Meetings In A Hybrid Business Environment: 9 Ways To Boost Value And Engagement
A hybrid business environment offers a lot to employees and employers alike – flexibility, resources and opportunities beyond anything traditional office environments can offer. Still, with all the benefits come some unique challenges that businesses across the globe are trying to get to grips with. One of the biggest pressure points for many hybrid workplaces is meetings. Employers are understandably concerned that they’re not getting the same value from remote and hybrid meetings as in-person meetings. Employees often feel that the virtual meetings don’t offer the same level of interactivity and connection.
So, employers of hybrid workplaces must find the right tools and methods to ensure their meetings are just as beneficial as in-person ones. Since the rise of hybrid working practices, there’s been a lot said and written about how to manage meetings in a way that offers good value to all participants. There’s also a lot of development in technology that can be invaluable for facilitating virtual meetings, meaning that the savvy employer has many tools at their disposal to help.
Choose The Right Meeting Platform
A truly essential first step is to find the right meeting platform – there are plenty of video calling and conferencing platforms available, ranging from big-name brands to niche and specialist tech. You’ll need to experiment with the different options until you find the ones that best suit your business needs; don’t choose the most popular platform simply because it’s what every other business uses. Look for a platform with all the functions you might need to make your hybrid meetings successful at a price that offers real value for money.
Ensure Everyone Is Heard
One significant issue with remote meetings is ensuring everyone is heard. Unlike in-person meetings, where it’s easy for multiple people to discuss topics at once, with virtual meetings, there can be a lot of stopping and starting as different people try to talk at once. You’ll need to have a meeting leader to ensure that everyone is heard and everyone gets an opportunity to speak. Make sure you use features on your meeting platform that let participants indicate if they have something to say.
Set Some Guidelines
Before entering into a meeting, it’s best to lay out some ground rules. This is true of any meeting, whether fully remote, in-person or hybrid. Meeting participants will want to know what to expect from the meeting, and guidelines will help ensure that the meeting goes according to plan. Guidelines you could put in place should help everyone know what to expect, including things like:
- Arrive on time
- Wait to give input when called on
- Stay on point
- Don’t interrupt others
Use Live Polls
A great way to increase interactivity in a hybrid meeting is by using polling apps. This allows you to engage your employees and have a real-time picture of how beneficial the meeting is. You could use polling to break the ice by letting people input the location they’re logging in from. Consider using anonymous polling to get honest feedback while the meeting progresses and to get suggestions on what to cover next. Vevox has a great tool for hybrid meetings with polls that allow you and your employees to feel truly engaged with the meeting as it unfolds.
When you have a lot of attendees in different locations, distractions can be something of an inevitability. For employees working from home, there’s the risk of interruptions from children or pets or the postman at the door. Not everyone will have a neutral background for their meeting space, so this can also cause some distractions. While it’s not possible to completely eliminate the risk of distractions, it is a good idea to ask all attendees to use a background blurring filter and to mute themselves when they’re not actively participating in the conversation. These simple steps can keep distractions to a bare minimum, allowing your meeting to progress unhindered.
Be Mindful Of The Time
It’s true of almost all meetings of any type that after a certain period, no more productivity can be achieved. It is best to schedule shorter meetings rather than risk a meeting going on too long and wasting your employees’ precious time. By scheduling a short meeting, you can be sure that it will stay on track and that everyone will be ready to get to the point, reducing the risk of the meeting getting off-topic.
You should also make sure that you schedule your meetings at times that work best for all attendees – avoid anything very early in the morning or too close to the end of the day. No one relishes the idea of a meeting at 4pm on a Friday, so it’s hardly going to be conducive to a productive meeting.
Provide Employees With The Tech They Need
Another common issue with virtual meetings is the technology needed for a productive session. If employees are left to rely on their personal equipment, you can’t be sure of the quality of audio and video used for the meeting. Subpar audio and video can be a major distraction and can hinder the adequate progress of a meeting. It’s best to provide all your hybrid employees with the equipment they can use, including microphones, webcams and headsets, to ensure the best quality experience.
Send Out Meeting Materials In Advance
Most meetings will require attendees to have some materials on hand to ensure they understand the purpose of the meeting. For instance, you might be discussing the use of a new tool or piece of technology, so that each attendee will need the data gathered on its use so far. To avoid losing time at the beginning of the meeting, it’s best to dissemble this information before it begins – materials could be attached to the meeting invitation to save time and give each participant time to prepare.
Ask Participants To Keep Their Cameras On
Many meeting participants might be tempted to leave their cameras off during meetings. This is understandable – not everyone likes to see themselves on screen all the time, or they might just be having a bad hair day! But for a meeting to be truly beneficial, you’ll need each participant to be able to see the others. A lot of context can be gleaned from body language and facial expressions that are lost when looking at a sea of blank screens. When scheduling your meetings, emphasise that it is a camera-on meeting so that your meeting participants can prepare themselves for being on camera.
Virtual meetings can be as beneficial as in-person meetings when done right – it just requires the right set-up for a productive meeting. As a business leader, it’s vital that you take steps wherever you can to promote quality, valuable meetings in your hybrid workspace. Leverage technology whenever you can and look for ideas and suggestions from your employees, both in the office and remotely, on how you can improve the meeting process. Above all, do what you can to help your employees feel valued in the meeting and broader conversation, which will keep your meeting on track and productive.
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