Just a month ago, whenever we encountered a deadlock in a decision, discussion or problem, the natural refrain was “let’s call for a meeting”.
That little luxury of huddling in a room to hash things out has become a distant memory, and almost a forbidden evil.
Then there are the customary committee meetings, with far more people than required for good decision making. You may be familiar with them: Steering committee and project committees - with reams of minutes and action items.
With the troubling advance of Covid-19, governments globally are rapidly putting in measures to minimise social contact. Closer to home, the Singapore government has elevated social distancing measures by moving to full home-based learning for schools and closing most physical work premises, save for those providing essential services.
So how has all this affected the corporate meeting culture?
Voice and video conferences, as well as webinars, are now de rigueur for teams and business meetings across split locations and homes.
After initial teething problems, these virtual meetings have become widely accepted and even welcomed for the time saved in commuting to work. The “always on” nature of the web-based interactions, and the efficiency that e-meeting formats present, are also being appreciated.
Yet others worry that teamwork and dynamics could be compromised in the process. Would social distancing result in emotional distance among colleagues, teams within organisations, or between us and our clients?
Work culture across time zones and distance is not new for many who work in multinational corporations. In a previous organization, I sat as a node in a matrix structure with a functional reporting line to a San Francisco (SF)-based head of research, criss-crossing a regional line to a Hong Kong-based chief investment officer. Time and space did not prevent my SF colleagues and I to build lifelong friendships that outlasted our careers at the firm. We knew each other’s quirks, shared private jokes and genuinely enjoyed our interactions. Work was fun. Our camaraderie extended beyond the workspace. When my child was born, my SF colleagues couriered the most thoughtful mom-and-daughter care package that I received.
That was in the early 2000s during the years of the tech boom and bust. We had fairly basic voice and video conference functionalities available then, certainly not the sophisticated bells and whistles in communication technology today. What we had going for us went beyond the advances in technology, and focused on the basics of mutual trust, respect and tight rapport built on our commitment to deliver an excellent outcome.
Two decades have since passed. Communication has become principally online, technology is sophisticated, the use of smart phones has become a ubiquitous part of our social and professional lives.
To adapt this technological prowess to the Covid-19 situation, good meeting culture should be a breeze, except that it does not always pan out the way we expect it to.
With the human factor being the pulse of an effective meeting – both online and offline – it will take a concerted effort by all participants to ensure success.
Here are five simple tips I share with my team to make our virtual meetings a lot more effective.
1. Short, sharp and sweet
Keep the meeting brief and to the point. Meeting organisers ought to define, lead and housekeep the agenda; Ensure meeting materials are sent a day ahead, with deliverables and timing.
2. Be prepared
Meeting participants ought to get familiar with the agenda; with materials sent ahead of time with talking points prepared in advance, in order to make meaningful contributions.
3. Be present
Do not be distracted with other matters while attending the meeting, even while on mute. It is disrespectful and a waste of everyone else’s time and effort.
4. Get to the point
When held over e-channels, attention spans are short, so speakers, moderators and participants should keep their messages succinct, meaningful and engaging.
5. Less is best
Minimise meetings (or the number of participants) as the power of one-to-one calls in front of a document to co-author can be more effective. Ask yourself if that large meeting is necessary in the first place.
Business focus need not be compromised while we work from home during the “circuit breaker” season. Major corporate decisions need to be made and innovative strategies need to be devised to confront the challenging business environment. There is real work to be done.
More than ever, employees want to be actively involved in decision making. Not being in the same office necessitates a special effort to reach out to individuals to brainstorm and discuss key topics. Socially, keep engaging colleagues via virtual catch ups; or “bring-your-own-glass” drinks sessions. Maintain mentorship relationships as sounding boards are valued more than ever during challenging times.
With clients and business partners, offer solutions that are pertinent for the new normal. Within the financial sector, wealth management and business clients are looking for navigators who offer prescient analysis, sound business and investment advice and solutions.
When all this dust settles and normality as we knew it resumes, our work environment and corporate culture might have changed forever. What would endure, however, would be the interactions that we instinctually crave as human beings – eye-contact over coffee chats, the a-ha moments during brainstorms, the camaraderie over team lunches and the after-work celebration.
