If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything it’s how to be flexible at work in times of uncertainty. Many of us have bounced back and forth between remote work, heading back into the office, and maybe even having the return to office plan be halted for a short time (or indefinitely).
We examined the unexpected benefits of remote meetings in a recent blog post. We also recognize that as employers find the balance between safe and productive workplaces, the need for impactful in-person meetings still remains. In this post, we’ll explore the benefits of in-person meetings.
Employers everywhere are finding creative ways to have in-person meetings including offering masks, spacing out chairs, and ensuring that everyone in attendance is feeling healthy and well. These efforts may feel difficult but have their benefits. According to an article by WeWork, in-person meetings foster:
- Stronger Bonds: Picture it, you’re in your reserved conference room, sitting across the table from your team. Your jokes are landing, the participation is increased, and you feel a stronger sense of workplace togetherness when you’re finished. In-person meetings can foster a better sense of connectedness than chatting through a screen. In fact, according to a Forbes survey, 84 percent of executives say they prefer in-person meetingsfor their ability to build stronger and more meaningful business relationships.
- Clearer Communication: Videoconferencing has allowed the show to go on for many of us and given us the ability to communicate with our colleagues, friends, and families all over the world. On the other hand, videoconferencing lacks the ability to discern subtle changes in facial features, body language, and other non-verbal cues that help us unconsciously relate to each other. According to WeWork, “We subconsciously use body language as a social cue to indicate when we are about to begin and finish speaking, as well as when we’re willing to yield the floor to another participant. This prevents stop-start conversation and ensures everybody is being heard at the right time.” Because of this, sometimes things get lost in translation. Like when you try to land that joke but end up freezing on everyone’s screen…
- Fewer Interruptions: Zoom Fatigue is a phrase you might have heard quite often over the past 18 months or so. Video meetings are proven to be more mentally taxing, and for those of us who have dozens of them a week, it is difficult to stay fully engaged, particularly when there are understandable distractions like instant messages, barking dogs, or your neighbor’s endless yard work project. With in-person meetings, you can step away physically and participate with your group, hitting the mental “reset” on all of the tasks on your screen and focusing on just the ones relevant to the meeting (we hope).
- Better Engagement: In-person meetings foster a better ability for the entire group to engage. For teams with a mix of extroverted and introverted participants, virtual meetings may be led in large part by the more boisterous of the two. According to an article on com, “When participants [are fully present and] can see each other in person during a meeting, they are often more likely to contribute to the conversation.”
Both in-person and virtual meetings have their merits. One way may work much better than the other depending on the culture of your organization, the needs for accessibility, and the nature of your business. We hope that taking a look at the benefits of each has provided some perspective as you, like all of us, continue to navigate this unprecedented time.