Transition to ‘hybrid’ brings a significant change in how knowledge workers meet. When some people are in one room and others are distributed, how do you preserve equity and fairness – and keep everyone engaged? Running a meeting in an office may be simple, especially if you’ve done it before. However, hybrid meetings can be more challenging. You need to keep things fair and equitable while some people are in the office and others are in various locations away from it.
Thankfully, Microsoft Research published a study in collaboration with the Aarhus University of Denmark. Hybrid Meetings in the Modern Workplace: Stories of Success and Failure could be a great help in holding hybrid meetings that work. We’ll also share some tips to help you run hybrid meetings that get things done.
Researchers observed real-life hybrid meetings and revealed five (5) important social and cultural dimensions of a hybrid meeting.
5 Important Social and Cultural Dimensions of a Hybrid Meeting
There are five essential cultural and social dimensions to be aware of in a hybrid meeting. You need to think about the meeting task, inclusiveness with participants in various locations, team dynamics, meeting etiquette, and cultural behaviors. We’ll go into each of those in more depth below.
1. Meeting Task
- Observation: more clear and defined meeting tasks result in better meeting outcomes;
- Recommendation: define clear goals and agenda for the meeting.
Our first tip is to make sure you have planned the meeting before it happens. One of the things many may have observed is that meetings have better outcomes when there are defined and clear meeting tasks available.
Rather than rushing into a meeting without any preparation, take time and slow down. As a leader, think about the goals for the meeting. Write those down and ensure they are clear. Next, set the agenda, so you have a guide for your meetings.
2. Inclusiveness and Remote Participants
- Observation: remote participants often feel isolated, and co-located participants dominate the interaction;\
- Recommendation: assign a meeting facilitator to help level the playing field.
One of the things that remote workers struggle with is a feeling of isolation. This occurs in the workplace and at meetings. Many remote workers feel they should stay in the background while those at the office take over the interaction.
This can be frustrating, so the best thing you can do is to assign a meeting facilitator. This person can ensure everyone has a chance to speak, whether they’re in the office or another location.
3. Team Dynamics and Proximity
- Observation: team members who have met each other in person can recognize each other’s voices and do not necessarily need to see each other on the screen. However, awareness of others in the meeting is vital if the participants do not know each other well;
- Recommendation: plan for a high-quality video connection (and don’t turn the video off) if meeting participants don’t know each other well.
When team members work in an office all day, they know each other’s faces and voices. They may not need to see that information on a screen. It’s easy to determine whether Jonathan or Nancy are talking. However, in hybrid meetings, not everyone has this information. Some participants may not know each other as well, which can be an issue.
One of the ways to handle this issue in hybrid meetings is by planning for a high-quality video connection for everyone. Leave the video on throughout the meeting for the sake of those who are not in the office. It helps everyone get to know one another.
4. Meeting Etiquette
- Observation: hybrid meetings are most effective when participants are familiar with the manners of establishing digital dialogues such as waiting 1–2 seconds after the person finishes his/her talk or speaking clearly and distinctly;
- Recommendation: communicate meeting etiquette to your team that will be observed in hybrid meetings.
The most productive hybrid meetings occur when everyone uses the same etiquette. For instance, things run more smoothly if participants wait a few seconds after one person finishes talking to start speaking. It’s also essential to speak as clearly and distinctly as possible.
Communicate the etiquette for the meeting before anyone participates. When people have guidelines, everyone will work together, and nobody will feel pushed out during the meeting.
5. Cultural Behaviors
- Observation: different cultures behaved differently. Co-located people in EMEA interrupted each other and talked over each other; co-located participants from APAC did not interrupt – and spoke only when asked direct questions;
- Recommendation: consider cultural behaviors; the boss or the facilitator (see #2) must proactively address asymmetries in interaction.
Keep in mind that different cultures have unique behavior. For instance, one group might talk over each other and interrupt, while another might be wary of interrupting and only speak up when asked a direct question.
Make sure to consider cultural behavior. The boss or facilitator should be there to address any asymmetries in interactions, so everyone has a chance to talk while adhering to their typical behavior.
Use the tips above to ensure the best possible hybrid meetings. Create a foundation of technology that works for everyone. Make sure an agenda and structure are in place. Through strong facilitation and clear meeting etiquette, it’s easier to make hybrid meetings inclusive, engaging, and productive for the good of the company.
Technology foundation, structure and agenda, strong facilitation and clear meeting etiquette can make hybrid meetings productive, engaging and inclusive.
FEATURED TEAMRADERIE EXPERIENCE
Hybrid work requires new norms and skills. Teamraderie has launched a new experience to help your team prepare – Setting-Up Your Team for Hybrid Work.
This new hybrid world has both danger and opportunity for work teams.
The danger is that we become fragmented, out-of-sync, and even distrustful of each other. We’ll succumb to the danger if we stick to the old ways of doing things.
The opportunity is to leverage this new way of hybrid working to become more inclusive, connected, adaptive, resilient, innovative, and productive. We’ll take advantage of this opportunity if we learn how to evolve how we collaborate and how we lead.
Stanford University’s Glenn Fajardo will lead your team through two exercises – one to capture your discoveries on improved ways of working enabled by remote work, and a second exercise that builds on that to establish a new charter for working together.
Premised on academic research, this experience is an excellent way for teams to prepare for the next era of work.
Experiences can be explored and booked online via Teamraderie experience finder. If you are seeking a personalized recommendation, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.