Hubilo CEO and Founder Vaibhav Jain explains how organisations can get the maximum value from virtual meetings as they pivot to remote and hybrid working models
A flurry of leading organisations have recently announced post-pandemic working arrangements that provide employees with complete flexibility. PWC is the latest to announce that switching to a hybrid working model allows employees to choose where they work and when they work. Banking giant Nationwide announced similar plans for office-based employees earlier in the month. While this approach offers clear benefits to employees, it can create a potential headache for Employers and HR Managers who are now faced with keeping a large workforce connected and engaged from across a dispersed range of locations.
Zoom fatigue or ‘meeting apathy’ is another challenge that organisations adopting these models face. The issue sees workers becoming weary from the higher cognitive load that interacting on video can require and feeling dissatisfied with constantly being confronted with their own image on the screen. This issue is believed to be widespread and is said to contribute to burnout.
Traditional video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, Google Meets, and MS Teams can also foster unhealthy disengagement as large-scale meetings can become dangerously one-way conversations. In turn, this can stifle collaboration and impact the productive output of these meetings.
The challenge for employers and HR departments is ensuring these large-scale meetings become valuable engagement touchpoints. Companies that are moving towards more hybrid ways of working should consider a fresh approach to virtual meetings.
Creating engagement through gamification
Gamification can be a valuable element when it comes to boosting engagement in virtual meetings. Meeting organisers can look to the way the virtual events industry uses gamification to inspire attendees to participate and engage. Injecting a little healthy competition into virtual meetings in this way can command attention, build confidence and promote collaboration.
Introducing collaboration to smaller meetings might require a little creativity, but larger meetings and internal events can lean on virtual event technology to apply scores to each user with a leader board that is updated in real-time. Virtual goodie bags that include online vouchers and discount codes can also be awarded to those who top the leader board. This has proven to be an effective method of ensuring those larger-scale meetings become productive and lively rather than turning into uninspiring one-way conversations.
Ensuring and measuring meeting effectiveness
Everybody’s time is precious, so it can be frustrating to attend a meeting that goes off track, where other issues dominate the discussion and the desired output of the meeting is not met. An effective way around this is to send out the meeting agenda before the meeting so everybody is clear on the purpose of the session and the subjects that will be discussed. This helps to ensure each attendee is focused on the meeting’s intended purpose and isn’t using the session to go off-topic or discuss other matters. This also allows everybody to ruminate on the points that will be addressed and come prepared with helpful inputs.
Employers should also measure the effectiveness of each meeting to understand if it was worthwhile and whether each person who attended the session really needs to be included. These insights can help to streamline the volume of meetings that individuals are expected to attend. In turn, this can reduce the stress and burnout associated with constantly jumping between meetings and helps employees focus and add value in the sessions they attend. The effectiveness of each meeting should be measured through a feedback loop that allows the employee to tell the HR department whether the session was relevant to them if they felt their input was required and whether it was worthwhile to hold the meeting at all.
Meeting hosts who share their screen to talk attendees through documents and links during the session should also be encouraged to share all of this collateral with the attendees after the meeting has ended. This simple action can be easily overlooked, but by sharing all of the documents and links covered in the meeting, the attendees can refer back to the relevant information, ensuring they’re not missing out on anything that the session covered. Sharing any actions from the meeting is another crucial step that can often be missed. This helps attendees understand any further actions required from them if they weren’t clear from the meeting itself.
Understanding and adapting:
Adapting to remote and hybrid working strategies might provide some initial challenges for the employers and their HR teams, but getting the maximum value from virtual meetings doesn’t have to lead to stress or be a challenge. By introducing gamification elements, mapping out the agenda prior to the meetings, encouraging QnA’s, sharing information post the meeting, and gathering feedback once they have concluded, and more, organisations can improve engagement and motivation. As a result, every meeting will be more productive, fun, and worthwhile for every stakeholder. And, your virtual meetings need not necessarily be all about work; you can acknowledge and appreciate your employee’s performance and even celebrate their birthdays and work anniversaries and hold townhalls where all your employees can come together on one platform irrespective of them working remotely or physically. Today, employers and HR Managers are trying to understand and adapt towards the new hybrid working norm to generate the best results out of it, and these are a few ways that shall help you with it.