Ever since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the way we view work has undergone an intense change. Various fields, ranging from the IT sector and financial services to information and media, had to adapt to restrictions to keep their employees healthy and safe. This, of course, gave rise to a new era of remote work. And while it has many benefits, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses (especially for those who couldn’t leave their house at all). Most importantly, the human element of the workspace was missing. Interactions between colleagues were now limited to online meetings or, in some cases, reduced to exchanging emails.
Essential Hybrid Meeting Equipment: Guide for Businesses
Introduction to the hybrid work model
This is where hybrid work comes through, in some ways offering the best of both worlds. Introverts who prefer minimal time in the office or people facing the threat of a 3-hour ride to work can still choose to do their tasks remotely. On the other hand, extroverts who thrive on social interactions or those dealing with neighbors’ monthly renovations are welcome to choose to work onsite where their desks are waiting. And, of course, this belief is supported by various studies:
- 83% of employees prefer a hybrid model.
- 87% of employees want to work from home at least once a week.
- 68% of American workers view the mix of remote and on-site work as the perfect work model.
- Only 8% of remote employees were willing to return full-time to work after the pandemic, while 48% of workers preferred to work from home permanently, and the remaining 44% willing to work from home part of the week.
- Entry-level or junior employees are more likely to join the office than their seniors.
It’s time for hybrid meetings!
With the rise of the hybrid work model, meetings had to adapt as well. We know that hybrid meetings can be challenging, with the threat of one-sided conversations and the potential exclusion of remote participants looming over. This is why the first and most important step is establishing clear meeting rules, such as:
- Creating an agenda and making sure everyone understands the purpose of the meeting and their attendance.
- Inviting the right people. If you think someone might be helpful during the meeting but is not absolutely necessary, allow them to decline.
- Explaining the setup to in-room attendees – they should know the location of the camera and the microphones , so they know where to look and how to speak when they want to.
- Ensuring the remote participants are also prepared – they have to have access to the tools and apps needed for the meeting.
- Additionally, consider giving someone the role of a moderator for hybrid meetings. They should keep an eye on comments from remote participants, check if they unmuted themselves, or maybe raise their virtual hand. It’s easy to focus on the people onsite while hosting, so remember to have someone making sure the remote attendees are not being left out.
Choosing the right equipment
Now that you know about the procedural part of meetings, it’s time to consider the technical aspects as well. We gathered a couple of options to help you choose well:
The visual aspect of hybrid meetings is crucial for maintaining a sense of connection. While we understand that some people might find it uncomfortable, we cannot deny the fact that this aspect keeps us engaged like no other, and investing in quality cameras can significantly enhance the overall experience.
Webcams: This is what we consider a budget-friendly and easy-to-find option. Even though they might not work for large conference rooms, if you operate in small group meetings, they can be just as effective as the more costly alternatives.
High-Definition (HD) Cameras: This is more of an investment, but to make sure the vision is crisp and clear, you can opt for cameras that offer high-resolution video. Remember to look out for features like auto-focus or low-light correction, so that the camera can adapt to different meeting environments.
Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) Cameras: While definitely the most expensive of the bunch, PTZ cameras give you more flexibility with their ability to pan, tilt, and zoom remotely. This can be particularly useful if you have larger meeting spaces.
If you would like to read more about this aspect of hybrid meetings, check out our recent article on classroom cameras. Even though the main focus of this blog post was on education, you can apply that knowledge to other settings.
Since you have a camera, it’s time for microphones. Technically, you can use the built-in microphone in your laptop, or the one in your webcam, but quite often their quality may be… Let’s just say questionable. Here we can offer you a couple of different options:
Boundary Microphones: They are designed to capture sound in a specific area, making them ideal for conference rooms. Additionally, you don’t need to worry about the clarity of sound, as they reduce background noise and make sure that every voice is heard and understood.
Wireless Microphones: If your meetings are typically dynamic, take place in larger spaces, or if you find that you think more effectively when you’re on the move, wireless microphones can offer you unmatched flexibility and freedom. This is particularly beneficial in scenarios where you need to maintain clear audio quality while actively participating and moving around during the meeting.
Directional Microphones: If you want to focus on specific speakers, you can consider directional microphones. They pick up sound from a specific direction, therefore minimizing any kind of distraction.
The only thing left are the speakers. After all, they are essential for relaying information clearly to both in-person and remote participants.
Ceiling Speakers: If you have a larger meeting space, ceiling speakers are able to distribute sound evenly and create an immersive audio experience. This enhances communication, making it feel more natural and engaging.
Soundbars: They are not only compact and versatile, but also deliver high-quality audio. This is a perfect solution for smaller meeting rooms. You can look for options with built-in amplifiers to control the volume better and match it to your needs.
External Speakers: This option gives you a level of customization like no other. External speakers offer versatility by being compatible with a wide range of audio devices but also provide balanced sound reproduction, ensuring that participants, whether in-person or remote, can grasp nuances in speech.
Hybrid collaborations tools
Don’t forget about the tools that actually enhance hybrid collaboration. If you prefer the tangible feel of a marker and a whiteboard during meetings, but are unsure about how to share them with remote colleagues, we’ve got the perfect solution for you. We would like to recommend to you our app ShareTheBoard, built from the ground up to support a hybrid collaboration experience.
STB identifies your handwritten content in real-time and automatically saves it to the cloud. It preserves the human element of a whiteboarding session, while not forgetting about remote participants. They can clearly see the board’s content and add their own annotations to it, making sure their ideas are just as valued as their onsite colleagues’.
Since the emergence of the hybrid work model, the proper setup of hybrid meetings has become crucial for effective communication. From establishing clear rules to selecting the right equipment and set of tools, arranging them can be a challenge for many. However, with insights you’ve gained from this article, do you think it is possible to seamlessly blend the digital and real worlds?