September 16th, 2020

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Some say the future of the workplace will look more flexible, perhaps even eventually becoming fully remote. But even your millennial employees appreciate the advantages of face-to-face meetings — here's why.

Today's millennials are your employees, managers, and CEOs.

Along with their younger Gen-Z counterparts, they've become a dominant demographic in the workforce. Growing up in the digital age, they expect to be connected from anywhere — easily and at all times. They've helped pave the way for more accessible technology and communication throughout the workplace, including during conferences and meetings. And thanks to their efforts, many companies were able to quickly adapt to a work-from-home model when the pandemic hit.

There's still a place for in-person meetings

Conferences and meetings are evolving, but they will never be obsolete. Today most of us are relying on using Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, or other virtual meeting tools — while only 10 years ago the primary option was to have everyone together in the same room.

Most companies have been taking full advantage of the 24/7 connectivity and will continue to allow teams and individuals to work remotely for at least part of the week, knowing they are able to collaborate and communicate online through email or chat as easily as sitting down one-on-one.

Even with these wonderful advances in technology, one thing that cannot be replaced is the ability to observe expressions, body language and gestures, eye contact and what people are looking at, and other social cues and signals that help round out our understanding. The ability to see a colleague face to face and react to their body language changes the whole experience of explaining a project or working through an issue.

Have you ever tried to type a description out and then realize this would be much easier in person? An even more terrifying situation is when a friendly bit of sarcasm is ill-taken on the receiving end of a conversation, which in turns dilutes trust and slows down forward movement. In both of these situations, it can be better to have an offline meeting.

These breakdowns in communication can be more easily avoided during offline meetings because you can use hand movements, body language, and vocal expression to get your point across. You can physically pick up and hold objects, see who is looking at whom, and more effectively keep people focused and on track.

Most companies realize this and know that participating in face-to-face, offline meetings is still very necessary for connection, engagement, and productivity. 

In today’s technology-connected workplace, in-person meetings may be less common, but they will always exist because there are some things you just can't express with emojis and computer screens.

9 advantages of face-to-face meetings

Here are nine advantages of face-to-face meetings (and some hints on when it might make more sense to organize face-to-face meetings over virtual ones.)

  1. Fast moving projects work better in-person, especially when a road map with all members needs to be laid out

  2. Employees often feel represented more fairly when they see everyone face-to-face

  3. Reviewing performance or interviewing is better done when there's a human element, and make it easier to communicate company culture and values

  4. Not every team feels that technology provides the best form of communication, and bad communication is can quickly become a hindrance to the company

  5. Often employees find it easier to stay fully focused on the objective of the meeting

  6. Online meetings tend to meander, but when you book a room for a designated time it helps push it along

  7. Bad internet or network connections aren't a problem when you're meeting face to face

  8. Employees are more accountable for tasks coming out of meetings, and can't fall back on a faulty connection

  9. Professionalism is more strongly emphasized when everyone is together in person

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After six months of Zoom meetings, most employees are looking forward to all of the benefits they'll get when they are able to have face-to-face, offline meetings with their colleagues. From better collaboration to more opportunities for creativity, meeting in person is still one of the best ways for people to feel a sense of connection with their team and a proven way to build stronger relationships.

Feeling inspired to get the most value from your face-to-face meetings and in-office workdays? Learn about the new rules of workplace happiness — including how to help prevent employee burnout.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Teem

Teem by iOFFICE provides enterprises with space scheduling and management, workplace analytics, building, and campus wayfinding, and visitor management to help cultivate workplaces that fuel productivity, efficiency, and creativity.

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