EOM01 Effective Online Meetings

About this course

This course is on how online meetings can be effective. It shows how you can plan, manage and follow up on online meetings to ensure that they achieve their objectives.

We use meetings to share information and discuss and agree on issues. Sometimes meetings online work well and objectives are met. However, other times they do not, and objectives are not achieved.

This course builds online meeting design and management capabilities that avoid some of the traps that result in ineffective meetings to ensure that time spent in meetings is effectively used and productive.

What this course offers

Taking the course will enable you to understand more about online meetings and develop skills,  knowledge and processes that will enable you to become more capable of running effective online meetings.

What you will learn 

The course addresses the following topics.

1. What is an effective online meeting?

This describes different types of meetings in terms of their purpose. It shows how the objectives of meetings need to be understood in order to have an effective meeting. An effective meeting achieves the objectives set for it.

2. How do you plan for effective online meetings?

Once the objectives for the meeting are understood, meetings can be planned to achieve these objectives. Meeting structure and timing can be designed to ensure meeting activities such as the sharing of information, discussion, and agreement, and can be organised in a way that ensures that objectives are achieved.

3.  How do you manage effective online meetings?

Following the agenda of the meeting and achieving the objectives of a meeting requires the meeting to guided by a chairperson. This is a skilled activity that needs to work with participants and respond to dynamics of the meeting to ensure that objectives are met.

4.  How do you follow up on effective online meetings?

Good meetings can be a waste of time if no minutes are taken and shared, as people soon forget what was discussed and agreed. Therefore, following up with participants after meetings is an important way of ensuring that the meeting achieves change beyond the discussions at the meeting.

5. Are there tools and guides you can use for effective online meetings?

Agenda and minute templates and checklists help ensure meetings are effective, as they ensure all of the key issues are addressed and not accidentally omitted. By avoiding ‘reinventing the wheel’ they also save time and allow meeting organisers to be more effective.

How you will learn

The course is online and you will be able to access the following resources

  • Course presentation
  • Course book
  • Course quiz
  • Templates and guides
  • Course work
  • Additional reading

The course is self-paced and you can work through the material in your own time. Course numbers are capped, so the length of access to courses will be limited to provide access to new participants. However, we aim to provide access for at least 1 month.

Course certificate

A course certificate can be provided should you wish to receive formal confirmation of your successful completion of the course. For this, you must download and apply tools and guides provided and submit coursework. This will be reviewed by the Course Instructor and, where requirements are met, a course certificate will be issued.

What do I need to attend the course?

You will need access to the Internet and a Gmail account with a password to access the course.  

Who developed the course?

The course was developed by Instructors who have designed and run management and technical courses for the United Nations, government departments, universities, professional bodies and community organisations.   

Accessing the course, course books, tools and guides

Access to the course enables you to view the presentations, the course book, tools and guides, the additional reading, the coursework and take the quiz. Please contact us with your Gmail address and the course you would like to attend here.

Course books, tools and guides can be viewed online during the course. If you would like to download and use these, these can be accessed through the shop.

Effective Online Meetings

Most of us have experienced meetings that work well. We are all in the same room, the organiser is well prepared, there is a clear agenda and meeting follows this and achieves its objectives. The benefits of these meetings are well known and have been shared in articles such as:

However, as a result of Lockdowns many people now increasingly rely on online meetings using Zoom, Meet, Skype and Team. Guidance is limited and often these type of meetings do not work as well as they could.

To address this Gauge Capability is developing the new EOM01 Effective Online Meetings course. This covers the following topics:   

  • What is an effective online meeting?                                        
  • How do you plan for effective online meetings?
  • How do you manage effective online meetings?
  • How do you follow up on effective online meetings?
  • Are there tools and guides you can use for effective online meetings?

For further information on the course and free previews of the material, please drop us an email and sign up to the Gauge newsletter.

How do I manage my workplace – during COVID-19?‎

The World Health Organisation and Centre for Communicable Disease have developed good guidelines on Coronavirus (COVID-19) and what to do to avoid spreading it. As Lockdowns end, it is important to draw on these to prepare and manage workplaces for employees who return to work.

The main way the virus is thought to spread is from person-to-person. When an infected person coughs or sneezes respiratory droplets are produced. These airborne droplets can be inhaled by people nearby. This happens when people are close together. Under experimental conditions, the virus has been found to remain viable in the air for three hours.

Infections are also thought to happen when droplets land on surfaces which are then touched by people who infect themselves by touching their mouth and nose. It is thought the virus can survive 2-3 days on plastic and stainless steel surfaces and up to 1 day on porous surfaces such as cardboard. Given these methods of infection, how can the spread be reduced in and around buildings?

