The Ultimate Guide for Successful Hybrid Teams: How to Manage Hybrid Meetings

The Ultimate Guide for Successful Hybrid Teams: How to Manage Hybrid Meetings

 Betsy Blog (1)Betsy Scherer

Here at Venture Lane, we believe the future is hybrid. What exactly do we mean by hybrid? Think: a co-located team where some folks are working full-time in an office, some are working full-time at home, and some are mixing it up and alternating between home and office. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work forever. Because of this, Venture Lane has created a blog series to help early-stage B2B tech startups navigate the hybrid terrain as we figure out the 'new normal' together.

RELATED: Download our COVID-19 Playbook

How to manage hybrid meetings...

One of the trickiest components to successfully manage a hybrid team is nailing the meeting routine. We've put together a comprehensive list:

  1. How to create a set of guiding principals...
  2. Why you should always have an agenda...
  3. When to record a meeting...
  4. Implement a plan for timing...
  5. How to navigate various types of meetings...

Let's jump into it!  

How to create a set of guiding principals...

  • Create a list of guiding principals for your team. As a leader, it's your responsibility to ensure your team has the tools to host effective meetings. Creating a guidebook is a great way to ensure everyone is on the same page and understands the expectations for operating as a hybrid team. Use the following bullet points to guide your list.
  • Ask your team to turn their video on. Seeing each other's faces makes a huge difference. Losing social interaction and opportunities to build team relationships happens to many hybrid teams. Hedging against this is critical for maintaining strong company culture.
  • Start every meeting with something 'fun.' Hybrid teams lose the opportunity to chat prior to a meeting kicking off, so it's important to build that opportunity into the meeting itself (even if it feels forced). Make time for the conversations that happen naturally in the office. Few techniques include:
    • Spend the first 5 minutes going in a circle and sharing one thing each person did over the weekend.
    • What if you ask every meeting attendee to share one PG joke prior to kicking off?
  • Everyone should dial in remotely, even team members who are in the office together. This is super helpful to eliminate background noise, laughter, perceived power dynamics, etc and spurs a more cohesive and productive conversation.
  • Start and end meetings on time. Stress the importance to both employees at home and in the office. 
  • Avoid distractions. Ask that your team doesn't open additional tabs and mutes notifications. 
  • Mute by default. Best practice for eliminating background noise and ensuring a smooth meeting.
  • Determine the goals for the meeting ahead of time. In a hybrid landscape, it's important that meetings are worth the time and there's a clear purpose.
  • Think through how you'll avoid relying on non-verbal communication. This is one of the most challenging habits but goes such a long way. 
    • Add in pauses. This gives your team a chance to respond, something that happens more naturally when everyone used to be in-person. 
    • Use people's names. Eye contact and gesturing is no longer effective - be direct so your team knows when to jump in.

Why you should always have an agenda...

  • Every time you (or someone on your team) hosts a meeting, it should clearly add value. Time is one of our most valuable resources for hybrid teams and asynchronous communication dictates that meetings are purposeful and that a clear goal is associated with each meeting planned. More on asynchronous communication later in October... 
  • Add agendas to meeting invitations. As a rule, implement a system whereby each meeting description has the agenda attached so all parties know what to expect prior to joining. 
  •  Use software that multiple team members can edit together. A strong documentation process is one of the most important components for hybrid teams. Considering implementing a collaboration tool like Google Docs, Airtable, Asana, or a similar product. Using a collaboration tool will help your team to create workflows and to-do items that are directly determined from meetings.

RELATED: How to Prevent 'Us Versus Them' Culture for Hybrid Teams

When to record a meeting...

  • Record some (not all) meetings. Consider recording all hands, lunch and learns, town halls, etc. If you want everyone on your team to hear a message, it's best to record.
  • Ensure the recordings are easily accessible. Your staff must know where the recordings live and how they can access. This works especially well for teams across multiple time zones. Clear communication is key for a successful hybrid team.
  • Avoid recording staff meetings. By not recording, you'll ensure a safe space for your team to speak openly. As an added bonus, this also encourages strong attendance.

Implement a plan for timing...

  • If your team spans multiple time zones, set up a "time zone overlap." For example, ask that your employees are online from 1-4pm EST to the best of their abilities. This helps create a shared block of time to set up meetings, receive timely responses in Slack and help spur relationship building across your team. 
  • Keep time zones in mind. If your team is across the country or across the globe, World Time Buddy is a super useful time zone planning tool.
  • Make scheduling meetings easier on yourself + team. Try out a meeting scheduling software like Calendly. 

RELATED: How Hybrid Teams Should Manage the Physical Workspace

How to navigate various types of meetings...

  • Annual + quarterly planning: In-person social interaction goes a long way, especially for building strong relationships. If your team is primarily based in one city, ask the team to come in person or quarterly planning. Post-pandemic, fly in team members for annual or quarterly planning to bring the whole team together. This helps to foster team-building, accomplish + set goals, and ensures the entire team pitches in and feels included.
  • Monthly Reviews: These can be effectively hosted virtually or in-person. For both, make sure you have an agenda drawn up and communicated to your team.
  • Weekly stand-ups: It's very likely that weekly team stand-ups will be hybrid meetings meaning some members will sign on via Zoom and others will be in the office together. Remember, everyone on the team should dial in remotely.
  • Weekly 1:1s: Weekly one-on-ones are more important than ever. Leadership will find that developing their employees for both hybrid and remote teams will be harder than ever.
    • We recommend implementing a 3-to-1 approach: once a month, focus on upwards feedback and three times a month, focus on direct employee feedback.
  • Creative meetings: Creative meetings can be a huge challenge for remote and hybrid teams. Whenever possible, we recommend meeting in person for important planning meetings. Whiteboarding together is one of the most effective creative outlets. If that isn't possible or you're planning a smaller brainstorm, consider using a collaboration tool like Google Docs or use visual design tools like Invision or Mural
  • Investor Meetings: If you're in the process of raising a round, consider meeting your investors in-person in a safe, socially distanced manner. Angel investors and VCs have been open about the challenges of investing in startups without meeting the entrepreneurs in person. Try to eliminate that challenge and start building a strong investor-founder relationship right off the bat. 
  • Board meetings: Board meetings can be easily altered for the hybrid environment. Always have an agenda and share your list of hybrid meeting principals to all attendees prior to the meeting so everyone is on the same page.

Interested in implementing a hybrid team? Learn more about Venture Lane's new membership offering and pricing.