How to have effective and useful remote standups

Published on
January 4, 2024

One of the challenges you'll encounter as a leader is scheduling face-to-face meetings with your remote team. In fact, 58% of Americans say they'd rather go to a doctor's appointment than attend a meeting.

Meetings are an important aspect of every modern workspace, whether your employees love or hate them. But how do you engage your team members without affecting their workflows? That's where standup meetings come in. Not only do they save time, but they also boost productivity.

Let’s look at the benefits of remote standups and how you can make them useful, engaging, and effective.

Benefits of standup meetings for remote teams

Remote work has many benefits, like schedule flexibility and no commuting. However, the distance can sometimes lead to miscommunication, lack of accountability, and feelings of isolation. 

Daily standup meetings promote transparency, alignment, and collaboration by allowing team members to connect, raise issues, and share status updates. For remote companies, they help combat miscommunication and feelings of isolation that come with a distributed team.

Remote standups also enhance accountability and teamwork, which is essential for remote employees who may not have a chance to interact face-to-face.

Standup meetings for remote teams also lead to:

Greater collaboration and trust

Regular standups allow team members to share updates on what they've been working on, potential roadblocks, and progress toward their goals. In short, standups keep the whole team on the same page.

Teams build a sense of community and shared purpose when they are aligned on direction and actively working through roadblocks together.

Better team engagement

Sometimes, it can be challenging to keep your team members motivated and engaged. With a daily standup, team members can connect, receive real-time feedback, and share progress, keeping them engaged and focused on goals. Small touch points like standups can go a long way toward reminding team members that they’re part of a group pulling toward a larger goal.

More effective way to pinpoint & reduce roadblocks

With standup meetings, your entire team can share the current problems they’re facing, which can help you identify roadblocks earlier. Then the whole team can work to find solutions to these challenges before they impact your project management efforts. Often, simply being aware of challenges opens up new potential fixes.

Deeper team understanding of projects

Remote standups let team members share updates on their progress and the status of their projects. This open, collaborative communication helps to deepen your team's understanding of the project as a whole, so they can make more informed decisions to ensure success.

Remote standup best practices

Standups are meant to be quick and effective — so a meeting that wastes time and doesn’t provide any actionable takeaways is no good for anyone. Incorporating these best practices is a great way to make sure your meetings provide value and keep your team’s attention.

Establish a regular meeting time

Sticking to a consistent time and meeting place helps you to create a routine and sense of culture with your team members. If teams know when and where to expect meetings, they can adjust their schedules and ensure they're always well-prepared. Just make sure the time set suits the whole team, no matter where they are.

Use a standard standup format (and adjust if necessary)

Standard formats allow team members to take turns answering three important questions about their work. While a traditional scrum methodology is effective, you may adjust the format to fit the specific needs of your team members:

  • What did I do yesterday? This question gives team members insight into the tasks accomplished since your last meeting. It also helps members identify any dependencies or overlaps and enhances accountability. Updates should point out deliverables so your team can understand the work already done.
  • What am I planning on doing today? Team members should explain what they plan to do for the day. With this info, you can identify any dependencies or risks for the day's work and help your team members prioritize tasks.
  • What are my blockers? You need to know if any roadblocks are affecting your team. Understanding unresolved blockers helps you to provide an effective solution so members can keep moving ahead with their work.

Use a standup tool: Spinach

While standups keep the team more engaged with their work, the process of having a remote standup can still be challenging. If the standup feels like a chore or a waste of time, teams won’t fully engage with the process – and nothing torpedoes a standup like folks coming unprepared and disengaged.

Using a standup tool for your meetings can make all the difference. With these tools, your team members can easily share updates about projects they're working on, promoting engagement.

Spinach can help you boost the effectiveness of your standups. This tool is like a digital Scrum Master, leveraging AI to send summaries about your standup, ticket suggestions, and to-dos based on your meeting discussions.

Even when facing challenges with your asynchronous communications, like members forgetting to read each other's check-ins, Spinach has your back. This standup bot for Slack supports your live daily standup by:

  • Sending reminders to prep for daily standup
  • Sending a real-time summary of the meeting to your team, either via email or Slack
  • Documenting your standups so you can reference them in future meetings
  • Integrating with other tools like Confluence and Slack for summary output
  • Integrating with Jira, Asana, Linear, and Trello to create new tickets with one click

Spinach also has engagement and facilitation functionalities like a timer, and automated agendas,, which keep your team members active in standups and connected with colleagues.

Common remote standup mistakes to avoid

While remote standups can be powerful tools for distributed team collaboration and productivity, they’re most effective when you avoid these common mistakes:

Not following a clear agenda

One of the primary reasons why meetings fail is the lack of a clear agenda. When there's no agenda to guide your meeting, participants will waste time wandering off-topic.

