Inclusive, hybrid meetings – lessons from lockdown

We know that meetings are unlikely to ever be the same again. I enjoy attending meetings in person, being physically present in the room. One of my colleagues was telling me about their experience as the person who used to be the exception, the person that was always dialling in remotely for meetings

She told me of the overwhelming sense of invisibility at the end of the line. Not only was it difficult to get her voice heard when she had something to contribute, but also, when the time came for questions the chair would often miss her out. As though she didn’t really exist because she wasn’t present, in person. This year has put so many of us in the position where we are not there in person, we are dialling in from temporary office locations like we could never have imagined. “You must be so pleased that we have all learned so much”, I responded. Now we’re all in the same situation, was my thinking.

There was silence as I thought about what I’d said, almost like we have pulled everything back to the experience of the excluded, rather than the opportunity of the included. We went on to discuss the future of meetings and ‘hybrid’ meetings: some people in the room and some people dialling in. How can we ensure that we don’t fall into the pitfalls of the past for those out of the room – the unintentional exclusion from those who are physically together? What are we learning from our ‘new-normal’ meeting experiences that we can build on and avoid the further marginalisation of colleagues who may feel excluded already? We can use the lessons to create opportunities to include rather than building ‘in group’ experiences and collusion of those who are physically together in a meeting.

To gather our experiences and build these learning opportunities we’re planning some sessions for members on the hybrid meeting. If you’d like to share your ideas, experiences and top tips, we’d love to hear from you. Please can get in touch with these via [email protected] and we will plan these sessions for later in Autumn.