Best Practices for Holding Team Meetings in the Hybrid Workplace
Remember in-person meetings?
Countless Americans started working remotely in March of 2020, and an estimated one in four workers continued to do so throughout 2021. For many of them, the idea of getting a group of three or more people together in a conference room seems almost archaic—a true relic of the pre-pandemic area.
But today, 63% of high-growth companies say that hybrid is here to stay. It's become standard for many companies to have a mix on-site and remote employees, as well as those who do a bit of both.
Hybrid work can make meetings more challenging
While hybrid offers plenty of perks and flexibility, it does have some drawbacks when it comes to meetings.
Hybrid organizations are grappling with how to keep employees across varying locations engaged, combatting Zoom fatigue, and ensuring a safe and healthy return to the office. At the same time, 45% of employees feel overwhelmed by the number of meetings they attend.
This begs the question: What is the best way to hold meetings in a hybrid world?
Hybrid companies are in the position to radically rethink meeting format and standard protocols to maximize hybrid employee attentiveness and participation.
With these best practices, your meetings can be more engaging, productive, and hybrid-friendly.
Related content: Should You Offer Flexible Work Schedules for Your Team?
1. Set a standard protocol for meetings
This is an adjustment period for the workforce.
For many employees, they show up to the office only to find themselves on Zoom with their remote colleagues for a large part of the day—and some even find themselves on the same Zoom meeting just a few desks away from each other.
Hybrid work has completely transformed the meeting structure, which is why your organization might benefit from setting a standard protocol for meetings moving forward.
These hybrid meeting protocols might include:
- Booking and checking into rooms. If the expectation is that at least one team member will be in the office during the meeting, reserving a conference room ensures everyone on-site calls in from the same place. This ensures your office space is properly used and doesn’t put the onus on office employees to find a space to take a call. Using conference room scheduling software can help make this process easier, since it's clear to all employees which room they'll be meeting in, and you can integrate meeting information with employee calendars, send reminders via Slack or Teams, and more.
- Adding a video meeting link. Conversely, hybrid work means not all employees will be in the office for a meeting. Keeping the standard practice of adding a Zoom or Google Meet link to each meeting and logging on as soon as someone checks into the room is an inclusive way to kick things off.
- Setting in-person meeting rules. Every company’s hybrid landscape will look different—and meeting structure should reflect that. For example, if everyone on your team is expected to be in the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays, perhaps group meetings should be reserved for then, while 1:1 meetings can occur on Zoom throughout the week.
2. Have all employees join from their own device
Hybrid work emphasizes the use of an office as a resource rather than a necessity—opening up the door for employees to choose to work where they feel is best.
Unfortunately, remote workers often worry about feeling excluded or overlooked by their office colleagues. While many have adjusted to the new landscape, some remote workers are still at risk of the “out of sight, out of mind” dangers that remote work poses in this return-to-office phase.
One way to alleviate these fears is with meetings. Specifically, you can request all employees—regardless of where they’re calling in from—join via their own device.
This option is more appropriate in some settings than others. For example, company-wide meetings where only one or two people are presenting means attendees can join muted from their desks. Meanwhile, if your office is smaller and all attendees are in the building, it would make more sense to grab a conference room.
Setting the standard of everyone joining from their own device puts all employees on an equal plane during Zoom calls. Those in conference rooms won’t get caught up in their own conversations, and all attendees can see and hear everyone more easily.
3. Ask your employees what issues they’re having
The mix of working preferences ushers in a new set of challenges as employees return to the office. That’s why it’s important to get ahead of potential issues before they cause damage to employee morale or productivity.
Having managers bring up the subject to their direct reports in a weekly meeting is the best way to get personalized and actionable feedback. You can also send out an anonymous survey through Google Forms if you feel like some employees might be disinclined to speak openly about their meeting experience.
Some topics to touch on include:
- Technical issues: Are conference rooms and room booking software working as intended? Are there any sound or camera issues? Is there anything you can fix on a technical level to make the meeting experience smoother and better overall?
- Inclusion: How included do employees feel in meetings when they’re remote? On-site? Joining from their own device? Is there anything about the current meeting setup that makes employees feel left out or disengaged?
- Presenting: Are screens and presentations shared in a way that’s accessible to all participants?
If the answers to any of these questions suggest meetings aren’t working, consider tweaking your standard protocols to ensure all employees get what they need out of meetings.
This renormalization will take months—if not years—so running these surveys quarterly can help your team gauge employee opinions as things continue to shift.
Related content: Creating a Diverse Workplace by Promoting Flexibility
4. Limit the amount of in-person meetings
Lastly, keep in mind that the world continues to deal with COVID in more ways than one.
Some employees are still hoping to avoid face-to-face exposure due to health issues and an aversion to both COVID and other viruses. Other employees may have taken advantage of your company’s permanent remote offering and simply won’t return to the office on a regular basis.
Regardless of the reason, in-person meetings just aren’t for everyone. Depending on your office policies and the distribution of your team, some employees may never plan to come into the office for meetings.
To that end, consider limiting the number of in-person meetings, depending on factors like meeting size, the availability of conference rooms, or the breakdown of in-person versus remote employees.
You may, for instance, cap in-person meetings at three or four people, then require meetings with more attendees to have workers join from their own device. Whatever you decide, make sure these rules are codified in your organization’s standard protocols for meetings.
Mastering meetings wherever you are
Although not everyone’s cup of tea, meetings are an essential part of work that ensure different departments and stakeholders get on the same page and work more efficiently.
However, the point of meetings isn’t just to have meetings. They only work if everyone gets the necessary benefits out of them.
That’s why now is the time to re-imagine how your company handles hybrid meetings. From setting standard protocols, to relying on technology, to sourcing direct feedback from employees, there are simple yet effective ways to keep your team engaged and your meetings purposeful—no matter where attendees are joining from.