Working remotely or returning to the office has been a dilemma for many organizations. Now that we're a few years into this new work environment, we can see the pros and cons of both work settings. What's the best alternative for your business?
A recent McKinsey survey suggests that 90% of organizations will adopt some combination of remote and on-site work as they emerge from Covid restrictions, and we already see that. The hybrid workplace model is changing the way people meet, and it's very common now to see a mix of in-person and remote attendees in work conferences.
Leading effective on-site or virtual meetings is challenging as it is, but conducting hybrid meetings is especially complex. Managers need to learn how to keep the people in the room and those working remotely engaged simultaneously and during the whole session.
Let's find out what the best practices are for making hybrid meetings more effective, and some general tips for managing hybrid workplaces.
Best Practices for Running Productive Hybrid Meetings
Get your technology right
Thanks to the pandemic, companies have adopted videoconference technology to enable virtual meetings. Since many workplaces have shifted to the hybrid model, tech providers are adjusting their services to improve the experience for in-person and remote attendees.
To begin with, audio quality. Most meetings focus on visual aspects (slide decks, videos, images), and audio is often overlooked. Companies are equipping conference rooms with high-quality microphones so remote participants can hear and communication between all participants is smooth.
Test the technology in advance
All those last-minute audio and video glitches may take more than a few minutes of the meeting, and there’s no time to waste. Always test the setup for in-person and remote attendees, especially if it’s an important meeting. Get attendees familiar with what they will see in the meeting and what everybody is expecting from their participation, so they can familiarize themselves in advance with any software features they need to use during the session.
Design meetings for all attendees
If you’re planning any interactive activities for the meeting, make sure you have the tools and technology to involve everyone and enhance interaction between remote and in-person employees. If the focus is on a board, use a webcam so remote participants can follow the meeting as if they were present. Use the same method for all attendees, no matter if they’re in the room or somewhere else.
Provide strong facilitation
If you have never chosen one person to keep everyone on track during a meeting, now is the time to do it. It’s easier to manage a group when all participants are in-person or on Zoom, but in the hybrid world, if one person guides the conversation, the session will be more productive. Why? In most cases, in-person attendees tend to dominate the discussion, so a facilitator helps to keep the balance, let everyone participate, and ensure everyone is heard as planned. That’s how you keep the whole group engaged during the meeting.
Use two producers
Use one producer to manage the virtual attendee experience, and one to manage the in-room experience. That way, there’s someone taking care of each group, and you can focus on running the meeting and not fixing technical issues
Tips for Managing Hybrid Workplaces
Hybrid work is here to stay, and even though the rules are still blurry, people have found themselves more productive, engaged, and happy. Generally, this work environment is perceived as a positive change for most employees, but what about managers?
Most hybrid work strategies focus on individual contributors, not managers. Their experiences and struggles are different from their team’s, and no training was available to help them. Gallup came up with four considerations to improve your organization's hybrid work strategy and support managers along the way.
Managers need extra support
Most managers had to adjust quickly to this new work environment and received no training. Since hybrid workplaces are here to stay, they need more support to develop effective communication strategies with their team.
Your team is also responsible for culture-building
Managers can't build the company's culture by themselves. This is a team effort that has to be facilitated by the manager, but employees are the ones who need to decide how to get work done.
Bring your managers together into a community
Peer support has been vital to spark innovation and bring more efficiencies. However, that may have been lost in the transition to hybrid work. Building a community for those leading teams will benefit culture building and the company's performance.
Invest in management development programs
These programs have to go beyond hybrid work training. Besides the new workplace dynamic, managers need to focus on employee well-being rather than outcomes. Coaching, delivering feedback, and one-on-one conversations are some of the skills they need to acquire.
Just when we were getting used to remote meetings, people started returning to their offices. However, many companies went hybrid as the restrictions from the pandemic began to ease, and they decided to function that way permanently. But leading hybrid meetings is more complex than it sounds.
The good news is that we already have the technology and the tools to make these meetings more productive. We need to be more thoughtful when designing the sessions so everyone, present or remote, stays engaged and feels equally valued.
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The Girard Training Solutions team includes experts in Learning and Development, Management Development, Facilitation, Learning Experience Design, Project Management, and Graphic Design.