How to Run an Effective and Inclusive Hybrid Meeting
Six tips for running a hybrid meeting that is inclusive of both in-office and remote workers, helping you to overcome some of the challenges of hybrid working.
The working world has changed dramatically over the last decade. For most, getting an “office” job came with assumptions: I will have to commute every day, I will have to sit at a desk, I might get a lunch break, I’ll probably have a lot of pointless meetings. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, people were getting tired of the daily grind. They were sick of sitting in traffic or on a crowded train. They wanted to pick their kids up from school and have more time for themselves. The global pandemic only acted as a catalyst for a wheel that had already started turning, bolted it onto a racecar and let it loose.
Now, with forced working-from-home a near distant memory, people and companies have discovered a new world. One in which they CAN pick their kids up from school. And on top of that, they can cook a nice lunch, go for a walk in the sunshine, exercise when they actually want to and so much more.
While a fully remote model may not work for everyone or every company, an increasing number are looking at that middle ground; hybrid. The benefits of flexibility are widely acknowledged, from better wellbeing to increased productivity, so it’s no surprise that hybrid working is being considered for the long term.
However your company has chosen to take this on, we’re guessing one thing…you’re now having a lot more hybrid meetings.
What is a hybrid meeting?
Whether you go into the office a couple of days a week, or have some team members who are fully remote while you choose to head into the office every day, the likelihood is you will often need to have a meeting with some people physically in the room, and some not. That’s a hybrid meeting. And up until now they have typically come with a whole lot of aches and pains!
What are the biggest challenges?
It’s all very well having people join a meeting from wherever they’re working, but that does of course come with some challenges.
Firstly, from a technical perspective. Figuring out the best set up can be confusing and often-times expensive. With so many fancy and cumbersome conference room hardware solutions out there it can seem overwhelming. Or, if you opt for all using your own laptops there’s often been the struggle of echo, feedback and constant toggling of microphones that disrupts the meeting flow and is simply very annoying! (Keep reading to find out how to get around all of these).
Aside from the tech, there are challenges with participation and inclusion in hybrid meetings. Those joining remotely feel detached from the conversation and can struggle to get a word in, making them feel secondary to the group who are together and excluded from the team. They’re often enlarged on a huge meeting room screen which can be overwhelming and they can struggle to have a natural conversation with those staring back at them from around the table.
But it’s not all doom and gloom! There are tools you can use and techniques you can keep in mind to make sure that your hybrid meetings are a success. We’re all trying to figure out how to make hybrid work, well work.
6 Tips for a great hybrid meeting
1. Create an inclusive environment
Having those in the meeting room squeezing around a single laptop or staring up at a conference room screen doesn’t make for an inclusive, efficient meeting. Try to ensure everyone has their own laptop with their own camera so that all participants, together or remote, have an equal standing in the meeting. That way, everyone can have a clear view of who is speaking, see facial expressions and feel part of the conversation.
2. Use the right tools
Choose technology that allows for seamless communication and collaboration between in-person and remote attendees. Does your current setup allow everyone to have their own laptop camera? With their microphone on the whole time? Whereby’s Co-location Groups feature allows everyone to use their own laptop, wherever they’re joining from, with no annoying echo. Everyone appears in their own video tile making the meeting experience inclusive for those joining remotely, and those in the room don’t have to worry about muting or being interrupted by technical issues.
3. Set ground rules
Establish rules for how attendees should behave during the meeting. Ask people to use the "raise hand" function to signal that they want to speak, even if they’re in the meeting room. It may not work 100% of the time but setting rules from the outset reminds people to be mindful of those joining remotely and ensure that everyone is included equally.
4. Make sure everyone has their say
Make sure that remote attendees are able to participate fully in the meeting by giving them the opportunity to speak and be seen on screen. Take notice of who is speaking the most and ask remote participants their opinion to give them an opportunity to speak if they aren’t naturally getting it.
5. Encourage active participation
Encourage all attendees to actively participate in the discussion, whether they are in person or remote. This could include going around the “room” (virtual and physical) and asking for each participant's opinion on a discussion topic. Or taking a vote on a decision.
6. Follow up
Follow up after the meeting: Make sure to follow up with any action items or decisions made during the meeting, and send out a summary of the meeting to all attendees. Even if you think you’ve held the perfect hybrid meeting, people may have missed something or want to refer back to it later. You could also record the meeting so that people can watch it back if they need to or for anyone that couldn’t make it.