Hybrid has become a popular buzzword over the past few years, from hybrid cars to hybrid workplaces. While we can’t tell you whether or not to invest in a Prius, you've come to the right place if you're curious to learn what a hybrid meeting is all about.
The pandemic brought on a new normal in the way we work, making it more flexible and allowing for a boom in remote workers. The simplest way to meet the demands of so many meeting participants in different countries and time zones was to introduce the hybrid meeting.
To gain more clarity on how hybrid meetings can benefit your team, we'll get into:
- What is a hybrid meeting?
- What is the purpose of a hybrid meeting?
- Best practices to set you up for success as you combine remote team members and in-person meeting attendees
- 3 ways that hybrid meetings help teams
What is a hybrid meeting?
A hybrid meeting is an online meeting that includes both remote colleagues and in-person attendees. Perhaps the remote attendees live in another city or work from home or a coffee shop for part of the week.
The key differentiator between a hybrid meeting and a virtual meeting is that a hybrid meeting fuses the traditional in-person meeting with virtual attendees. Some attendees will be in a physical conference room that appears on the video stream, which remote attendees will join.
It's no longer a hybrid meeting when the session only has virtual attendees without a physical meeting room.
Like with in-person meetings, effective hybrid meetings aim for goals like strengthening teamwork, communication, information-sharing and documenting, or connection.
Plus, just like with traditional team meetings, there is often a designated meeting facilitator who helps to keep everyone on task. Often, it’s a separate person who is assigned to manage any tech issues that arise during the meeting while the facilitator manages the discussion.
Hybrid meeting technology
Hybrid meeting technology will include live video streaming where participants can see one another and an online presentation of meeting materials to be shared across the virtual conference room.
Video conferencing platforms like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Meet, and other wireless collaboration technology help make joining the hybrid meeting space experience smooth and intuitive. Platforms like Slack have upped the ante with asynchronous chat channels hybrid teams can use during and between meetings.
What is the purpose of hybrid workspaces?
There are many reasons why companies opt for hybrid models. In a hybrid workspace, employees have flexibility about when they come into the office. Many businesses started offering more hybrid opportunities during the pandemic.
However, this model also helps to reduce carbon footprints and maximize budgets since it lets organizations downsize their traditional office space and cut costs.
When it comes to the workday itself, there are some clear benefits to remote work and hybrid work models. Here are just a few:
- Asynchronous communication between remote teams reduces stress and enhances productivity. When teams can connect at a more logical or convenient time, it frees their workday for, well, work.
- The sprawl of remote workers creates greater team diversity, which promotes stronger brainstorming.
- Collaboration tools like Polly can make remote meetings more engaging and fun.
Tips and best practices for a successful hybrid meeting
Take some of these points into consideration to ensure that remote participants have a similar experience to those who are sitting in the physical conference room.
Before the meeting
- Test the technology to make sure everything is in working order and accessible so that remote participants feel easily heard and seen.
- Invest in high-quality audio and visual aids like an upgraded camera and microphone to connect the group more seamlessly.
- Plan a proper facilitation method for building inclusivity among in-room and remote participants. For example, ensure everyone in-person is using the same technology and viewed in seperate screens as remote participants.
- Send a quick polly to understand which topics, milestones, or questions are most important to the group, and craft the meeting agenda accordingly.
During the meeting
- Start the meeting on time and communicate expectations with both remote and in-person participants for what you’ll cover and when you’ll wrap up.
- Communicate meeting expectations early in the meeting, so there's a common ground for remote and in-person participants (as an example, in-person participants looking at the camera and remote participants muting microphones when not speaking).
- Use an icebreaker to warm up the group and help them build connections.
- Encourage team members to keep their cameras on throughout the call for continued engagement and reduced chances of multitasking.
- Monitor the equity of speaking time between meeting members, as it can be easy for in-person participants to dominate the meeting space when sitting together. A fun way to break the lull and shake things up among quieter attendees is to include a social game or send a hot take in polly to get the whole group talking.
- Keep an eye on the clock, end on time (or early!), and give a 5-minute wrap-up warning.
After the meeting
- Thank everyone for their time, and confirm the next steps for follow-up while the remote participants are still online versus continuing the conversation in the conference room after the call has ended.
- Reiterate action items, who’s responsible for them, and when they’re due for accountability and clarity.
- Send an anonymous polly to ask for feedback on the meeting's relevance and effectiveness.
Other pro tips and considerations:
- For better brainstorming sessions, consider using breakout groups within the meeting so that more people have the opportunity to share their ideas.
- Use an online whiteboard to capture meeting notes.
- Have in-person colleagues join the meeting from their separate laptops, as remote employees would have to do.
- Send a polly during the meeting to give everyone a voice and gather consensus in an inclusive way.
- Try one of Polly's meeting management templates to guide your hybrid meeting planning process.
3 ways that hybrid meetings help teams
Hybrid meetings are great for remote and in-person team members who wish to stay connected.
Integrating a live session and a virtual component opens up possibilities that aren't always available at strictly in-person meetings. Here are just a few of the top benefits of hybrid meetings.
1. Increased reach and flexibility
Those who can attend meetings in person will enjoy face time with their colleagues. If there are budget limitations, scheduling conflicts, or pandemic-related constraints that prevent travel, it helps to have the option to join virtually.
Expanding how team members can join meetings helps bolster participation and engagement levels with groups who would otherwise miss out.
2. More ways to participate
When both in-person and remote attendees join the meeting with the same technology, you can integrate live polls, chats, and other engagement tools that provide new ways for team members to participate.
For those who cannot physically make it to the meeting, the hybrid format allows them to log in and stay in the loop without losing out on valuable information.
3. Insightful outcomes
The added interactivity of a hybrid meeting makes every meeting more of a collaborative experience. The meeting agenda is built around participant needs which strengthens engagement and efficiency.
Polly doubles down on the interactivity of a hybrid meeting by combining real-time visualization with automation that allows you to do more with your data.
Better meetings start with Polly
Hybrid meetings mix in-person and virtual audiences to allow greater flexibility among participants. Allowing team members to tune in virtually helps to reduce unnecessary travel and business costs and heighten and strengthen brainstorming capability and connection.
A little planning goes a long way for distributed teams who want to stay connected in a meaningful way (rather than staring at talking heads).
Adding meeting management tools like Polly to the mix makes meetings more focused and effective, saving everyone time.
With the help of thoughtful meeting design, strong facilitation, and tools, it can help team members from wherever they join to feel included, valued, and heard. Learn how Polly supports a more effective workplace with better hybrid meetings.
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Written by Briana Biancolin
As a nomadic freelance writer, story lover, and professional snacker from Toronto, Canada, Briana's love of writing (and entrepreneurship) started as a kid when she would take the proceeds from her lemonade stand to buy notebooks and pens. After 5 years in creative recruitment, she took the plunge into freelance life, moved to Europe, and began writing full-time on topics like start-ups, wellness, design, travel, and tech.