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Closing the Digital Divide: Four Ways to Make Hybrid Meetings More Inclusive

by | May 24, 2022 | Diversity, Features, Productivity

The post-pandemic workplace is experiencing many changes. For starters, nearly 63% of high-growth companies have implemented hybrid work models. By 2024, it is estimated that 91% of global companies will offer remote work options.

The flexibility of hybrid workplaces provides benefits such as improved mental outcomes and work-life balance. However, hybrid work models can adversely impact inclusivity in team meetings. Here’s how.

  • Remote work environments can amplify existing problems and systemic issues that haven’t been addressed.
  • Diverse employees may not feel comfortable enough to actively participate in meetings while working from remote locations.
  • Meeting facilitators may not have the training to create virtual and in-person experiences that address cultural and personal differences.

Data from the PWC Pulse Survey: Next in Work report suggests that it’s possible for companies to thrive as they pivot to flexible schedules and hybrid workplace models. Many companies already possess the tools to bring out the best in all their employees whether working remotely or not.

Looking for ways to promote inclusivity at your team or company-wide meetings regardless of the setting? Here are four ways to make hybrid meetings more inclusive at your company.

1. Invest in technology that optimizes human interactions. Your company may not have the budget to buy expensive hybrid meeting technology. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive to have the best meetings possible. At the very least, everyone should be able to hear and see participants clearly.

Other features to look for in remote meeting technology include:

  • Screen Share
  • Recording
  • User Friendly
  • Application Integration
  • Smart Technology
  • Chat Box

2.  Stay clear of in-person sidebar conversations. There are fewer things more frustrating in hybrid meetings than people in the office having conversations that remote participants can’t hear. If this happens too often, remote employees will feel left out. It may cause them to disengage during virtual meetings or find excuses to skip them altogether.

To eliminate sidebar conversations, set participation rules at the beginning of each meeting. In-person participants should raise their hands to speak. Remote participants should be able to ask questions in the chat box or raise their hands.

Remember the goal for hybrid meetings is to have an inclusive meeting experience for everyone.

3. Ask for feedback from participants. Feedback is important because it allows you to determine if your current approach is effective. You can use the responses to gauge employee satisfaction and improve hybrid meetings going forward.

Feedback questions and statements may include:

  • What was your favorite part of the meeting?
  • Did you experience any technology issues during the meeting?
  • What suggestions do you have for our next meeting?
  • Did you feel like you had the opportunity to make your voice heard?
  • How would you rate your overall experience at the meeting and why? (Provide a star or numerical scale.)

4. Set clear start and end times for each meeting. A common complaint about workplace meetings is they extend beyond the allotted time. This can be frustrating for employees who are trying to meet deadlines or finish their projects by the end of the day.

Find ways to manage your time better if your meetings often take longer than planned. Record the meetings and review them later. Look for ways to eliminate unnecessary talking points. Create an agenda and stick to it. Limit the response and presentation times for participants.

Hybrid meetings have the potential to foster an inclusive work environment and collaboration among employees. Apply these tips to close the digital divide between remote and in-person employees.

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