8 tips for running effective meetings in a hybrid world of work
In the future of work, leaders will need to ensure all employees – regardless of where they work – feel included. Here’s how workplace technology can help you design effective meetings for the next iteration of work.
The workplace of the future will be about creating experiences that make your people feel connected. Part of that connectedness will happen organically, while other times it will be intentional – such as during organized meetings.
As organizations make plans for their future workspaces, technology will play a pivotal role in bringing disparate teams together. Likewise, the tools and infrastructure organizations use will need to ensure every employee – wherever they’re working – feels productive, engaged, and included.
As a leader, you can leverage workplace technology to facilitate meetings that are not only effective and intentional, but also inclusive – and meet employees wherever they are.
Here’s how to run effective meetings in a new, hybrid world of work.
What constitutes an effective meeting?
An effective meeting brings together a carefully selected group of people to discuss and decide upon a plan, a list of ideas to pursue, or an understanding of the work ahead.
It’s easy to rely on meetings as the sole way to communicate, collaborate, or make decisions. But, we all know that’s not the only way. Conversations can be had – and decisions can be made – asynchronously, AKA, without stakeholders pressing pause what they’re working on to be in the same place (or dialed in to the same call), at the same time.
However, when a meeting is deemed necessary, there are a few ways to make it as effective as possible:
- Create an agenda, share it with attendees (ahead of time, if possible), and most importantly, follow it during the course of the meeting.
- Keep your attendees engaged. Set ground rules about devices or other distractions, if needed.
- Focus on results. As the meeting’s facilitator, you should keep the discussion on track and avoid wasting time. You’ll also want to be mindful of running over; you don’t want to risk losing key decision-makers to another call.
- Follow up with key decisions or next steps and remember to communicate them out to everyone who needs to know (even if they weren’t in attendance).
The outcome of a meeting will vary based on the topic, discussion, and who was involved. Be open to changing your approach if you think someone (or something) would help make for a more effective meeting the next time.
Why is it important to design effective meetings for the future of work?
Gone are the days of creating workplaces with only in-office staff in mind. Even for those workplaces that plan to offer physical workplace locations, there is likely to be a hybrid mix of teams – with some in-office employees and others working remotely.
Your people will expect to have an equivalent experience to the employees that are on site – and that includes the meeting experience. IT and workplace leaders will need to design meeting experiences that flex with the needs of the individual and their circumstances.
For example, some of your people may work from home, some in the office, and still others will be permanently remote. How do you design and facilitate meetings that make every employee feel included?
Here are a few tips:
- Enable your employees with workplace technology. Ensure that you have technology in place to connect all employees, no matter where they are physically located. This includes always having the option to dial in via phone or video – even if an employee is working in the office. (Some companies have made all-virtual meetings their policy, so no one employee feels left out if they’re not in the room.)
- Encourage contributions by being inclusive. In addition to voice or video calls, utilize chat features and whiteboard tools so all employees can contribute in ways that suit them best.
- Ask for feedback about what tools work best. Knowing your employees’ preferences for how they want to communicate during a meeting can help you facilitate the most effective meeting possible (e.g., some employees may prefer speaking to the group, adding notes to the shared whiteboard, typing via the chat, and so on).
- And don’t forget to ask about meeting effectiveness. I.e., what would make the next meeting more productive? Or, is a meeting even necessary? Could decisions be made via Slack or email? Then, take action on those insights to iterate for the next time.
How can IT and workplace technology support effective meetings?
People-centered digital workspace experiences will be a differentiator in a post-COVID world. Employee tech will no longer just be about saving time and increasing efficiency for the organization, it will also be about saving time and increasing efficiency (and effectiveness) for the employee.
It’s critical that you ensure your people feel good about the tools and technology you’re providing – and that they feel empowered to be productive.
IT and workplace leaders should look to the channels employees are already working in – and with the end-users audiences that matter. This is about IT gaining the complete picture via experience data – and combining traditional O-Data (operational metrics) most often associated with IT/tech experiences like usage, downtime, SLAs, etc, with X-Data (experience data).
Hint: This is what most digital and IT teams don't have today
Without seeing the full picture, they'll never really know how their end-users feel about the digital workspace/tech experience and how to design and improve those experiences.
In addition to the transactional listening that IT has in place, think about leveraging ongoing listening, as well. Ongoing listening tools can help you understand if your employees’ expectations are being met. Then, you can take action on that feedback to improve their experiences.
As it pertains to designing effective meetings, leaders – especially those in IT that are responsible for creating a coordinated suite of tools – should also take action on the feedback employees share about their meeting experiences.
Employee preferences will point to not only how technology can help streamline communication, collaboration, and decision making, but also determine the need for some tools in the first place.
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