Advice on how organisations can plan and manage a move to hybrid working
As many organisations move to a more hybrid way of working, a key challenge is how to conduct effective hybrid meetings (where some participants attend in person and some attend remotely).
First of all, think carefully about how to have hybrid meetings, and whether any upskilling is required. Hybrid meetings need careful facilitation to ensure everyone has an equal experience and opportunity to contribute. Without an effective approach hybrid meetings can lead to something called ‘presence disparity’, where those attending remotely have a poorer experience than those who attend in person.
Some meetings aren’t suitable for a hybrid approach and are better with everyone in person or everyone attending remotely. The following meetings may be suitable for a hybrid approach:
- Provision of information with the opportunity for questions and answers
- General updates, such as progress status, reviewing actions or information exchange
- Team catch-ups or decision making.
- Detailed discussions or debates or in-depth collaboration.
- Creative or idea generation meetings.
- Long, detailed meetings with multi-media.
- Be clear about purpose of the meeting (such as decision-making, information-sharing, collaboration) and check it’s suited to a hybrid approach. Where it is, communicate the intended outcome so everyone can prepare.
- Avoid ‘presence disparity’ and work to ensure each attendee has a consistent experience. Take steps to involve remote participants by providing everyone a chance to speak, calling on everyone by name if necessary.
- Ensure everyone has an equal voice, don’t just default to people you can see or those in the meeting room. Use functions like chat or hand-raising and explain how questions or comments will be answered at the beginning. Make sure remote participants can contribute throughout – don’t just bring them in at the end.
- Refresh training in meeting facilitation for each type of meeting, while using functions now available on various platforms.
- Encourage and support teams to establish their own principles for hybrid meetings. This may include how often to meet physically and for what purpose, what technology to use and how to ensure that communication is inclusive.
- Decide upon key communication channels - not every communication will need to be a meeting. Consider if there are other opportunities. There are many different ways to communicate – but too many can be overwhelming. Agree a primary channel for each particular purpose, such as one platform for online meetings, and one for messaging. Check that everyone knows how to use them fully.
- Make use of asynchronous tools (such as Slack or chat functions in platforms like Microsoft Teams) to allow people to have schedule- and location-flexibility, and reduce meeting time as alternatives to having hybrid meetings.
- Don’t allow those in the meeting room to begin side conversations that remote participants cannot hear or take part in.
- Avoid using equipment in the room (such as a flip chart or visual aids) that those attending remotely are unable to properly see. Present slides via the remote technology in use.
- Don’t start in-person conversations before the meeting starts (or remote participants have joined) or continue conversations after they have left.
Do you have any tips on hybrid meetings? Visit the CIPD community to share your experience. We’ll continue to build our content on hybrid working as time goes on and we all learn more about effective ways of working.
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