The Advantages of In-Person Meetings in a Changing Work Environment
The traditional work environment has changed dramatically within a span of just a few years. Many businesses have made the move to hybrid and remote work environments. As of 2022, around 26% of US employees work remotely, and 16% of US companies are fully remote. In 2019, only around 6% of US employees worked from home.
That changing environment has meant immense gains for both employers and employees. Many employees have found that they are considerably more productive working outside of a traditional office. Hybrid work arrangements have also made it easier for employees to maintain work/life balance, cut down on commuting costs, and more.
As increasing numbers of businesses have experienced the benefits of those remote or hybrid arrangements, however, it has become more obvious that an in-between space is an important part of maintaining a strong work flow.
Finding an inspiring, ultra-flexible office space that isn’t an office space has become the norm. One of the great benefits of this kind of space is in-person meetings, which still hold a lot of value for communication between businesses, employees, or clients. Let’s explore some of the advantages of having this option for your company.
1. In-Person Meetings Increase the Sense of Community between Workers
Often, technology-driven meetings do not offer the same sense of connection and community that workers can achieve when they are able to come together for face-to-face meetings. Coming together in person can help increase the opportunity for social communication, put faces to names and voices, and make it possible for everyone to take part in those discussions in a way that may not be possible in a virtual meeting space. An increased sense of community can lead to a number of advantages for both employers and employees alike.
Employees feel more connected.
When employees feel a deeper sense of community and connection to their coworkers, they are likely to feel more connected in general. Often, loneliness can set in for remote employees. While employees do experience a number of advantages when they work from home, they also have fewer chances to connect with others, which can create a deeper sense of loneliness over time.
By coming in for those in-person meetings, employees can experience a higher degree of social interaction and engagement, which can help stave off loneliness, make them feel more connected overall, and even increase productivity.
Connected employees are less likely to leave their jobs.
Employees who feel a deep overall sense of community are more likely to stick with their employers long-term. When employers foster a strong sense of community, they experience less overall turnover, which can mean better customer experience, more creativity, and decreased costs to the company as a whole. As mentioned, in-person meetings can go a long way toward increasing that sense of community and making employees feel like a more important part of the team.
Employees can often work together more effectively.
Employees who have a relationship with each other are, in general, more able to work cohesively no matter what challenges they may have to deal with. They may be better able to overcome challenges in their work environments when they are in a position to connect in person on a regular basis.
2. In-Person Meetings Reduce the Distractions that May Occur with Virtual Meetings
Even with the best efforts of all participants, virtual meetings can end up broken up by multiple distractions. A spouse or roommate coming in for a quick question, a child that needs attention, or even a delivery person knocking on the door can all foster considerable distraction and make it more difficult for workers to keep their attention on the task at hand.
When focused meetings are necessary, having an in-person environment where employees can connect face to face can help decrease those distractions and make it easier for employees to complete projects, meet tight deadlines, or brainstorm solutions together. While there are certainly still distractions in an in-person environment, those distractions may be significantly more limited than they are when workers are calling in to a meeting from home.
Related: How to Manage a Remote Team with Coworking Spaces
3. In-Person Meetings Improve Overall Worker Creativity by Changing the Work Environment
Having workers shift to a different environment can often have a positive impact on creativity. Changing environments can change the way workers approach a problem, offering the opportunity to engage in more creative solutions and deal with potential challenges more effectively. Workers who sign in from home may not have the opportunity to change their environments or to do the things necessary to evoke more creative thinking. Instead, they may end up stuck in a rut.
When you shift to an in-person meeting space, on the other hand, the company may have more control over the entire environment. In addition, that changing meeting space may help employees take a more creative look at the challenges they have been facing, allowing them to come up with more innovative solutions that may do a better job of addressing those issues.
4. In-Person Meetings Can Enhance the Conversation
Sometimes, having an in-person meeting space simply leads to a better conversation than a meeting that takes place over the phone or via a virtual meeting space. Having an in-person meeting can help improve the conversation in a number of ways.
They lead to more attentive listening.
As mentioned above, virtual meetings can lend themselves to distractions. Not just the inevitable distractions that may crop up when sharing space with someone else or working from home, but the temptation to visit other websites, view other content, or engage in other activities instead of focusing on the current meeting. With an in-person meeting, employees often have far fewer distractions, which means they may listen more attentively to the conversation taking place around them.
They help encourage a greater sense of psychological safety.
Often, people need to feel safe in order to speak up during a meeting. Employees need to know that their contributions are valued and that others are listening to them. They may feel less inclined to speak up when they feel that other attendees are not listening, particularly if they worry that they do not have anything valuable to share. During an in-person meeting, people naturally feel more connected to and supported by others, which can help encourage them to speak up.
They make it easier to carry on more than one conversation at the same time.
Virtual meeting spaces offer a number of tools that help mimic in-person meetings, including breakout rooms and chat options that allow employees to communicate individually with one another while the meeting is taking place. However, they can still prove unwieldy when it comes to allowing more than one person to speak at the same time.
While those challenges may help cut down on chaos or people talking on top of one another, it may make it more difficult to carry on an organic, creative conversation that encompasses everything that employees need to share or discuss in order to arrive at a solution for a problem. In-person meetings, on the other hand, make it easier to carry on natural conversations, including maintaining the normal flow of those discussions.
Related: Are Coworking Spaces Worth It?
5. In-Person Meetings Increase the Overall Effectiveness of Requests
At an in-person meeting, both employees and employers are more likely to get what they ask for. In fact, face-to-face meetings are around 34 times more successful than sending an email. Even when using the same language, people are much more likely to get a positive result when they make a request in person than when they ask for the same thing over an email.
That may mean asking for a favor from a colleague. It might mean employees who are ready to ask for a raise or a vacation, or to bring up the bonus they deserve. It might mean a manager asking an employee to take on a new task. Taking care of these issues in person creates a deeper sense of connection to the person making the request, which can lead to more positive overall outcomes.
The study that identified the difference in in-person requests asked strangers to complete a survey. While employees who work together virtually on a regular basis might not be strangers, they do not have the same connection to one another that they would if they worked together in person. In-person meetings can help alleviate some of that strain, raising the effectiveness of those requests for connection, assistance, or information.
6. In-Person Meetings Improve Engagement
In-person meetings are designed for engagement. They help bring people together in the same space, focused on the same task or concern at the same time. Sitting on the other side of a screen all the time can lead to an overall sense of disengagement that can be tough to break. Employees may have a hard time breaking out of their daily rut and genuinely connecting with one another, their employer, or their clients when all they ever see is a computer screen.
In many cases, employees may not even see others’ faces, since they may be turning off their cameras during remote meetings. In large meetings, they may not even have the chance to connect voices with faces, leading to significant overall disengagement.
An in-person meeting can help change the equation and make it easier for employees to engage with the situation at hand. During an in-person meeting, employees are more likely, in general, to engage with the content presented to them and feel completely present for those discussions.
See How a Coworking Space Can Enhance Your Meetings
If you have employees working in the same general geographic area who do not often have the opportunity to come together in person, having a coworking or meeting space can make a huge difference. At Vuka, we strive to provide spaces that help foster creativity, community, and connection. Contact us today to learn more about our meeting spaces and how we can help your team connect in person.