Working Toward a More Inclusive Future of Work

 |   MSNE Staff

Have more effective meetings with people not in the room — best practices compiled by a Microsoft New England program manager.

As the world of work changes, companies need to rethink everything — from culture to tools and environments. Our Microsoft New England Research & Development Center, fondly referred to as NERD, is one of Microsoft’s six Global Development Centers (GDCs) across the globe. With teams based in Redmond, Hyderabad, the Bay Area, and more, many of our New England-based team members work remotely, reporting to team leads in other time zones.

Have you ever dialed into a conference-call style meeting while working remote and left feeling less productive than you had hoped? Or that you weren’t valued, involved, or recognized?

The rapid growth of digital connectivity, devices, and information is driving profound changes in the way we work across the globe. Technology has made it easier than ever to telecommute, whether you regularly work remotely from the rest of your team or you’re afforded the day to stay home with your children. And by 2020, 50 percent of all workers will be remote.

That’s why Ben Wilde, principal program manager, Office, embarked on a crowdsourced effort to narrow in on best practices for hosting meetings that are inclusive of people who are remote (or in many cases, for anybody who feels disempowered from participating fully in meetings). Ben says he remembers being in a meeting remotely, dialing into a conference room in Redmond, Microsoft’s headquarters.

“While we all agreed that the outcome was positive, I had a conversation afterward with a woman who was in the Redmond room,” he says. “She was shocked that we had such different experiences, and suggested putting together some best practices, which kicked this project off.”

Roughly 20 people across different disciplines at NERD — engineers, designers, and more — as well as members of other GDCs in Hyderabad, Beijing, and Vancouver contributed three pages worth of ideas, narrowed down in the below infographic to the following best practices:

Have more effective meetings with people not in the room — best practices compiled by a Microsoft New England program manager.

“This mini-project has really exemplified a critical cultural shift away from, ‘that’s not my job’ and toward, ‘I believe in what you’re trying to do and will contribute my time, energy, expertise, perspective to improve the result,” Ben added.

We look forward to implementing these improvements, and hope they help our colleagues cross-company and beyond. As we continue to expand our work across multiple GDCs and bolster a diverse, global engineering workforce, we aim to embrace the future of work and ensure a collaborative, inclusive work environment for our teams.   

Download the high-resolution version of this infographic here: Inclusive Meetings Infographic.