Personal habits

The most effective way of reducing the spread is by changing personal habits.  Washing hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds, or if this is not available using an alcohol-based hand rub, kills and removes viruses that may be on your hands. Maintaining a physical distance from other people of at least 1.5 metre also helps reduce the likelihood of inhaling droplets.

Reduce the need to visit buildings

Using the internet and telephones to deliver services reduces the need to visit buildings. Many government and private sector services can be delivered through well-designed interactive websites and free-call telephone services. This reduces the need for people to visit buildings and interact with people in the building or on the way there, reducing the risk of infection.

Travelling to and from buildings

 Walking, cycling, using a motorbike, or lifts and carpools with no more than 2 people can be used to travel to buildings in a way that limits exposure to other people. If public transport has to be used, travelling at non-peak times and maintaining a distance of 1.5m away from the next person can be used to reduce the risk of infection. 

Entrances

Leaving front doors open or having automatic doors reduces the need to touch door handles. Avoiding sign-in books and access control procedures that require surfaces to be touched reduces the need to touch surfaces which may have the virus on them. Making provision for people to wash their hands or use a hand sanitiser near the entrance helps to reduce the risk that people bring the virus into the building. 

Reception and waiting areas

Marking the floor 1.5m away from the receptionist and providing signage can help to ensure that people maintain a safe distance from the receptionist while interacting with them.  Within waiting areas, numbers of people should be limited and arrangements made to ensure that they wait at least 1.5m apart. Over flows should be catered through seating outside or in other space that is also at least 1.5 m apart.

Work and workspaces

Where it is possible and safe, employees should be encouraged to work from home. If this is not possible, spaces, and furniture and equipment layouts should be rearranged to maintain 1.5m between people. As much ventilation as possible should be provided by opening windows and doors. Air conditioners should be set to maximise the circulation of external fresh air and the recirculation of air should be avoided. Good ventilation dilutes the concentrations of airborne droplets and can help reduce infections.

Meetings and meeting spaces

Where possible, physical meetings should be avoided and replaced with teleconferences, Skype, Hangout, Zoom or similar virtual meetings. If physical meetings are necessary, participants should be limited and a space of at least 1.5m between people should be maintained. Walking meetings, where participants discuss issues while maintaining a safe distance apart, is also a possibility. These measures help to reduce infections by reducing physical proximity as well as through the dilution effect of being in the open air. 

Bathrooms

Bathrooms should have soap and working wash-hand basins. Signage should be provided that shows how hands can be washed thoroughly, including indicating this should take at least 20 seconds.  A schedule should be put in place to ensure that surfaces such as door handles, taps, locks and flush handles are cleaned regularly. This helps to ensure hands and surfaces are clean to reduce the risk of infection.

Surfaces

There are many surfaces in buildings like counters, stair rails, light and lift switches and shared equipment such as telephones and keyboards that are touched constantly. These should be cleaned regularly to reduce the risk of these having viruses on them which are passed between people.

Cleaning

Standard cleaning and disinfecting practices are sufficient to remove or kill the Coronavirus. Therefore, all surfaces that are touched regularly should be cleaned. Household cleaners and disinfectants that are appropriate for the surface can be used. Instructions on the labels should be followed.  Gloves should be worn and there should be good ventilation during cleaning.  Cleaning should be regular and will vary depending on the amount of traffic and use.

These measures will help building users, building owners and facilities managers make their building safer and reduce the risk of built environments causing infections.

Further information can be accessed from here:

World Health Organisation

Centre for Communicable Disease

A copy of a presentation on this article is available here.

SBA01 Sustainable Building Assessment Tool (SBAT)

About this course

This course is about using the Sustainable Building Assessment Tool to assess and improve the sustainability performance of residential buildings, such as houses and apartments, and their immediate neighbourhoods.

The Sustainable Building Assessment Tool supports an integrated and responsive approach to achieving high sustainability performance in buildings. The tool is based on a holistic approach to addressing sustainability and includes social, economic and environmental criteria. It is easy and low-cost to use and is particularly suitable for developing country applications.

What this course offers

The course will show you how you can use the SBAT to assess designs and buildings to improve their sustainability performance. It also shows you how to follow a standardised methodology and protocols in order to carry out accurate assessments. The course also shows how data can be collated for sustainability reports and to enable self-assessments to be validated.

What you will learn

The course covers the following topics.

1. What is sustainability?

In order to address sustainability in buildings, it is important to understand what this means for buildings. The course describes sustainability and shows how it relates to global climate change and sustainable development commitments. It presents a practical working definition of sustainability which enables this to be effectively addressed and integrated into the planning, design, construction, operation and demolition of buildings.

2. How do you measure environmental sustainability performance in buildings?

The Sustainable Building Assessment Tool measures environmental sustainability performance in buildings using 5 criteria. These are Energy, Water, Waste, Materials and Biocapacity. For each of these, building performance objectives are defined and descriptions of criteria used to measure performance are provided. Standardised measuring and reporting protocols used to capture performance in the SBAT and validation documentation are also described.

