Our response to COVID-19

Virtual etiquette: How to make hybrid meetings work for your business

Posted on: 15th March 2023

Reading time:  5 mins

Virtual etiquette: How to make hybrid meetings work for your businessVirtual etiquette: How to make hybrid meetings work for your business

If the past few years have taught businesses anything, it’s the importance of agile strategic decision-making. In this fast-paced and ever-changing commercial environment, businesses need to make fast decisions informed by quality data to remain healthy, resilient and profitable.

Unfortunately, there are many obstacles that prevent companies from attaining the levels of speed and agility necessary to accomplish this. Siloed departments (and departmental data), a lack of strategic clarity and inefficient communications can all rob companies of the agility they need to be competitive.

Adapting to hybrid has helped many businesses combat inertia by emphasising flexibility, innovation, and collaboration. However, a decentralised workforce requires businesses to rethink their approach to meetings. In the video conferencing era, it’s imperative for businesses to improve their virtual etiquette (virtual EQ) to make hybrid meetings more effective.

Businesses target ‘meeting fatigue’ in 2023

In the post-pandemic world, we’re having more meetings than ever. Research by Microsoft shows that Teams users now spend over 250% more time in meetings than they did in early 2020. This can contribute to an ‘always on’ culture that is sabotaging rather than enhancing the efficacy of modern working. Holding more online meetings may seem like a good way to unify a hybrid workforce, but the data shows that this merely contributes to digital fatigue and a potential loss of productivity. 

In 2023, a number of businesses are figuring out how to deal with meeting fatigue. A recent McKinsey survey found 80% of executives were either considering making changes to the structure and cadence of their meetings or were actively doing so. According to The Guardian, the e-commerce platform Shopify has banned meetings with more than 3 people present due to the risk of non-participation, while tech giants like Meta, Clorox and Atlassian all schedule no-meeting days on their calendars.

Pitfalls to avoid in virtual meetings

Having fewer meetings is one solution to the problem of meeting fatigue. But businesses also need to make sure that the meetings they do have are more purposeful. In order to do this, they need to identify the most common problems that can beset virtual meetings.

Even after more than two years of holding meetings over video conferencing platforms, our virtual etiquette often leaves much to be desired. Some of the common pitfalls of virtual meetings include:

  • Communication can become unclear with non-verbal cues harder to pick up on over video chat
  • Greater risk of non-participation. A recent study shows that 40% of attendees having below-average or poor engagement, and 22% making no contribution at all
  • Technical or connectivity issues disrupting the flow of the meeting
  • Attendees can fall into the habit of multi-tasking during meeting time
  • Attendees often arrive late, leading to more time wastage

Finally, it’s easy to fall into the habit of over-relying on virtual meetings. They don’t require a conference room to be booked and they can be set up in just a few clicks. But this over-reliance can often lead to back-to-back meetings that may breed digital exhaustion and frustration among employees who feel that their time would be better spent elsewhere.

How can business leaders fix virtual meetings?

Hybrid working is all about testing, learning and reiterating. It’s a change in outlook as much as a change in location. By applying this approach to their meetings, business leaders can experiment with different ways to improve their virtual EQ. Some ways in which virtual meetings can be made more effective include:

  • Structure meetings in ways that ensure everybody gets to participate
  • Routinely change meeting facilitators so that no single person does all the heavy lifting
  • Prohibit digital multitasking to reduce the risk of non-participation
  • Use digital icebreakers like polls to engage participants and lend momentum to the meeting
  • Show up early to engage with colleagues before the meeting starts
  • Keep meetings short and punchy to prevent wandering attention spans
  • Have a clear agenda, but don’t be afraid to stray from it where necessary

Ultimately, the key is for companies to have fewer meetings and ensure that the meetings they do have are well-paced and purposeful. Meetings should be properly curated to ensure that time is used efficiently and that employees return to their work energised and feeling connected to their work and their teams. Moreover, they should be held in a dedicated space that is conducive to active participation.

Speaking in IWG’s 2023 Future of Work forecast, company founder Mark Dixon neatly summarised the proper approach to curated meetings.

“The most successful companies are now very focused on how meetings work. It’s not enough anymore just to schedule a meeting and then try to wing it. A meeting needs to be properly curated in advance. That means a clear agenda, and everyone attending should fully understand what their role is and what kind of outcome is required. If people are going to make the effort to come together in the office, it’s essential their time there is spent productively.”

With flexible meeting spaces and the outstanding connectivity required for effective video conferencing, Regus flexible workspaces are specifically designed to help your company make the most of its hybrid meetings. And with 3,500 locations across over 120 countries, your team is never far from a Regus space. Get in touch today to see how we can help revolutionise your meetings.


Topics in this article


Recent Articles

Keep up to date

Get news articles straight to your inbox.