The in-person-effect: Why in-person meetings have their place in a virtual world
The way we work and professionally collaborate has seen a huge shift over the past few years. Hybrid and remote working are more prevalent and, therefore, organisations have flexed to uphold employee relationships in a dynamic and digital landscape. The way we meet and interact with our peers has also changed; but while technology has altered the way we do business, in this blog we explore the importance of in-person meetings.
Conferencing software has unlocked opportunities to connect with fellow business professionals, where geographic barriers may have previously got in the way. Such tools strengthen links globally, make intercompany decision making quicker and take out some of the overheads and time place-based meetings carry. But with all these strengths, come some comparable weaknesses…
It could be argued that we, as busy professionals, have become somewhat reliant on such technology and are losing sight of the importance of in-person meetings. Now we know what problems can be solved over email, instead of a seemingly pointless meeting, it’s time we shift our focus back to building valuable connections away from a screen and in front of the people behind them.
The importance of in-person
The main difference and advantage in-person meetings have over virtual is that they’re much more natural. Conversation flows better and ideas can be explored much more freely – hopping from topic to topic is practically seamless – and, no one has to worry if they’re still on mute!
Communication isn’t just about the words we say, it’s about how we get the message across too. In-person meetings enable participants to give and receive social cues, such as body language, eye contact, facial expressions and other non-verbal communication that can speak volumes. Over a screen these subtler factors are all but lost.
It may sound obvious, but in-person meetings are just more, well – human.
If you take away the physical benefits, there are many psychological advantages to meetings that exchange real human interactions. Working in isolation doesn’t offer as much mental stimulation and replacing human connection with fast-speed broadband connections, only compounds this.
Remote working can actually increase stress levels and impair decision making. While digitally connected, the personal workplace connections that are made in the office can become somewhat distant.
In-person meetings can reinforce and establish stronger relationships between peers and boost serotonin; social interaction can release a range of brain chemicals that boost overall wellbeing, which is vital for a healthy work life. (source: https://www.hprc-online.org/total-force-fitness/tff-strategies/social-fitness-and-performance-part-1-impact-brain-and-overall)
There’s something about meeting with people that can’t be mimicked. When we interact with others, we communicate our overall demeanour and personality. These are key elements when we’re trying to build trust and rapport with others, not only among peers but with clients or customers.
If you work with customers often, it’s important to be authentic and interact in a way that’s genuine, honest, and present in the moment. While you can do this over virtual conferencing software, to an extent, those first impressions and interactions are vital in establishing a rapport – in-person this is can be achieved in a much more natural way.
In a world where artificial intelligence is dominating operations, those real connections are becoming more and more valuable.
Your meeting environment has a big impact on how productive and professional it will be. If you’re hosting a virtual meeting, while more regimented than conventional in-person meetings, professionalism is a hard value to gauge and get across.
Hosting an in-person meeting should be a considered and well-thought out process that helps uphold the perception people have of your organisation. It’s all about the entire experience, which can’t be wholly achieved through zoom or teams. Choosing a well-designed space with good amenities makes it much easier to be productive and professional.
Making sure the space is comfortable, accessible and appropriate for the purpose of the meeting can enhance productivity and ensure value is maximised. And, because technology is our everyday, you can make the meeting available virtually too to connect with those who are geographically out of reach. A hybrid approach can be beneficial for meetings spanning across the globe.
If you’re looking to boost employee engagement or build customer relationships, in-person meetings are extremely valuable. The Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre has a wide range of meeting spaces to accommodate many meeting needs, from interviews to networking events, team-building to large-scale AGMs. Make your meetings matter with meeting spaces that enhance productivity and elevate your business.
Learn more about our meeting rooms below: