The age of remote work: A complete guide to online one-on-one meetings

Learn how to run an effective online one-on-one meeting with our comprehensive guide and practical tips, ensuring better communication and productivity for managers and employees.

A person having a productive online one-on-one meeting.

Ever miss the good old days when you could simply walk over to your colleague's desk for a quick chat? Times have changed, and so has the way we conduct one-on-one meetings. In the age of remote work, online one-on-one meetings have become the new norm. They're your go-to for meaningful conversations, problem-solving, and relationship-building with team members. In this article, we'll guide you through setting up and executing online one-on-ones that are as effective as their in-person counterparts.

Crafting a shared agenda for your one-on-one meeting

Traditional meetings often have a top-down agenda, but one-on-one meetings are a different ballgame. In this setting, both parties have the freedom and should feel encouraged to contribute to the agenda. This makes the meeting not just a venue for updates but a space for real, two-sided conversation and problem-solving.

Team effort

When setting up the agenda, open the floor for both participants to add topics they'd like to discuss. This makes the meeting agenda a shared resource that guides a balanced and meaningful dialogue. It turns the one-on-one from a possible monologue into a true conversation.

Share ahead of time

Don't wait until the last minute to finalize the agenda. Share it ahead of the meeting so both you and your meeting partner can contribute any last-minute items and come prepared. This sets up the meeting for a more dynamic, engaged conversation where both parties are equally involved.


Along with listing topics, it's beneficial to prioritize them and allocate a specific amount of time for each. This ensures that key issues are addressed and keeps the meeting focused and efficient. It also allows both parties to manage their expectations and prepare accordingly.

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Engaging and effective communication during the meeting

Here are some useful tips which can help your meeting run smoothly and effectively:

Active listening

It's not just about being quiet when someone else is speaking; it's about being genuinely interested and responsive to what the other person is saying. One trick to show you're engaged is to paraphrase or summarize what you've heard to confirm your understanding.

Value feedback

Both offering and receiving constructive feedback can lead to actionable solutions. An open feedback loop fosters a culture of continuous improvement, ensuring that both parties are aligned and working towards common goals.

Solve problems together

When you come across challenges during your one-on-one meeting, it's crucial to view them as opportunities rather than roadblocks. Tackling these issues should be a collaborative effort. Remember, two heads are better than one when it comes to problem-solving. When both parties contribute their unique perspectives and skills, solutions are not only easier to find but are often more effective and comprehensive.
This collaborative mindset enriches the quality of the meeting and fosters a genuine sense of partnership.

Setting expectations and goals

Think of your one-on-one meeting as more than just a status update or casual catch-up; view it as a pivotal moment to align expectations and opportunity to set goals. Let's delve into how you can do just that:


One of the primary purposes of a one-on-one meeting is to establish a shared understanding of what needs to be accomplished. Make sure both you and your meeting partner are crystal clear about tasks, responsibilities, and upcoming deadlines. This goes beyond just listing off tasks; it's about ensuring that each person knows their role in the larger project or objective.

Be realistic

While ambition is a driving force for success, it's essential to tether your aspirations to reality. When discussing targets and objectives, make sure they are achievable given the timeframe, resources, and existing commitments.

Provide support for your team

Offering the right resources and tools is pivotal for turning the goals discussed into tangible results. Make sure your team has access to the software, training, or information they need to hit the objectives you've laid out.

Following up after the meeting

What happens when a meeting concludes without any follow-up action? Essentially, it becomes a missed opportunity—a conversation that may have been productive in the moment, but loses its impact because nothing concrete comes out of it. Without actionable next steps and a clear plan for tracking them, even the most well-intentioned meetings risk becoming mere talk, lacking the staying power to effect meaningful change.

  • Wrap it up: send a recap email summarizing the points discussed. Better still, keep your meeting notes in a Craft document so your team can easily review what was discussed.
  • Track it: assign and track action items to make sure everyone's on the same page. You can achieve this either with a straightforward To-Do list or by utilizing a specific task management tool.
  • Keep the momentum: don't forget to schedule the next meeting. Consistency is key to progress.

Best practices for continued improvement

Just like mastering any skill, getting the most out of your online one-on-one meetings requires ongoing practice, assessment, and refinement. Regularly evaluating the quality and effectiveness of these interactions not only leads to better conversations but also allows for a more supportive and productive work environment.

  • Seek feedback: after your meetings, make it a point to seek feedback from your team members. Not only does this provide you with invaluable insights, but it also fosters a culture of open communication and continuous improvement.
  • Adapt and evolve: the beauty of one-on-one meetings is that they're not one-size-fits-all. Be open to experimenting with different formats, be it structured agendas or more freestyle catch-ups. Each individual you meet with may have unique needs or preferences, so being flexible in your approach can lead to more productive discussions.
  • Document insights: make it a habit to jot down key takeaways and agreed-upon action items as soon as the meeting ends. This ensures nothing falls through the cracks and serves as a useful reference for future discussions.
  • Use time wisely: consider implementing time limits for each agenda item. This keeps the conversation focused and ensures that all important topics are covered.
  • Be consistent: while flexibility is crucial, maintaining some level of consistency in the timing, format, and follow-through of your one-on-ones sets a standard and builds a helpful routine.
  • Train for improvement: attend workshops or webinars focused on improving communication and leadership skills. The new techniques you learn can be applied to make your one-on-one meetings even more effective.
  • Virtual team-building: if your one-on-ones are online, try to incorporate small team-building exercises or ice-breakers. It can make virtual interactions more personal and engaging.


Though they take place in a digital realm, online one-on-one meetings can be every bit as impactful as their in-person counterparts. From optimizing your virtual environment to an ongoing commitment to refining your approach, you're well-equipped to excel in these remote interactions. Apply these proven strategies and make your next online one-on-one a pivotal moment for progress and collaboration.

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