Remote work options were already becoming popular by 2019 when a joint survey by Slack and GlobalWebIndex found that among knowledge workers, 75% were at least occasionally working remotely. But the pandemic forced even the most reluctant employers to move their operations online. To many people’s surprise, it was a success.
As early as June 2020, a survey by PwC showed that 89% of employers planned to allow employees to work remotely at least one day a week in the long term. By January 2021, most employers were making active investments to support hybrid work environments, from adding virtual collaboration tools to redesigning office footprints, according to another PwC survey. Clearly, hybrid workspaces are here to stay.
But what does this mean for meetings? How can you hold productive, inclusive meetings when some workers are on-site and others are remote? Here are six ways to get more out of hybrid meetings in the workplace.
1. Set and distribute an agenda
Hybrid meetings work best when pre-planned. When everyone isn’t in the same physical room, it’s easy for minds to wander. Create an agenda ahead of time and send it to all participants. This helps everyone know what to expect and stay focused, whether they’re in the office or halfway around the world.
2. Consider the employee experience
If you plan to use whiteboards, flip charts or other physical items, take some time before the meeting to log in and check your cameras. Can you easily see what you’re sharing? Or would it be better to send digital versions for remote team members? Remember, they might be logging in via different devices, from laptops with large external monitors to smartphones.
3. Test your tech
How many times have you shown up on time for a virtual meeting only to spend the first 10 minutes dealing with muted speakers and frustrating lags? Test your setup pre-meeting to reduce the chances of dropouts, lost audio or other technical problems.
4. Make remote workers “life-size”
When everyone is remote, seeing each other in tiny boxes on the screen is par for the course. But when some people are in the same room, remote workers can seem diminished when they’re in a box. Set up a large external monitor or two in the room. When someone remote is speaking, put them up on the big screen so it feels like they’re in the room with you.
5. Focus on facilitation
Remote participants can easily be overlooked during a hybrid meeting. This is where a great facilitator comes in. This person should be extremely familiar with the agenda to keep things moving but should primarily focus on ensuring that everyone has equal time. Also, consider pairing each remote attendee with someone in the room they can Slack or chat with if they need something. They might be able to discreetly get a camera moved or ask someone to speak up.
6. Use a customizable platform like Slack
Not all meetings need to be in real time. In Slack, you can customize channels for different needs, including asynchronous meetings. If the plan doesn’t require face-to-face communication, you could set up an office-hours time window for people to log in and share feedback or chat. You can easily share documents or short video clips, voice opinions and even take votes, all without the complications of a hybrid real-time meeting.
When you do need a real-time meeting, Slack can still help. Post the schedule in a relevant channel and ask participants to weigh in ahead of time. You can then use the platform to seamlessly integrate all the tools your meeting requires, from video conferencing to document sharing. It’s a streamlined way to keep everyone on track, no matter where they’re physically located.
Putting it all together
Hybrid meetings bring a unique set of challenges. From technical issues to making remote participants feel included, you’ll need to be on your toes to proactively keep the discussion moving. But following our tips and using a collaborative platform like Slack can go a long way toward making any hybrid meeting a success.