And for that, we wish that this too shall pass, and we may hopefully soon drink to that. Till then, may our social distance not get in the way of emotional and true engagement with the ones whom we care about – be they friends, family, colleagues or clients.
Disclaimer applicable to recommendation
This document is prepared by Bank of Singapore Limited (the “Bank”) for information purposes only, intended for the internal or personal use of the intended recipients only, and is not intended for anyone other than the recipient. It may contain information proprietary to the Bank which may not be reproduced or redistributed in whole or in part without the Bank’s prior consent. It is not an offer or a solicitation to deal in any investment product or enter into any legal relations, nor does it constitute advice or recommendation with respect to investment products. It does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, investment experience, financial situation and the particular needs of any particular person. You should exercise caution in relation to investments, independently evaluate each investment product and consider the suitability of such investment product, taking into account your own specific investment objectives, investment experience, financial situation and/or particular needs. You will need to decide on your own as to whether or not the contents of this document are suitable for you. If you are in doubt about the contents of this document and/or the suitability of any investment product, please obtain your own independent financial, legal and/or tax advice from professional advisers as you deem necessary. Investments in financial instruments or other products carry significant risk, including the possible loss of the principal amount invested. Financial instruments or other products denominated in a foreign currency are subject to exchange rate fluctuations, which may have an adverse effect on the price or value of an investment in such products. Neither the Bank nor any of its officers accept any liability for any loss whatsoever (whether direct, indirect or consequential) arising out of or in connection with your use of this document. Past performance is not a guarantee or indication of future results. All figures in this document are indicative only and do not represent firm quotes. You should contact your local representative directly if you are interested in any financial transaction, investment strategy or wealth planning structure. You should read all the risk disclosures and governing terms and conditions that are set out in the relevant documents governing any investment, structure or product. Neither the Bank nor any of its officers accept any liability for any loss whatsoever (whether direct, indirect or consequential) arising out of or in connection with your use of this document. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that the contents of this document have been obtained or derived from sources believed by the Bank to be reliable, the Bank has not independently verified the accuracy of such source(s). The Bank and its respective officers, employees, agents and representatives do not make any express or implied representations, warranties or guarantees as to the accuracy, timeliness or completeness of the information, data or prevailing state of affairs that are mentioned in this document and do not accept any liability for any loss or damage whatsoever, direct or indirect, arising from or in connection with the use of the contents of this document. The Bank and its Affiliates may have issued other reports, analyses, or other documents expressing views different from the contents hereof and all views expressed in all reports, analyses and documents are subject to change without notice. The Bank and its Affiliates reserve the right to act upon or use the contents hereof at any time, including before its publication herein. The Bank and its Affiliates may have discussed the information contained therein with others within or outside the Bank, and Bank personnel may have already acted on the basis of this information (including communicating the information contained herein to other customers of the Bank). The Bank, its employees and discretionary accounts managed by its Singapore Office may have long or short positions or may be otherwise interested in any of the investment products (including derivatives thereof) referred to in this document and may from time to time dispose of any such investment products. The Bank, its personnel and other customers of the Bank may have acquired such positions at prices and market conditions that are no longer available, and may have interests different from or adverse to your interests.
This document and other related documents have not been reviewed by, registered or lodged as a prospectus, information memorandum or profile statement with the Monetary Authority of Singapore nor any regulator in Hong Kong or elsewhere. Dual currency investments, structured deposits and other investment products are not insured by the Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation. This document may not be published, circulated, reproduced or distributed in whole or in part to any other person without the Bank’s prior written consent. These materials are prepared solely for distribution into jurisdictions where such distribution is permitted by law. This document is not intended for distribution to, publication or use by any person in any jurisdiction outside Singapore, Hong Kong, or such other jurisdiction as the Bank may determine in its absolute discretion, where such distribution, publication or use would be contrary to applicable law or would subject the Bank and its related corporations, connected persons, associated persons and/or affiliates (collectively, “Affiliates”) to any registration, licensing or other requirements within such jurisdiction.
