Gone are the days when you worked for a company where everyone lived near the office and worked in-person five days a week while one or two colleagues were remote. When full-time, in-person work was the norm, meetings and everyday work styles were not inclusive or accommodating for these remote workers.
When organizations transitioned from working primarily in-person to fully remote overnight, it created an opportunity to proactively build more inclusive work environments for teams that couldn’t physically be together. Technology can facilitate more inclusive meetings through accessibility features, but we can all take extra steps to make sure our meetings are inclusive.
Here are five tips to help others feel acknowledged, respected, and included in every meeting.
1. Acknowledge your colleagues right away
Start a meeting by saying hello to your colleagues and asking them how they’re doing to create a personal connection, even in a virtual setting. If someone joins a few minutes late, quickly bring them up to speed so that everyone is on the same page. Acknowledging your colleagues can set a positive tone for the rest of the meeting.
2. Give the floor to remote employees first
If you’re holding a meeting where employees are both in-office and remote, allow remote participants to speak first so they feel recognized and included. When it’s time to debrief, enable remote employees to talk first again, so they feel that their contributions are valued and that the meeting was worth their time.
3. Allow for privacy
Encourage the use of virtual or blurred backgrounds so that no one feels uncomfortable displaying their personal space. If it’s a special occasion, like a holiday or a new product launch, use the same virtual background as a team or company to recognize the event to increase feelings of unison, belonging, and camaraderie.
4. Be an active listener and advocate
Whether in a one-on-one or a large group meeting, give your colleagues verbal and nonverbal cues to show that they have your attention. Active listening gestures can take a few different forms, including nodding your head, using emoji reactions, and sending a message through in-meeting chat. If you notice that a colleague unmutes but hasn’t been able to get their point across, call this out and give them the floor. You can also hide your self-view to minimize distractions to focus on the person speaking.
5. Go virtual — even if you’re in person
As hybrid environments become the norm, it can be more inclusive to have all participants join a meeting virtually, even when multiple people are in the same building. Suppose colleagues in the office would like to come together for a meeting with remote participants. In that case, Zoom’s Smart Gallery makes the meeting more equitable by creating individual video feeds of in-room participants so they’re seen clearly by remote participants. Virtual meetings can level the playing field so no one feels left out.
Prioritize inclusivity, no matter where or how you work
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