Improving the hybrid meeting experience

Whether you are in the office full-time, part-time or completely remote, hybrid meetings have become a convenient and necessary way for employees who split their time between different locations to remain productive. The ability to work from home has become the ability to work from anywhere. Meetings and activities are moving to collaboration platforms as hybrid working has become the standard. Regardless of how many people are in the room or joining remotely, it’s important that everyone has a good experience. Flexible working will soon be the default for millions of workers, under new UK government plans that will allow people to request it from day one of their employment.  

As hybrid work evolves, video meetings and content sharing will continue to be an essential point of contact between colleagues, partners, and clients. To deliver effective and collaborative communications, organizations will need to ensure that they have a strong foundation in place and adopt the necessary technologies to support their employees and this way of working. Here we’ll cover the tools and technologies that users will need to interact with on a daily basis and the key IT infrastructure considerations for organizations.  

A seamless meeting experience for everyone 


Getting the right equipment and set-up for hybrid meetings is important. As a minimum, remote users need high quality cameras, microphones, speakers or headsets to ensure they can be seen and heard clearly in the meeting. These devices should utilize AI technologies that remove unwanted and distracting background noises. The key is to make remote workers feel involved and not merely an onlooker in the meeting room else they will be less engaged. They need to interact and share content with the same experience as if they were in the room, so organizations must invest in the right tools to achieve this. 

When it comes to the in-room experience there are different types of meeting spaces. For example, huddle spaces that seat a handful of people in one area, small group rooms of up to 10 people and then larger rooms or auditoriums that can accommodate 20 to 30 people and more. Across all these room types there are three factors that need to be considered: 

·       Consistency of experience 

Whatever the meeting space the user experience must remain consistent. It must be as easy to use a large boardroom system as it is a single-person endpoint. From how you start and end a meeting, the control interfaces you use and the way in which you share content and use collaboration tools, familiarity is key. This may mean investment or it could be that you choose to align with a company standard such as Webex, Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Too much variation between rooms will lead to underutilization of meeting spaces.  

·       Smart spaces 

This means looking beyond how the system is used in the room. It concerns how users book the physical and virtual space beforehand. Organizations need to have effective room booking systems in place which use visual indicators to allow people to see room availability at a glance. This can mean integration with calendaring systems and making use of room booking panels, enabling users to book the room on an ad hoc basis as well as on their mobile and through email. Furthermore, large offices should use digital signage and wayfinding to ensure users can find the meeting room easily. 

·       Visibility 

In an ideal world, organizations with large numbers of geographically distributed meeting rooms should be able to centrally monitor their estate from a single pane of glass. These solutions not only enable organizations to maintain the uptime of their meeting spaces, they also utilize people counting tools to help adhere to health and safety requirements concerning maximum occupancy of the room. Furthermore, monitoring solutions help organizations measure environmental factors to ensure staff welfare, track sustainability efforts, allowing them to release rooms when participants don’t show up; reducing energy waste or improving efficiencies by enabling others to use the vacant space. 

Networking and accessibility  

The shift to hybrid working not only introduces the challenge of how to connect remote participants and allow them to work from anywhere, but how to do so securely. It concerns optimum ways to connect users to the public cloud services where meetings are being hosted, where using local Internet connectivity is often better than connecting them back to and via the head office or data center. 

Some office spaces were fundamentally designed for in room meetings. There is now a need for remote users to take part. Here connectivity and configuration need to be considered. Moving employees beyond the office firewall requires a rethink of networks. Organizations must look to protect their expanding network boundary to enable users to connect to a secure system to access files and applications. This means added consideration for your security, remote access and firewall traversal policies and technologies.  

With more technology being introduced to enhance hybrid meetings, organizations will need to be mindful of maintenance. This is where cloud registered systems and managed services can support dynamic updating of software and features. When it comes to the rooms themselves the emphasis is on flexibility and adherence to your long-term strategy. Organizations must understand how their rooms are being used and at what frequency. Cloud based monitoring tools can provide this analytical insight and enable organizations to optimise the use of their meeting spaces. They must consider what collaboration platform is being used and if this has the ability to connect with other conferencing software when teams need to connect with customers or partners. 

Ultimately, it’s about finding the right applications that meet your business needs, are compatible with the services you use, and work together. Providing a mix of security and accessibility that delivers hybrid users with a secure and engaging experience now and in the future.  

Richard Evans is CTO at Cinos.

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