Bank of Singapore Limited is a licensed bank regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore in Singapore. Bank of Singapore Limited, Hong Kong Branch is an Authorized Institution as defined in the Banking Ordinance of Hong Kong (Cap 155), regulated by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority in Hong Kong and a Registered Institution as defined in the Securities and Futures Ordinance of Hong Kong (Cap.571) regulated by the Securities and Futures Commission in Hong Kong. Bank of Singapore Limited forms part of the OCBC Group (being for this purpose Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Limited and its subsidiaries, related and affiliated companies). OCBC Group, their respective directors and/or employees (collectively “Related Persons”) may or might have in the future interests in the investment products or the issuers mentioned herein. Such interests include effecting transactions in such investment products, and providing broking, investment banking and other financial services to such issuers. OCBC Group and its Related Persons may also be related to, and receive fees from, providers of such investment products.
Bank of Singapore Limited adheres to a group policy (as revised and updated from time to time) that provides how entities in the OCBC Group manage or eliminate any actual or potential conflicts of interest which may impact the impartiality of research reports issued by any research analyst in the OCBC Group.
Australia: Bank of Singapore Limited (i) is exempt from the requirement to hold an Australian financial services (AFS) licence under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) in respect of all financial products or financial services it provides in accordance with ASIC Class Order 03/1102 (as continued in force by ASIC Corporations (Repeal and Transitional) Instrument 2016/396) to any person in Australia who is a wholesale client, and (ii) is regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore under Singaporean laws which differ from Australian laws. Brunei: This document has not been delivered to, licensed or permitted by the Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam, the authority as designated under the Brunei Darussalam Securities Markets Order, 2013 and the Banking Order, 2006; nor has it been registered with the Registrar of Companies, Registrar of International Business Companies or the Brunei Darussalam Ministry of Finance. The products mentioned in this document are not registered, licensed or permitted by the Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam or by any other government agency or under any law in Brunei Darussalam. Any offers, acceptances, sales and allotments of the products shall be made outside Brunei Darussalam. Hong Kong SAR: Bank of Singapore Limited is an Authorized Institution as defined in the Banking Ordinance of Hong Kong (Cap 155), regulated by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority in Hong Kong and a Registered Institution as defined in the Securities and Futures Ordinance of Hong Kong (Cap. 571), regulated by the Securities and Futures Commission in Hong Kong. Indonesia: The offering of the investment product in reliance of this document is not registered under the Indonesian Capital Market Law and its implementing regulations, and is not intended to constitute a public offering of securities under the Indonesian Capital Market Law and its implementing regulations. According, this investment product may not be offered or sold, directly or indirectly, within Indonesia or to citizens (wherever they are domiciled or located), entities or residents, in any manner which constitutes a public offering of securities under the Indonesian Capital Market Law and its implementing regulations. Japan: The information contained in this document is for general reference purposes only. It does not have regard to your specific investment objectives, financial situation, risk tolerance and particular needs. Nothing in this document constitutes an offer to buy or sell or an invitation to offer to buy or sell or a recommendation or a solicitation to buy or sell any securities or investment. We do not have any intention of conducting regulated business in Japan. You acknowledge that nothing in this document constitutes investment or financial advice or any advice of any nature. Malaysia: Bank of Singapore Limited does not hold any licence, registration or approval to carry on any regulated business in Malaysia (including but not limited to any businesses regulated under the Capital Markets & Services Act 2007 of Malaysia), nor does it hold itself out as carrying on or purport to carry on any such business in Malaysia. Any services provided by Bank of Singapore Limited to residents of Malaysia are provided solely on an offshore basis from outside Malaysia, either as a result of “reverse enquiry” on the part of the Malaysian residents or where Bank of Singapore Limited has been retained outside Malaysia to provide such services. As an integral part of the provision of such services from outside Malaysia, Bank of Singapore Limited may from time to time make available to such residents documents and information making reference to capital markets products (for example, in connection with the provision of fund management or investment advisory services outside of Malaysia). Nothing in such documents or information is intended to be construed as or constitute the making available of, or an offer or invitation to subscribe for or purchase any such capital markets product. Myanmar: The provision of any products and services by Bank of Singapore Limited shall be solely on an offshore basis. You shall ensure that you have and will continue to be fully compliant with all applicable laws in Myanmar when entering into discussion or contracts with Bank of Singapore Limited. Oman: