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Virtual team huddles: How to make them work for your company
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Virtual team huddles: How to make them work for your company

Virtual collaboration can be tough on remote teams. Learn about virtual team huddles and how they can power rewarding remote communications.

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Sometimes, small ideas have big consequences. 

In the 1890s, deaf football player Paul Hubbard invented the team huddle. The aim was to prevent other deaf competitors from understanding plays and strategies that were communicated by sign language¹. 

This simple but effective circular formation changed how teams of all kinds communicate, from sports to business. Why? Because it creates the sense of privacy and trust you need for effective teamwork. 

But the shift to remote work has made it more challenging to achieve that same connectedness and camaraderie among distributed teams. Time zones are varied, schedules are often flexible, and communication is less spontaneous and more async. And then you need a virtual team huddle platform that can replicate the feeling of an in-person huddle.  

Fortunately, a recent World of Work survey2 revealed that remote or hybrid work can actually improve company culture thanks to increased camaraderie between teams on virtual platforms. It also boosts employee confidence in leadership and strengthens teams’ sense of belonging. 

With that in mind, this is a guide to the pros, cons, and best practices of virtual team huddles. By the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll be able to implement effective, productive huddles across your remote or hybrid organization to boost team engagement, alignment, and efficiency.

Want to run more impactful virtual team huddles?
Switchboard creates an immersive and collaborative team experience that rivals being in-person. 
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The link between virtual team huddles and team collaboration 

Like a football coach, it’s a leader’s responsibility to get everyone working together—which can be a challenge for remote teams. That’s why holding daily or weekly virtual huddles gives remote teams an opportunity to: 

  • Check in with each other on projects
  • Engage in real-time communication
  • Host team-building exercises
  • Assess team progress
  • Set targets
  • Align intentions or goals
  • Build camaraderie

By equipping your team with an online workspace that enables effective virtual huddles, you can inspire a more productive remote work environment that boosts team engagement and profits—by as much as 21%.

Screenshot of a virtual team huddle on Switchboard
Virtual team huddles energize remote or hybrid teams and align them around a common goal.
Source: Switchboard

What are the benefits of virtual team huddles?

Just as getting together with friends to throw a ball around is less pressure than the big game, virtual team huddles are very different from top-down meetings. They’re smaller and more informal, so employees are more likely to actively engage and connect with their colleagues, getting real value from the huddle. 

These “safe,” low-pressure spaces help build trust, team cohesion, and a shared sense of purpose, allowing ideas and creativity to flow.

Virtual team huddles also tend to be shorter than regular meetings—typically, 10-15 minutes—so it’s easier to keep everyone engaged and interacting. Some other benefits include: 

  • Building a connection between team members and trust in the team leader 
  • Keeping teams focused on the same goals and priorities
  • Boosting transparency when everyone can see what everyone else is working on 
  • Creating a collaborative space where people can ask for or offer help and suggestions, problem-solve, and crowdsource ideas  
  • A one-stop-shop for essential documents, action items, work-in-progress, or completed tasks  

There are a few downsides, though.

What are the cons of virtual team huddles?

A recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) report found each remote employee attended 60% more remote meetings in 2021 compared to 2020. That means you need to ensure your teams are getting the most out of that time to (hopefully) reduce the overall number of meetings they need to attend and the time they need to spend in them. 

Here’s how to get the most out of a virtual team huddle:  

  • Organize your huddle by writing and sharing an agenda
  • Invite all the relevant participants 
  • Make sure everyone has the opportunity to speak and contribute
  • Keep the huddle and discussions on track, on-time, and on-topic
  • Make sure everyone has the correct meeting link and access to any documents you’ll need  

Virtual team huddle best practices

Fortunately, with the right virtual workspace software and some best practices, you can overcome the challenges of virtual huddles. We’ve put together some virtual team huddle best practices to help you ace team collaboration and create an inclusive company culture. 

1. Use a virtual workspace

The right virtual workspace has multiple benefits for remote teams. Here are just a few of them: 

  • Permanent virtual rooms save time. For example, with Switchboard’s online meeting platform you can meet in rooms that are similar to a physical room in an office. Room URLs always stay the same, which means you don't need to share updated meeting links. 
  • Work anytime with a hostless approach. With Switchboard, room members can join and upload or explore documents, browsers, apps, and multimedia files. This means everyone can participate and get things done, regardless of whether the host is in the room.  
  • Allow work and ideas to flow. Comments, sticky notes, and the chat feature let team members communicate and collaborate between themselves—even when others are talking. This avoids interrupting the flow of the huddle and gives everyone a chance to speak. 
  • Dive right back in. Switchboard rooms automatically save all your documents, files, presentations, apps, and media. This means you’ll never lose work or have to re-populate your workspace again—just pick up where you left off next time.   

