Face to face business meetings – are they back?

Written by Andrea Frith

Finally, restrictions are ending, and it is looking likely that this is for good. Organisations are planning more on-site meetings; people are back in the office and some business travel has started again.

When the first lockdowns were introduced the video meetings were virtual and immediately became the norm. Video calls became the norm, both in business and socially.

The question now is, will the video meeting continue to stay and replace meetings that pre-pandemic would have been face to face. There are obvious benefits to the virtual meeting, and most will welcome this opportunity. The actual monetary cost savings will add up and expense claims across the globe are hugely reduced, this is something that will be monitored going forward. The cost to the environment and the reduction in travel will reduce many carbon footprints, time given back when travel is no longer needed a factor is huge HOWEVER have we forgotten the benefits of a face-to-face meetings?

Is it easier to interact with a peer/customer or supplier if you are in the same room?

Reading the room is a way of deciding on the next stage and it is easier to gauge a reaction or be able to interrupt questions, and body language if the meeting is face-to-face. Whilst digital communication has advanced significantly recently and we have adapted to this situation, face-to-face meetings can still be critical components of building a strong culture, developing rapport with clients, and connecting with people on a deeper level.  Face-to-face meetings make it easier to communicate effectively by providing individuals with nonverbal cues and it allows the ability to ask questions.  Just like the common problem of misinterpreted texts, emails, and other forms of communication, meeting face-to-face decreases the likelihood of this happening.

One other major advantage of meeting in person is that collaboration happens more naturally when people share ideas. It is easier for conversation to flow and ideas to be formed in person and people will feel more confident in giving out their ideas in a room full of people.

Ultimately strong relationships are the key to long-term business success. Meeting clients, colleagues and co-workers in person provides a sense of human interaction, this will allow a better platform to build trust and form deeper connections. Meeting a potential client over a coffee or in the office will strengthen the relationship

There are obvious pros and cons to both options and if anything, the recent pandemic has opened the options and flexibility that virtual meetings offer however people will always buy from people.

Just like Hybrid working becoming the norm and, in some cases, expected, it is likely that going forward a good combination of both would work. Ensuring that the pros and cons are continued to be assessed and the long-term results are monitored will allow for a healthy combination of video meetings and face-to-face meetings. 

Ultimately it tends to be individuals who influence which options are preferable and a video meeting will always seem the easier and most cost-effective way, however, sometimes the easier option is not always the most beneficial.  To repeat “people buy from people” .

 

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