Barco: Diving into the hottest business topic. All About Meeting Fairness

Welcoming a hybrid workforce into offices poses new challenges for companies to bring more equality to video meetings. The latest ClickShare study found that remote employees experience inequities in hybrid collaboration, as 71% struggle with hybrid meetings. 1 in 3 remote workers feel less engaged and involved than their onsite colleagues. With the right technology at the heart of any hybrid meeting space, organizations can ensure that everyone has a seat at the virtual table and has an equal share of voice, wherever they are.

Remote workers are increasingly concerned about their hybrid meeting experience, which they perceive as uneven, less collaborative and less engaging compared to their on-site colleagues. Many go so far as to consider new job opportunities in organizations where they believe they will be more included.

35% struggle to fully engage in virtual meetings

28% struggle to make their voices heard when joining hybrid meetings remotely

56% believe meeting leaders overly care about those in a physical meeting space when leading the conversation

There are a lot of hurdles to jump through when looking for an inclusive workplace and specifically for equity meeting. With the rise of virtual and hybrid meetings, an additional dimension is added to these. Is physical presence essential for participation and engagement in meetings? inclusiveness in hybrid meeting different from that of a face-to-face or even virtual meeting? What actions can you take to maintain a good level of digital equality for all participants, wherever they are? Can technology be a driver of positive and productive hybrid collaboration?

What is to encounter equality?

Achieving equality or equity is one way to ensure more inclusive and engaged meetings. So make sure everyone feels valued and is on an equal footing in a meeting. Meeting fairness ensures that remote employees have the same sense of engagement, collaboration, and access to technology as those who are physically around the table.

Many factors can influence equality of opportunity:

  • access to meeting technology,

  • visibility of all participants,

  • the audibility of all speakers,

  • the experience and personality of the participants,

  • availability of features such as poll, chat, note taking, blackboard, annotation,

  • the role of host and/or manager.

Some workers have never had a problem respecting equality, others struggle daily for inclusion. HR managers should explore options to increase awareness of respect for equality. Simply because anyone who feels they can speak their mind freely is a happier employee. And every worker should have access to the right tools to do so. In this case, respect for equality is directly linked to employee well-being, as our research reveals. 1 in 3 plans to change jobs because of friction, stress, and inequality in hybrid work and meeting. Giving workers more autonomy and flexibility leads to greater job satisfaction and a more productive workforce. Which ultimately results in better employee retention. A win-win for all.

“Hybrid meetings have become the mainstay of business collaboration, and organizations need to do a better job removing barriers to access and engagement that can create a ‘less than’ perception for remote workers,” said Lieven Bertier, Segment Marketing Director, Workplace at Barco.

Why is inclusion a challenge in virtual and hybrid meetings?

In the new hybrid workplace, equality has become more than just a buzzword. Since indoor meetings generally have a higher rate of interaction and participation, they facilitate collaboration. Everyone is present in the same room and can contribute equally. In fact, there’s more going on in the room than just talking. You have power dynamics playing in the room, you can read a person’s body language, see facial expression and hear every nuance. Everyone has the same access to meeting room technology, which only reinforces the seamless and natural way of working together.

Adding remote participants to a meeting makes collaboration more complex and less intuitive. There is a real physical distance between participants in videoconferences. They are no longer sitting together in the same space, they are separated by virtual and physical walls.

In virtual video calls or remote meetings, where every participant connects, there is a newfound sense of equality. The talking head experience where not everyone is in the office or working from home, has access to a laptop, apps and UC platforms like Microsoft Teams or Zoom. The video experience is identical for all, even if it is not ideal. Since every team member is equal, there are no power dynamics at play and different voices can engage. A fully virtual meeting can therefore be a relief and a chance to fully participate and be heard in discussions. With features such as raising your hand, additional chat discussions, surveys, automatic timing, the ability to take notes and record, the new ways to participate are endless.

In hybrid meetings, you have a unique mix of in-room and remote users, so it can be difficult to create an equal meeting experience for everyone. Remote users can easily feel lonely, distracted, ignored, and left behind, especially when they don’t have access to video or a camera view of the meeting room. Their engagement plummets faster, making their attendance at meetings nowhere near equal to that of their colleagues in the dining room.

1 in 3 feel silenced on video calls as an offsite participant

61% struggle to get noticed

31% cannot read body language or social cues

Why is it important to respect fairness?

Over the past two years, workers have become accustomed to hybrid technology and flexibility. People’s mindset about what the workplace should look like has changed. Today, we expect easy-to-use, high-quality voice and video experiences that let us see and hear each other clearly, and allow us to be more productive and included wherever we are.

Jessica C. Bell