2. Keep virtual huddles short

Just as you wouldn’t play an entire game without a break, virtual huddles shouldn’t be allowed to morph into a major meeting. Keep them short, around 10-15 minutes, depending on your team’s size, needs, and the number of talking points. This helps keep everyone on track and engaged. This is especially important for online communication as it can be more taxing than face-to-face meetings.

Pro tip: For organized and non-repetitive huddles, use Switchboard rooms to keep track of all the documents, tasks, projects, or tools you’ve already discussed, so you can effectively build upon your last meeting.
Screenshot of Switchboard Workspaces saving shared files
With Switchboard, you never have to prepare for the same recurring meeting twice.
Source: Switchboard

3. Create a repeatable structure

Just as the coach has set plays, you need a repeatable meeting agenda or template structure so everyone knows what to expect. That way you can model productive online meeting etiquette, make sure everyone is heard, and make good use of your team’s time. Remote teams spend a lot of time in virtual meetings, so you need to make each one count. 

4. Set clear goals in advance 

To better define employee and meeting expectations, set a clear goal for your virtual huddle and make sure everyone knows what that goal is. “Win the Superbowl” is too vague, but “hire a new quarterback before next season“ is specific and measurable. Doing so helps keep everyone on task and ensures that the huddle is valuable for everyone.

5. Create an inclusive virtual space where everyone can talk 

Equal talk time between team members and managers is crucial to keep remote teams connected and supporting each other. This is especially important since 41% of employees have left a job because they didn’t feel listened to. 

6. Encourage regular attendance

Just as a huddle on the football field doesn’t work with only half the team, a virtual huddle needs all team members to attend. If participants can’t be there, ask them to give an update to the team in Slack or email, and share the recording with them as well so they can catch up. This is particularly valuable for distributed teams who are less likely to be able to update each other on the fly in the hallway.

If people are regularly not showing up to your huddles, take note. Maybe the huddles aren’t providing value, or the time makes it hard for them to attend. 

7. Make sure content is easy to share online 

Today, remote or hybrid teams need to collaborate on documents in real time. For effective virtual team huddles, you need to make meeting content, like docs and apps, available to everyone. 

Pro tip: Use Switchboard rooms to upload important team documents, web apps, files, images, PDFs, and videos for an interactive virtual team huddle. Access to shared content gives everyone the same amount of context during each meeting and boosts team participation.
Screenshot of Switchboard rooms giving remote teams multiple uploading options
Switchboard keeps teams aligned through interactive file sharing and collaboration.
 Source: Switchboard

Virtual team huddle don’ts 

Now that you know what to do to ensure a successful virtual team huddle, let’s take a look at what not to do.

Invite too many people

The point of a virtual team huddle is exactly that: to quickly interact and engage with your team. With that in mind, don’t invite anyone who isn’t directly involved with or part of your team.

Go off-topic

Virtual team huddles are shorter and less comprehensive than other meetings, but going off-topic makes it hard to get back on track. Stick to the agenda as much as possible. If necessary, budget in a minute or two for quick comments and team back and forth. 

Allow one person to dominate

Everyone wants to score the winning touchdown, but the reality is that no game is won by a single player. Virtual team huddles are all about sharing the floor. That means it’s bad practice to let one person take over the meeting—even if they’re the team leader.

Pro tip: Use Switchboard to create an inclusive multiplayer experience across virtual huddles and team meetings where anyone can present—and prevent one person from taking over the meeting.
Screenshot of Switchboard Room hosting a virtual team huddle
Switchboard gives everyone the ability to contribute equally.
Source: Switchboard

Running remote team huddles with Switchboard

Many remote teams struggle to figure out the best way to run collaborative, inclusive team huddles. 

Fortunately, Switchboard can be your team’s virtual office and provides an easy way to run effective team huddles. Here’s how: 

1. Create a free Switchboard account.

To get started: 

  • Sign up for a free account with an email address or Google login.
  • Name your workspace—this is where all of your rooms will be stored–and take a quick onboarding tour if you’d like.
Screenshot of Switchboard virtualScreenshot of Switchboard virtual workspace workspace
Switchboard makes it easy to start collaborating on projects.
Source: Switchboard

2. Create a few rooms. 

Create huddle rooms for recurring meetings, like weekly team meetings and or project check-ins. Be sure to make each huddle room name unique for each team: Product team, Engineering team, Operations team, etc. 

