We’ve moved into a hybrid world but it seems everywhere we go people are in constant meetings.  

On average, UK working adults are attending 13% MORE meetings since the pandemic started. 60% are multitasking in those meetings if they’re dialling in virtually, driving huge inefficiencies of both time, creativity and productivity. And, as a result, we’re working an extra half a working day a week, on average (meaning many of us are doing far more).

There’s got to be another way, right?!

We’ve been supporting leaders and teams on leading in a hybrid world throughout this year and have had a front row seat to the inspired thinking, hybrid team hacks and top tips that really make hybrid meetings work. We’ll share some with you here.

1) Create immediate connection in hybrid meetings
The energy that people in a room together have is very different to that of individuals dialling in and subconsciously can create a ‘them and us’ vibe (especially if there’s pre-meet banter going on ‘in room’ that virtual participants are not part of). Always start your hybrid meetings with something fun or thought-provoking to bring the group together and create a sense of ‘one room’. This could be as simple as asking everyone for a highlight from the last week, to draw how they’re feeling or to bring an item to the meeting to talk about. 

2) Prepare and set up your hybrid meeting properly
As facilitator or lead, you can’t career into a hybrid meeting with one minute to go and expect a great outcome. The set up, sound and positioning all need to be checked and ideally, with a remote participant too (rope one of these in ahead). Designate someone as a connector in addition to the main facilitator – the facilitator ensures everything flows and moderates the meeting, the connector is keeping an eye on the chat box and ensuring everyone virtual is brought in. It’s a great double act to ensure productivity and inclusion. Kicking off with hybrid etiquette is also key, covering pace, volume of speech, addressing all parties and more, to give everyone a good experience.

3) Co-create well
Physical capture tools (e.g. flip charts, non-interactive whiteboards, post-it notes) are simply unfit for purpose for any hybrid meeting. All supporting capture or collaboration tools should be digital with all able to access easily and contribute to.
The best meetings allow participants to provide input using different modalities — by writing, drawing, speaking, or voting. This includes solo thinking time and then shared discussion time where these thoughts are added to a shared digital space like Miro, Google Docs, Confluence and others. 

4) Remember our human condition
Pop a post-it by your screen (whether working remotely or in the office) that says ‘we are all human beings, everyone is different and is facing different challenges.’ It’s so easy for this to get lost but remembering that not everyone will act, think or react in the same way helps to remind us that we are all humans (and all dealing with our own problems, life admin and challenges outside of work). This is especially important to remember when we come together for hybrid sessions. 

5) Poll your people!
Right now, in our hybrid world, asking great questions and listening to the responses (really listening) is going a long way. Regularly poll your people (and listening and acting on the responses) to discover things such as what times of day work best for your team for meetings, if they’re comfortable with the collaboration tools or whether they’d like some training and more. Just asking the question builds goodwill and working with the team to then agree what happens and when, for the collective, builds connection, buy-in and motivation.

7) Remote first policy
Companies like Slack are adopting a wholesale remote first policy where all meetings are virtual by default and even the company HQ is now stated as its virtual collaboration hub rather than a physical office space. Another element of a remote first policy can be to let remote attendees speak first when the floor is opened up or comment invited in hybrid meetings. It’s easy for conversations in the room to dominate and for remote attendees to get edged out in their tiny Zoom squares! Ensuring they speak first as a default redresses the balance.

8) Review every hybrid session
Hybrid working and meetings are still relatively new to us all and there’s a lot of learning as we go, test and learn and trial and error around what works and what doesn’t. At the end of every hybrid meeting ask people ‘how was that for you, is there anything that would have made it better?’ Exploring how the session felt for those both in the room and virtually, including strength of connection and collaboration between the two, is vital. Make every meeting better than the last.

9) Invest in tech
Technology is necessary for remote working, yet 42% of employees are still lacking essential home office equipment. Whether it’s second screens for home working or interactive displays in the office, ensuring investment in this is paramount. No one wants to be looking at a flip chart down the lens of a webcam. Supporting employees with better broadband speeds and more powerful laptops is also worth doing. Of course, this all costs money but hybrid is here to stay and how much time is currently wasted with technical challenges and tech fails?

10) Asynchronous collaboration
If you haven’t heard of it, you will do soon! Asynchronous collaboration refers to any kind of work that can be done without a meeting — but still requires you to work with other people. In other words, group tasks, activities, and communication that doesn’t need to happen at the same time with everyone in the room (or on the phone). Teams should start with asynchronous collaboration, and only after they’ve made the most of asynchronous collaboration should they have a virtual or hybrid meeting. Meetings should be a last resort, not a default. Then maybe we might have less of them!

The Jester approach always encourages ‘just one thing’, so by implementing just one thing from the list, hybrid meetings should start to feel fresher and more productive. Try it.

If you’d like to chat to Jester about any of your current hybrid, leadership or culture challenges we’d love to hear from you – get in touch with the team at team.jester@leadhappy.co.uk.