Inclusive hybrid workshops

As the world comes ‘back to the office’ employees no longer want to stick to working in the same location or in the same way; hybrid working locations, hybrid working styles and hybrid workshops have all become popular.

At Paraffin we prioritise a work-life balance and refuse to let timezones get in the way of effective collaboration. Hybrid workshops can be a great way to get global teams together in a way that feels inclusive!

Here are 6 principles to make Hybrid Workshops Inclusive:

1. Design the session to accommodate ALL

  • Be inclusive: Plan from the start how to include the virtual team in comments, ideas, games or ice breakers.
  • Duration: Don’t ask virtual attendees to join the whole session, rather include them by getting everyone to do the same prep work, coming together at specific times for live parts, or commenting on outputs from one timezone to the next.
  • Breakouts: Plan for physical attendees to call their virtual partners on individual laptops for breakouts in a quiet area (outside of the main space).

2. Nominate a facilitator and tech manager for each site

  • Have a facilitator per team: sitting with that team, dedicated to making sure the virtual team have a great experience.
  • In group work: make one of the physical attendees responsible for the virtual team’s feedback and experience.
  • Move the camera and mics: to follow the action during discussions and share backs, and ensure the virtual team can hear everything and see who’s talking.
  • Check in: make sure the virtual team can hear you and use the chat function on Teams/Zoom to confirm instructions and check if they understand

3. Send prep work and materials in advance

  • Send content in advance – consider sending a pre-recorded debrief or podcast in advance, so you are using the live time for debate, discussion and ideas, not presenting.
  • Share the workshop slides in advance and ask the virtual team to follow them on a separate screen.
  • People not PowerPoint – because the virtual team already have the slides, the camera should be focused on faces not slides on the main screen to enhance human connection.
  • Share digital templates in advance so the virtual team can complete them electronically via Mural or shared docs.

4. Consider the numbers

  • Six people: Hybrid workshops can be effective as long there isn’t too many people joining virtually, we suggest a max of 6 people dialling in from individual screens, or 1 virtual team of 6 joining from another conference room.
  • 2 hours: Ask virtual teams to join for a maximum of 2 hours, and use what they do before and after to enhance engagement offline.
  • Equal: For groupwork we suggest there are a similar number of physical and virtual attendees, so that neither party feels excluded from the conversation.

5. Invest in the right equipment

  • Consider the venue: Ensure you hire a venue that is familiar with the set up you require. We suggest using 2 x laptops connected to 2 x separate TV screens, one to show the people dialling in and one to show the navigation slides.
  • Consider mics and their placement: request as many portable mics as possible and position them around the room, moving where necessary.
  • Request a good camera: Use a camera that can be moved to follow the action, a Logitech conferencing camera, moveable laptop or Go Pro.
  • Obviously strong broadband is a must.

6. Test, test and re-test

  • Test the sound and camera an hour before the workshop begins, to iron out any issues.
  • Test the Teams or Zoom call you will be using to collaborate with virtual attendees. Join using a personal account to test how it will look and sound before the physical attendees arrive.
  • Have Tech support ready to help with set up before the event begins and during the day.
  • Run a rehearsal session between the main facilitators from each team so they are prepared