9 Benefits Of Hybrid Meetings
During the mid-stage of the pandemic (before vaccines and treatments were readily available), I was all set to facilitate a two-day in-person training. The workshop had been planned months in advance. Plane tickets were purchased. My bag was packed. However, when my son came home the day before my flight with COVID symptoms, the workshop sponsor and I had a tough decision to make.
#1 - Pivot Perfectly
We agreed that it was best not to expose their team, and of course, the dozens of people I would interact with on my way to the client site, to any possible illness. Plus, I wasn’t crazy about the idea of a ten-day hotel quarantine so far from home.The next morning, we made the tough call, the team would still fly in, and I’d facilitate from the cottage, which serves as my home workspace. I’d already sent an Owl (my favorite audio/visual tech for meetings) to the client site, just in case, so we had a contingency plan in place. I quickly pivoted the agenda and shifted my modalities so I could support the team remotely. The meeting went off without a hitch, and we were all amazed at how easy it was and how well it went.
And sure enough, four days later, when the small patient was clearly on the mend, his COVID test came back positive. So it was definitely a wise decision.
Here are eight more benefits that will help you embrace hybrid meetings...
#2 - Build Goodwill
Hybrid meetings make coordinating with companies with different in-office work policies easier.
A company I know recently merged. The two companies had different work location requirements. In addition, one group had a mandatory policy that folks who were ill stayed home and required vaccinations.
In contrast, the other had expectations that people came into the office and chose not to inquire or require any vaccinations. The two organizations decided to use hybrid meetings before the merger closed. This allowed for continued goodwill and didn’t complicate negotiations or require the involvement of HR and legal teams (before they were fully apprised of the merger) to coordinate meetings.
#3 - Support Your Employees
Hybrid meetings can make life easier for all employees. Staff may need to be remote, because they live with someone who is immunocompromised, care for small children with less than dependable childcare, or need to discuss medical decisions for an ageing parent.
Hybrid meetings allow staff to balance and respond to life’s commitments and lifestyles. Working from home means they can schedule appointments, repairs, and deliveries while still being fully engaged at work.
Hybrid meetings also support employees who choose to be remote. They may wish to support traveling teen athletes, unite with a partner temporarily consulting halfway across the world, or join the nomadic workforce, allowing them to schedule a quick visit to the Musée D’Orsay in Paris after a strategy meeting with the team in Boston!
For those who cannot safely be in the office for medical reasons, have commitments away from a workspace, or wish to switch up their homebase, hybrid meetings offer a chance for employees to attend meetings and workshops and move the work forward while working remotely and respecting office / campus policies and lifestyle choices.
#4 - Include All
Some people worry that remote attendees won’t feel part of the team or as connected as those who spend most of their time in the office. Our experience is that with a little thoughtful planning, everyone can feel cared for and included in a hybrid meeting.
If you make it a policy to encourage hybrid meetings, it will quickly become the norm, and the adjustments you make to include remote attendees will begin to feel like second nature. You can explore some suggested best practices for hybrid meetings (including how to make everyone feel welcomed and valued) in our article here.
#5 - Provide Flexibility
As the opening story shows, hybrid meetings allow for last-minute changes; if someone can’t attend, a hybrid meeting can save the day.
A company I was working with suddenly got a call from a new company they were partnering with. They had very time-sensitive questions and needed an opportunity to speak with key stakeholders as soon as possible. A hybrid meeting (planned and held in less than 24 hrs) allowed everyone to gather while maintaining confidentiality. Using best practices for hybrid meetings, everyone felt connected, shared sensitive information, and agreed on important next steps.
#6 - Retain Talent
Hybrid meetings allow employees to choose how they prefer to attend. Some days are easier to come into the office than others because of responsibilities at home or appointments out of the office.
Giving everyone the choice of how they want to participate ensures maximum attendance. It gives employees freedom around scheduling their own time - whether for a routine dental cleaning or meeting a friend for a yoga class.
With so many companies offering flexibility and the market for great talent, offering hybrid meetings might just help you retain employees and skip the cost of hiring.
#7 - Increase Global Reach
Hybrid meetings are essential for teams across the globe or even the country. Many employees moved during the pandemic to be closer to family, get more outdoor space, or simply enjoy a less expensive living situation. And for some, they’ve chosen to make it permanent.
Remote work and hybrid meetings allow employers to keep their most valuable resource - people - avoiding expensive and time-consuming candidate searches. Hybrid meetings allow those who prefer to be in the office (with fewer distractions and more social connections for extroverts) to meet with those who work from home and support companies in hiring top talent from anywhere in the world.
#8 - Share Easily
If you choose to record your meetings (with everyone’s consent) or use a transcription service (such as otter.ai), it’s easy to rewatch or share presentations and discussions with absent team members.
Similarly, suppose an issue is raised during a meeting, and it would be beneficial to loop in someone from a different function or level who could contribute to the discussion or add valuable insight. In that case, it’s easy to share the transcript or video recording of the meeting and seek their input on the issue at hand.
#9 - Lower Costs
Getting everyone together for an in-person meeting can mean months of planning and complex logistics.
Hybrid meetings allow you to save on the cost of flights and hotels while gathering team members to work synchronously. It can mean fewer logistics and a shorter lead time in planning the meeting.
There are many benefits of hybrid meetings. That's why it's no wonder this type of meeting is becoming the norm in many organizations.
After a few practice rounds, even the adjustments you make to include remote attendees will begin to feel like second nature. And if you have your tech setup sorted and apply a few best practices, everyone will feel catered for, whether they attend in person or remotely.
We’re curious... are hybrid meetings the norm in your organization? What are your company's office work policies? Please share your feedback with us on LinkedIn. We'd love to hear from you!
If you’d like support in designing and facilitating hybrid meetings, please reach out to us.