people working at shared office space

With Remote Work, Does a Meeting Space for Small Businesses in Austin Make Sense?

We all know how much the workspace has changed over the past 12 months. This time last year, we were just beginning to hear of an overseas virus that we all assumed would be taken care of before it hit our shores. COVID-19 surprised most of us, and almost overnight, we went from corporate offices to setting up home offices we thought would only be temporary.

Today, meetings are largely conducted over Zoom, Google Meet, or some other videoconferencing platform. We’ve become quite used to the Brady Bunch-style thumbnails, glitchy connections, and people talking over one another. For those reasons alone, meeting spaces for small businesses in Austin makes sense. But there’s more to it than that.

As humans, we aren’t meant to live and work in isolation. Sadly, recent studies are revealing the effects of social distancing and working alone. A study by BMC Public Health, A Rapid Review of Mental and Physical Health Effects of Working at Home: How Do We Optimise Health?,  looked at what happens when our homes become our workplace, school, and place for relaxation without dividing lines. Among the 23 studies on the topic that the organization evaluated, the vast majority recognized that stress and fatigue were the most prominent physical health consequences of working from home. It appears that “reduced social support from colleagues” and poor communication are culprits.

The authors say that solely working from home “can be isolating with employees feeling disconnected from their managers and colleagues. Systems which facilitate effective formal and informal coworker support are needed. Formal coworker support that occurs in teams when people are collocated requires facilitation while working from home. In situations where work-from-home becomes voluntary, employees are likely to benefit from a regular day in the office to maintain networks.”

Related: What You Need to Know About Flexible Office Space in Austin

This leads us to why a meeting space for small businesses in Austin is so important.

The Difference Between Face-to-Face Meetings and Virtual Meetings

Videoconferencing is convenient, for sure. Brush your hair, pinch your cheeks, and set up some decent lighting, and you’re ready to go. But talking through a screen isn’t exactly engaging. We’ve learned to deal with it because it’s all we’ve had for the past 12 months. 

But things are starting to open up a bit again, and we know so much more about how to stay safe by following COVID safety guidelines. Now, more of us have options when it comes to meeting with colleagues, partners, customers, and others. A meeting space for small businesses allows people to physically gather, even if socially distanced and masked up, to more fully engage with one another.

The Washington Post published an article on the importance of face-to-face meetings, citing a study that showed eight in ten executives prefer in-person meetings to virtual contact. It also referenced a fascinating study conducted by MIT that found “unequivocally that the most valuable communication is done in-person, and that typically 35% of the variation in a given team’s performance was explained by the number of times team members actually spoke face-to-face.”

Face-to-face meetings matter. They always have, and even with COVID-19, they still do. PwC discovered that 87% of employees believe the office is important for collaboration and building relationships. When you have a meeting space for your team to gather, you are giving them the opportunity to build synergy, share ideas more freely, give and experience empathy, and connect on a more human level. 

When it comes to meeting with potential and current customers, partners, and vendors, studies show face-to-face requests are 34x more effective than emailed ones. If you want to build a cohesive, collaborative team, you need a meeting space. Similarly, if you want your team to build a rapport with the external people that are important to your business, you need a place to meet with them personally. Virtual meetings will never offer the same experience as in-person meetings.

The Importance of Having Space Outside of Home to Work

The BMC study mentioned the blurred lines when people live, work, and play in the same space. Our brains need variety. Our souls long to break out of a rut. It’s why we go on vacations, take our dogs to a park, and plan events at venues outside of our home. We like some separation.

Unfortunately, the pandemic had us hunkering down for months on end, unable to venture too far for fear of exposure. Even many of those who were already working from home felt like a prisoner in their own home office. They are ready for something new – a change in scenery every once in a while.

Related: The Power of a Creative Coworking Space

Although COVID-19 is still here, and we must be careful, we can safely go to restaurants, grocery stores, and even the kids’ soccer games if we take certain precautions. We can leave our home offices and go to a meeting space for small businesses in Austin, where people are in 3D, smiling through their masks, and elbow bumps replace handshakes. We can do this. And we should.

The Impact on Productivity 

Depending on the study you find, remote offices either contribute to an increase in productivity or detract from it. The PwC study found that employers believe the number one purpose of an office is to increase employee productivity. Employees don’t see it exactly the same way. They don’t list productivity in their top four purposes of an office, citing collaboration as their top pick.

The truth is, productivity depends on the person. You likely have a percentage of employees who are energized working around other people in an office and another portion who get more accomplished working alone from home. There’s no way to know unless you ask each employee.

But we aren’t talking about working entirely in an office or at home. A meeting space for small businesses is just that – a meeting place. It’s where you can schedule a regular or on-demand, in-person meeting with your employees, team members, and external people for a relatively brief moment in their day. It’s a safe space that follows CDC COVID guidelines but gives your people a way to come together when needed, apart from a screen.

Productivity can soar during an in-person meeting. It is often easier to delegate, understand each other’s roles and responsibilities, get immediate feedback, and share ideas. Participants can take what they learned back to their home to execute the work. And when people see each other face-to-face, it gives us a sense of accountability. There’s a real person associated with an email address or chat.

If you are looking for a meeting space for your small business in Austin, Vuka can help. Contact us to learn all of the event and meeting space options we offer for organizations just like yours.

About Vuka

Vuka began as a small yet mighty idea in a warehouse off of South 1st Street in Austin. With a belief that everyone deserves the space and resources to wake up to their fullest potential, we began designing shared workspaces, programs, and event spaces that inspire and spark change. In Zulu, Vuka means to wake up. It's a verb the symbolizes resurrection and understanding. When we live a life that is more awake, we can be more connected to ourselves and to our communities. We at Vuka are inspired to create space where people can do just that; we provide the space needed to be inspired, to be connected, and to create a better world for everyone. That mighty idea has expanded to two locations in Central Austin that creates, cultivates, and provides dynamically-designed spaces for the community at large. Vuka exists to create modern-day community hubs that foster connection and drive impact. The dynamic spaces offered are used for public and private events, shared workspace, and offices, as well as Vuka’s own leadership workshops and business accelerators, focused on community and global issues congruent with today's evolving landscape.