail as usual.