It’s 2021, and hybrid work is the new normal. After a year (or two) of social distancing and safety restrictions, chances are that your workplace has been ‘doing the hybrid thing’ for a while now. Your office may have even gotten a new tech outfit to support distributed teamwork.
But successfully running a hybrid workplace isn’t all about having good equipment — it’s also good working culture. Managing a hybrid team brings unique opportunities: employers get to choose from wider pools of talent, and employees get the option to work in a more flexible way. However, hybrid working environments also have unique challenges that can only be solved with intentional solutions.
Here are seven steps that will help you make a crucial part of the hybrid working experience more successful: meetings.
#1: Set your team up for success
When you’re working with distributed teams of employees, ensuring everyone has access to the same tools is essential. When you’re scheduling a meeting, make sure that the information about when the meeting will happen and who needs to be there is clear. Also make sure that the invite contains information about the software that will be used, including any extra necessary applications, extensions, or other downloads.
Pro Tip: Here’s a quick checklist to use when you’re getting ready to schedule a call with your team.
- Date and time: make sure you’ve synchronized the schedule across time zones.
- Link/meeting ID and password: ensure everyone has the information they need to get on the call. Depending on which software you use, this could be a link, meeting ID, or phone number. If your meeting will require a password, include it in the invitation.
- Agenda: make sure that everyone knows what the meeting is about, and what needs to happen when.
- Apps and extensions: if your team is using a virtual blackboard, notetaking tool, or any other extensions, make sure they have ample time to download and test it before the meeting beings.
- Emergency contact: Ensure that everyone knows who to contact if they are unable to access the meeting.
#2: Test and troubleshoot equipment beforehand
There’s nothing more frustrating than signing in for a video call only to realize that your camera, microphone, or laptop isn’t working. Save yourself the trouble by testing your equipment in plenty of time before your meeting begins — and if you’re organizing a meeting, kindly remind others to do so as well!
If, by chance, you happen to identify a technical problem before your meeting begins, don’t panic. If you’re not able to troubleshoot yourself, contact your AV installer. If you’ve identified the source of a problem as a piece of hardware, contact the manufacturer as soon as possible. If the issue seems to be a software problem, reach out to the issuing company’s helpline.
Pro Tip: Here are links to the contact information of some popular video conferencing platforms:
#3: Make sure everyone can be seen and heard
An important part of hybrid work culture is making sure that everyone feels included in the working process, no matter where in the world they are. Achieving a sense of inclusion and team spirit means making sure that remote team members can communicate with on-site team members just as easily as other on-site people can — and to do this successfully, you’ll need to make sure that everyone can be seen and heard. Every single person that’s involved in a call should have the opportunity to be a part of the audio and visual experience of the call.
While it seems simple, ensuring everyone can be seen may be easier said than done. If your office has a large on-site team, you’ll need a camera (or cameras) that are capable of clearly capturing each participant’s face and microphones that can pick up everyone’s voice. For example, the AVer CAM340+ may be perfect for a small conference space, while the AVer CAM520 PRO coupled with the MXL AC-360-Z V2 is suitable for a larger room.
Click here for a guide on how to find the best cameras and microphones for your space.
#4: Encourage collaboration with breakout rooms and huddle sessions
Making sure that team members feel a sense of camaraderie is essential for the success of any organization. In the era of hybrid work, this can be challenging — on-site employees can bond more easily with one another than remote employees, which can make off-site workers feel isolated.
Virtual breakout rooms and huddle sessions are a great way to promote close communication and collaboration between on- and off-site team members. The meeting’s host can assign small discussion groups to include members of both groups, facilitating connections between people who are in the room and people who are elsewhere.
#5: Make the meeting more accessible
If you’re working in a hybrid setting, it’s possible that remote employees may not have good quality audio and visual equipment to support their streaming experience. To make sure that this won’t get in the way of the working process, try and make your meetings as accessible as possible: allow people to choose whether or not they would like to stream video, and make a recording of the meeting so that people can check back to take notes of moments where they may have been offline. Consider using a transcription service, and allow meeting attendees to pre-render any video or presentation materials.
If your company has the budget, it may also be worthwhile to invest in some AV equipment that distributed employees can use at home. For example, the AVer CAM340+ is a plug-and-play, compact professional camera ideal for home offices.
#6: Incorporate powerful visuals and collaborative whiteboarding tools
Working in a hybrid setting requires creative thinking. Communication, problem-solving, and collaboration must all happen in unconventional ways — and since non-normative is the new norm, using new strategies and tools is a must. One popular approach is using collaborative visual elements, including digital whiteboards. Coupled with a physical smart board in your on-site conference space, your team will be unstoppable.
If you’re looking for a flexible, “all-in-one” solution that can be used for digital whiteboarding, marking up documents, and more, check out the Zoom-in-One Neat Board, a multi-touch smart screen that dynamically reacts to the needs of both on-site and remote meeting attendees. If the Neat Board doesn’t float your boat, check out some other all-in-one touchscreen displays.
#7: Structure discussions to include remote voices
Imagine: you’re at a meeting with a lot of creative thinking happening. People are excitedly blurting out ideas and solutions. The air is thick with inspiration, and you have a stroke of genius. You want so badly to share it with the group! But you can’t get a word in edgewise — your teammates are with each other in person, and you’re attending the meeting remotely. After no one hears your interjections for a few minutes, you give up.
This experience isn’t just frustrating — it can also be discouraging and isolating for team members who are attending a meeting remotely. Therefore, making sure that everyone is included in the discussion is essential. Appoint a facilitator who is in charge of making sure that everyone’s voice is heard equally, no matter where they are.
We hope that this guide has helped you make hybrid meetings more successful. For more information on how to best use video conferencing software and choose AV equipment that’s right for your space, check out the rest of our content InGenius Solutions blog. We also offer complimentary consultations with our AV experts to discuss your next project. Schedule one here!