Inclusive Hybrid Meetings: 6 Ways to Make Location Matter Less

By

Max Shepherd-Cross

·

April 27, 2022

TABLE OF CONTENTS

“Do hybrid meetings really work? Or do remote employees get left out?”

You're not alone in wondering that. In fact, Daniel Durrans asked that very question on Twitter. Durrans’s tweet asks, “I wonder if a pro tip for hybrid office environments is: Don’t have hybrid meetings?”

“As soon as the balance of attendees tips towards the physical space, those who are remote start being left out,” he adds.

While many people, like Durrans, think hybrid meetings don’t work, we’ve found that hybrid meetings do work. But only if you actively make them inclusive.

“As soon as the balance of attendees tips towards the physical space, those who are remote start being left out.”

Don’t wait for your employees to tell you they feel left out and disengaged. Make your hybrid meetings more inclusive with these six tips.

1. Ask yourself if you really need a meeting

Live meetings aren't the only way to communicate. In fact, 70% of employees found meetings disruptive, and 58% felt that half of their meetings could have been an email instead.

Turning an unnecessary meeting into an email, Slack message, or pre-recorded video could save your team hours—30 minutes of actual meeting time plus the hours they would have spent prepping for the meeting, context switching, and refocusing after the meeting.

But when is a meeting worth your time? We designed a flow chart to help you out.

Take advantage of asynchronous collaboration tools when possible.

The bottom line: lean on asynchronous communication when you can.

  • Use Slack and Notion for team channels and private messages
  • Use Loom or Soapbox to record videos and screencasts to send to your team
  • Use 360Learning and WorkRamp for on-demand training
  • Use email for company-wide announcements that don’t need responses

But that doesn't mean you should never schedule real-time meetings.

Live video calls are great for sensitive topics, management-type meetings, and problems you've tried (and failed) to solve async.

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2. Establish ground rules for your meetings

When you have one team in the same room, it’s easy to talk over each other, leave out the people on screens, or miss important details.

Which is why 43% of remote employees felt left out during meetings. And yet, just 27% of companies set ground rules to make them feel heard.

Rules make both parties stay aware of each other, keeping meetings inclusive.

Our downloadable hybrid meeting guidelines have eight rules every team needs to have.

Different ground rules work for different companies. Customize our list to fit your culture.

3. Make your meeting invites as specific as possible

Tell your attendees what the meeting is about so they can come prepared, ensuring that your meeting stays on topic, achieves its goals, and ends on time.

All of your meeting invites should have these five elements:

  • The topic of your meeting in the title
  • A quick summary of what your meeting is about
  • What your attendees need to prepare beforehand (e.g., ideas, notes, etc.)
  • Expected meeting outcomes
  • Meeting time and link

This is an example of a meeting that includes all five elements.

Default to digital-first when organizing your meeting room so your employees can join and participate no matter where they are.

4. Set your meetings at a reasonable time for all attendees

Like the flow chart says—if you can't find a reasonable time that works for everyone, then default to asynchronous communication.

More than half of remote employees believe that having an in-office counterpart will make them feel left out and left behind. Continuously leaving out your remote employees because they're in “inconvenient timezones” compared to your in-office employees validates those fears.

Schedule meetings that work for everyone by using tools like the World Time Buddy.

Also use a meeting room booking app so your remote employees know when they can book times with your in-office employees.

Prove the surveys wrong by scheduling meetings that work for everyone and showing your employees that location truly doesn't matter.

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5. Invest in a digital-first set up to actively encourage collaboration

Your remote team and in-office team log into your meeting differently.

Remote employees follow a meeting link and enter the virtual room—one person per laptop. Your in-office team will probably have three or more people on one laptop.

You need to have a digital-first setup that gives both your remote workers and your in-office team similar meeting experiences.

Start with choosing your meeting application. If you want to use Zoom, then make sure your team knows that all of your meetings need to have a Zoom link—not a Google Meet one.

Next, test all your technology beforehand, including your mic, your presentation, and your meeting app’s screen share feature.Lastly, invest in collaborative meeting tools like Poll Everywhere and Slido to send your attendees in-meeting quizzes and polls. In-meeting features encourage collaboration.

6. Record the meeting for people who can't make it

Be prepared to recap your meeting for people who can’t make it.

After every meeting, make sure you have a video recording, detailed notes, and a quick summary that highlights important points and next steps.

  • Get a video recording using your meeting application’s built-in recording feature
  • Generate detailed notes by assigning an official note-taker or administrative assistant before you start your meeting
  • Ask either your note-taker or facilitator to create your meeting highlights

Or you can automate the entire process with AI meeting recording tools like Fireflies, Otter, and Grain.

AI meeting assistants automatically “join” your meetings, transcribe the conversation, and send the notes to whoever you want to send them to. You can customize meeting notes settings to send only to you, your teammates, or all meeting participants regardless of organization.

The technology not only saves you time and effort, but it also makes sure all of your meetings have notes you can send to your team.

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Make your hybrid meetings people-first

In the Twitter thread we mentioned earlier, Daniel Durrans admits that hybrid meetings work best in one scenario: if the facilitator puts in the effort to make them inclusive.

Daniel Durrans admits that hybrid meetings can sometimes leave remote workers out—unless facilitators actively encourage everyone to participate.

If you focus on making your hybrid meeting experience a human experience, then you won't have the problem of team members feeling left out.

Book a demo with us so to see what people-first hybrid meetings look like in action.

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Max Shepherd-Cross

Max is one of the cofounders and CEO of Officely.

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