A remote standup should have a clear agenda that everyone is aware of. So make sure your team members know beforehand the goal of the standup and what their roles are. A meeting agenda guides your team and ensures everyone stays focused and on track.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Define goals ahead of time. Do you want to share essential business metrics or get status updates from your team? Make it clear why you want the meeting.
  • Only address topics that affect every team member. Save other conversations until the main standup is over, so other team members can drop off as needed. Spinach’s Parking Lot feature is a great way to keep track of these conversations and still allow a space for follow-up if needed.
  • Set a time limit. Related to the last point, establish a slot of time and stick to it. Team members are busy, and the goal of a standup is to touch base quickly and get everyone back to their daily tasks. Letting a standup drag on too long can disrupt workflow and lead to less productivity.
  • Choose one leader for the meeting. This facilitator should be able to redirect side conversations and tangents effectively to keep the meeting on track, so choose wisely.

Not being prepared

Preparation is essential for success, and meetings are no exception. If participants don't prepare adequately for the meeting, they won’t get as much out of it.

So everyone should come to the standup meeting prepared to discuss their work. Each team member should have a solid understanding of what they have worked on, what they're going to be working on, and what they need help with.

Not following up on action items

Action items are an important aspect of your daily meetings with remote teams. The whole point of standups is to make sure that everyone is on the same page and identify any issues that need addressing. 

So, if action items come up during a remote standup and you never follow up on them to make sure they get done, the meeting didn’t meet its goal. By promptly addressing and following up on action items, you can ensure that everybody is accountable for their work.

Consider the following 3Ws to make the action items clear:

  • Who: Define the person responsible for the action item. If a team member has a question about their tasks, who should they speak to?
  • What: What action is taking place on the task’s description?
  • When: When is the deadline for the meeting’s action items? Ensure your deadlines are realistic for the project and the teams. 

You can easily stay on top of action items with Spinach. During the meeting, as your team discusses action items, you can easily document decisions in real time, assign a responsible party, and send each team member a summary of their action items in Slack after the meeting. 

Not being respectful of time zones

Keep in mind that one team members’ mornings may be another’s evenings. If you have team members in different time zones, be respectful of everyone’s time. Try to schedule standups at a specific time that’s convenient for everyone — and stick to the scheduled time slot.

Alternatively, introduce asynchronous communication to connect with members without worrying about time differences. You can easily prepare asynchronous check-ins with Spinach, where each team member fills out short bullet points highlighting their current projects and blockers. 

These points go into the Spinach meeting summary that generates automatically at the end of each meeting. From there, Spinach can automatically send the summary to Slack, where everyone can review the meeting notes as their schedules allow.

Not enough engagement

Because remote standups lack the in-person dynamics of traditional team meetings, it's easy for employees to feel disengaged and disconnected. This can affect team participation and make it hard for them to stay aligned and make progress toward their goals.

If your team members don't connect, they're less likely to collaborate and support each other's objectives. Plus, insufficient engagement may make it hard for you to follow up on the project progress and identify issues early.

So, consider the following to make your standups more engaging:

  • Start with an icebreaker. Starting your standups with an icebreaker adds uniqueness and makes it feel less routine. You may use riddles, interesting quotes, or jokes. With this, attendees will have something fun to look forward to in the standup.
  • Incorporate a fun element. Meeting apps have a ton of fun visual effects these days. Consider incorporating an occasional “funny background day” to keep things lighthearted and energetic.
  • Maintain relevance. Ensure the standup discusses what is relevant to most people—if not all. If the discussion shifts to what is irrelevant, team members may feel disengaged and zone out of the meeting.     

Tools to empower your remote team's standups

At the end of the day, the goal is to minimize roadblocks and have a useful and effective standup meeting. Fortunately, there are some effective daily standup tools you can use with your agile team. These tools allow remote employees to communicate and track progress in real time, even with varying meeting times.

Standup meeting tool

Standup meeting tools support more productive, efficient meetings with your team members. These apps often have functionality for seamlessly sharing updates, tracking a project's progress, and improving collaboration.

With a standup meeting tool, remote employees can streamline meetings, have a framework for discussion, and save time on administrative tasks.

Some of the best standup tools you can use for your meetings include:

  • Spinach
  • Slack
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Google Meet 
  • Zoom

Video conferencing tool

Remote teams are already familiar with video conferencing, but these apps are especially relevant for agile teams who depend on standups. These apps allow members to see each other's body language, facial expressions, and gestures, which can foster rapport, trust, and teamwork.

For a seamless experience, choose a video conferencing tool with an easy-to-use template that integrates well with your standups. Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom are all great options.

Instant messaging tool

While synchronous meetings are essential for remote employees, asynchronous communication is equally important. Apps like Microsoft Teams and Slack ensure every member stays on the right track and gets regular updates on project progress.

Instant messaging tools have features for file sharing, threaded conversations, and integrations with other project management tools. Team members can easily access feedback, provide updates and progress, and ask questions about a project.

Messaging and conferencing tools help start the conversation, but to run the most effective remote standups, you’ll need a dedicated solution.

Supercharge your remote standups with Spinach

Remote standup meetings are vital for distributed teams to stay aligned and productive. However, there are challenges to overcome, such as lack of engagement, different time zones, and insufficient preparation. 

You can empower your remote standups with the right meeting, video conferencing, and instant messaging tools.

Spinach is a great way to enrich your remote standups. We take the manual work out of creating meeting notes and follow-ups, documenting action items, and sending summaries. 

With Spinach, standups become quicker and more effective, so your team can get exactly what they need from team meetings — without disrupting their workflows.

Try Spinach today to make your remote standup meetings more productive. 

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