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The Future of Work: Energizing Teams in Hybrid Working Sessions

Shelli Baltman

Let’s face it, hybrid working is going to be a reality for the foreseeable future.

Whether it’s due to geographic diversity, travel restrictions, COVID exposure, or personal choice – we’re going to have to come to terms with the realities of having teams that work together from different locations.

I’m a strong believer in face-to-face connection, in the energy that comes from being in a room together and the joy of looking into the eyes of another human being. At the beginning of the pandemic, I started to appreciate the value of Zoom far more – and we’ve managed to use it to drive collaboration, social connection and conversations that I wouldn’t have previously thought through a video conferencing tool.

Our experience now shows that truly energizing meetings can happen in either medium: 100% Zoom or 100% Room.

Some peers in the innovation and facilitation space and I were recently discussing hybrid working and how it’s becoming a reality, even when it’s not the preferred approach – so we did some trial, error and research and here are the best tips we’ve gathered for maximizing team energy in a hybrid meeting.

1. Prepare, prepare and prepare again!

Creating truly energizing hybrid meetings is possible, but it takes a lot of preparation. Facilitators need to think about two completely different, but seamless experiences – and need to design the session accordingly. This is not about designing for the room and then just letting the Zoom attendees watch. Go the extra mile! Challenge yourself to really think through the experiences for each type of participant

2. Signpost the need to behave differently

Ask for the behaviours you need from the participants. Let them know what you need them to do to make the session work for everyone. Every participant in the session has to lean into making the experience a success for the entire team – make it feel like a big, hybrid hug! Ask them to pause before speaking, get room attendees to call ‘alignment breaks’ specifically designed to ask colleagues on Zoom what they think, and ask everyone for patience and understanding as you explore this new experience together.

3. Do thinking work before the session

Make use of homework! The amount of content that can be covered will be less than a 100% Zoom or Room option, so make use of pre-work, individual working time and other tools to ensure the meeting is used for the most energizing parts of working together – sharing, collaboration and conversation. The thinking, capturing and writing will work much better if they are handled asynchronously.

4. Be the Zoomer champion!

As the facilitator, pay extra attention to your Zoom participants – be their champion and bring them in! Call specifically on them for questions, contributions and sharing. Ensure that your remote participants have a voice and the default is not to those in the room who are able to physically wave to get your attention.

5. Breakouts are key and should each be 100% room or Zoom

When splitting people into breakout sessions, have everyone in each breakout either on Zoom or in the Room. And if you want everyone interacting together, make sure that your room-based participants split up into other parts of the venue and use FaceTime or Zoom along with their remote colleagues so that everyone’s on a level playing field.

Any type of session can be made to be energizing and can help build team connections if you spend the time to put yourself in each of your participants’ shoes and think through the experience with their context in mind. We’ve all mastered working from home, and become productive on Zoom – let’s take hybrid sessions on as another challenge we all know that we can tackle.

We’re learning about hybrid working along with the rest of you – so please share your best tips and hints too! We’re eager to hear what you’ve experienced.
If you would like to learn more about the key burnout statistics from our recent Social Connection Study, or explore solutions for tackling burnout and energizing your employees (including our signature 12-week “Energy for Growth” behaviour change program), we invite you to book a complimentary call with us. 


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