When much of the business world switched to work-from-home (WFH), people quickly became accustomed to holding and attending virtual meetings rather than coming together in person. But while a good portion of workers initially expected the change would only be temporary, many have now signaled they want to remain remote long term. It’s unlikely that everyone will be offsite forever, though—some people are opting for a mix of in-office and at-home days. Others may decide they prefer working at a company location, and they might spend most days at a traditional office-based desk with the ability to work remotely when inclement weather strikes or during school breaks.
Because hybrid work groups that blend onsite and offsite members are becoming more routine, project teams should reassess the practices and toolsets they use for collaboration. Solutions launched at the start of the pandemic may benefit from an update, and strategies intended to address short-term requirements might need to be expanded.
- Can remote and onsite stakeholders participate equally in discussions?
- Do participants have access to meeting recordings—including visual materials, chat discussions, poll results, etc.—from the events they attended?
- Are similar features and functionalities available to attendees joining meetings online as well as those in a traditional conference room?
- Have vendors or other non-company meeting participants encountered difficulty accessing virtual events in the past? Do any of those glitches continue today?
Recognizing that your meeting attendee profile could continue to evolve in the coming years, this is a good opportunity to take a fresh look at how well your collaboration functionality matches today’s project needs and consider ways to step up your hybrid meeting experience going forward.
Review your bandwidth
Even though some of your meeting attendees may now be joining events from a shared location, don’t count on your bandwidth needs dropping. In fact, some organizations could find they’ve been limping along with less connectivity horsepower than they really need. The increased functionality of the latest generation of collaboration solutions means that a good user experience relies on fast connections and enough bandwidth to support simultaneous voice and video, screen sharing, virtual whiteboards, instant messaging, breakout discussion spaces, and a host of other features. Work with your technology team to revisit your current connection capabilities to ensure the project group can continue to have smooth and productive meetings.
The risk of cyberattacks continues to rise, and project teams need to remember the importance of maintaining good security awareness. Your IT group may have already helped remote workers set up secure network connections for their homes, but this is a good time to confirm that onsite equipment and connection hubs—conference rooms, training spaces, demonstration units, etc.—are also properly protected. Some organizations may not have kept up with security patches or other measures for facility-based assets during the pandemic, simply because the equipment wasn’t in use while everyone worked at home. Reinstating a strong security posture around your physical collaboration tools will help ensure your project team doesn’t open the door to cyber criminals.
Assess needs that are still on the horizon
Are there some features you want to add in the near future? If functionalities such as automated transcription of discussion notes or the ability to connect individual remote locations and dedicated conference room systems in the same meeting weren’t a necessity before, consider if they’ll be a worthwhile addition in the coming year or two. By incorporating newer features and expanding your collaboration toolset, you can more fully support a hybrid team and deliver a richer meeting experience for your project stakeholders.
PMAlliance, Inc uses a team of highly experienced and certified professionals to provide project management consulting, project management training and project portfolio management.