Pro tip: 1:1 huddle rooms are automatically created for anyone you invite to the space.
Screenshot of Switchboard’s web page for naming your room
Switchboard lets you pick a unique name to identify each room in your workspace.
Source: Switchboard

3. Invite teammates.

Invite people from inside and outside your company to join your huddle room by entering their emails. You can also copy the invite link and send it to team members. Workspace members can access any public huddle. You’ll also have the option to invite people to individual huddle rooms.

Popup for inviting people to your Switchboard workspace.
Invite people to join your workspace and get access to all your public rooms.
Source: Switchboard

4. Start using Switchboard rooms.

Drag, drop, and collaborate on important documents, files, PDFs, images, apps, etc. Everything you add to your rooms can be viewed side-by-side and instantly becomes multiplayer.

Screenshot of Switchboard Room with multiple documents and web browsers open
Switchboard lets remote teams work on the same project and files during video calls.
Source: Switchboard 

Virtual huddles: Unite your remote teams and boost productivity

Team huddles help build trust and boost collaboration—both on the football field and in the office. 

But it’s not always easy to replicate the feeling of an in-person huddle with remote teams. This is because online communication across different time zones is more async and less spontaneous.  

To achieve the same feeling of intimacy, connectedness, and camaraderie, start by following our virtual huddle best practices. Then, think about how to adapt your huddles to the specific needs and challenges of your team. 

We’re obviously biased, but we think the best way to create the feeling of being in the same room is to run virtual huddles in a Switchboard room. It lets everyone easily join, share, and collaborate side by side on multiple documents, apps, and browsers—even without a host present. What’s more, everything is saved at the end of a session so you can pick up next time where you left off. 

All this makes for a more cohesive, productive team that’s fired up and ready to go out and score the winning touchdown—every single time.

Want to run more impactful virtual team huddles?
Switchboard creates an immersive and collaborative team experience that rivals being in-person. 
Sign up

Frequently asked questions about virtual team huddles 

What are virtual team huddles?

Virtual team huddles are quick daily or weekly check-in meetings that help remote employees build a sense of community and boost employee engagement. They help remote teams replicate the benefits and feeling of face-to-face meetings. For example, by improving teamwork, relationships, and community-building. They also act as a forum for distributed teams to tackle: 

  • Team or company initiatives 
  • Problems and solutions 
  • Progress check-ins 
  • Daily or weekly tasks 
  • Workflow management 

How do you do a virtual team huddle?

To do a virtual team huddle, you need to pick a recurring time, prepare all your materials beforehand, and select the right virtual huddle platform. Tools like Switchboard go beyond traditional video conference software by letting you:

  • Share and collaborate on important team documents within your video call 
  • Save time by automatically saving your meeting history and files
  • Improve the quality of your workday through spontaneous communication 
  • Improve productivity metrics by helping your team build relationships 

What should be on a team huddle’s agenda?

Your virtual team huddle’s agenda should include: 

  • Daily or weekly check-ins with teammates
  • Assessing team progress 
  • Going over team targets or goals

The agenda will also depend on the time and purpose of the huddle. For example, if you’re hosting a virtual huddle every morning, your talking points will be more specific to hitting that day’s targets. On the other hand, a weekly team huddle meeting might have a broader agenda and include topics like: 

  • Weekly goals 
  • Company values 
  • Team accomplishments or setbacks 
  • Monthly targets 

How do I make my team huddles more effective?

To make your team huddles more effective, it’s a good idea to get everyone in the same virtual workspace. Switchboard room urls are always the same, so you never have to send an updated meeting link for your virtual team huddle or add the documents or apps you use each time. 

How often should I have team huddles?

The frequency of your virtual team huddles depends on your team’s needs, size, and focus. Typically, virtual team huddles are held at the start of each day or week. 

What are some tips for running team huddles?

To run a successful virtual team huddle, it’s important to:

  • Keep huddles short 
  • Create a repeatable structure 
  • Set a clear goal prior to getting everything together
  • Include all participants and give them the same amount of time to talk 
  • Encourage regular attendance 
  • Make sure content is easy to share 
  • Use a virtual huddle platform that allows for simultaneous work and collaboration

Stop, collaborate, and listen

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Want to run more impactful virtual team huddles?

Switchboard creates an immersive and collaborative team experience that rivals being in-person.