Hybrid offices and meetings: how’s that going to work?
As managers face up to a new, hybrid way of working, one thing that they’re scratching their heads about is meetings. Here are a few tips on how to get the best out of everyone…
I was recently featured on one of Ulster Bank’s websites in an article about the new hybrid way of working and I made the point that, going forwards, all employees (both those based in-office and those who work remotely) need to feel equal and included.
One area that I think many businesses are going to struggle with when it comes to this is meetings. I mean, has anyone yet really found the perfect way to integrate both parties so that a meeting feels like it should – like a proper meeting?
In that same article, Rose Barrett of Irish not-for-profit Grow Remote had an excellent suggestion for leveling the playing field when it comes to meetings. She pointed out that everyone involved in the meeting will have a near-identical experience if the in-office employees all do it from their own desk over Zoom.
This is a far cry from having the in-office cohort gathered around a single camera in the boardroom, and I can totally see how it would put in-office and at-home workers on an even keel.
When Abodoo partner Yonderdesk was being created mid-pandemic, one of its key goals was to try and help people who work from home feel as much a part of the office as the rest of the team. The ‘meetings-from-your-desk-wherever-you’re-based’ idea works really well on the Yonderdesk platform, and today is helping hybrid teams to reconnect.
Here are a few other ways that dispersed teams can ‘meet’ more effectively…
Make time for casual chat
This was a suggestion made by Flexjobs back in 2017 and the thinking behind it still rings true. In-office workers, they argued, will likely have time to catch up on personal matters with colleagues at the start or end of a meeting, whereas those dialing in via video conference probably won’t – unless special plans to do so are made.
So, if you do insist on getting the in-office workers into a meeting room and having the at-homers ‘dial in’, start or end the meeting with some casual questions about what people are doing for the weekend or similar.
Buy the right kit
If your in-office employees will be virtually attending a meeting from their own desk, don’t scrimp on their video cameras – likewise, support the at-home cohort with tech that really works, too. If you’re committed to gathering the in-office team in the boardroom, however, then it makes sense to invest in tech that enables people working from home to get the best possible experience.
One solution – and there are many – is the Google Meet hardware kit, which has all you need, including a top-spec camera, a touch-screen control panel and a ‘speakermic’ that manages background noise and delivers great sound.
Keep it fair!
It’s very easy for the at-home workers to feel left out – not least because it can be harder for them to “but in” with a valid point. Leaders or facilitators should ensure a fair opportunity of input from everyone. You could even mix things up a bit by changing who hosts the meeting, with at-home workers taking the hot seat when it’s their turn.
What all this points to, of course, is a new way of doing things. Meetings are obviously here to stay – even if the way they take place is changing rapidly. For a business to succeed, taking the time to work out how to get the best out of everybody invited to attend is a must.