All or Nothing: Why Hybrid Meetings may not be Optimal
Hybrid models of working are here to stay. After the widespread adoption of remote work in the past couple of years, both employers and employees alike have become accustomed to this new way of working. With most of Quebec’s employees being allowed back into the office next month, organizations are reflecting on how to best adapt their policies to strike the perfect balance between the office and work from home.
Careful consideration should be given to meetings, as not all of them should be held in a hybrid format. For important meetings that require deep conversation and high-level collaboration, either fully online or fully in-person meetings could help yield better results.
Here are five reasons that explain why an all-or-nothing approach should prevail over hybrid meetings:
A hybrid meeting could create a power imbalance between office-based and online participants as the former tends to dominate conversations. Indeed, during a hybrid meeting, online participants may feel disconnected from the topic as some parallel discussions between in-person colleagues can spark naturally. Online participants might find it harder to follow conversations and be unsure as to when to insert themselves in the discussion, further deteriorating the interaction level of online participants.
Hybrid meetings also make it more difficult for online participants to distinguish who is talking. In-person participants have a tendency not to look at their computers during hybrid meetings, making it harder for online participants to pick up on social cues. A fully virtual meeting, where everyone is facing their computer, helps with reading body language and reactions, putting everyone on an equal footing.
Office-based participants tend to also be more easily disturbed by external factors happening in the room, which can lead to online participants disengaging from conversations.
Online participants could easily miss out on important information being shared spontaneously outside of the meeting agenda (ex: during breaks), creating segregation between colleagues.
Hybrid meetings also bring technical challenges regarding audio and video. From the angling of cameras to audio testing in the room, co-location brings more opportunities for technical difficulties, which could deter from constructive conversation and achieving the goal of the meeting.
While most organizations are currently transitioning towards a hybrid formula of working, it pays to keep in mind that some things, such as important meetings, are best kept either all online, or fully in person.
Forbes (2020) Hybrid Office Meetings Could Be A Nightmare