 3. How do you measure economic sustainability performance in buildings?

The Sustainable Building Assessment Tool measures environmental sustainability performance in buildings using 5 criteria. These are Transport, Resource Use, Management and Local Economy. For each of these, building performance objectives are defined and descriptions of criteria used to measure performance are provided. Standardised measuring and reporting protocols used to capture performance in the SBAT and validation documentation are also described.

 4. How do you measure social sustainability performance in buildings?

The Sustainable Building Assessment Tool measures social sustainability performance in buildings using 5 criteria. These are Access, Health, Education, Inclusion and Social Cohesion. For each of these, building performance objectives are defined and descriptions of criteria used to measure performance are provided. Standardised measuring and reporting protocols used to capture performance in the SBAT and in validation documentation are also described.

5. Are there tools and guides that can be used to support assessments and project development?

The course provides access to the SBAT Residential tool and a manual on how to apply it. The tool and manual provide a valuable framework that can be used to structure how sustainability is addressed in buildings and designs.

How you will learn

The course is online and you will be able to access the following resources

  • Course presentation
  • Course book
  • Course quiz
  • Templates and guides
  • Course work
  • Additional reading

The course is self-paced and you can work through the material in your own time. Course numbers are capped, so the length of access to courses will be limited to provide access to new participants. However, we aim to provide access for at least 1 month.

Course certificate

A course certificate can be provided should you wish to receive formal confirmation of your successful completion of the course. For this, you must download and apply tools and guides provided and submit coursework. This will be reviewed by the Course Instructor and, where requirements are met, a course certificate will be issued.

What do I need to attend the course?

You will need access to the Internet and a Gmail account with a password to access the course.  

Who developed the course?

The course was developed by Instructors who have designed and run management and technical courses for the United Nations, government departments, universities, professional bodies and community organisations.   

Accessing the course, course books, tools and guides

Access to the course enables you to view the presentations, the course book, tools and guides, the additional reading, the coursework and take the quiz. Please contact us with your Gmail address and the course you would like to attend here.

Course books, tools and guides can be viewed online during the course. If you would like to download and use these, these can be accessed through the shop.

Five principles of effective school finance systems

Many schools do not have effective school finance systems.

This means that Schools Management Teams (SMTs) do not have accurate up-to-date financial information and are therefore not able to manage finances effectively.

It also means that School Governing Bodies (SGBs) are not provided with reports, so cannot monitor school finances and play an oversight role.

The School Finance Tracker (SFT) addresses this by providing a simple tool that can be used by school financial staff to capture income and expenses and provide monthly reports to SMTs and SGBs which enable them to carry out their functions and operate effectively.

The SFT is based on the following five principles.

  1. All school income and expenses are captured and logged against defined codes regularly.
  2. Logged income and expense data is used to generate monthly reports which are used by school management and the governing body to check the financial status of the school.
  3. Annual statements based on monthly statements are prepared to report on the financial status of the school and shared with parents and stakeholders.
  4. Annual budgets based on actual logged income and expense data and projections are prepared.
  5. Effective systems are in place to track actual income and expenditure against budgeted income and expenses and where there are deviations remedial action is taken to maintain the financial sustainability of the school.

The School Finance Tracker tool and a short course on its application are available. Contact us for more information.

Effective school financial tracking for SMTs and SGBs

In many schools, financial systems do not work well and the following problems are experienced:

  • Schools do not know whether the income they have received to date is above or below what has been budgeted for.
  • Schools do not know whether expenses being incurred are within budget or exceed this.
  • Schools do not know whether there is a problem with parent’s paying fees and there is a downward trend until this is too late.
  • Accurate, up-to-date data in a user-friendly format is not available for School Management Teams (SMTs) and School Governing Bodies (SGBs).
  • A lack of current data means that SMTs cannot effectively manage finances and SGB’s can not provide financial oversight.

The School Finance Tracker (SFT) aims to address this situation by enabling school finance staff to capture income and expenses at the schools to generate reports that provide a clear indication of the school’s financial status.

The SFT generate the following tables and graphs:

  • Actual income against budgeted income
  • Actual expenses against budgeted expenses
  • Actual income, expenditure and margin

These reports can be produced on a monthly basis and shared with the School Management Team and the School Governing Body.

Clear tables and graphs in the SFT report enable school finances to be readily understood and problems picked up early and dealt with.

The SFT is a, therefore, a valuable tool in helping ensure that a school is financially sustainable and makes prudent use of the funding provided to it by parents, government and other parties.

The School Finance Tracker tool and a short course on its application are available. Contact us for more information.

The School Finance Tracker

school accounts

Effective budgeting and financial systems are essential for schools.

