Voices of Remote Work
4 min

How to Engage Your Team During Stand-Up Meetings | Wolfgang Bremer of Elli

For Walking Meetings & Remote Work

As more meetings are held on video, it has become harder for teams to get together for quick updates. In addition to virtual meeting etiquette, company leaders have had to learn how to adapt certain meeting styles for their remote or hybrid teams. Stand-up meetings are a great way to engage with your team and stay up to date on each project’s status. We spoke with Wolfgang Bremer, the Head of Design at Elli, about how he keeps stand-up meetings relevant, fun, and interesting. 

Spot: How is remote work going at Elli?  

Wolfgang: Elli is a mobile-first company but we’ve adopted the hybrid model of working. People can choose if they want to work in the office or not. We are really trying to be flexible with the meeting culture overall and empowering every team to have a different structure or approach that fits their needs. I think it is very important not to just stick to a process because of the process' sake but instead do something that is meaningful to the people who are actually involved. 

S: What is your weekly meeting schedule like? 

W: (Jokingly) The blanket answer is way too many meetings: One-on-one’s with people on my team to see how they’re doing, stakeholder meetings, feedback meetings, stand-up meetings, and daily check-ins. I’ve seen people discuss online that a packed day of meetings is unproductive, but I think productivity depends on the meeting and who is involved. It’s important to evaluate which meetings to participate in and as long as there are the right people in the meeting and they’re enabled to make decisions, I think they can be perfectly helpful. 

S: Let’s talk more about stand-ups. How would you define stand-up meetings? 

W: If we stick to the rule of stand-up, I would imagine that people are standing up (laughing). The aim of stand-up meetings to me is to get a short overview of what’s going on, a status update from people and to understand if anybody is blocked… and maybe to enforce that people are standing up because usually, especially in a remote setting, people are not standing up. I’m joking… For me it's always standing up because I have a standing desk, so I stand 99% of the time working anyway. Almost any time of the day is standing up time for me - during any meeting or any other time. 

S: What is the duration of your stand-up meetings? 

W: The one that I usually have is 15 minutes long. We’re only a few people, so everybody has a couple of minutes, which usually is enough. We stick to the rule that if there's more discussion needed, you take it via chat or into a different meeting. 

S: What is a stand-up meeting's typical structure? 

W: It depends a lot on the group of people. But for me, I'm used to a 1-minute approach and keeping it really condensed to the important things. Focus on what happened, what is the focus of today, and are there any blockers. 

S: What is the difference between in-person and remote stand-up meetings?  

W: It always depends on how the stand-ups are done. I used to attend a quite ‘boring’ one in that sense because it's really just the stand-up - like, people are giving information and onto the next person kind of thing. I mean, we’re all human, right? I think it's always good practice to adapt and be flexible and try to keep the human side of things. 

S: What should People Leaders do to ensure their stand-up meetings are successful? 

W: Stand-ups should be a meeting that your employees look forward to. They should be a time for catching up, but the meeting itself should be short and focused. As a leader, it’s your job to not let the conversation dwell on any particular topic for too long or to let side conversations take over. The last thing you want is for your people to start questioning the time spent in their stand-ups with you and the rest of the team. 

S: What is the ideal cadence of stand-up meetings? 

W: It really does depend on the business and the team. For one of my past teams for example, we started with daily stand-ups but quickly realized that our updates didn’t change that much from one day to the next. So we changed it to two stand-ups per week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On every second Tuesday, we treated our stand-up like a Show and Tell, and everyone on the design team could show the things they’re working on ranging from early sketches to visual designs or anything in between. That team at the time had gotten quite large so it was really important for the rest of the team to see what’s happening across all areas. 

S: In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge with remote stand-up meetings?

W: The biggest challenge is keeping everyone focused and sharing meaningful information within the short amount of time that you have. Thinking more generally about remote meetings though, the lack of in-person interactions like seeing gestures, facial expressions and reactions overall - especially in meetings using a whiteboard - are really hard to compensate for. 

Are you a leader in the remote work space with a perspective on how to build connections with your remote team? Then we want to hear from you! Book time with a Walking Coach here.

Men walking with Spot's mascot


Video meetings kill productivity

Boost your remote team's performance with Spot.