"As people return to the office, you're going to have hybrid meetings. Some are in the room with you, and some are remote, and these are really hard to facilitate. You want to accommodate the remote workers, but you don't want to kill the buzz for office workers. You're serving two different constituencies; the people in the room with you and your remote workers, and you can't use the same approach. It kills the experience for both parties.
When people around the table are talking and a remote worker chimes in, it's disruptive. It kills your meeting flow. People need to focus on the speaker and bouncing from office workers to remote workers, it just doesn't work. You have to transition from in-person interaction to remote interaction.
You want to do it in chunks, so take one agenda item at a time. Start with the discussion around the table and let remote workers listen in. Then transition everyone's focus to the remote workers, solicit their questions, input, and comments all at once. Some of their questions, comments, and input will get covered while they're listening in. If remote workers know you're coming to them, they'll have a chance to collect their thoughts, and their feedback is often more concise and thoughtful.
When the focus shifts to remote workers, read the room. They don't have the benefit of all the non-verbal communication, but you do. If something's worth batting back and forth between office and remote workers, you have to facilitate the exchange. Encourage the office worker to weigh-in, and then engage the remote worker. You want to explain to people how you're going to facilitate. Let them know that everyone's going to get their chance and no one's going to get slighted.
Your style in these meetings needs to be more deliberate. Everyone's styles needs to be more deliberate. Remote workers can't break the flow of in-person exchanges, and office workers have to focus on what remote workers are saying. Ping ponging back and forth between remote and office workers needs to be the exception and not the norm.
Now this runs counter to a lot of the advice you get online, but all that advice is coming from tech companies selling remote work platforms. Don't get sucked into it. You want to respect your remote workers, but not at the expense of your office workers. You can make the best of a challenging situation, but you have got to serve two diverse constituencies. It can be done, but it takes a lot of practice, and it's going to take some trial and error. Lean into it, because this is the future of work."
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