Whether you’re seriously suffering from Zoom fatigue after two years of remote working or happy never to set foot in an office again, many businesses are attempting to strike a balance in this post-pandemic world. According to Zippia, 74% of U.S. companies plan to implement a permanent hybrid work model. And while some experts say hybrid isn’t the ideal model, especially for meetings, it’s certainly here to stay. To help you make the most of your hybrid meetings, here are five strategies for ensuring productive results.
Designate a remote liaison: Keeping hybrid meetings on track is no small feat, and in-person attendees often tend to drown out virtual participants. To help ensure everyone has an equal voice, select an in-person team member to serve as the liaison for the remote participants. This person can monitor the chat function to ensure that remote employees see and hear everything they need to understand, participate, and ask questions.
Invest more time in planning: For experienced facilitators, sharing a presentation or conducting a brainstorming session when everyone is in person or virtual doesn’t take much thought. Planning how to share your presentation or foster free-flowing idea-sharing when half the people are in front of you and half are remote requires a bit more focus. Don’t underestimate the importance of investing more time and thought into planning how you will accomplish each agenda item when you have a hybrid audience.
Make it easy to join: Waiting for remote participants to join can chew up valuable meeting time. Include the meeting link in the invite, on the agenda (assuming you sent it out ahead of time), and in a reminder email sent a few minutes prior to the start of the meeting. A little extra effort on your part can potentially save everyone time from having to wait around for all to join.
Get to know the tools available: At this point, most of us know how to use at least the basic features and functions of your company’s preferred meeting software (raise hand and chat). However, you can bring your meetings to a whole new level when you learn how to use some of the more advanced collaboration tools, such as virtual whiteboard, co-presenter mode, polling, etc. Breakout rooms are also an excellent option for smaller group discussions and brainstorming. Make sure that in-person attendees are also logged into the meeting on their laptops and ready to go from the start of the meeting, so time isn’t wasted waiting for everyone to log in during the middle of the meeting.
Level the playing field: Think through some group norms that would help level the playing (or participating) field between remote and in-person participants. Since everyone in person can see one another, have remote participants join with cameras on. Establish a ground rule of raising your hand to speak to ensure equal opportunity for participation. Encourage attendees to paraphrase before answering questions to ensure everyone heard what was asked.
While the ideal is to have everyone join meetings in the same way – either in person or remote – the reality is hybrid meetings are here to stay. And they can be more efficient, timely, and cost-effective if done right!