January 18, 2022
5 Strategies for Successful Hybrid Meetings
With the right tools and practices, remote and in-person participants can collaborate seamlessly.
When it comes to video collaboration, the COVID pandemic accelerated a transformation that many organizations were already making. Users and companies were embracing remote work and increased mobility before 2020, and the widespread need for users to work from home due to social distancing requirements resulted in the nearly universal adoption of remote and mobile work by many industries within a matter of weeks.
We’re almost two years removed from the beginning of the pandemic, and (aside from the occasional person forgetting to unmute when speaking) most remote meetings now go off without a hitch.
In the future, we’re going to see more hybrid meetings, with some participants in an office and others working from home. These meetings can feel unnatural, but if organizations focus on a few key considerations, they can make their hybrid meetings as seamless as their video-only meetings.
1. Adopt the Right Video Tools
In-person participants in a hybrid meeting will shift their gaze around the room, watching the screen when a remote participant is talking, but otherwise making eye contact with their in-person colleagues like they would in any other office meeting. It’s important to remember that remote participants will be looking at their screens the entire time. Organizations should take steps to give these users the best experience possible. Some video tools can automatically divide an image, giving each in-person participant his or her own “screen.” For remote participants, this creates the sort of “Brady Bunch” panels that they have come to expect in video meetings and makes it easier to keep track of the conversation.
2. Optimize Audio
Often, when technology hampers video meetings, it’s actually the audio that causes problems. Dedicated headsets and technology such as audio fencing can block background noise. Organizations should also take care to optimize the placement of speakers and microphones inside conference rooms.
3. Enable Content Sharing
Interactive digital displays are great, but they’re expensive. Most employees aren’t going to have them at home (and some conference rooms might not be equipped with them, either), so it’s important for organizations to give participants in hybrid meetings alternative ways to share content. Screen sharing is sometimes sufficient, but for a more interactive experience, look to camera- or tablet-based tools that allow for live whiteboard capture. And here’s a pro tip when it comes to content sharing: Don’t embed videos in your presentations. It’s simply too much of a long shot. Sometimes it works; often, it doesn’t.
4. Simplify and Standardize
If video collaboration was ever a niche technology, those days are long gone. It has become a critical tool for virtually all knowledge workers, and as a result, it’s important for organizations to standardize their equipment. Something as small as rolling out the same noise-canceling headset (with centralized updates, of course) can go a long way toward standardizing meeting experiences and minimizing management headaches.
5. Consider Culture
Finally, it’s not just about the technology. A successful hybrid meeting requires remote and in-office participants to all be on the same page, and a lot of that comes down to cultural norms. Meeting moderators should be trained to actively involve remote participants, and there should be clear guidelines about when people are expected to have their cameras on. Something as small as using people’s names more often during meetings can help to increase attention, and simple changes such as encouraging at-home camera setups that allow for movement around the room can make the experience feel more engaging. Like technology improvements — for instance, a better headset or a higher-quality camera — these cultural considerations are often small details that add up to make a big difference.
Story by Tony Oquendo, a Collaboration Manager for CDW•G.