What started as a way to be mindful of the time spent creating and consuming, our design team’s Weekly Standup Meetings have become a consistent framework to engage with creativity – asynchronously.
Weekly Standup Meetings are a staple in most startups, corporate companies, and software teams. But as your team grows, how are you supposed to keep them under twenty minutes? Our design team struggled with this too.
While we loved the benefits of Weekly Standup Meetings, we noticed this format wasn’t going to scale well as our team grew. So, we got creative. First, we looked at best practices. Then we took it one step further, the Loom way, and went asynchronous.
Before we dive into how and why our design team made our Weekly Standup Meetings asynchronous, let’s cover the basics. What does a traditional Daily Standup Meeting look like, and why would you want to have one?
What is a Weekly Standup Meeting?
A Weekly Standup Meeting is a short recurring team meeting geared toward weekly updates. It’s named a Standup because, originally, the entire team physically stands up in a conference room for the duration of the meeting.
The discomfort of standing for prolonged periods of time is used as a tool to keep meetings short. Since more teams are made up of remote employees, many people attend virtual meetings via a video conferencing app and don’t stand during the meeting.
Standup Meetings originated in software development methodologies – think agile teams, daily scrum meetings, and Kanban board meetings – but quickly permeated corporate culture in other departments. Originally, Standup Meetings were suggested to be daily occurrences led by the scrum master, but most teams find that weekly meetings suffice. These days, you can think of Standups like a team huddle or status meeting.
What is the Purpose of a Weekly Standup Meeting?
The purpose of Weekly Standup Meetings is to get teams aligned. Standup Meetings are meant to be brief and focused. The average Standup Meeting lasts about 13 minutes. They usually cover the previous week’s progress, what to expect from the week ahead, and any concerns about current project management.
Benefits of Weekly Standup Meetings
Bad meetings can ruin anyone’s momentum. But effective Standup Meetings are different. They have many benefits if you run them right. Before we tell you about the best way to run Weekly Standup meetings, let’s cover a few benefits here.
There is no better way to build trust than fostering transparency. Whether that’s clear updates on progress or honesty about your team’s workload, you’ll want to get the information straight from the source with all of the useful physical communication cues – on video or in person. Weekly Standup Meetings hold everyone accountable and create a space for team members to get the support they need.
Encourages Team Building
Team cohesion and shared commitment are noticeably increased when Weekly Standup Meetings are implemented. Meeting regularly in this way also leads to better coordination of team interactions. Team members are more willing to make mutual adjustments when they communicate regularly.
Fosters Knowledge Sharing
Meeting weekly encourages a knowledge-sharing culture. While we always recommend you have a central virtual location for your organization’s knowledge, it’s also essential to put that culture into practice, too. Excellent workplace communications increase everyone’s awareness of what other team members are doing, keeping projects on track.
In terms of productivity, this might be the most beneficial aspect of Weekly Standup Meetings. Problems are identified quickly and discussed or resolved during the meeting or the following week.
Weekly Standup Meeting Best Practices
Weekly Standup Meetings don’t need to be complicated. In fact, it’s best if they’re short and simple. While you may think you know how to run a Standup Meeting, here are a few ways to improve your Weekly Standup Meetings.
Appoint a Leader
With a leader, meetings can stay on track. Weekly Standup Meetings are often led by the defacto team leader. But some teams struggle with having the same facilitator every week. You may consider how shared leadership can empower a team and foster trust, cohesion, and commitment. This might look like appointing a different leader each week.
Have a Clearly Defined Purpose
One of the biggest complaints from Standup attendees is that the information shared isn’t always relevant. Without a clear purpose, it’s hard to avoid getting off track. To keep the meeting relevant and focused, establish a goal beforehand.
Circulate an Agenda
Once you’ve clearly defined your purpose, create a meeting agenda and distribute it to the whole team before the meeting. A Standup Meeting agenda can help keep everyone focused, and you can even use them asynchronously.
Your meeting template might include a list of projects or sprints that you’re looking for updates on, which team members need to share, goals for the week, and any blockers that need to be discussed during the meeting. Leave the roadblock identification and problem-solving for the end of the meeting so that anyone who isn’t involved with the problem can leave. Keep it to three items or less, if possible.
Most teams agree that there are three standard standup questions. Only three points need to be addressed in a Standup Meeting.
What was done last week?
What is happening this week?
What are the team’s blocks or challenges?
When meetings stray from these three main points, attendees tend to feel like the meeting was a waste of time. You can use these questions to create a meeting agenda template.
Keep Updates Short
Concise and focused updates are the priority. Save time by focusing on the future rather than what happened last week. They leave room for quick problem-solving at the end of the meeting and keep everyone on track. While it’s tempting to problem-solve during the Standup meeting, traditionally, this is not the purpose of the meeting.
The meeting’s only goal is to answer the three questions above, and problem-solving can eat up time. However, most attendees cited this as the most valuable aspect of Standup meetings. So, it’s important to keep it brief.
Adhere to a Schedule
The time and day matter in any given working day. Many teams hold their Standup Meetings at 10 am on Mondays. But it’s essential to find the least disruptive time so your employees don’t have to switch contexts. Some studies suggest that right before or after lunch is best. This decreases the number of interruptions in employees’ workflows. Pick a consistent day and time for Standup Meetings to occur every week.
Follow Up (on action items)
If a roadblock did come up in the meeting, whether you made decisions during the meeting or not, don’t forget to check-in. While you may have made strides to solve the problem during the meeting, you’re going to want to make sure the issue is resolved either through Slack during the week or at your next Standup meeting.
Why We Switched to Asynchronous Weekly Standup Meetings
As many knowledge workers will tell you, Standup Meetings are primarily used to share status information. Does everyone on your team need to drop what they’re doing for status updates that may or may not be relevant to them?
Often, this information can be shared more efficiently asynchronously. This is especially relevant if your distributed team is larger or in different time zones. Loom’s design team has taken a different approach to Weekly Standup Meetings with asynchronous integrations
Our design team is too big and distributed for real-time standups.
Weekly Standup Meetings don’t scale well on a growing team. If each member of the entire design team gets five minutes to chat through the week’s tasks, impediments, and share updates with a follow-up question or two –– we're looking at a meeting no one is interested in attending.
We’ve flipped the script and transitioned to an Asynchronous Weekly Standup Meeting with our larger brand design and product design teams. Every Monday, each person on our design team records a brief, 1-3 minute Loom peppered with the highlights of what they’re working on that week.
We collaborate more efficiently and creatively with Asynchronous Weekly Standup Meetings.
Our weekly standups have shifted the way the design team collaborates asynchronously for the better. These updates spark cross-functional curiosity, lead to more frequent, collaborative communication, and create opportunities for the wider design team to work together.
Our team’s productivity is no longer reduced at the beginning of the week because our Monday isn’t broken up by meetings. Nothing kills productivity quite like context switching. On average, it takes us 23 minutes to redirect our attention after a meeting or distraction.
Asynchronous Weekly Standup Meetings brought our team closer together.
Without these distractions or the pressure of keeping our meeting strictly focused on Zoom, we were able to get creative. We all realized this was an opportunity to embrace the weird 🌀, have fun, and express ourselves.
Our team is closer than ever. We love making our standups goofy but productive, showing our personalities. They’re now an integral part of our design team culture. They’re crucial to maintaining a connection and getting to know your coworkers, and asynchronous communication makes this possible.