Home office: Employees at loggerheads with hybrid meetings

At the beginning of 2022, there is a differentiated picture of the workplace in European countries: While employees in many companies are increasingly working from the office again, most of them still spend at least part of the working week in the home office. As a result, they still rely on video conferencing technology to share with colleagues and stay connected to their team.

The crux of the technology

However, not all employees can handle video conferences and the technology used for them, as a current study by Sharp among more than 6,000 office workers in small and medium-sized European companies shows.

According to this, around half (49 percent) of the European office workers surveyed find the technology frustrating and prefer face-to-face meetings even in times of a pandemic. Again almost half (47 percent) find it confusing to have to use different video conferencing platforms. Another 53 percent of respondents said they find it harder to stay focused during remote meetings.

Few training opportunities, many concerns

Although video conferencing technology is now part of everyday life in most companies, only 47 percent of those surveyed said they had received training in the use of the software. Because of the technological hurdles, many employees have reservations about hybrid meetings:

  • 28 percent of study participants agree that employees may feel left out and not part of the team.
  • 22 percent believe that communication is made more difficult when some colleagues work in the office and others work from home.
  • 17 percent find that this hinders the development of ideas and makes spontaneous brainstorming more difficult.
  • 16 percent think that this makes it more difficult to hold meaningful meetings.
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“Many employees have now come to terms with hybrid working models, but there is still a lot of catching up to do, especially with hybrid meetings,” says Dr. Nigel Oseland, a leading British industrial psychologist. “The results of the Sharp study show how important it is to support people in the optimal use of video conferencing technology through training. Tools and methods for good meetings help solve the problems faced by remote workers and ensure the future success of hybrid meetings. On the other hand, meetings will have to be made even more interactive in the future, in order to involve the participants who are connected virtually and to support creative thought processes. This also increases engagement over distance. Smooth technological processes play an important role in this.”

Break down barriers – create connections

Despite the concerns raised by the survey, many workers under the age of 30 believe remote meetings offer many benefits and new opportunities. Half (50 percent) of them stated that they are more confident speaking up in virtual meetings, and 59 percent find that more participants can actively participate in remote meetings.

Torsten Bechler, Manager Product Marketing DACH at Sharp Business Systems, explains: “At Sharp, we aim to put an end to unproductive meetings. The study results show that companies need solutions that meet the requirements of a hybrid future. Especially in meetings, technology must not create a barrier, but must offer effective opportunities to get in touch with all participants. A mix of interactive tools is required to work together on ideas and exchange information. This is the only way to ensure that everyone involved is involved and can work effectively.”

Free white paper for SMEs

Based on the study results, Sharp, together with Dr. Nigel Oseland created a white paper on Hybrid Meetings for SMEs. It explains how employees assess the changed meeting structures. It also contains expert tips on how meetings can be successfully organized and what companies should look out for when choosing the right solutions for new work models.

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The free report, entitled “Running Hybrid Meetings Successfully,” is available for download at www.sharp.eu.

About the study:

The representative survey on the impact of the pandemic on the needs of office workers and their expectations for the future of work was carried out by Censuswide for Sharp. 6,018 office workers in companies with 10 to 250 employees from eight European countries were surveyed: Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and Spain. 1,001 of the respondents came from Germany.

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