With the year 2020 behind us and COVID-19 restrictions loosening, companies are now facing new challenges as they begin to bring employees back to the office. Instead of having all employees remote or all in the office, we are now challenged with a new hybrid style of working. The remote circumstances allowed employees to hire individuals no matter their location, so now they are working to figure out how to make the best of the hybrid situation. In this post, we’ll explain why conquering hybrid meetings is important, how to conquer the hybrid meetings, and then provide 5 steps to help you blend the remote and onsite employees.
What Does “Conquer Hybrid Meetings” Mean, and Why Does It Matter?
Conquering hybrid meetings is more than hosting a meeting with individuals who are both remote and onsite and accomplishing the goal of the meeting. When you conquer a hybrid meeting, you have carried out the goal of the meeting, and you truly blended the remote and onsite attendees. So, what does “blending attendees” truly mean? It means no one left the meeting feeling like they weren’t heard or seen because of their physical location. When attendees feel as though they weren’t heard, it can affect moral and decisions being made in the future.
How Does One Conquer Hybrid Meetings?
There are various ways to conquer a hybrid meeting, but I’ve found the following 5 steps to be the most effective approach.
Step 1: Set the Ground Rules
Decide what “ground rules” you want to set for the attendees and then send them out in advance alongside the agenda. This method will allow attendees to show up prepared and ready for the meeting.
Ground rules to consider:
- Have everyone bring their laptop, and plan to be on camera.
- Ensure that all participants are muted as they are listening to others, which will eliminate background noise and reduce number of mics.
- Prohibit “in-room” conversation.
- Follow the agenda.
Step 2: Remote-First Approach
When focusing on a remote-first approach, follow the recommended ground rules. Employees who are not there in person generally already feel disconnected, so ensuring you are approaching the meeting as if everyone was remote will help remote employees feel connected.
When all attendees bring their laptops and have their cameras on, it allows virtual attendees to put a face to the words they are hearing and humanize the voice they are hearing. For in-person attendees, this approach allows those on camera to know who is speaking, as they will physically see the individual. I know, many people hate the idea of being on camera, but it’s 2022, we’ve all been on camera in worse situations.
Step 3: Use Your Tools and Technology
By now, most companies and individuals have found their favorite virtual whiteboard, meeting enhancements like polls, and video conferencing platform, but just because some attendees are meeting in person does not mean those tools are no longer valuable. As we mentioned in step 2, conquer the meeting with a remote-first approach and continue to use those tools you learned to love. Instead of collaborating on a physical whiteboard, use Miro or Mural. If you want to get individuals to interact on both remote and in-person, use the features within Zoom or whichever video conferencing platform you use. Use the technology we relied on for so long.
Step 4: Use a Facilitator
A moderator, facilitator, or someone of the sort is a key player in hybrid meetings. Why do you ask? Instead of hyper-focusing on achieving the goals of the meeting, they can focus on ensuring everyone can collaborate, be heard, and no side conversations are happening. The facilitator can play good cop or bad cop by requesting everyone turn on their cameras, even when individuals don’t want to. They can also politely redirect side conversations and keep the meeting flowing. A facilitator’s role in a hybrid meeting focuses more on the experience than the goal of the meeting.
Step 5: Check in with Your Attendees
Before the meeting starts, during, and as it concludes, check in with each attendee. Call out attendees by name to see if they have anything to add. This approach is particularly effective for attendees who are remote. Sometimes when attendees are remote (especially if they don’t have their camera on) it can be difficult to get a word in. So, throughout the meeting, call out to the individuals and say, “Hey Joe, any thoughts on that?” Doing so will help all attendees feel like they have the chance to speak, even if they are shy at first.
Blending remote and in-person attendees can be a challenge at first but making all your employees come to the same office could be a greater challenge. It’s a different world now, and employees have had their freedom for a few years. For your next hybrid meeting, I challenge you to try some of these suggestions out and leave a comment to let us know how it went!