COVID-19 has revolutionised the way we work. As the world goes back into the office, more and more businesses are adopting a hybrid work model. Hybrid meetings are quickly becoming the future of collaboration.
These types of meetings come with both benefits and challenges. They offer incredible flexibility for employees. But it is also annoying and demoralising to remote participants when they are interrupted or talked over.
Keeping your entire team effective during these meetings involves careful planning and intentionally crafted solutions. In this guide, we’ll teach you how to run fun and effective hybrid meetings with semi-remote teams.
What Is a Hybrid Meeting?
Hybrid meetings are very easy to understand in concept. They are meetings where a portion of the participants gather in person in a place like a conference room or office. The other portion calls in via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or other conferencing platforms.
These kinds of gatherings are the future of meetings, and they’re here to stay. That is why it’s so important to understand the unique challenges that hybrid meetings present, as well as how to solve them.
What Is the Hybrid Work Model?
The hybrid working model has been around for nearly two decades. But COVID-19 has made it a regular and essential part of almost every business’ operations.
The hybrid model involves a portion of your employees working in-office, while another portion works remotely. Workers can choose daily or weekly whether or not they want to work from home or work in the office.
However, hybrid working doesn’t come without its challenges. And the place that these challenges most often manifest is during hybrid meetings.
So what are some best practices for hybrid meetings? And what solutions can you employ to solve common hybrid meeting problems?
Spend Extra Time Planning the Meeting
The first thing you need to think about is the purpose and intended outcome of the meeting. Create an outline that organizes these thoughts and send it out to all participants early.
Then, work from that outline to create a clear and detailed meeting agenda. In-person meetings that last longer than an hour are already exhausting. Your remote employees will be even more drained from having to stare at a screen and stay involved with the group.
Create a time-stamped agenda before the meeting that clearly outlines each segment. It’s a good idea to appoint a timekeeper to ensure that everyone stays on track.
Make sure that all participants have the materials that they need. Don’t waste time by making people search through your company’s database for the spreadsheets you’re referencing.
Lastly, select meeting rooms with strong WiFi connections and all of the technology that you need for the meeting. This should include webcams, microphones, speakers, and projection screens.
If you are set up in a coworking space, select a meeting room for hire that is far away from the bustle and noise of the central space. This ensures that external noise interference will be kept to a minimum.
Setting Up Hybrid Meetings
One of the most frustrating things to deal with during hybrid meetings is IT issues. Make sure to check your setup before the meeting begins and address any technical issues before everyone arrives. If you have new attendees, make sure they have the right Apps installed and setup.
Coworking spaces will often have IT, technicians on staff, so take advantage of their expertise if you can’t figure something out well before you have attendees trying to join
You should also consider setting up multiple cameras that cover different angles in the conference room. The most important things for remote employees to see are the key speakers or presenters. Ensure that the space they will be using is clearly visible on the camera.
It’s also a great idea to set up additional webcams for the in-person meeting participants. If your employees all have laptops, consider having them log in as well so that they are visible to remote participants. This allows remote employees to be engaged with the nonverbal communication going on throughout the meeting.
Consider having all participants use a shared digital workspace. Companies like Miro offer virtual whiteboard solutions that allow everyone to add notes and thoughts as the meeting progresses. This helps make team meetings more interactive.
Utilise other digital features like the chat function of your chosen meeting software. This lets participants ask questions and discuss without interrupting the presenter. It’s a great resource to look back at after the speaker is finished and answer any questions that were posed.
Best Practices During the Meeting
One of the things that remote employees struggle with the most is being interrupted or talked over during hybrid meetings. There are a few easy ways to combat this problem.
If you have a series of speakers or several talking points to get through, pause after each one. Ask for questions from the participants, starting with the remote employees. If no one responds, call on individual team members and ask for their thoughts.
If your meeting is more of a round table discussion, consider having participants raise their hand when they want to speak. If multiple people want to chime in at once, assign them an order and stick to it.
Looking to make your hybrid meeting more fun? Assign break-out groups for employees to separate into during parts of the meeting. Have them collaborate on ideas together and then present one by one to the rest of the meeting.
If you decide to incorporate break-out groups, have them be comprised of both in-person and remote employees. This helps remote attendees feel less isolated and draws attention to their contributions.
Just make sure to run through the technical bits of this transition before the meeting begins. Ensure that all remote employees know how to seamlessly transition into and out of break-out groups. This saves everyone time and energy.
Lastly, embrace the quirks and opportunities that hybrid meetings provide. Laugh when an employee’s kids run into the room or when their cat walks across their keyboard. Have everyone use quirky Zoom backgrounds.
Keeping things light hearted can go a long way towards boosting employees’ moods. And if there are technical difficulties, roll with the punches and learn for next time.
Plan Your Best Hybrid Meeting Today
Remote working is here to stay. You can look at this as a challenge to overcome or as an opportunity to improve your team’s efficiency and happiness.
The key to this is planning and executing interactive hybrid meetings. You have to take extra steps to ensure that remote employees can be as involved and collaborative as in-office workers.