Trials and errors
All COVID restrictions have now been lifted in Sweden so all Phosworks employees are now welcomed back at the office. However, an internal survey has shown that while all of us have missed the daily contacts with colleagues most of us want to continue working partly from home and partly at the office.
Because a few Phosworkers have worked from the office the whole pandemic we have accumulated a good experience on how to conduct so called hybrid meetings; a meeting where some participants are physically attending, and some are connected through an online service like Zoom or Teams. We thought it would be a good idea to share some of the lessons we learned running those meetings.
At first, we installed big screens in our meeting rooms but soon realized that the digital attendees felt somewhat left out by the people meeting physically. That was of course not done on purpose but the colleagues in the meeting room had for obvious reasons easier to discuss with each other, forgetting their “digital colleagues”.
New meeting habits
Once aware of this problem we have adopted the following meeting habits:
– We rearranged the meeting rooms so that the online attendees can see everyone in the room. A U-shape or everyone facing the screen is best. It’s also a good idea to use an extra screen to only show presentations and documents on so your online participants do not disappear behind a PPT.
– While point #1 is a good start we have found that the best solution is when everyone is online regardless of the location. The people in the meeting room are all in front of their own computer with their microphone and audio on mute and a good speaker and microphone is placed at the center on the table. Doing so puts everyone on the level.
– Level the field even more by making clear at the beginning of the meeting that everyone must first raise their digital hand and then get the word before they are allowed to speak. By doing everyone has the same chance to speak.
– Even by doing this the physical attendees have a natural advantage therefore it is the task of the person holding the meeting to always remember and include the digital attendees. For example, when a question is asked to the participants always start by the digital attendees.
– A lot of information is always exchanged during the small talks after a meeting has ended. The meeting organizer should keep the cameras on to make it easier and possible for the digital attendees to be part of the discussion.
The impossible is now possible
The COVID-19 pandemic has in many ways accelerated the digitalization of the way we work. What was inconceivable 2 years ago is now “the new normal” and hybrid meetings are here to stay. A good thing if it makes possible to reach a better work-life balance.