InVision has always been a fully remote, globally distributed company, so working together while apart is baked into our DNA. Even so, remote work has its challenges, especially when it comes to forming relationships, learning communication styles, and building trust. Without a foundation of connection and understanding with coworkers, work can be unsatisfying, even isolating. It’s easy to end up on your own “island”, and feel like your best ideas may be stranded as well. No one wants to be marooned—we all need respect, encouragement, and support as a baseline before we can even consider doing inspired and productive work.
Inclusive remote collaboration isn’t just a daily necessity so InVisioners can work together effectively as a distributed team, but is also the motivation behind our product vision. Our asynchronous tech stack includes Freehand, Slack, Coda, Asana, and more, but sometimes you just need to be in a “room” to get face time together.
For InVision, the bulk of our human connection and understanding about one another comes from meetings over Zoom. Infact, our team spent over 214,000 hours on Zoom last year! So we set out to improve the virtual meeting experience, both to provide a platform to support remote team culture and to reduce friction across meeting collaboration.
Now, everyone can make meetings more engaging and interactive with the InVision Freehand app for Zoom. Here’s how the InVision team uses Freehand and Zoom to host meetings that matter.
Set an agenda to keep the focus
With teammates in just about every time zone, availability overlap can be hard to come by. So how do we make the most out of our limited real-time time together? The secret—being considerate about how, when, and why we come together, so we can not just knockout the latest project, but strengthen relationships and invest in our team culture.
Since each meeting minute counts, we go into meetings with clear goals and discussion points so we stay on task. Otherwise, it’s easy for conversations to stray off topic, or for discussions to get too zeroed in on a specific subject. Our team uses a meeting template to make pre-meeting prep quick and easy, and keep us focused so we have plenty of time for alignment on action items.
Carve out time for fun and connection
In distributed, hybrid, and remote workplaces, building trust and connection with your teammates isn’t instantaneous. We try to set aside the first bit of a Zoom meeting to get to know each other more, be it through a funny icebreaker or show and tell. These short conversations help our team learn more about each other and get a sense for everyone’s communication style so we can work together better. The InVision team has used the Freehand canvas to draw silly caricatures of themselves, add their favorite gifs, share photos from their weekend, and even embed a music video from YouTube to show their interests and give teammates a peek into their lives.
Put intentionality into meeting inclusivity
Meetings can be one sided—someone shares their screen, everyone else just watches—but they don’t have to be! To encourage teammates to share their input, you first have to create an environment where all people can get involved. Our teams use the Freehand app for Zoom so all meeting attendees have authority to add to the canvas. Comments, sticky notes, and reactions in Freehand give everyone a familiar way to participate, no training needed. Intuitive tools give ALL voices the opportunity to be heard, not just the loudest voices!
Create dedicated moments for interaction
Once everyone has a “pen”, all meeting members can be a part of the conversation. To facilitate creative collaboration, InVisioners:
- Set the timer in Freehand to give the team five to 10 minutes to brainstorm ideas or add feedback to a design review.
- Give everyone a dedicated sticky note color to make it easy to know who said what, or use colors to differentiate comments from questions.
- Use emojis to react to their teammates’ additions to the canvas. For example, we often use the flames emoji to denote a really “fire” idea!
As a best practice, the meeting host acknowledges and shows appreciation for attendee-generated content to motivate future engagement and help foster trust and confidence in the greater team.
Get RACIs and action items down
Before InVisioners leave a meeting, it’s about being on the same page and knowing what’s next. It’s always helpful to write down (in Freehand) any decisions made to have a point of reference, and so anyone who couldn’t attend the meeting can be in the loop. Here are a few other tips from our cross-functional teams:
- Take note in the canvas of any action items coming out of the meeting.
- Create a quick RACI chart of who is responsible for completing that task.
- Determine deadlines or next touch points before leaving the meeting.
Since all meeting collaboration happens within the Freehand canvas, teammates can keep the momentum going post-meeting, helping tie together asynchronous and synchronous workflows.