The rise in remote working may have driven improved efficiencies for many businesses, but virtual meetings are can often suffer from the same productivity drains as their in-person counterparts.

So if you’re looking to improve your virtual meeting provision and keep productivity high, here are five simple steps you can take to do just that.

1. Use good tech – and do it properly

First off you must think of the technology. Just because a certain provider or piece of software is popular, or the one your business has used before, that doesn’t automatically make it the best fit. Shop around – there are plenty on the market given their newfound popularity, and a great deal of money has been pumped into trying to get competitive advantage.

Once you’ve settled on a solution, ensure everyone who will use it is trained up fully, so they can utilise all the tools you’ve gone out of your way to select for them.

2. Open up the tools for personal use

Related to the above point: let people use the work tools for their own ends and you’ll fast-track their learning on new systems. If users are hosting a virtual pub quiz on the weekend, or calling in with relatives abroad using the same technology, it can be an easy and enjoyable way for them to get used to the system – and get hands-on with features they may otherwise have skimmed over.

3. Follow-up

It can be all too easy for actions that arose during a meeting to be forgotten about or shunted down the priority list once the cameras go off. This is why following up after a meeting is so important. This needn’t be difficult, either, with chat channels using all the meeting participants, or tools such as Slack easily deployed to ensure nothing gets missed or forgotten about.

4. Keep to the agenda

Meetings often over-run or go off in unpredictable tangents, and businesses have long combatted this with a simple agenda, shared ahead of time. More important than the agenda, though, is actually having the discipline to stick to it when the meeting is in full flow. If you have four points to cover in an hour-long meeting, only permit 15 minutes for each, to ensure everything is covered. You can always return to issues later on if time allows, or organise a new meeting if it proves to be a larger issue than first anticipated.

5. Allow time for socialising

This may be the antithesis to all that’s gone before, but some time should be allowed for users to simply catch up and talk about something other than the agenda at hand. The snatched conversations over boiling kettles are no more for many employees, so allow people the chance to have a break and catch up with their colleagues, to avoid dangerous burn-out or feelings of isolation.