4 Steps to run a successful meeting in the era of hybrid work

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4 Steps to run a successful meeting in the era of hybrid work

Meetings have been a staple of working life for as long as businesses have existed. Considered critical to collaboration, they are supposed to bring key players together to share information, make decisions, and solve problems. However, over the years, meetings have become increasingly less effective as they have increasingly dominated our diaries.

This has only been exacerbated by the rapid spread of hybrid working arrangements. With team members now scattered across multiple locations, it has become much more difficult to bring the right people together. Staying on task is also much harder, as meetings are now the only chance many team members have to socialise.

That being said, it is still possible to hold successful meetings within hybrid working environments. In fact, there are four simple steps you can take to boost the effectiveness of any hybrid meeting you hold.

What is hybrid work?

Put simply, hybrid working arrangements are where team members split their time between the office and working remotely. This is usually quite structured, with employees expected to be in the office a set number of days each week. While the ideal arrangements vary, most companies are currently opting to have employees in the office 2 – 3 days per week. However, recent Harvard Business School research has found that as few as one office day a week could be best.

The biggest benefit of hybrid working is that it gives team members more flexibility and provides a better work/life balance. Compared to completely virtual workplaces, where all employees work from home, it also helps maintain connections between team members. As such, hybrid working is said to provide the best of both worlds.

How do you host a successful hybrid meeting?

Recent research suggests that Australia is a leader in the move toward hybrid working arrangements. In their latest Reinventing Work Report, collaborative technology provider, Adaptivist, reports that 34% of Australian employees enjoy hybrid working arrangements. They also found that approximately 50% of Australian workplaces offer hybrid working to their teams. By comparison, in the US, UK, and Canada, approximately 29% of workers and 44% of workplaces have adopted hybrid working.

Acknowledging this, many of our traditional ways of working need to be reconceptualised to support a dispersed workforce. This includes structuring meetings to enable greater group participation. To help with this, we recommend following these four simple steps.

Step 1: Define the why and who

You should have a clear reason for convening your meeting and this should usually be outcome focused. For example, you may need to plan a project, set goals, make a decision, brainstorm ideas, or solve a problem. If you cannot easily articulate what you need to achieve, a meeting is probably not required.

Once you know the meeting’s purpose, you can decide who needs to be present to get the desired outcome. Try to keep the invite list small and focused, while making sure you have the expertise and seniority you require. A meeting cost calculator can help with this by showing you how much your planned session will cost.

Step 2: Choose the best setting

Now you know the why and the who, you can decide on the where. While most meetings should be able to be run virtually, some may require attendees to be together. This is particularly true if workshopping or team building is one of the primary goals of the session.

If you do need everyone together, try to find a day when everyone’s already planning to be in the office. If you cannot, you may need to ask some attendees to switch their office days. When making this request, make sure you give plenty of notice and understand that the answer may be no.

Alternatively, consider how you could structure your meeting to allow it to be held virtually. There is now a range of online collaboration tools designed to make virtual meetings more efficient and effective. You could also ask everyone to join virtually, even if they are in the office, to encourage more equal participation.

Step 3: Actively engage both in-person and virtual attendees

To help keep everyone engaged during your meeting, try to actively involve different attendees in the discussion. You can do this by directing questions to individual attendees with expertise on the subject at hand. You can also make space for quieter attendees to ask questions and share opinions by specifically calling on them.

To make sure you have everyone’s attention, ask in-person attendees to close their laptops and put away their phones. Asking virtual attendees to have their cameras on will also allow you to monitor their engagement and body language. However, you should be somewhat flexible on this, as participants may need to turn their video off at certain points (e.g. if they need to tend to their children).

Step 4: Capture open questions and summarise the next steps

End each meeting by taking a few minutes to note any outstanding items. These could be questions that have not been answered, points that need clarification, or tasks that require a follow up. As you record these, assign owners to each, and set expectations regarding the type and timeline of response required.

After the meeting, circulate this to the group, along with any notes and presentation material. This will help make sure your attendees are all on the same page when they leave your meeting. It should also help make sure that the momentum from the session is built on, not lost.