The Coronavirus pandemic meant a drastic change in the way workplaces function and hold meetings. Many employees have found themselves attending more virtual meetings than they would when they were in the office. But are these meetings as productive or necessary as in-person meetings? Read on to learn more about the importance of in-person meetings post-COVID, and whether virtual or face-to-face meetings are better.
The importance of in-person meetings post COVID-19
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people found themselves isolated from colleagues. As we adapt back to normal life, in-person meetings are still very important post Covid and provide employees with the opportunity to speak with other humans face to face. In-person meetings can give new employees that started during the pandemic the opportunity to meet the team face-to-face. In-person meetings are much more personable than video calls, encouraging your team members to build strong relationships and also improving your company culture.
Why are in-person meetings better than virtual ones?
In-person meetings can be better than virtual meetings for a number of reasons, which we discuss below. The main benefits of in-person meetings that trump virtual ones are: reduced distractions and disruptions caused by using a computer, increased engagement and participation, and clearer communication. In-person meetings also allow you to pick up on nonverbal cues which help all parties to better understand each other.
If you’re transitioning from home working to a hybrid or in-person office environment, we understand that this can be pretty daunting. Read our blog post on how to bring home comforts to the office, to really tailor your space and make it feel more comfortable to work in.
Are virtual meetings more tiring?
Some experts believe that virtual meetings are more tiring than in-person meetings due to increased screen time that causes restless and itchy eyes. It is also more difficult and exhausting to communicate with other people due to the lack of body language and nonverbal communication. This makes our brains work harder to be able to understand and engage with others, resulting in a feeling of exhaustion at the end of a virtual meeting.
The benefits of in-person meetings
Although some people value the time and money saved by virtual meetings, there are many benefits of in-person meetings. Here are the top seven benefits of in-person meetings.
1. Nonverbal communication
In-person meetings give you the opportunity to analyse the body language and other nonverbal communication of the person you are meeting with. From crossed arms to subtle gestures, in-person meetings let you see exactly how the other person is reacting in a way that video calls don’t. Plus, some people prefer to have their cameras switched off during an online meeting, meaning all you have to go from is their voice. With in-person meetings, nonverbal cues let attendees observe even the smallest shift in body language, meaning they can react appropriately.
2. No technical issues
According to one study, 49% of employees reported that at least two meetings per week are disrupted by technical problems. This leads to lost time and a less productive meeting, with these issues disrupting the creative flow that the meeting may have been benefiting from. When you meet in person, there are no worries about any lags, crashes or glitches to interrupt the meeting.
3. Fewer distractions
Some employees tend to multitask during virtual meetings, typically replying to emails or other admin tasks. Although this may seem productive, it means that employees aren’t paying attention to the meeting and can become easily distracted by things popping up on their computer screens. Remove the computer, and you will no longer face this problem. A huge benefit of in-person meetings is the lack of online distractions, ensuring that attendees are both giving their full attention to the meeting agenda.
4. Encourage engagement and participation
With fewer distractions and the physical presence of colleagues, employees may feel more encouraged to participate. It can be difficult to participate in online meetings due to a lack of nonverbal cues and technical problems, so being there in person can feel much more engaging. Employees can easily identify a gap in the conversation and make themselves heard, whereas this is more difficult to do over a call. Being in the same physical space as other participants means employees are more likely to completely engage with and participate in the meeting.
Collaborative office spaces are a great way to encourage participation if you feel your current workplace is a little isolating. Stuck for ideas? Incorporate some biophillic design into your collaborative corner and make it a place employees can look forward to working in – particularly if you’re transitioning to a hybrid or on-site environment.
5. Human bonding
Something we all missed during the Coronavirus pandemic was real-life human connection. Whether it’s small talk about the weather or doing a coffee run, bonding on a human level is much easier when meeting in person. This can help to strengthen relationships between colleagues or with clients, providing a level of intimacy that’s not achieved over calls. Something as simple as a handshake can be the beginning of a successful professional relationship.
6. Beat miscommunication
As mentioned earlier, in-person meetings allow you to interpret nonverbal cues such as tone of voice and body language. Another benefit of being able to use these things is that it massively aids communication, meaning ideas and messages are unlikely to be misinterpreted. Simple phrases can be interpreted in many different ways, so in-person meetings are the best way to communicate these efficiently. Meeting in person also helps to mitigate language barriers or other simple miscommunications, as speech is not distorted by a device.
7. Fewer unnecessary meetings
With the ease of planning, changing and attending virtual meetings, some employees have found that they are attending lots of meetings that may not all be entirely necessary. Employees are unlikely to commit to travelling to a location if they don’t think that this meeting is important. They may instead choose another way to come to a productive outcome that doesn’t result in wasted time. So, employee time will be spent more productively in the meetings that really matter, due to the effort it takes to attend in-person meetings.
If you need the perfect location to hold your in-person meetings, why not meet in a beautiful office? Diamond Interiors are experts in office design, planning, refurbishment, fit out and more. If you would like a productive and ergonomic office space to meet and work, contact the team today.