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Hybrid meetings: a guide for small businesses

Organisations continue to struggle with creating an inclusive hybrid meeting environment despite the availability of hardware and software. The slow adoption of necessary cultural shifts hinders the achievement of true equity in meeting experiences, leading to common challenges such as frequent agenda-less video meetings and the exclusion of remote colleagues. These issues persist across companies of all sizes in the hybrid working landscape.

The question arises, did we ever really have meeting equity? Is it just glaringly obvious now that we have faces on the big screen rather than hidden away in the back of a boardroom? Or is it more that we are now in a culturally aware time where we need to value everyone’s opinion and give them a share of voice? Let’s discuss.

The Hybrid Work Model’s Impact on Meeting Equity

According to Sean Byrne, Head of Logitech B2B ANZ, “Meeting equity starts when we understand who we are building video collaboration meeting rooms for. You must strike a balance between creating a space built for the people joining remotely and the people in the physical office. Strong leadership is then needed on the call to ensure everyone is seen and allowed to be heard.”

The hybrid working model has exacerbated meeting equity issues already present before the pandemic. Video calls often highlight the domination of a few individuals while leaving others feeling voiceless, bored, or excluded. This creates an unfair advantage for those physically present in the office, leading to decreased engagement and isolation among remote team members, ultimately impacting productivity and morale.

A cultural shift is necessary to address these challenges to bridge the gap between remote workers and those in physical meetings. According to Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trend Index, 43% of remote workers feel excluded in meetings, yet only 27% of companies have implemented new hybrid meeting etiquette to ensure inclusivity and engagement. If your company falls into the remaining 73% without a hybrid meeting policy, it’s time to take action and make changes to promote meeting equity.

Enacting a Hybrid Meeting Policy

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A hybrid meeting policy should include guidelines ensuring all participants, regardless of location, have equal access and participation in meetings. In Google’s ‘Navigating Hybrid Work: A Google Workspace Handbook, they provide a policy for creating a positive hybrid working environment. The policy includes the following guidelines:

Acknowledge virtual team members when they join a meeting and use the first 5 minutes to connect with the team and check in.

Avoid “in-the-room” side conversations that may exclude virtual team members.

Provide multiple ways for people to provide feedback, including soliciting feedback in the agenda doc or through Chat, Q&A, and polls.

Encourage team members to add their working hours, working location, and focus time into their calendars so scheduling can consider things like well-being, personal commitments, or childcare.

Include only those who need to be a part of the conversation, but cast a wide net. When in doubt, invite people as optional and ask if they’d like to attend.

Fostering Meeting Equity with Technology

Ensuring meeting equity in the hybrid work environment requires providing employees with the appropriate technology to boost productivity and morale, enabling seamless collaboration and communication between remote and in-office workers, focusing on equitable access to clear audio and video for those working from home.

Similarly, in-office meeting rooms should be equipped to prioritise video meetings, leveraging available software and hardware. Logitech Sight, an AI-powered tabletop conference camera, is a game changer in facilitating meeting equity in the hybrid model. It works with the Logitech Rally Bar camera to capture a comprehensive view of meeting participants, following the conversation as it moves around the conference table. Logitech Sight solves the disparity between hybrid teams by giving remote workers an immersive “at the table” experience when engaging with office-based colleagues.

Meeting equity is an essential issue that needs attention in the hybrid work environment. While the necessary hardware and software are readily available, fostering a culture of inclusivity requires a shift in mindset and a commitment to creating an environment where all voices are heard and valued, regardless of physical presence. By implementing a hybrid meeting policy and leveraging appropriate technology, organisations can create a more inclusive and equitable meeting environment that fosters collaboration, engagement, and productivity.

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