Successful Hybrid Meetings
More organizations are looking to implement hybrid meetings as people return to the office. But hybrid meetings present their own set of challenges. There’s the technology to manage as well as delivering compelling content to office and remote audiences. Successful hybrid meetings simply require more planning.
What Makes Successful Hybrid Meetings?
A meeting is successful when it achieves its stated goals within the allotted time, but how does that happen in a hybrid workplace? First, a hybrid work environment is a business model that combines remote work with office work. A hybrid work model may look different depending on the company. Some may have a small onsite workforce, while others may allow employees to move from remote to office and back as needed. Organizations may require a percentage of staff to be in the office on staggering schedules or insist that everyone be present for scheduled meetings.No matter the configuration, technology is essential to a hybrid office model.
The right technology stack is the first step in creating an effective hybrid office concept, followed by training employees to use it. Companies need video conferencing systems with mechanisms for communicating, such as chat or email. Employees need to share documents and files, which requires productivity solutions that allow seamless exchange of information. Virtual meetings benefit from technical solutions that enable attendees to share notes and action items. Shared software solutions such as Docket can facilitate hybrid meetings.
A hybrid office concept does have its challenges. Collaboration and communication are crucial to a successful hybrid workforce, but remote workers can often feel excluded. Unless inclusiveness is a priority, hybrid environments can result in a divided workplace. To ensure inclusiveness, be sure to plan meetings that allow equal access for all participants, whether remote or in the office. Meetings need to provide technical solutions that operate well in both environments. For example, limited cameras in a physical meeting room can restrict what remote attendees can see. With limited visuals, remote attendees may disengage, reducing meeting effectiveness.
Distributing meeting agendas before the meeting begins is vital to a successful hybrid meeting. Allowing participants to review the agenda ahead of time means adjustments can be made if needed. Agendas should be more than a list of topics. They should include time slots for each topic with specific start and stop times. Sharing the information lets attendees schedule their time appropriately. It also allows everyone time to review the agenda and prepare for the upcoming meeting. When participants prepare for meetings, less time is spent bringing everyone up to speed, and more time can be devoted to the meeting’s purpose, making for a more efficient hybrid meeting.
Using Effective Meeting Strategies
Effective meetings do not happen. They are carefully planned to ensure that the appropriate people are brought together for a specific purpose. Meetings provide a forum for discussions to deliver tangible results, such as a plan or follow-up items. However, their effectiveness depends on the amount of planning and pre-work performed before a meeting even starts.
Useful agendas are not easy to create, as evidenced by the number of unproductive meetings that have agendas. Consider developing an agenda using questions. For example, start with what question the meeting is going to answer. If it’s a project status meeting, isn’t the meeting about whether the project is on schedule? If so, why not phrase the topics as questions?
Looking at the agenda topics as questions changes the way a meeting is designed. It forces the meeting manager to identify what is expected from the meeting. It requires intentionality and determines when a meeting has achieved its purpose — when the questions are answered. The question approach to agenda development also answers the question of whom to invite to a meeting. Only people who can answer the agenda questions need to attend.
When leading a hybrid meeting, it’s important to keep the following factors in mind:
- Meeting rules and etiquette. Hybrid meetings require a different set of rules. For example, asking attendees to mute their devices when not speaking can avoid embarrassing moments. To eliminate sidebars, let people have a few moments to catch up with each other at the start of the meeting. This is especially useful when remote staff are in attendance.
- Inclusiveness. Be aware of team members who have not participated in the meeting and ask them for comments on specific discussion points. Be sure to get their input before assigning follow-up tasks.
- Technology. Make sure that the technology is operational before the meeting. For remote attendees, include instructions on how to participate as part of the pre-meeting information. If using online meeting tools, make sure that the attendees are versed in how to use them.
- Schedule. Start and stop meetings on time. To ensure that meetings do not go over the allotted time, set timers for each agenda item. Online meeting solutions often include timers to help maintain productive meeting guidelines.
Preparing for hybrid meetings should include a review of basic meeting procedures and protocols to ensure that the meeting will be as effective and efficient as possible.
Meeting organizers have responsibilities after the meeting concludes. They should prepare a recap of the meeting that organizers can send to each attendee. The recap should include a summary of the meeting’s discussions and the follow-up assignments with due dates. Allowing attendees to provide feedback on the recap can help clarify points for everyone.
Separating group and individual action items in the recap can help assignments from getting lost. Following the question agenda approach, recaps can contain the answers to the questions along with any critical discussion points. In hybrid environments, meeting leaders should check with remote workers for feedback on how successful the meeting was. Talking to in-person attendees can help balance the input to ensure a balanced approach to hybrid meetings.
What are Smart Meetings?
Smart meetings use technology to deliver meetings online. Using a shared software service like Docket can help standardize meeting processes and simplify where employees need to go for important resources. It doesn’t matter whether they are in the office or calling in from a remote location; the same information should be available. Some additional hybrid meeting best practices include:
- Have technical resources available to help run the meeting
- Balance discussions between in-person and remote participants
- Display remote attendees as well as in-person staff
- Adjust audio and educate remote employees on using headsets or earbuds instead of their laptop’s microphone and speakers
- Survey the participants about the experience
If the experience wasn’t as effective as needed, consider the platform being used. With advances in technology, new options may be available that can improve smart meetings online.
What are Northstar Meetings?
Large meetings and conferences, often called northstar meetings, are designed for enterprise-wide communications. It may be a product launch or strategy updates. Whatever the reason, the gathering has a large number of attendees. These types of all-hands meetings can present unique challenges. Here are a few tips on how to engage remote and in-person participants when every employee must be in attendance:
- Create excitement. Sell the event to employees in the same way an organization hypes a conference.
- Use contests. Identify ways to engage employees before the event through contests.
- Include a question and answer segment. Employees have questions. Allowing them to ask company leaders questions is another way to engage attendees.
- Recognize individuals. Set aside time to acknowledge the efforts of individual employees.
- Celebrate wins. Give people a reason to celebrate accomplishments, both small and large.
At the same time, invest in the best technology to deliver a company-wide event. It may not be a small group meeting, but events require many of the same things. Large events need good audio and visual solutions. They need agendas and ways to capture discussions that can be shared with participants after the meeting is concluded.
What about Today’s Meetings?
In today’s work environment, meetings may be remote, in-person, or a hybrid. That means new ways to communicate in- and outside an organization. However, effective meetings still follow best practices of well-conceived agendas, careful planning, and consistent follow-up.
Meetings today enable hybrid working models to function, giving employees and employers the flexibility to operate in the most effective work environments. While these solutions provide advantages, they also pose challenges. Ensuring that everyone feels included and can share information across the enterprise is crucial to a successful hybrid model.
Finding the right technology to facilitate the move towards hybrid meetings is essential to their success. Being able to create and share agendas with remote and in-office staff helps maintain communication channels. Open communication enables collaboration which makes the problem-solving nature of many meetings more productive. Now is the perfect time to explore the capabilities of platforms such as Docket that are designed to deliver the most effective meeting software platform.