Technology | Office | Hybrid Working | 12 min read

Bridging the Divide: How Technology Promotes Equity in Hybrid Meetings


Over the last few years, we've seen a rise in hybrid workstyles. This gives employees the option to work from multiple locations. It's an approach to work that offers flexibility and choice. But it also raises questions about how to create equitable meeting spaces for all participants, no matter where they're located. 

Equity is critical to ensuring everyone can collaborate and connect effectively, regardless of their physical location. Achieving equity requires a balanced approach that considers environmental, behavioural, and technological factors, such as equipment. 

In this article, we'll explore the importance of meeting equity and share some practical solutions that can help create inclusive hybrid meetings. Whether you're a workspace professional considering a custom technology solution or simply interested in improving your hybrid meetings, this article has something for you. 

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Arguably the most critical factor which influences meeting equity is behaviour. Whether the meeting is just a quick huddle or over an hour, consider setting clear and appropriate behavioural guidelines like those used in traditional in-person meetings. With behavioural expectations in place, every attendee feels comfortable and confident contributing to discussions, making meetings more productive and effective.  

Here are some meeting etiquette factors which can improve meeting equity: 

  • Keep your camera on and be present. This helps create a sense of connection and engagement among participants, ensuring everyone is paying attention. 
  • Be on time. Arriving and starting the meeting on schedule shows respect for other participants. With enough time for conversation and clarification, facilitators are more likely to cover all talking points. 
  • Avoid multitasking. Checking your email or scrolling through the news can distract others. Set a rule that all participants must set their phones aside during meetings. 
  • Listen actively. This means paying attention to what other participants are saying, asking questions when necessary, and avoiding interrupting others. 
  • Follow up on action items. Follow-through is vital to a successful meeting. So, reiterate action items, check in to make sure tasks are completed on time, and inspire team members to hold each other accountable. 

Encouraging participation is another important behavioural aspect of creating an equitable meeting environment. Here are some tips to help ensure everyone has a chance to contribute: 

  • Set clear expectations for participation. Let participants know their input is valued, and prompt them to share their thoughts and ideas. 
  • Use icebreakers or other activities to get everyone engaged at the beginning of the meeting. This helps minimise awkward silences. 
  • Ask open-ended questions to stir discussion. Leave space for participants to challenge the status quo. This can help generate new ideas. 
  • Use breakout rooms to facilitate smaller group discussions. This can be particularly helpful for larger meetings, allowing everyone to participate more fully. 

Finally, consider using room booking systems like Condeco to help manage the logistics of hybrid meetings. These systems give everyone access to the resources they need. 

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Suitable furniture is crucial for a successful and fair hybrid meeting. Consider the placement of audiovisual equipment and arrange seating to accommodate participants comfortably. The furniture should enable all attendees, whether they are present in the room or joining remotely, to have clear visibility and interaction with the meeting content. 

Acoustic treatment is also paramount. The room should have the appropriate treatment to reduce noise and minimise echo, which can lead to poor audio quality for those tuning in remotely. Remember, while virtual participants may look past poor-quality video, they won't forgive poor-quality audio. 

Acoustic treatments include sound-absorbing panels, acoustic ceiling tiles, and carpeting, which can create a more optimized hybrid meeting environment. 

Additionally, consider the lighting in the meeting space. Adequate lighting can significantly affect the quality of the video and overall meeting experience. Dim or inadequate lighting can create shadows, making it difficult to see facial expressions and other important visual cues. 

Finally, take advantage of multi-purpose solutions. While it is crucial to create equitable meeting environments for a hybrid workforce, it's also important to give in-house staff members access to the space needed to do their best work. We recently brought these ideas to life for our client iNova.  

iNova wanted to transform their Chatswood workspace from rigid workstations to inspired zones that would ignite collaboration between in-house and remote team members. The space needed to be used more efficiently for multiple purposes. We created a large café-style breakout area where staff could have informal meetings. We also installed two-person, VC-enabled phone booths for private conversations and one-on-one meetings between office and remote workers. The booths can also be used for small group huddles or meals. 

By incorporating multi-purpose spaces like this, we were able to provide iNova with a more flexible and collaborative environment that supports meeting equity. 

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Technology is the backbone of hybrid meetings, enabling seamless communication between on-site and remote participants. Plus, with the rise of virtual conferencing software, splitting participants from one room into individual frames has become easier. This creates an equitable online appearance, ensuring remote employees feel equally present. However, even with this software at your fingertips, the right technology is still integral. 

Cameras and audio equipment must be fit for purpose so all participants in the room are clearly seen and heard, with little echo or other issues. Carefully consider factors such as the room size, the number of participants, and the type of meetings you typically hold. In addition, investing in high-quality audio-visual equipment makes remote participants feel like they are part of the conversation rather than being left out due to technical issues. 

Moreover, ensure coherence between design and technology. Prioritise ease of use, creating a seamless and intuitive user experience that empowers rather than hinders hybrid teams. 

We achieved this goal in BUMA Australia's South Brisbane office. We installed integrated technology systems to shape a harmonious work environment. This included VC-enabled meeting rooms with simple to use technology to enable staff to quickly join meetings and share information, increasing efficiency and productivity. 

We also established a room booking system that syncs with staff calendars. This allows team members to access the right spaces at the right time, creating a seamless and stress-free experience. 

Finally, aim to create a variety of office settings that support existing staff habits while encouraging new ways of working. By providing staff with access to technology that empowers them to work flexibly and collaboratively, you can create a dynamic and inclusive environment that promotes productivity, creativity, and well-being. 

Modern Breakout Space interior design iNova Chatswood

Create a more equitable work environment

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work has become the new norm for many businesses. As a result, organisations are adopting hybrid work models that allow employees to work from home or come into the office as needed. 

While hybrid work has many benefits, it also comes with its own set of challenges, particularly regarding equitable meetings. Balancing environmental, behavioural, and technological elements gives all participants, whether in-person or remote, an equal voice and experience. 

If you're looking to improve the equity of your hybrid meetings, book a free 15-minute consultation with our experts to discuss your technology solutions. 

Lets collaborate to create a more equitable, inclusive and collaborative work environment for all. 

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