Remote Board Members: Pros & Cons

The distributed workforce model is more popular than ever, with numerous companies allowing their workers to telecommute either part- or full-time. However, with new technology, board and committee meetings can now be held remotely as well. But is it the right solution for your organization? Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons.

Benefits of Remote Board Members

  • Increased attendance – Remote board meetings help to ensure everyone can make it to the meeting. At the very least, having the option increases the likelihood of participation. Board members have busy professional and personal lives, and allowing them to occasionally attend remotely will certainly help with quorum.
  • Greater board member diversity – With the capacity for people from other parts of the country or world to attend the meeting, the board has enhanced diversity. A wide variety of insights and points of view at the meetings benefits the organization. (RELATED: Improve Board Member Diversity)

remote board member

Potential Downsides of Remote Board Members

  • Information security issues – If the meeting is private, the use of technology could pose a risk to proprietary and confidential information. As long as your organization’s security protocols are current, the information transmitted is likely to stay secure.
  • Reduced Engagement – Some of the nuances of interaction could be lost during meetings held remotely. However, some believe meetings with video streaming has a focusing effect on interactions. In many cases, users adapt quickly to the format.

RELATED: Board Meeting Agenda Best Practices Webinar

A fear of reduced engagement and board member synergy is probably the biggest misgiving our potential clients have about remote board members. However, there are some effective ways to help optimize the meetings and ensure everyone stays engaged. These include:

  1. Always Use Video Conferencing. While speaker phone is an option for remote board meetings, using video conferencing enhances and personalizes the experience for everyone involved. There are now great tools like Google Hangouts or Zoom Video Conferencing that make this easy for even large groups.
  2. Minimum In-Person Attendance. Organizations can designate required in-person meetings for all board members to establish and maintain rapport. This could include a volunteering commitment, networking events, conferences, or any opportunity to have board members physically together. A minimum of in-person attendees and maximum remote board members for each meeting is also advisable.
  3. In-Person Board Retreat. Once per year, consider having an extended meeting or retreat for board members. This will allow everyone to connect on a more personal level and build on the momentum created at past meetings. Casual conversations and brainstorming are a great way to solve problems, too. (RELATED: Goal: Board Member Motivation )

To Go Remote, or Not to Go Remote?

Board members often donate their time and energy, especially in the case of nonprofit organizations. Corporate board members may be extremely busy fulfilling their obligations as executives or employees of the company. The option of remote board meetings for any type of organization can help to optimize the experience for everyone involved. Consider weighing these pros and cons to decide if it is a good option for your organization.

Interested in how to make your board of directors more productive through the effective use of technology? Boardable is a software platform that centralizes all communication between you and your board. Find the best meeting times, securely store all of your documents, archive discussion threads and more. All in one place. Click below to schedule a demo with a member of our Boardable team.

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