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Committing To Meeting Equity: Your Checklist For Success
- Define meeting equity for your workplace. Like any important initiative, having a clear picture of what you want to achieve is critical.
- Create an action plan. Outline tangible steps for improving meeting equity; a cross-functional team of remote and in-office team members can guide the process.
- Communicate your objective. Don’t assume everyone on your team will know the importance of your mission. Become a meeting equity evangelist, emphasizing the significance and benefits.
- Analyze your workplace’s current remote work. Understand existing experiences and determine potential improvements, not only in equipment, but also practices and support.
- Examine your in-office layout. The “long-table” conference room may not be the best hybrid configuration: look at alternatives that best encourage interaction between in-office and remote participants.
- Develop success metrics. Conduct employee pulse surveys, create engagement measures, do a two-minute review at the end of every meeting: create an engaging way to monitor progress.
- Remember the big picture. Meeting equity is one part of overall workplace and collaboration equity; recognize how these initiatives overlap and build upon each other.
- Invest in quality solutions. Select hardware and services that fully enable communications and interactions; in the long run, this investment will pay dividends in productivity and performance.
- Don’t shortchange remote workers. Ensure remote team members have access to the same top-quality technology as their in-office counterparts. Full-featured, professional desktop set-ups are now readily available.
- Keep it simple. The more components, the longer the learning curve and greater the opportunities for hardware conflicts and points of failure. Consider all-in-one technology focused on delivering natural, intuitive experiences.
- Feel more connected with quality video. Visuals are perhaps the most important part of creating a “same room” feel in the hybrid workplace. Ensure remote workers have video equipment comparable to in-house systems including HD resolution, multiple cameras, and AI-enhanced features.
- Present everyone equally. Traditionally conference room participants appear in a single screen, while remote attendees are displayed in tiles. Some meeting platforms now enable independent tiles for in-office participants as well – remote workers can see their counterparts more clearly and everyone appears equally.
- Make audio a high priority. Look for technology that hones in on individual participants’ voices, with built-in echo canceling and noise reduction, the latter often of special concern to remote workers.
- Use touch-enabled whiteboards. Virtual whiteboards can serve as a focal point for hybrid meetings. Ensure remote workers can equally share their input.
- Recognize that collaboration is often asynchronous. Work often continues after the meeting ends; look for tools that enable collaborations to continue afterwards and be easily shared. “Async” work also can help cut down on the number of meetings in general and allow less vocal team members to share their expertise offline.
- Strive for consistency of experience. Creating consistency of experience between home and office makes collaborations easier and more seamless, reducing user frustration and the need for technical support.
- Invest in training. Even the simplest technology likely needs a “101” training session. Ensure the entire team knows how to comfortably use meeting software and equipment.
- Plan to collaborate. Updates and reports may be better communicated via email or project management tools. As much as possible, design meetings for interaction, ideation, and decision-making.
- Publish an agenda in advance. People are better prepared – and may feel more empowered to participate – if they know the meeting purpose. And, whenever possible, allow the team to be part of agenda development.
- Ensure everyone is heard. Organization hierarchy can unintentionally suppress participation; create an environment where everyone knows their voice matters.
- Don’t allow dominant voices to overpower. A few attendees may monopolize meeting time; be prepared to politely ask to allow others an opportunity to speak.
- Solicit input. At times, remote participants and/or junior-level staff may be reluctant to join in the conversation. Be ready to actively ask for their ideas in a non-threatening manner.
- Provide equal access. Handouts, visuals, whiteboard – meeting resources and tools should be equally accessible for in-person and remote attendees.
- Read the room. We all use non-verbal cues, body language, and expressions to monitor engagement; extend this to remote participants. Plus, actively monitor your platform’s chat for people raising hands or providing feedback.
- Use built-in tools. Recording meetings and transcribing sessions make it easy for any team member to review collaborations, recall key action items, or continue working asynchronously.
- Lead by example. Your team will take the biggest cue from you. Ensure you’re not the one monologuing. Make eye contact. Practice active listening. Credit people for their ideas.
Nia Celestin is an executive at DTEN, known for its all-in-one, intuitive-to-use video collaboration solutions. Nia’s career has included ever-progressive roles with technology leading companies as well as start-ups. Her expertise includes collaboration equity, democratizing technology, and marketing agility. She is an active member of Chief, the only private membership network focused on connecting and supporting women executive leaders.