This document does not constitute a public offer of investment, securities or financial services in the Sultanate of Oman, as contemplated by the Commercial Companies Law of Oman (Royal Decree No. 4/1974), Banking Law of Oman (Royal Decree No. 114/2000) or the Capital Market Law of Oman (Royal Decree No. 80/1998) and the Executive Regulations of the Capital Market Law (Ministerial Decision No. 1/2009) or an offer to sell or the solicitation of any offer to buy non-Omani investment products, securities or financial services and products in the Sultanate of Oman. This document is strictly private and confidential. It is being provided to a limited number of sophisticated investors solely to enable them to decide whether or not to make an offer to invest in financial products mentioned in this document, outside of the Sultanate of Oman, upon the terms and subject to the restrictions set out herein and may not be reproduced or used for any other purpose or provided to any person other than the original recipient. Additionally, this document is not intended to lead to the making of any contract within the territory or under the laws of the Sultanate of Oman. The Capital Market Authority of Oman and the Central Bank of Oman take no responsibility for the accuracy of the statements and information contained in this document or for the performance of the financial products mentioned in this document nor shall they have any liability to any person for damage or loss resulting from reliance on any statement or information contained herein. Russia: The investment products mentioned in this document have not been registered with or approved by the local regulator of any country and are not publicly distributed in Singapore or elsewhere. This document does not constitute or form part of an offer or invitation to the public in any country to subscribe for the products referred to herein. South Korea: The document does not constitute an offer, solicitation or investment advertisement to trade in the investment product referred to in the document. The Philippines: The information contained in this document is not intended to constitute a public offering of securities under the Securities Regulation Code of the Philippines. Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC): Bank of Singapore Limited has a branch registered in the Dubai International Financial Centre ("DIFC") which is regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (“DFSA”). Bank of Singapore Limited (DIFC Branch) is not a financial institution licensed in the United Arab Emirates outside of the DIFC and does not undertake banking or financial activities in the United Arab Emirates nor is it licensed to do so outside of the DIFC. This material is provided for information purposes only and it is general information not specific in any way to any particular investor, investor type, strategy, investment need or other financial circumstance. As such this information is not financial advice or a financial promotion, nor is it intended to influence an investor's decision to invest. It is not to be construed as an offer to buy or sell or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any financial instruments or to participate in any particular trading strategy in any jurisdiction. The material is only intended for persons who fulfill the criteria to be classified as “Professional Clients” as defined under the DFSA rules and should not be reviewed, received, provided to or relied upon by any other person. United Arab Emirates (U.A.E): The information contained herein is exclusively addressed to the recipient. The offering of certain products in this document has not been and will not be registered with the Central Bank of United Arab Emirates or Securities & Commodities Authority in the United Arab Emirates. Any products in this document that are being offered or sold do not constitute a public offering or distribution of securities under the applicable laws and regulations of the United Arab Emirates. This document is not intended for circulation or distribution in or into the UAE, other than to persons in the UAE to whom such circulation or distribution is permitted by, or is exempt from the requirements of, the applicable laws and regulations of the United Arab Emirates. The distribution of the information contained herein by the recipient is prohibited. Where applicable, this document relates to securities which are listed outside of the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange and the Dubai Financial Market. The Bank of Singapore Limited is not authorized to provide investment research regarding securities listed on the exchanges of the United Arab Emirates which are outside of the DIFC. United Kingdom: In the United Kingdom, this document is being made available only to the person or the entity to whom it is directed being persons to whom it may lawfully be directed under applicable laws and regulations of the United Kingdom (such persons are hereinafter referred to as ‘relevant persons’). Accordingly, this document is communicated only to relevant persons. Persons who are not relevant persons must not act on or rely on this document or any of its contents. Any investment or investment activity to which this document relates is available only to relevant persons and will be engaged in only with relevant persons. Relevant persons in receipt of this document must not distribute, publish, reproduce, or disclose this document (in whole or in part) to any person who is not a relevant person. United States of America: This product may not be sold or offered within the United States or to U.S. persons. In Hong Kong, Bank of Singapore Limited is a branch of Bank of Singapore Limited incorporated in Singapore with limited liability.
© 2019 Bank of Singapore Limited. All rights reserved.
Version: December 2019