Prior to the pandemic, how many of us dreamed of virtual meetings vs face to face meetings while stuck in heavy rush-hour traffic, gulping down coffee that often ended up spilling down our shirts? We could accomplish so much more while working from home in our pajamas, free of the noise and interruptions of an office.
Or so we thought.
Unfortunately, we were able to put that to the test nearly a year ago and realized dreams don't always play out in reality the way we'd anticipated.
While the past 10 months have taught us the benefits of virtual meetings, we’ve gained a new appreciation of meeting in person. We've also learned how to take those lessons to create an even better workplace when we return to the office.
Here's what employees have to say about virtual meetings versus face-to-face meetings.
Communication is more engaging when employees meet in person. There's more chances to talk and it's easier to pick up on non-verbal social cues such as body language, facial expressions, and level of attention. All of those aspects play a huge role in fostering connection and building community.
And what's more: It's estimated that virtual meetings less effective at building trust.
When it comes to reducing costs, meeting virtually is the clear winner. In fact, virtual meetings can save up to $11,000 in overhead compared to the higher costs associated with in-person meetings.
As mentioned above, face-to-face meetings are great for building community. That being said, the increase in noise and conversation can lead to a higher level of distraction. More interruptions lead to lower productivity.
Perhaps that's why half of your in-person meetings may prove to less productive than virtual meetings. Plus, remote work allows employees to focus for prolonged periods of time, which can boost productivity.
It's irritating when technology doesn't work correctly. But it's especially problematic when the situation interferes with your ability to meet with your team. When it comes to virtual meetings, even minor tech issues can increase frustration and hurt morale.
Office-based meetings, on the other hand, offer more chances for informal conversations. That's great news, since casual chat can actually boost employee morale.
Face-to-face meetings are more flexible when it comes to collaboration, innovation, and building social capital, whereas virtual meetings make sticking to set agendas and time limits easier. That's great when you're on a tight schedule or you need to focus on a project.
Depending on the type of work employees need to accomplish, true flexibility will be a combination of the two.
Let's face it. Meeting virtually can be draining. We've all heard the term, "Zoom fatigue" used in regular conversation over the past year, and there's good reason for that. Paying attention is more difficult when it involves staring at a screen, particularly if it requires tuning out the background noise that's common while working from home.
Face-to-face meetings are ideal for energizing individual employees, providing more opportunities to engage and connect, and supporting a collaborative company culture.
Employees miss their coworkers. With many people reporting feelings of isolation and loneliness right now, it's no wonder employees are looking forward to meeting face-to-face when it's safe to do so.
Having virtual coffee chats, lunches, and happy hour just aren't the same as the real thing.
Meeting with your coworkers face-to-face can provide a greater sense of community and trust than a virtual meeting. In person, there are more opportunities for social interaction and chance encounters with colleagues.
Though being in the office is great for social interaction, working remotely has its own advantages. It can lead to higher productivity, efficiency, and offers a lot of work/life flexibility.
These hard lessons show us that although remote work will continue on some level for many employees, face to face meetings are here to stay.
Want to learn more about how you can use workplace technology to create a safer and more effective hybrid workplace? Request a demo today!