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Holding a virtual AGM in a Covid-19 climate

By Chris Morrison, Hebridean Housing Partnership. 

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Before Hebridean Housing Partnership held our virtual AGM, we had to ask ourselves the following questions:

  • How do we make sure we are compliant with our rules and applicable legislation and are able to provide all the information to members in the way we normally would?
  • How will people find out about, and attend, the AGM?
  • How will we ensure it works on the day?

We looked at several possible solutions, including holding a webinar using Zoom or MS Teams; setting up a live broadcast event using YouTube, Facebook Live or Zoom/Teams; and having a meeting in Zoom/Teams.

We have been using Microsoft Teams as our video conferencing solution, both internally and externally. Like a lot of organisations, the implementation of MS Teams was planned, but the Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown made this adoption essential.

We looked at hosting a webinar, holding a live event and streaming that on YouTube, both as a live broadcast from multiple locations and as a pre-recorded video. This would give us peace of mind that the content could be broadcast easily and safely – and in accordance with emergency legislation brought in to support remote AGMS, where, otherwise, not permitted by an organisations rules.

However, the AGM represents a very important opportunity for us to engage with our members and tenants, and we decided that hosting a non-interactive forum or a pre-recording would have been too impersonal.

Like many organisations, we have been holding our board meetings remotely, and it has worked very well, so we decided to set up the AGM as a Teams meeting and invited the board, members, officers, partners and suppliers and anyone that had expressed an interest to join.

Email addresses were requested in advance, and a test meeting was convened, so anyone that wanted could test their connection in advance. The attendance was recorded through the chat function, and we could confirm we were quorate ahead of the start. We asked people to mute their microphones, and unmute to speak so there was limited background interference.

The meeting worked very well, and it gave us the opportunity to say thank you and bid farewell to our outgoing Chair, Mr Norman Macleod who was stepping down after being involved in housing, variously, since 1998. It also meant we could have people join us from all over the country, whereas travel time and costs would normally have restricted attendees to those already in the Outer Hebrides.

What did we learn?

Like a lot of organisations experiencing this new way of working, it is tempting to go looking for new and exciting solutions using all of the latest technology. However, having looked at various options, we realised that Teams was already providing us with what we needed for our other meetings, and it proved to be a simple and effective solution for the AGM as well.

SFHA covid governance guidance for holding a virtual AGM.

Video conferencing guidance for virtual meetings

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