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How To Choose The Right Meeting Cadence For Remote Teams

Posted by Laura Serino
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What is a meeting cadence? A meeting cadence is how often a meeting is held. For example, if you and a direct report check in every Friday morning, that’s a weekly cadence. If you have a request to meet every other month, that’s a bimonthly cadence.

For remote teams, this can be more difficult to navigate. The challenge for every company is how frequently meetings should take place. In an increasingly distributed workforce where a face-to-face Zoom is sometimes the only interactions you’ll have with your team, these are often overscheduled in the hopes that these “in person” meetings will be beneficial to building relationships and team morale. 

And while we all love to catch a glimpse at someone’s pet in the background of a call, these can actually hinder employee happiness and productivity

Is there a way to “hold meetings” even in a virtual, distributed environment? 

The right meeting cadence will be different for every company and their needs. 

You’ll have to determine which meetings needs to be asynchronous (delayed responses) and which ones need to be in-person, synchronous meetings. 

You want your team to know what everyone is working on, but you also want to allow for enough freedom for everyone to work autonomously. 

Here are a few examples of some common meetings and how frequently they might meet.

If you’re right in the thick of trying to set a solid meeting rhythm, there’s a few key things to consider.

5 Questions To Ask Before Making a New Meeting Request

Here are our favorite questions to ask before we set up a meeting.

1. What is the goal of this meeting?

Is this meeting’s goal to offer up new information to key players or is it simply for people to update the team?

We talk about information giving versus information seeking a little further along in this article, but this is always a good first question to ask yourself when setting up a new cadence. 

Here are a few examples of how this question might determine how often a meeting is scheduled.

New Project

  • Meeting Purpose: New marketing initiative
  • Meeting Cadence: Weekly check-ins for a status report and next steps

Stand-Up

  • Meeting Purpose: Regular update with the manager and/or team lead
  • Meeting Cadence: Daily stand-up to see what everyone is actively working on

Project Updates

  • Meeting Purpose: Update on the project status
  • Meeting Cadence: Daily check-in or weekly check-in depending on the high priority

2. Can this meeting happen asynchronously? 

If it’s a quick check-in or update, think about the information you need and the time it takes to make it happen. And that’s more than the time allotted.

Consider the back-and-forth for scheduling. The preparation that needs to be done before the meeting, and then the meeting itself. 

As a remote or distributed team, you have flexibility and you do not have to fall back on the defaults of the past. Think about ways you can operate differently because the work situation has drastically changed. 

Some meetings by nature (i.e. big projects, important decisions) do require lots of different stakeholders to weigh in real-time, which is always easier to do in person or on a Zoom call. 

But for meetings largely motivated by updates, setting aside time for an in-person check in is unnecessary. In fact, these are best suited to be done  asynchronously and in that case, can be done more frequently.

3. Is this a high-priority or urgent task?

Some projects will take priority over others with tight deadlines. Only team leaders will know what these projects are and be able to determine how frequent these check-ins need to be.

But from our experience, the more urgent the task, the more often you might be required to meet.

4. Do these types of meetings regularly run over the allotted time?

We don’t believe in letting meetings run over their scheduled time. Meetings that frequently feel like they get cut short might be a reason to schedule those meetings to be more frequent rather than longer. It’is hard to sit in meetings that run over an hour, but a more regular cadence could help cover more ground.

5. Do we run out of items to discuss in these types of meetings?

On the flip side, if you’re doing a daily check-in call where there isn’t much to say, consider consolidating those into a weekly check-in and moving those daily updates to be asynchronous updates rather than in-person ones.

Friday offers a wide range of meeting templates to help you get started. You can customize your questions, set the cadence for how often they are sent, and have them sent to the whole team or only a select few. 

Change Your Cadence: Asynchronous vs Synchronous Meetings

Once you’ve determined that you’ve got a weekly cadence for one project and another weekly cadence for an all-staff check-in, that doesn’t mean these have to be formatted in the same way.

The first step in determining the format of your meeting is to decide if the meeting is information seeking or information giving, which we alluded to earlier. This matters a lot when you’re determining how to best check-in. 

