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My Top-3 tips for effective hybrid workshops – Part 1 of 2

#NimbleVlog Season 03 Episode 01The hybrid workplace era has started. How can we facilitate roll-up-your-sleeves kind of workshops where both “zoomers” and “roomers” are fully engaged; collaborate well together; and – in the case of the “roomers” – adhere to the socially distanced guidelines set by the organization? A few days ago, ORCHANGO president & co-founder Edmond Mellina ran such a hybrid session with a C-suite. So, to launch S03 of the #NimbleVlog, he shares the Top-3 tips he extracted from the experience. This is a two-part episode; part 2 will be out in a few days. Stay tuned…


Reading time: about 5 minutes

As companies are starting to come back to the office partially, leaders and facilitators alike must figure out how to run effective workshops in the new hybrid environment.

And the necessary adjustment will be even bigger than the one we had to make at the start of the pandemic when we switched overnight from in-person to fully remote.

So, how can we facilitate roll-up-your-sleeves kind of workshops where both “zoomers” and “roomers” all feel fully engaged; collaborate well together; and – in the case of the “roomers” – adhere to the socially distanced guidelines set by the organization?

A few days ago, I ran such a hybrid session with an executive team – a C-suite. So, to kick off Season 3 of the #NimbleVlog, I thought I should share with you the Top-3 tips I extracted from the experience.

First, some context for the story

We’ve been guiding this client on a strategic transformation for about a year.

And before the workshop, the executive team hadn’t been in the same room for more than 18 months. And some of them, because they joined the organization mid-way through the pandemic, had never actually met face-to-face with their colleagues.

The idea was to have what I call a “team-building-while-getting-work-done” workshop – which, in my mind, is the best way to do team building.

So, there was team building, but it was mostly integrated with important work to be done: which was to decide how the leadership team is going to continue leading through the rest of the transformation and its culture shift.

Also, because the organization is not yet back to the office, this workshop gave the C-suite an opportunity to lead the way about the new hybrid environment.

Tip #1: more time invested on design & logistics

At the start of the pandemic, when we went from in-person to fully remote, it became clear that we had to increase prep time in order to ensure a successful session. Remember that?

Well, with hybrid, you need to increase even more the prep time compared to remote. So, I had to put way more thoughts into the actual design of the workshop with this executive team.

We had 14 people in the room – the “roomers” – and just two people joining us remotely – the “zoomers” – which was simplifying some aspects but complicating others.

The client didn’t have any smartboards in any of their meeting rooms, which is too bad because it would have simplified things; for example, we could have used a MURAL board for everybody. So, an associate of mine suggested that the “roomers” bring to the session their laptop and still use a MURAL board. But I thought about it, and I said: “Hold on, what is the point of having the folks gather in person if it’s to continue working the same way we’ve been working since the start of the pandemic, which is through a screen??!” So, I didn’t want that.

Instead, I wanted to use Post-It® notes, with hybrid sub-groups working on dedicated sections of the wall; with the “zoomers” fully embedded with their sub-group, collaborating with the “roomers”.

So, as I started working on the details of my facilitation roadmap, two things became clear.

First, I had to script my “facilitation moves” with significantly more details compared to a fully in-person ore fully remote workshop.

Second, I had lots of questions for the client personnel in charge of AV, facilities, and health & safety.

So, we held a creative problem-solving session with these folks to figure out logistics, AV, room setup, etc.

Dedicating all this time up-front – both on the design and the logistics – was like making a wise investment: on the day of the workshop, we got a big return on it!

Tip #2: an AV partner who is creative, collaborative and agile

I was very lucky that the AV person the company assigned to help me was fantastic!

During the logistics meeting, he came across as creative, collaborative, and agile – which was exactly what we needed!

For example, he brought his smartphone with him on a tripod; and this was key for the “zoomers”.

Whenever we needed them to focus on a specific part of the room where the action was, the AV specialist was turning off the overall sound system; he was swiftly moving where the action was; and broadcasting from his smartphone to the “zoomers”.

By doing that, the “zoomers” didn’t have distractions and they felt as if they were in the room with us.

Top-3 tips for effective hybrid workshops

Tip #1 – More time invested on design & logistics

Tip #2 – An AV partner who is creative, collaborative and agile

Tip #3 – [⏳ please wait for S03 E02…]

Playlist with all the #NimbleVlog episodes

Headshot Of Edmond Mellina, ORCHANGO's President & Co-Founder

Edmond is ORCHANGO's president & co-founder.

He is internationally respected for his expertise in nimble change leadership and culture change. For the past 30 years, he has been executing strategic transformations, building agile capabilities, and advising clients across sectors in Europe, North America and the Middle East.

He is a former corporate transformation executive in drastically changing industries: CIO at Delta Hotels when Expedia disrupted the hotel business; and VP Corporate Development & General Manager USA for the technology business of Envoy Communication Group when design and marketing agencies started to become digital.

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