Columbus, OH — Let’s face it: COVID-19 has presently and likely forever changed modern work. Face-to-face meetings have been the norm for collaboration in the workplace for years, with somewhere between 11 million and 25 million taking place each day in the United States alone. But the current global pandemic has completely disrupted that option for much of the world’s population. Today virtual collaboration is no longer an option, it is the only real option for critical collaboration — unfortunately, so few professionals have ever experienced, much less built and facilitated, a truly effective virtual meeting.*

*interestingly enough, much of the data available suggests that few of us have ever experienced an effective face-to-face meeting either, despite literally billions of opportunities worldwide to practice and perfect the method… Ineffective meetings waste tens of billions of dollars each year, negatively impact employee productivity and devastate morale.

Why This Matters —

Fortunately, our Insights & Innovation team at Syneos Health has been building and facilitating virtual collaborations for the past several years — piloting new approaches, testing countless platforms and perfecting the transformation of traditional agendas into optimal virtual plans. We’ve worked with life science leaders from dozens of pharma and biotech companies to hone the best approaches to digital (live and asynchronous) collaboration for our industry. Engaging, efficient and effective virtual sessions involve 4 critical dynamics:

  1. Creatively rethinking agendas to blend both live and on-demand elements
    Countless professionals currently have work, parenting, homeschooling and elder care all vying for their undivided attention from 9 to 5 — not to mention the fact that simply staring at a screen for an all-day virtual session drives mental burnout, frantic multitasking and half-hearted participation.

  2. Efficiently establishing shared understanding amongst the team
    Shared knowledge/perspective is foundational to successful collaboration. That’s why our session prework often takes the form of online evidence collecting and sorting, quick polls and surveys, and interactive quizzes in lieu of pre-reads. This final point is powerful: it ensures that participants have the right knowledge to be effective in the session and allows us to identify any critical concepts where many are struggling to align so we can increase focus in the live session.

  3. Effectively promoting high engagement from all participants
    We limit the live, collaborative portion of the virtual meeting to 4-5 hours at most, embedding energy-giving exercises and plenty of breaks throughout the agenda to keep participants engaged and activated, while accounting for the realities of the masses all working-from-home at once.

  4. Proactively leveraging frameworks that drive productive output
    Virtual whiteboarding and real-time input gathering tools ensure all assets generated in the session are already digitized, thus saving time and costs associated with transcription. The assets are immediately shareable with project leads and any stakeholders accountable for moving the final output forward. Plus, any session can be easily recorded in its entirety — creating the perfect artifact for quickly getting new or absent team members up-to-speed in the future.


For more of our perspective on virtual collaboration, check out our latest publication: Our Virtual Reality

…or reach out to us directly to learn more: commsinnovation@syneoshealth.com

About the Author:

Drew Beck brings more than a decade of broad healthcare experience to GSW in his role as the Director of Innovation. He has enjoyed working for big healthcare names including Eli Lilly & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline in Global Marketing and Pharmaceutical Sales roles, but his start came from hands-on work in patient care in Emergency Medicine. This foundation has given him a deep understanding of both patients and healthcare professionals. In his current role, he combines all he has learned from this background with insights into current market trends to help clients drive the future of their brands.