Yes, we have gotten quite good at Zoom meetings by now. As we soon get the chance to get back to the physical office, there’s some pondered to do on how both in-office and remote people can be included for a well-working hybrid office. We need workplace participation on equal terms!
With digital meetings in the covid era, everyone joins on time. Meeting people is fun! Yes it’s also useful to have that quite time in isolation, but for me I really miss the creative whiteboard discussions. So from now on, how can we create a hybrid meeting culture that is inclusive for all?
- Microphones. This is the major issue that creates misunderstandings and exclusion of remote colleagues. My strong wish is that everyone in a hybrid meeting are as clearly heard in the digital room as in the physical room. Headsets may not be an option for everyone to wear all the time, but making sure that everyone in the room is close enough to a microphone (that is not muted of course) in the digital room is a must. That expensive conference USB speaker in your conference room is useless if someone speaking is more than 1 meter away from it. It’s better to speak into your computer mike, because it is at least close to your mouth (but keep your own speaker quiet when doing that).
- Speakers and feedback noise. The remote people should be heard in one place only in the physical room or you will get echo effects, so keep one speaker on if several people in the physical room are connected to the digital room (in particular if more than one in the physical room has their mike on).
- The Whiteboard. With one camera in the room (yes, you can use that expensive one on the table) pointing at the whiteboard, the remote people have a chance to follow along. Redirect the camera, if needed, to other parts of the board. Be inclusive.
- Invitations to meetings. Always include a remote link and a meeting purpose (agenda! meeting goals!) in your digital meeting invite. Always expect that some people will be joining digitally. Always remember to (note to self!) start the digital meeting at the same time as the physical one. Be courteous to send a full calendar entry, not just an email. People will forget, lose the meeting link, being zoned out..
Meeting each other live is important. Group dynamics and trust works better when we’re not separated by technology, I’m sure. Should we agree on a certain day or some days during the week, when we can share germs and experiences outside of the Zoom-box?
Are there other things that are simple to implement and that can make a big difference for the hybrid office? Please comment!