The ongoing pandemic has changed the way many Americans view work, with more than 50% of employees preferring to share their work time in the office and at home.
However, issues like virtual meeting fatigue and technical issues lead to disengagement of many workers in hybrid and remote environments. CNBC Make It spoke with Jim Szafranski, CEO of communications software company Prezi, about the top concerns of hybrid workers.
In his investigation of hybrid work, Prezi surveyed over 1,000 hybrid office workers and found that more engaging environments and building people-to-people relationships were most important in the hybrid office.
Based on the results, here are five ways to improve virtual meetings:
1. More immersive video conferencing experiences
While there are several benefits to hybrid work environments, such as more flexibility and freedom, cultivating interpersonal working relationships can be difficult. Virtual workers can also feel disengaged due to “impersonal screen sharing,” according to Szafranski.
“Working in 2D video environments can make people feel more like observers of the show called ‘work’, rather than participants,” says Szafranski. “People want to be a part of the experience and to have an impact.”
Using tools like stickers and virtual backgrounds allows for a more interpersonal remote experience. Professionals at the Forbes Business Council also found that creating space for an “informal atmosphere” with jokes and fun questions helped boost meeting morale this year.
2. Tools that help reduce disruption
Since the start of the pandemic, workplaces have relied heavily on platforms like Zoom, Webex, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams. But when it comes to presenting material, there is the difficulty of using multiple tools, such as Powerpoint, in addition to the video platform.
To eliminate the difficulty of switching between multiple applications during a business call, The Digital Workplace suggests using “connection meeting tools” for a more streamlined experience. For example, if you are using Google Meet for your business meetings, it would be more efficient to use other Google apps, like Google Docs and Google Slides, to facilitate the presentation.
3. Implement corporate branding and screen presence
It involves how an audience can connect with the brand and the business. For workplaces, it’s normally created in person using things like badges or name tags, but survey participants wanted this to translate into the virtual world.
“If you invite a client into your office, as soon as they walk into your lobby they know where they are, right?” »Szafranski explains. “You are empowered to be in the right place; you reinforce the values of the company. “
In a virtual environment, branding can be as simple as having a company logo somewhere on the screen or wearing similar clothing styles to create a sense of uniformity. More creatively, brand presence and awareness can be fostered through things like digital giveaways and guest speakers.
4. Boost engagement between audience and speaker
The awkwardness of virtual meetings is something everyone has experienced in virtual working environments. Whether it’s dead silence or a distraction from the presentation, it’s hard to maintain good momentum and audience engagement.
Encouraging two-way interactions with on-screen responses using text, images and gifs, creates a more exciting work environment for employees and makes meeting engagement less of a task.
5. Prepare the content for the video
Screen sharing is one of the primary means used by professionals to deliver presentations and relay information virtually. However, issues like screen distortion, screen freezing, or audio issues can make things frustrating.
“People want to be more interactive and engaging with their audience, but don’t want to have to troubleshoot and rethink things,” Szafranski said.
Some platforms, like Prezi Video, allow users to upload their presentations or decks directly into the app for a smoother experience. Other ways to ensure that your content is ready for presentation include using tools such as polls, surveys, and discussions, and sharing documents in advance, such as agendas and plans, in anticipation of technical difficulties.