Accurate budgets for income and expenditure need to established based on actual and projected costs. Effective systems then need to be in place to ensure that actual income and expenses align with the budget.

In many schools, financial systems do not work well and the following problems are experienced:

  • Schools do not know whether the income they have received to date is above or below what has been budgeted for.
  • Schools do not know whether expenses being incurred are within budget or exceed this.
  • Schools do not know whether there is a problem with parent’s paying fees and there is a downward trend until this is too late.
  • Accurate, up-to-date data in a user-friendly format is not available for School Management Teams (SMTs) and School Governing Bodies (SGBs). This means that the SMT cannot effectively manage finances and the SGB can not provide financial oversight.

School Finance Tracker (SFT) addresses this by enabling income and expenses at the schools to be captured on a monthly basis and used to generate reports that provide a clear indication of the school’s financial status.

The SFT generate the following tables and graphs:

  • Actual income against budgeted income
  • Actual expenses against budgeted expenses
  • Actual income, expenditure and margin

These reports can be produced on a monthly basis and shared with the School Management Team and the School Governing Body.

Clear tables and graphs in the SFT report enable school finances to be readily understood and problems picked up early and dealt with.

The SFT is a, therefore, a valuable tool in helping ensure that a school is financially sustainable and makes prudent use of the funding provided to it by parents, government and other parties.

The School Finance Tracker tool and a short course on its application are available. Contact us for more information.

Eight principles of effective reports

Effective reports

Outlined below are 8 principles that you can use to guide in you in developing effective reports:

  • Purpose: The purpose of the report and the key issues and questions it addresses are set out concisely. 
  • Methodology: The methodology followed in the report is provided and is appropriate to the questions being investigated.
  • Results: Information is clearly presented and described.
  • Analysis: Results are analysed objectively.
  • Discussion: Results and analysis are discussed in terms of research/industry/technical standards and related back to the purpose of the report.
  • Conclusions and recommendation: Conclusions and recommendations linked to findings are developed and provide a clear basis for decision-making.
  •  Structure: The report is well structured and easy to navigate.
  • Writing: The report is concise and easy to read.

To access the course on Effective Reports click here. Link.

Five benefits of effective reports

Effective reports

Effective reports have many benefits that can be used to justify the time and cost these take to develop.  Some of these benefits are outlined below.

  • Data is gathered and analysed to provide clear findings which can be used for decisions.
  • A rigorous, objective methodology ensures that findings and recommendations are evidence-based and not arbitrary or subjective.
  • A critical approach to data and methodology helps to identify weaknesses and make these explicit so that these can be taken into account.
  • The report is well structured and easy to navigate enabling the reader to quickly review areas they wish to look at.
  • The writing in the report is precise and ambiguity is avoided.

To access the course on Effective Reports click here. Link.

Roles and responsibilities at meetings

effective meetings

If roles and responsibilities at meetings are not clear a lot of time may be wasted. Where there is designated chairperson, minute-taker and identified people to present on particular subjects, meetings are likely to lack structure, minutes and take place in a chaotic and haphazard way.

This can be avoided by allocating clear roles and responsibilities at meetings. At a minimum the chairperson and minute-taker should be identified. The roles and responsibilities in an effective meeting are outlined below.

PersonRoles and responsibilities
ChairpersonThe chairperson of a meeting helps design the meeting and is responsible for ensuring the meeting achieves its objectives. They need to ensure that the agenda and schedule for the meeting are followed. They need to ensure that sufficient time is allowed to present important information and discuss this.They must be inclusive and ensure that all participants can provide their points of view.
Persons to speak on issues at meetingsIt is often useful to get the most knowledgeable person, or the most affected person on a particular issue to present this issue at a meeting. This person must be properly briefed before the meeting about the purpose of their contribution and the desired outcome. Instructions on the material to be presented, such as report or presentation and timeframes should also be provided. The role of this person is to present the topic succinctly and be available to answer questions that may arise.
Minute takersMinute takers capture discussions and agreements reached in meetings in a structured format. Minutes must be an accurate record of the meeting and it is therefore important that the minute taker captures key issues. Where necessary, they must be able to ask for clarity during the meeting. On important issues on fast-moving projects it sometimes is necessary for minute takers to read their minutes back to participants during the meeting so that this can be agreed as a true record straight away. Minute takers must be able to discern the most important issues at a meeting and be able to draft succinct minutes which captures these issues while avoiding lengthy minutes unnecessary detail. Minute takers must also have sufficient time to draft the minutes immediately after the meeting so that these can be checked and shared within 3-4 days after a meeting. It is important to include a process during meetings that ensures that participants have read minutes of previous meetings and agree that this is a true record of the meeting. Where corrections are necessary these should be made and minutes reissued.

A course on effective meetings can be accessed here. Link