Large scale in-person events are back with a bang, with hundreds of thousands of people gathering in-person for conferences, summits and tradeshows across the world. But is ‘in-person’ always necessary?
The thought of being responsible for holding a successful, organised call between both virtual attendees with in-person participants is enough to send shivers down anyone’s spine. Ensuring productivity during physical meetings can be difficult enough, those totally online can be even tricker, but mixing the two? Sounds like a recipe for disaster.
But hybrid meetings don’t have to descend into chaos, And, if a blend of remote and in-person is to become the norm, it’s important that they don’t. Here, Douglas Mulvihill, UK & Ireland marketing manager at cloud phone system provider Ringover, explains how to hack hybrid meetings for productive collaboration.
Mixing things up
The world of work has become accustomed to communicating virtually to keep operations running smoothly throughout the pandemic. Days filled with video calls and spending hours upon end in front of a screen became standard practice. The UK’s largest broadband provider Openreach reported that the nation’s broadband usage more than doubled in 2020 — from around 22,000 Petabytes (PB) to 50,000 PB.
But as in-person interactions return to the agenda for many businesses, it’s important to prepare for remote working’s legacy: hybrid. According to the Office for National Statistics, 85 per cent of the UK workforce are keen to adopt a hybrid approach for the future of work.
Hybrid working is full of employee benefits — offering a better work-life balance, eliminating the time and cost involved in a daily commute and improving daily work productivity. However, for businesses, managing hybrid meetings that emulate an in-person experience for all those joining is crucial.
If hybrid working is here to stay, companies need to hack this new working practice. Clear, open lines of remote communication are essential for productive work, but its also a big concern for employees. Data collated in 2021 revealed that collaboration and communication is biggest challenge for remote workers — as stated by 36 per cent of survey respondents.
Opting for a communication tool that allows employees to log in from a range of device modes, from computers and smartphones, to laptops and tablets, gives employees the greatest possible degree of flexibility when joining video calls to select a device that suits their location for a comfortable internet calling experience.
Consider using a tool that makes joining a meeting virtually as simple as possible for participants. Downloading and installing software and setting up an account can create a multitude of issues, especially if they aren’t a regular participant. So, selecting video conferencing software that enables people to join a call in just one click takes some of the headache out of hybrid.
Additionally, ensuring the communication software has a screensharing capability is crucial for including all hybrid participants. Using one piece of software to both project slides to the room of in-person participants and also share the same screen with remote employees simultaneously can be helpful. It ensures that there is no lag in remote workers seeing the slides, which could prevent participation in calls and voicing their opinions.
The best of both worlds
In addition to ensuring a synchronous visual experience for all hybrid meeting participants, hybrid hosts should also take advantage of technology’s interactive tools. Statistics show that 67 per cent of remote workers cite being interrupted as their biggest concern during hybrid meetings. But using tech the right way can prevent chaotic calls.
Enabling all meeting participants to speak without interruption is essential for seamless collaboration and ensuring everyone can voice their opinion. If everyone joins the call virtually, even those in-person, meeting hosts can take advantage of interactive tools to ensure all attendees can get their voice heard.
For example, a “raise hand” button allows meeting hosts to hold votes and get general feedback on topics without risking several people trying to talk at once. If a meeting has tens or even hundreds of participants, hosts should consider using breakout room capabilities to enable smaller group collaboration. The same principle could then be applied to the in-person participants and each team could report on their discussions without risking any ideas getting lost in the crowd.
So, could all events be hybrid? Maybe. While perceptions of remote communication have undoubtedly improved since the start of the pandemic, some concerns do remain over the lacking sense of collectiveness compared to in-person meetings.
But hybrid doesn’t have to mean fragmented, disorganised conversations and lacklustre, unproductive meetings. Tapping into the technological advancement that’s benefited remote workers by using video software tools efficiently will help to keep hybrid meetings organised, productive and accessible to everyone.