For years, the vast majority of board meetings took place in person. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and that all changed – quickly.
People switched to remote work for safety reasons, and remote condo board meetings became a whole lot more common.
Condo boards and property managers discovered that virtual meetings offer numerous benefits for better collaboration. Virtual meetings offer more flexibility for people with busy schedules.
Board members can connect conveniently from their own homes, saving time. Planning online board meetings is often simpler compared to organizing in-person gatherings.
While transitioning from in-person to virtual board meetings might seem straightforward, it has proven to be more challenging than anticipated. This has left many boards uncertain about how to effectively conduct virtual meetings.
The good news is, remote board meetings can be more effective and productive than in-person sessions. But it requires careful planning and adherence to best practices.
If you’re unsure about shifting to virtual meetings keep reading this article to learn more about the benefits and drawbacks of virtual board meetings – as well as 5 best practices that will assist you in making a seamless transition.
What Are Virtual Board Meetings?
Condominium board meetings commonly happen every month but can happen even more often.
People want flexibility and don’t want meetings to affect the way they live. The main challenge for condominium boards when attending meetings in person, compared to attending virtually, is the constraint of physical presence.
When the need for physical presence is eliminated, the board of directors can embrace flexibility.
Board members may have busy schedules. Virtual meetings allow for more efficient scheduling since there is no need to find a suitable physical venue and coordinate everyone’s availability. This eliminates potential scheduling conflicts and delays and makes planning a piece of cake. Moreover, industry experts, property managers or minute-takers can attend virtually, making life a lot easier for all.
While virtual format becomes more common among homeowner associations, and condominium boards, before conducting a virtual board meeting, it is crucial to ensure you comply with all rules and regulations. We will discuss this topic in more detail in the upcoming section.
Is It Legal to Hold Virtual Meetings?
If you’re considering hosting a virtual board meeting, you may be wondering about its legality. In most cases, virtual meetings are permitted, but there can be exceptions.
When it comes to regulations regarding virtual board meetings in Canada, it’s important to consult the specific legislation governing condominiums in your province and review the governing documents of your condo.
Each province in Canada has its own Condominium Act or similar legislation that outlines the rules and requirements for condominium corporations.
In general, many provinces in Canada have recognized the need for virtual board meetings. Some provinces, such as Ontario, have explicitly updated their legislation to allow for virtual meetings.
However, it’s crucial to review the Condominium Act or related regulations in your province to understand the specific requirements and restrictions for virtual board meetings in condominiums.
To ensure compliance with the regulations in your province, consult legal professionals experienced in condominium law or refer to resources provided by your local condominium authority or government. They will have the most up-to-date information on the regulations applicable to virtual board meetings in condominiums.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Virtual Meetings
Virtual board meetings in condominiums are becoming the next new normal. But before transitioning to a virtual format, it’s important to consider the advantages and disadvantages it offers.
Benefits of Virtual board meetings
Flexibility: Board members can join the meeting from any location with internet access. This flexibility saves time and makes it easier for all members to participate, irrespective of their location or other commitments.
Better attendance: When board members make a switch to online meetings, they no longer need to commute to a specific location or juggle conflicting schedules. They can simply join the meeting from wherever they are, whether it’s their home, office, or even while travelling. This flexibility allows for increased participation and a higher likelihood of board members attending meetings regularly.
Increasing accessibility: Additionally, virtual meetings provide an inclusive platform for board members who may have physical limitations or mobility issues, enabling their full engagement in the decision-making process.
Better governance: The interactive features of virtual meeting platforms, such as chat functions and shared document collaboration, also enhance engagement and encourage active involvement from all board members. Screen sharing is particularly beneficial when presenting complex information or visual materials. Board members can easily view shared screens, presentations, or documents. This enables more effective discussions and decision-making, as everyone has a visual reference and can follow along seamlessly.
Disadvantages of Virtual board meetings
Difficulties recreating casual interactions: In face-to-face meetings, board members can have spontaneous conversations and informal discussions. However, in virtual meetings, it can be more challenging to have these casual interactions. The structured nature of virtual meetings and reliance on technology often create a more formal and focused atmosphere, which reduces the chances for unplanned conversations.
