A hybrid meeting. Four people sit around a table in a conference room and face a screen on the wall. The screen is divided into six windows, each showing another person in the meeting.
Hybrid staff meetings, in which some employees are in the office and some are working remotely, are becoming increasingly common. — Getty Images/AndreyPopov

The COVID-19 pandemic has its ups and downs, but it’s not over just yet. For the foreseeable future, businesses will have to accommodate hybrid staff meetings. Here are seven best practices for leveraging hybrid staff meetings.

[Read more: How to Develop a Hybrid Office Policy]

Use productivity/meeting apps alongside Zoom

Don’t solely rely on technology like Zoom or similar video conferencing software to make meetings happen. You should also incorporate additional tech tools like:

  • Productivity trackers.
  • Personnel management software, so you can track who arrives at the meeting on schedule.
  • Whiteboard apps, which allow members to collaborate on different devices over a conference.

Utilizing various tools can help make your hybrid staff meeting feel more like a traditional in-office meeting.

[Read more: Zoom Video Conferencing Alternatives]

Have a meeting facilitator

A meeting facilitator is someone who leads the meeting. They keep things in order and ensure everyone progresses through the schedule on pace. As discussed later, the meeting facilitator can also take responsibility for setting up the meeting tech ahead of time.

The facilitator can redirect the conversation, point out the next line item on the agenda and help keep everyone focused. The role of the facilitator is invaluable since it helps create a truly productive meeting.

Use quality audio equipment

You should leverage quality audio equipment that doesn’t crackle or muffle the voices of meeting participants. This will save everyone from spending most of the meeting asking other people to repeat what they just said.

It’s also a good idea to check that all your employees have access to a standard microphone. And try to minimize background noises in the office, such as traffic or ambient office sounds. The less noise your computers have to filter through, the easier it will be to stay focused.

Cut everyone some slack and only require meeting attendees to turn their cameras on when speaking or directly involved in the discussion.

Have a clear agenda

Don’t start a hybrid staff meeting without a clear breakdown of what you hope to accomplish. A clear agenda will help you stay on track and should be put together by the meeting facilitator ahead of time.

Specific software may also allow you to visibly go through the agenda as the meeting goes on. Check things off the list during the meeting to give everyone a sense of how it's progressing.

You can still leave a little time at the end for socializing or general questions, but make sure this item is included on the agenda too.

Alternate start times

When you have a hybrid workforce, some employees may operate in different time zones. A particular meeting time could work well for one group of employees but not for another.

Alternate the start times for your hybrid staff meetings to keep everyone happy. If one group doesn’t like the current meeting time, pick a different time for the next meeting.

Compromising in this way shows your employees that you value each of them and strive to treat everyone fairly.

Avoid camera fatigue

Don’t make everyone keep their cameras on the entire time if they aren’t directly participating. When you’re using Zoom or other video conferencing software for long periods of time, leaving your camera on can be tiring.

Meeting attendees often feel like they have to constantly look between different people or even check out their own appearances. Cut everyone some slack and only require meeting attendees to turn their cameras on when speaking or directly involved in the discussion.

[Read more: How to Create a Positive Hybrid Office Policy]

Test tech in advance

Finally, have your meeting facilitator test any tech you plan to use in the meeting ahead of time. This allows you to work out any kinks in the setup and will save valuable time when the meeting starts. No one wants to waste 15 minutes at the beginning of the meeting figuring out how to make a PowerPoint presentation work.

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Published January 18, 2022