Diary management is an art of juggling people and priorities, relying on quick communication across a spread of people. Remote working can make diary management harder – so here are some crucial solutions to help you navigate around the challenges.
Challenge: handling multiple meeting requests efficiently
People who manage diaries must sit down on a regular basis to go through a myriad of meeting requests and other priorities. It is therefore essential to find an efficient alternative to physically doing this while working remotely. Firstly, create a list of meeting requests and other items for the diary in a document you have live access to – a Google Doc or similar is ideal for this. Outline items in date order and add to it over time, then go through everything. In the meantime, have a standard line you use to reply to everyone requesting meetings, which states when you are next due to review all outstanding diary issues.
Challenge: liaising with stakeholders
If you are organising your manager's diary, getting your manager to agree to regular catch-ups specifically about diary items is the first hurdle. Next is efficiently communicating with everyone else who is requesting your manager’s time. This would usually rely on quick conversations with stakeholders in the office, as well as phone and email communication. It’s crucial to find other efficient mechanisms for communicating with people. Firstly, use tools such as Doodle polls to quickly identify a date and time all participants are available. For communicating with internal stakeholders, tap into technology already available within your company, such as live chat in Microsoft Teams. If there are PAs, EAs and individuals you’re in touch with regularly about your manager’s diary, ask them if it’s ok to call or text them to ask quick questions about availability.
Challenge: ensuring all participants have access to the right technology
Diary management while remote working also brings logistical questions about how meeting participants themselves will communicate when the event comes around. This takes some planning, so decide on your preferred medium as a company and state this clearly as soon as you send out meeting requests. For example, if you use Zoom or Microsoft Teams, send out the meeting link and joining instructions along with the calendar invite. Remember that people will be working from different computers and operating systems – so provide a little extra information about how participants can put all the correct technology in place ahead of the scheduled meeting. Send out reminders in the days leading up to the event too. And finally, standardise how recurring meetings will be run remotely and which technology they will use – then get the information in the diaries of all relevant parties for the next few months.
Challenge: making time for work as well as communicating
When teams work remotely, the number of calls and video conferences increases rapidly. While this is crucial, it’s also important to ensure the right balance of time is left for doing some focused work. There is also a temptation to work longer hours and be available for an extended period while working remotely – it is important to use diary management to separate work time from family time. A good way of doing this is to use colour codes within the diary – distinguishing calls and video conferences, blocks of time for specific pieces of work, and family commitments. Keep an overview of these overarching colour codes to achieve a well-balanced diary.
Diary management for teams who are remote working requires a different way of thinking and making use of new ideas and tools. But efficiency, remote working and diary management can go hand-in-hand if you focus on these key areas.