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How Our Remote Team of 15 Runs Daily Video Meetings in Under 10 Minutes

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Pulling back the curtain on our daily standup meetings.

There are fifteen of us on our remote team.

If you’ve ever tried to organize a meeting with fifteen people in the same building, then you know what a logistical nightmare that can be.

Now, imagine that chaos, and add the fact that our fifteen people are spread across nine different time zones, from Chiang Mai, Thailand to Newport, Rhode Island.

Scheduling time together when everyone is in “work hours” is impossible.

And yet, even if you make an effort to maximize asynchronous collaboration as much as possible, getting face-time with each other is important.

The challenge, then, is this: how do we schedule and run a daily meeting that minimizes disruption and inconvenience as much as possible?

Today, I want to share what we’ve learned in our mission to overcome that challenge.

3 Reasons We Hold Daily Remote Team Meetings

Yes, I know the common refrain: meetings suck.

They waste time.

They disrupt productivity.

And I don’t disagree, for the most part.

While pointless meetings are a huge time-waster, and we do our best to minimize them, some meetings can be quite valuable.

Our daily standups, for us, fall squarely into the “ultra-valuable” category, and there are three key reasons why:

  1. Culture: the meetings offer our team an opportunity to see and hear each other every single day. This is a luxury that non-remote teams have, but that remote teams often forget about, to great detriment. Creating personal connections really matters, and it makes everyone happier to work here. Note: this is why you must do these via video rather than voice. We use Zoom.
  2. Productivity: Part of our meeting structure (more on that below) is designed to bring to light any blockers that are keeping team members from making progress on a goal. By making these known every single morning, we can help remove those blockers quickly, before they cut into productivity.
  3. Alignment: Simply knowing who’s working on what has a lot of benefits. It keeps team members from doing duplicate work, colliding with each other, and being silo’ed on projects that a teammate may be able to provide valuable help or insight on.

How We Structure Our Daily Video Meetings

We knew the value of the meetings, and yet we still faced the difficult challenge of planning and executing them without making them disruptive.

To that end, we needed them to be both short and thorough. We’d need to get in and out without taking up too much of everybody’s time, but we’d need to get updates from every single person on the team.

Our first inspiration for this was 1-800-GOTJUNK’s daily standups, which, with 20 people participating in under 7 minutes, go blazingly fast:

We started simply by copying their structure, but over time, we’ve adjusted our standups to better reflect how we work: in weekly sprints.

Everyone on our team has one or more defined goals each week.

The way we set those goals is by reverse-engineering our quarterly goals, breaking them up into weekly chunks.

So for the quarterly goal of finalizing plans our upcoming team retreat, one week’s goals might look like this:

The weekly goals help us stay on track. In order to hit our quarterly goals, we need to hit our weekly goals (or, if we miss them, make adjustments and catch up).

We’ve tried dozens of different approaches to this that failed before landing on what we do today, which is, each day, answer two key questions:

  1. What is everyone working on? (To keep the team aligned)
  2. Is everyone on track to hit their weekly goal? (To ensure that we can quickly make adjustments if not)

We’ve also built in specific days each week (Monday and Friday) with time exclusively blocked for casual chatter, as well as for sharing key wins with the team (a huge morale win).

Here’s what our standup rhythm looks like today:

How to Apply This to Your Business

If you’re on a remote team, I hope that this post helps to illustrate the value of daily video meetings, and a simple way to make them happen.

And if you’re not, then I hope that you can still learn from our tips on daily standups; culture-building and productivity are just as important in a conference room as they are in a Zoom call.

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About the Author

Alex Turnbull is the CEO & Founder of Groove (simple helpdesk software for small businesses) who loves to build startups and surf.