When we talk about information seeking meetings, they can fall into any of the following categories:

  • A kickoff meeting for a new project
  • A project team meeting to discuss next steps
  • Management meeting to check in on how teams are running
  • A one-on-one with a direct report to check in on goals and tasks

In these meetings, many of the attendees are looking to share but also seek information. These types of meetings are generally great to be in-person or in-person over Zoom.

For information giving meetings, those might be:

“We typically use meetings for working through strategy or higher level planning, never for an update or information share,” says Jamie Morganstern, Director Of Business Development at ICANotes,  “We don’t need to be in meetings a lot.”

Information giving is generally best as an email or a quick virtual update using something like our weekly status update feature to update your team.

The purpose of establishing the right team meeting cadence for your company, along with the right meeting format, will cut down on low value meetings and let everyone focus on being productive and stoked to be at work.

Fewer Meetings = Better Meetings

You might end up going through this list and think to yourself, “Huh. Well it looks like I really only need one in-person meeting a week. That can’t be right…”

Although it might seem crazy to cut down on meetings, especially if your company workforce has always centered around them, the facts don’t lie.

Research shows that 15% of an organization's time is spent in meetings. Imagine moving that 15% towards actionable tasks that can increase revenue in your business? Less meetings and more money? An easy win.

A whopping 73% of people admit to multitasking during meetings. Let your employees spend more time doing their work and less time passively listening in.

And according to this survey from Doodle, the financial impact of poorly organized meetings cost businesses in the US billions of dollars in 2019. Billions.

Now that you’re ready to create a killer team meeting cadence with fewer but better meetings, let’s go one step further.

Let’s make sure that you’ve got all the right tools in place to make sure every meeting you set is an effective one.

4 Do’s and Don’ts For Your Meetings

We’ve written extensively about how to have more efficient meetings but here are some best practices that you can begin to employ right away.

  1. Do create an agenda. Make sure everyone knows what will be covered in advance so they can attend better prepared.
  2. Don’t leave room for questions at the end. Instead, use Slack or email for any follow ups since there’s never enough time at the end of the meeting to get to everyone’s questions.
  3. Do invite only key players to a meeting. It’s much easier to communicate in smaller groups.
  4. Don’t go over the allocated meeting time. If you’re going to commit to better meetings, you can’t allow them to go over, interrupt someone’s work day and risk having employees start to zone out.

If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try a New Meeting Cadence

Although we’re trying to outline some best practices for setting up a meeting cadence, your team size and company culture will have a lot to do with how you want to communicate internally as a team.

For Brian Whalley, the cofounder of Wonderment, concise communication is key to a startup environment.

“There's just four of us today, so we can get in one short daily group meeting,” he says. “We start with a daily check-in at 10:30 that usually goes about 15-20 minutes.”

Small teams can benefit greatly from daily check-ins but for larger companies, doing this in-person can end up being a huge disruptor in a team’s workday.

“We also want to follow the bigger trends of what we're accomplishing as a team and how it's going so we do a recap meeting every other Friday morning where we each talk about what went well, what didn't go well, and what we want to change for the next two weeks,” says Brian. 

A recap meeting is a great way to combine what’s going well with what’s in the pipeline on a weekly schedule.

But for larger companies, even a weekly cadence could be disruptive to the full staff and these should be limited to smaller, active teams.

How to Improve Your Meetings with Friday

It’s Monday morning. You flip open your laptop and look at your calendar for the week. It’s meeting after meeting, hours of Zoom calls and Google meets that will take up half your workweek. 

You can’t help but wonder to yourself: how many of these really need to be meetings?

You’re not alone. At Friday, we believe that fewer and better meetings are the key to a productive work week and a happier team.

This is why establishing a meeting cadence and a clear format helps. 

You can automate your daily stand-ups and status updates. Ask questions to your teams, provide weekly CEO updates, and know what your team’s priorities are for the week. 

You can use Friday to eliminate all those low-priority meetings, free up your team’s calendars and make sure that you can all stay connected without having to be in constant communication.

Other features in Friday to help you stay productive: 

  • Planner: Start your day knowing exactly what you need to accomplish. Combine all of your calendars, integrate your project management software, add your must-do tasks, and know what your day looks like. 
  • Power-Ups: Say thanks, track goals, offer ideas for improvement, and connect with icebreaker questions. Power-ups boost your workday to help stay on track--both personally and professionally. 

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