If one thing is certain in our uncertain post-pandemic world, it’s that hybrid work is here to stay. According to a recent report by McKinsey, 9 out of 10 organizations will combine remote and face-to-face working. This represents a major shift from before the pandemic when the majority of employers required a physical presence in the workplace 5 days a week.
But as we go forward into our new reality, almost 70% of organizations do not have a detailed plan on hybrid work in place. There are many employees in companies worldwide who are not too comfortable with hybrid work just yet, and that can take a toll on their motivation and productivity. We’ve all been there, after all. We’re supposed to meet with 10 people, 5 of whom are in the office, and 5 of whom are at home. The microphone on the office video conferencing system doesn’t work, Jenny from accounting’s broadband is acting up, Steve from HR doesn’t know how to unmute himself…
So, we thought we’d help with that.
What is a hybrid meeting?
First off, let’s start with the basics. What is a hybrid meeting? It’s pretty much exactly what it seems—a meeting where some colleagues are working from the office, and others are working from home. Whether you’re connecting on Zoom, Teams, Google Meet, or what have you—if you’ve got people at home and in the office, you’re running a hybrid meeting.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, hybrid work has become more the norm than ever. It’s going to characterize the future of work as we move forward in a post-pandemic world. According to Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index, 66% of business decision-makers are considering redesigning their workspaces to accommodate this trend. As companies shift more towards having distributed teams in different hubs around the world, getting ready for our hybrid future of work is essential. Both for the businesses themselves and the employees.
What can companies do to make hybrid meetings work?
Whether you’re an office manager, a C-suite decision-maker, or a human resources professional, there are many things you can do to make this transition smoother for your teams.
1. Give employees what they need to work from home
The Microsoft report revealed that 42% of employees lack the right office equipment at home. Whether that’s not having an ergonomic chair, enough screens to do their job, or something as simple as notebooks—it’s up to the employer to provide their team members with everything they need. Create a “work from home bundle” for your employees and send them all of their basic office essentials. A home office should, after all, be an extension of your company’s workplace! Make sure they have proper laptops (Mac or Windows—just check that they are compatible), Zoom accounts, updated web browsers, webcams, and access to their Google Calendars, to name a few.
2. Be tech-ready for hybrid work
Get your physical and virtual office ready for hybrid work. Equip all your meeting rooms with the best video conferencing equipment out there so that all meeting participants working from home can actively participate in face-to-face group meetings as well. Make sure your office WiFi or broadband is working well enough to support multiple video meetings at the same time. Up your audio game and make sure the microphones are working properly.
3. Remember that the meetings that matter happen in person
Treat your teams like owners. Empower them to decide what meetings should happen in person to add value to their working day. Encourage them to come together for things like all-hands meetings, creative brainstorming sessions, or teambuilding activities, for example. Give them the freedom to decide whether they want to have a quick tactical call from home or on-site. Read more about how we’re doing that at TravelPerk here!
Running and rocking hybrid meetings when you’re in them
When you’re participating in a hybrid meeting, what do you do? How do you make sure you’re getting the most out of it? Check out our quick tips below on how to rock hybrid meetings like a pro, whether you're a seasoned video call professional or you're joining a call of this sort for the first time.
1. Make sure your tech is up to scratch
Have you updated your computer recently? Have you checked whether you’re using the latest version of Zoom.us? Do you have high-quality microphones on your laptop? Have you checked to see if they work? All that matters when it comes to running a successful hybrid meeting—you need to make sure you’re both seen and heard from the conference room when you’re talking. You can even hook it up to your phone if you're taking a call on the go. Download the Zoom app (iOS and Android), for example, and join a meeting from wherever you are! Just remember to get the right set of headphones.
2. Build a productive meeting itinerary
It’s easy to ask someone just to connect to a new meeting and take it from there. But when it comes to running video calls with multiple people, having a clear set of objectives and talking points can make a world of difference. It can actually be quite frustrating for a remote worker to start a meeting, only to have to listen to a casual chat between in-person colleagues. They usually can’t hear half of the conversation and feel quite isolated! A well-planned meeting schedule can help avoid that—and you can always pencil in some catch-up chit-chat time at the beginning or the end!
3. Prepare your meeting materials in advance
It’s always a good idea to prepare some visual aids to guide the conversation in a hybrid meeting. Have one person handle screen sharing so that both in-office and at-home workers can see the same thing and follow the conversation. Whether it’s a PowerPoint presentation or a simple document, visual aids are powerful in conveying your key talking points to everyone. Oh, and if you’re the host of the meeting (especially on Zoom), don’t forget to enable other participants to share their screens when the meeting begins. It's in the menu when you click "share screen"!
4. Yes, backgrounds matter
Most video calls are run with the video on. Think about what your colleagues will be looking at—nobody wants to see your unmade bed behind you during a business meeting. Don’t be that person. Stick to simple, clean backgrounds like your home office or just a single-colored wall. If you’re not in a position to do that for whatever reason, then get yourself a nice virtual background. Remember, this is a business meeting. So even if you’re in the most casual, coolest of companies, having a messy background can come across as quite unprofessional. Although it can be quite funny to see your dog zoombombing your call! Don’t go wild on the virtual backgrounds either—we know it’s fun to put a bunch of bright pink unicorns behind you. But don’t. Just keep it neutral.
5. Assign a person to lead the meeting
Yes, this one might be a little obvious. But when running a hybrid virtual meeting, it’s important to have a “meeting host”. That’ll be someone who is responsible for admitting people into the call from the waiting room, mute/unmute meeting participants, sharing screens, making sure that everyone has a calendar invite, checking to see if everyone is in attendance, recording the meeting, and more. Having one person handle all of that will help you be more organized and run the meeting more smoothly.
6. Don't forget to invite everyone to the meeting
You'd be surprised at how easy it can be to forget to invite others to a virtual meeting. Or how often people planning to meet in person forget to include a meeting link for those staying at home. When you're setting up a Zoom meeting, for example, don't forget to send a meeting request to everyone's work email that includes videoconferencing links.
7. Meetings aren't webinars
There is a difference between hybrid or virtual meetings and webinars. The object of these meetings is for everyone to be able to participate and share their opinion or ask questions. Your meeting host is a good person to manage participants in the call to make sure they're all getting enough time to talk.
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