Technology issues: Anytime technology is involved, there’s a chance things can go wrong. Internet connections can be lost. Or board members may struggle to adopt new virtual meeting technology. If your board needs help with running its first virtual board meeting, providers like CondoVoter can ensure your virtual event goes off without a hitch. Check out the CondoVoter Meeting package that includes hosting, live meeting moderation and support, as well as a practice session for board members.
Potential Distractions: Participants might face distractions from their surroundings, which can impact their focus and engagement. Unrelated sounds coming from someone’s microphone can disrupt the flow of the meeting, so it’s a good idea to establish a rule of muting oneself when not speaking. This helps ensure a smoother and more enjoyable meeting experience for everyone involved.
5 Best Practices for Running a Virtual Board Meeting
Generally, virtual board meetings have more pros than cons. The challenges or drawbacks can often be overcome with the right approach.
Choose the right virtual platform:
The first step to hosting successful virtual board meetings is selecting the right platform. There are numerous options available, each with its own unique features and capabilities. Look for a platform that offers video conferencing, screen sharing, as well as polling and document sharing functionalities. Popular choices include Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet.
Alternatively, you can opt for a virtual meeting provider that will organize your condo board meeting from start to finish.
Run a practice session before the virtual board meeting:
How embarrassing is having to ask “Mike, you need to unmute yourself” every time Mike speaks? Or explain to someone how to stop sharing their screen in the middle of the meeting?
If you aim to have a truly efficient and productive discussion, review the features of your chosen platform beforehand. Schedule a 10-15 minute dry run to get everyone comfortable with the technology and make sure everyone understands how to navigate the meeting interface. It’s well worth the brief time required.
When you organize your condo board meeting with CondoVoter, a dedicated moderator runs a practice session for members. This is a great opportunity to address any technical issues, clarify meeting protocols, and ensure a smooth virtual meeting experience for all participants.
Provide strong facilitation:
Designate a facilitator for the virtual board meeting who will manage the meeting flow, and ensure that all participants have an opportunity to contribute.
Start with reviewing each activity and think about how participants will engage. For example, you can encourage using chat for questions or comments, raising hands to speak, and muting microphones when not speaking. This can help ensure everyone’s voices are heard, not interrupted or talked over.
The facilitator can utilize screen-sharing capabilities to display relevant documents, presentations, or visuals during the meeting, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and facilitating a more interactive and engaging discussion.
At times, the facilitator may need to call on participants, giving each voice an equal chance to be heard.
Consider this example of which digital tools and techniques may be used during a virtual meeting:
Condo board members meet to discuss a proposed renovation project. They kick off by using the chat feature to gather initial feedback, ensuring that every board member’s input is captured. Then, they smoothly transition into a focused dialogue, allowing each member to express their views and concerns. To enhance clarity, the facilitator shares visual renderings of the renovation plans on-screen, inviting more informed feedback.
Test the technology in advance:
Nothing kills a meeting’s momentum like waiting to fix a glitch.
A stable internet connection is the backbone of successful virtual meetings. To avoid disruptions and delays, ensure that you have a reliable and high-speed internet connection. Test your audio or video. Encourage all participants to do the same. If possible, use a wired connection instead of relying on Wi-Fi, as it tends to provide a more stable connection. Remember, a glitch-free meeting leads to a more productive discussion.
Consider fully hosted and moderated virtual meeting services:
Another way to hold virtual board meetings is to opt in for a service provider. Especially in cases when board members are not comfortable with the technology, or making a switch from in-person to virtual meetings, choosing a provider can give a piece of mind.
Virtual meeting providers for condominiums like CondoVoter handle all the technical aspects of the meeting, provide a dedicated moderator, run a practice session, send meeting notices, and more.
This option eases the burden on board members, allowing them to focus on meeting content and decision-making.
Before hosting a virtual board meeting, it’s important to plan carefully and consider a few key factors. Choose a good virtual platform, practice beforehand, have a facilitator who keeps things running smoothly and test the technology in advance.
By following these practices and making the most of virtual platforms and services, you can ensure that your virtual board meetings are productive, inclusive, and hassle-free.
If you’re unsure about running a great virtual meeting, we are here to help. We understand the challenges you may face in transitioning from in-person to remote board meetings. Schedule a free call with our Virtual Meeting Expert to discuss your specific needs and challenges. Our dedicated team is here to help make the switch as smooth as possible.