A while back, we published an article featuring 24 questions to ask in your next 1:1 meeting. It’s one of our most-read posts, which shows just how much people crave inspiration for their meeting agendas. With more managers running 1:1s from home, we decided to create a list of remote 1:1 meeting questions to ask your team members.
“How is a remote 1:1 agenda different?”, you may ask. Sure, the purpose of a 1:1 meeting is the same, and the general talking points might not change much either. What’s different about virtual 1:1s is the emphasis you put on topics like relationship building, productivity, and well-being.
Basic rules for effective remote 1:1 meetings
We won’t go into the details of conducting virtual 1:1s. But these three rules are the foundation of a smooth check-in with your team members:
- Use video: Make sure you’re not missing out on the non-verbal cues. Video chat offers the richest form of communication, only exceeded by actually being in the same room.
- Do them weekly: Biweekly 1:1s can be fine when you work from the same office. But as GitLab, a fully distributed company, recommends in their employee handbook: “It’s better to have a short meeting with little to discuss than to go too long without an opportunity to communicate face-to-face.”
- Don’t multitask: It’s tempting to switch to another browser window while in a video meeting, right? Don’t. Just don’t. If you really want to look something up that contributes to your conversation, let the other meeting participant know. Otherwise, give them your full attention and actively listen.
For more advice on how to run virtual 1:1 meetings, check out this detailed guide from a manager at fully-remote Buffer.
The core remote 1:1 agenda
A consistent agenda format ensures you never skip essential questions. Complement the core agenda with occasional questions on areas like wellbeing and communication.
- How are you? What’s going on inside and outside work?
- What accomplishments are you proud of?
- Is anything blocking you?
- What are your top priorities right now? (Are we aligned?)
- What can I do to support you?
- Anything else you’d like to talk about today?
Transition to remote work
Newly remote employees face unique challenges and usually need some time to find their remote working style. It’s part of a remote manager’s job to guide this journey.
- What do you like and dislike about working from home?
- How are the new tools we’re using working for you?
- What can I or other people in our company do to make remote work easier for you?
- How has remote work impacted the team dynamics – positively and negatively?
Building a strong relationship with your report is harder when you’re not in the same office. Chatting about non-work topics can replace those vital water cooler moments.
- How has working remotely impacted your family routines?
- What vacation (or staycation) plans do you have coming up?
- Can you recommend any good podcasts or books?
- What was one of your funniest moments at work?
- Any cool movies you watched recently?
Remote work can impact your team member’s physical and mental health. Ask these questions to help keep their well-being high.
- Does work feel energizing or draining to you right now?
- What adjustments can we make that would improve your well-being?
- Have you been able to find clear boundaries between work and personal life?
- Do you feel like you’re able to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle?
- Do you ever feel lonely or isolated at work?
Frequent, effective communication is a pillar of successful remote collaboration. Check in with your team members to help them meet their communication needs.
- How do you feel about the amount of communication in our team and organization? Would you prefer more or less?
- Are you getting enough feedback from me and your colleagues?
- How well do you feel informed about what’s going on in the rest of the organization?
- Do you feel that important conversations happen publicly?
- What’s something I can improve about my communication style and habits?
Remote workers can be more productive than office workers, but only if they have a supportive work environment.
- How productive have you been feeling lately?
- How’s your workload? (Anything we should delegate or deprioritize?)
- Do you have enough clarity about your role and responsibilities?
- How challenging is it for you to stay focused when working from home?
- Do you have access to all the resources and information you need?
Addressing specific topics in your remote 1:1
In addition to regular check-ins, you can use some of your 1:1s to talk about particular themes, such as career growth, goal-setting, or performance issues. If you’re looking for inspiration, have a look at our other 1:1 meeting templates.